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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,
business owners, and residents
to take individual actions in the development and beautification of the City's public
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
Parklets are supposed to include some permanent
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."
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
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
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
Photo © San Francisco Pavement to Parks Program: Powell Street Promenade
The promenade works as a 6’2” 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