People, Parklets, and Pavement to Parks (plus Mojo Bicycle Café)
In San Francisco, the Pavement to Parks program has launched an initiative that may someday alter the way many dense U.S. cities decide to treat the streets of their commercial strips.
Taking the PARK(ing) Day concept to a more permanent, logical level, the Parklets Program has begun experimenting with trial spaces allowing businesses to convert parking spaces into outdoor public spaces and cafes. The first was installed in March outside the Mojo Bicycle Café on Divisdero Street where two parking spaces were reallocated to people-space; now cafe tables & chairs, benches, bike parking, and plants sit over a raised platform over the asphalt. If all goes well thru the evaluation period, the idea is to eventually turn the process into a regular permitting process that business groups and communities can apply for. It looks good: owners of Mojo say business is up 30% and they have had to hire more staff.
The Pavement to Parks program has already transformed a number of community spaces in the Castro, Showplace Triangle and Guerrero Park. We briefly look at those at well in this video.
[00:01] We’re here in the middle of the San Jose Guerrero Pavement
to Parks trial plaza which is really exciting because right where I’m
sitting about a year ago would have been a street. Now we have
this trial pedestrian plaza, a mini park if you will, and it’s part
of the Pavement to Parks Program. It’s an innovative initiative
led by the Mayor and the Planning Department here in San Francisco to
take underutilised street space and give it back to people.
Andres Power: [00:37] So here behind us is the city’s first parklet, which is the new design typology under the Pavement to Parks Program, and the idea here really is just sort of very simply and relatively cheaply build out a platform into the parking lane, essentially taking the grade of a sidewalk out into the street, and just providing on top of that sort of a variety of different amenities, so café tables and chairs where appropriate, benching, bike parking, some landscaping.
John McDonald: [01:04] As far as I know we are the first full operation restaurant, beer, wine sandwiches, food, breakfast, lunch, dinner that also is attached directly all one business to a full service and sales bicycle shop, and now has a patio courtesy of the City County of San Francisco.
Andres Power: [01:21] At the end of last year we sort of got the idea sort of inspired by these sort of reclamation of parking lanes, you know, like programs like Parking Day and such, to really think about ways that we could sort of have smaller scale interventions in places where we had a lot of commercial activity, a lot of pedestrian activity on the streets, a lot of bicyclist activity, and looking for places where we could really repurpose and sort of more equally distribute the limited road right of way.
Speaker: [01:46] I’m from down south and there’s so many kind of suburban strip malls, endless places… kind of the same thing. And places like this just have a unique character and I think it’s really great.
Speaker: [01:56] What’s not to like? I mean you get rid of a couple of parking spaces, you add a lot of outdoor tables, I mean that’s what San Francisco’s all about.
John McDonald: [02:03] The space is working amazingly well. We’ve been packed every single day since it opened cos we’ve had probably a 30% increase in business already. We’ve had to hire some more people.
Speaker: [02:14] Our pilot Pavement to Park project, our first plaza project was at the intersection of 17th, Castro and Market Street, which was a place in the city where we had multiple street grids coming together. So we had a lot of… we had a very awkward space for pedestrians, for cyclists. And the idea was to regularise that intersection and in doing so provide some great public space. From that project we did two sort of concurrently, one at the intersection of 8th and 16th in the neighbourhood of Lower Potrero Square. At the same time we also put in a project at the intersection of San Jose and Guerrero.
Matthew Roth: [02:46] The architect, Jane Martin of Plant SF, found these trees in an old park and wreck facility that had recently been uprooted from Golden Gate Park because they were old and they were dying. The very first trees that were planted in Golden Gate Park back when it was just sand dunes, I think, 150 years ago. You see a very active community group here that advocated for this space and then actually a lot of the maintenance of the space is done by neighbours.
John McDonald: [03:13] If I had a business somewhere else and was witnessing what’s happening around here, I would be on the phone to the city trying to make my spot the next location.
Speaker: [03:21] Every café ought to have something like this.
Speaker: [03:23] This is what makes San Francisco such a unique place.
[03:28] Assuming that the trial program goes well, by the end of the
year the goal is to have a permit system up and running that would allow
essentially any entity, any business, any commercial group, residential
group, ultimately to apply for a permit and be able to do this on their
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