The proposed San Francisco Plaza Program aims to boost the utilization of city-owned open spaces throughout San Francisco by allowing non-profit groups to assume their management, creating a network of self-sustaining plazas for community supported activities, such as art and music events, farmers’ markets, and local food/retail.

This [San Francisco Plaza Program] is designed to activate the public realm while empowering interested and City-identified stakeholder groups to steward the long term care, maintenance and/or activation of plazas adopted into the Plaza Program. If approved by the Board of Supervisors, the program would leverage benefits for the public realm by supporting community-based groups in becoming stewards of their neighborhood open space.

Plazas that fit criteria to be adopted in this program would be located on City-owned property in active areas of San Francisco, like commercial corridors, transit or bicycle hubs or other naturally active areas. Only City property generally over 2,000 square feet and outside of the Recreation and Parks Department jurisdiction would be eligible. Each proposed plaza would have a demonstrable need for a long-term activation and/or maintenance solution.

Plaza Stewards would be responsible for generating enough revenue to cover their approved activation, management and maintenance budgets. A portion of any excess plaza revenue could be used by the City to fund underperforming plazas in the program. And while the plazas will remain public spaces, a number of private events may be allowed.

If the Plaza Program is adopted, proposals for at least three plazas and plaza stewards are expected to be presented to the Board of Supervisors by the end of the year.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by invented

    Such civil service corporatespeak*. Ugh. At least they didn’t use the word actionable. Now, let’s pare that down to two clear sentences.
    If this means the park in front of City Hall can become more usable, this would seem to be a good thing. 10,000-20,000 new homes rising within City Hall ‘hood within next few yrs, and the park is barren and wholly unwelcoming.
    * activate
    empower
    stakeholder
    leverage

  2. Posted by Futurist

    Don’t they mean plazas for the homeless people, not the rest of us?

  3. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “… empowering interested and City-identified stakeholder groups to steward the long term care, maintenance…”
    In the old city of Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre located on the site where Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection supposedly occurred. Yet despite being perhaps the most sacred location in all of Christianity the building itself is a disheveled mess. Why? Because none of the various religious group are allowed to maintain or improve the building for fear implicitly ceding the site to one or the other Catholic factions at the exclusion of their peers.
    Here I think the city is simply trying to find a way to maintain these small plazas out of the scope of Parks and Rec budget via sponsors. But lets hope that legal constraints are in place to prevent the sponsor from asserting their agenda at the exclusion of other members of the public.
    This seems like a creative idea and I hope it goes well. The city already allowed the Audi parklet, so external sponsorship isn’t entirely new.

  4. Posted by soccermom

    Isn’t the city administration supposed to administer city resources? How is this not an extra sclerotic layer of meta-HOA/PAC/Corporate Sponsorship?
    The Athena-from-Zeus’s Head imagery in the plaza origination explanation is nice though:
    “A Plaza emerges from an existing City program that meets criteria.”

  5. Posted by Adam

    I foresee this being an issue when these stewards begin to exercise editorial control to control what types of activities are and are not permitted; or when private events are held that provoke controversy. Let’s not forget already the commotion over the hosting of private dinners in Coit Tower. This just feels like the city handing off the responsibility to maintain street trees on to homeowners- a decision which they are already trying to reverse completely.

  6. Posted by Jackson

    The Plaza Program appears to be just another San Francisco plan to stop paying for public services and leave it to the private sector or corporate benefactors.
    Today’s SF Chronicle “Matier and Ross” column had an article about City workers earning $300,000 plus. Clearly, this kind of budgeting is unsustainable, hence the off-loading of public costs to the private sources. Expect more of these type programs to come.

  7. Posted by BobN

    Only City property generally over 2,000 square feet and outside of the Recreation and Parks Department jurisdiction would be eligible.
    Where are these places?
    [Reading through the gobbledygook, I’m under the impression that this is just a proposal to close off a street now and then for an event. Not to be too succinct or offend anyone by simple clarity, of course. I’d love to be corrected, by the way.]

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