San Francisco Parklets

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The San Francisco "Pavement to Parks" program is a collaborative effort between the San Francisco Planning Department, the Department of Public Works, the Municipal Transportation Agency, and the Mayor's Office. The following statements illustrate the goal of the program:

San Francisco's Pavement to Parks Program facilitates the conversion of utilitarian and often underused spaces in the street into publicly accessible open spaces available for all to enjoy. The Parklet Program provides a path for merchants, community organizations, business owners, and residents to take individual actions in the development and beautification of the City's public realm.

A parklet repurposes part of the street into a space for people. Parklets are intended as aesthetic enhancements to the streetscape, providing an economical solution to the need for increased public open space. They provide amenities like seating, planting, bike parking, and art."

   3628 24th Street Parklet
Photo © San Francisco Planning Department  Pavement to Parklets Program

Parklet sponsors are responsible for the permit application and construction efforts, but to obtain approval, the applicant must demonstrate (with documents) the support of the relevant stakeholders in the proposed parklet area, such as adjacent businesses, merchant associations, and other neighborhood associations. Parklets are public, and must be accessible to anyone even if they do not intend to patronize the sponsoring businesses.  The following signing requirement apply: "Logos, advertising, or other branding is prohibited. A small unobtrusive plaque recognizing project sponsors and material donors may be acceptable. You are required to install two standard San Francisco 'Public Parklet' signs which state that all seating must be publicly accessible at all times." Note that the information provided here is only of a summary nature. Interested parties need to consult the city regulations.

Siting and Operation

Parklet locations are restricted to streets with a speed limit of 25 mph or less, and other practical considerations: "Parklets are not permitted in front of a fire hydrant or above a fire hydrant shut-off valve. Parklets may not be constructed over utility and manhole covers." The proram intention is for parklets to replace one or two parking spaces (20 to 40 feet) and take the space out from the curb approximatley corresponding to a parked vehicle (around 6 feet), but smaller and larger sizings have been approved depending on circumstamces. Table service is not allowed at the parklets, but customers of restautants may take their purchases to consume there, and sposoring restaurants may bus the parklet areas to ensure cleanliness. Sponsors are required to keep the parklet well maintained and in good repair. These conditions must be met to obtain parklet permission renewals.


Parklets are supposed to include some permanent seating integrated into the structure, even if movable seating is also uded. The intent of this is to make the structure itself feel welcoming.  Creativity in the design is encouraged: "Diversity of form leads to diversity of use. A diversity of form helps to ensure that your parklet design will be accessible and comfortable for a wide variety of users. The creative integration of seating elements into a parklet structure can take many forms including traditional eating, railings designed for leaning, narrow benches, single- seat benches, and seating steps."

Landscaped areas enhence the welcoming effect.  Native plants, plants that provide habitat, and drought-tolerant plants are recommended. Facilities must be accessible to people with disabilities, including wheelchair users and those with impaired vision. The use of sustainable materials is encouraged

Because parklets may sit on top of utilities such as pipes and gas lines, they need to be designed for easy removal in case of an emergency. Safety is a primary consideration, such as the use of slip resistant surface materials and buffering from traffic: "Depending on the location, the parklet should have an edge to buffer the street. This can take the form of planters, railing, cabling, or some other appropriate buffer. The height and scale of the buffer required will vary depending on local context. For example, on some low-traffic streets, a continuous edge may not be required."

Bicycle Parking

The integration of bicycle parking into the parklet design is strongly encouraged, either within the main structure or adjacent as a bike corral on the street. The Municipal Transportation Agency has bike corral designs that may be used next to the parklet. These require a minimum of 15 feet of roadway space adjacent to the parklet.

  3876 Noriega St., Photo © San Francisco Planning Dept. (KC) Pavement to Parks Program

  YBCBD Mobile Bike Corral, Photo © Neil H.
San Francisco Pavement to Parks Program

Powell Street Promenade

One example of this program is the Powell Street Promenade, created on Sullivan Street between Ellis and Geary by the Union Square Business Improvement District, with financial support from the Audi car company. It is really a set of parklets designed by architect Walter Hood, and it is the largest example of the program thus far, spanning two blocks, and replacing the parking on both side of the street.

Extensive use is made of aluminum ribbons, which are structured into benches, tables and other items. The promenade itself is built in modular segments of slip resistant aluminum and wood grating, which are bolted to the street. Twelve-foot tall towers are also constructed of aluminum with photovoltaic panels on top.  These panels generate energy throughout the day, which is then stored in batteries, and used to power free WiFi access and LED lighting: "The lighting is integrated beneath the grating, providing a glow effect from underneath the promenade during the busy nighttime hours."

   Photo © San Francisco Pavement to Parks Program: Powell Street Promenade

The promenade works as a 62 extension to the existing sidewalk. Powell Street is one of the busiest pedestrian zones in the country, and  "the streets are lined with retail stores and restaurants. The historic San Francisco Cable Car transports more than 7.5 million passengers per year through this area of Powell Street."


This website is not a professional guide, but an editing of existing referenced material for educational purposes. The website author assumes no responsibility for any problems resulting from using the material presented in this website.


San Francisco Pavement to Parks Program

ASLA 2012 Professional Awards Program: Powell Street Promenade