PARK(ing) Day San Francisco 2006
In San Francisco, the REBAR group organized a mass reclamation of automobile parking spaces to provide temporary green space for pedestrians to enjoy.
Over two-dozen parking spots were liberated. Some were transformed into lush, green creations complete with sod, trees and benches. Other organizations experimented with the idea, creating eclectic installations like artwork, benches and gardens One such space even features a self-serve lemonade stand!The event also included participation from groups outside San Francisco, including some from New York City.
Speaker: [00:10] It’s going to be one of the taller loads we’ve carried.
Matthew Passmore: [00:33] One of the main areas of interest Rebar is exploring these niches in regulatory frameworks or social codes that govern the way people behave. And in doing some research on a parking space we discovered in San Francisco County it appears to not be illegal to occupy a parking space for uses other than a car. Downtown area is underserved by public open space, so we figured we’d do our civic duty and create a little sliver of public open space for a short period of time, to serve the lunchtime crowd and to temporarily expand the public realm.
Blaine Merker: [01:07] In order to build a park in a parking spot, first thing you need is obviously the material from which building. So you need your sod, you need some kind of tree, greenery nature, place for people to sit, that’s really important. Look at the environment, is it going to be high traffic going by or is it the kind of place where people are going to actually want to stop and [unintelligible 01:23] park. And finally you need a little bit of signage, some people... having some flyers nearby that tells what the project is, you know, trying to do, it doesn’t hurt either. That’s it, and once you do that, you’ve got your park in a parking spot.
Matthew Passmore: [01:35] Today in San Francisco we’re doing five parks that are all deployed exclusively by human powered transport.
Speaker: [01:52] A great day for Parking Day.
Blaine Merker: [02:14] You can’t stop the sod.
Speaker: [02:21] You know what? I kind of like thought I was in the Twilight Zone. I come outside and there’s a park right here, you know what I mean? That’s what I mean, it’s like… where am I at?
Speaker: [02:31] I like the idea of green parks in the city and even awareness of open spaces in the city.
Speaker: [02:38] I love it. I love it. Always just right in the middle of the city.
Speaker: [02:43] What’d you think of it when you saw this green space?
Speaker: [02:44] It blew my mind, and this is real grass too man, it’s what do you call it? Astroturf. This is real grass man.
Speaker: [02:50] I like that it’s activism, it’s very playful and it inspires and sort of delights as opposed to like, you know, you don’t have to scream your message, you can kind of just be playful about it.
Matthew Passmore: [03:02] There are also about a dozen, or 14 or so other groups that are doing this in solidarity with us. So there’s parks all over San Francisco right now that have been built by independent groups, each with their own agendas, each with their own kind of reasons for doing it. And I think that one of the powerful things about this, about this installation is that it speaks to many different people on many different levels. And so people that are interested in public open space or urban planning or alternative transportation or a number of different causes, can all find support for their cause in this kind of installation.
Speaker: [03:41] Our focus is to de-pave areas of San Francisco that don’t need to be paved and plant gardens, specifically to beautify, which is the neighbourhood treasure component and also to help manage storm water. The Mayor has given up his parking spot for the day. We’ve taken it over to do a temporary park installation. So what we’re doing is asking people to give a shovel full of dirt to help plant the dahlia that is in each of these wheelbarrows. The dahlia is the city flower for San Francisco.
Speaker: [04:08] We have installed a temporary park here in Ross Mirkarimi’s parking spot and we’re just trying to draw attention to open space issues within the city and show how much of an impact green space can have in an urban environment.
Speaker: [04:22] Petro Park is a collaboration between Isabel and Charlie and it’s about… it’s about petroleum and the fact that so much is taken as natural in the environment, and we’re making a parody about it.
Speaker: [04:37] Behind us people have to pay to sit down and eat whereas here you can eat for free.
Speaker: [04:40] Yes, we have a request to feed the metre to pay our rent since we’re renting this space for the afternoon.
Speaker: [04:46] This is the Hanging Gardens slash Backdoor Patio of San Francisco. And we have these nice hanging plants and lattice, it’s just like sitting in your own backyard out on the street.
Speaker: [04:59] Some people came by, had lunch, sat down at the table. It’s been a good day.
Speaker: [05:03] Beautiful.
Speaker: [05:10] We want to do this. We want to have lunch in the parking space, that we want to transform now. We want to do it too and take the space back from the cars.
Speaker: [05:18] I think it’s great to take over such a public piece of… a little public piece of space.
Speaker: [05:25] We are here promoting public space as well as bike lanes. We are taking out a short term lease on public space and turning it into something prettier. 70% of public land in Downtown San Francisco is used for automobile parking, and we decided as today’s International Car-Free Day, you know, we would put it to better use and make a park.
Speaker: [05:50] Since we’re interested in collecting people with their food in a more intimate way, we’re inspiring them to experiment because we don’t see... in a safe way, we don’t see lemons like this. And they’re amazingly fragrant. But these are the ones that grow and we let them grow naturally.
Speaker: [06:08] It’s delicious. Very fresh. Tasty.
Speaker: [06:11] I can’t get enough of this. I could sit here all day.
Speaker: [06:14] It feels awesome. It’s clean. It’s great.
Speaker: [06:30] I think the most exciting thing was regular folks walking by a little bit confused and seeing our park and saying, what’s this all about? And you say, it’s a park. And they know. That’s all that you have to say, it’s a park.
All: [06:44] Rebar.