Pavement to Parks Map: Q1 2015

Over fifty (50) Parklets have been installed in San Francisco and at least one removed, another thirty-five (35) are in the process of being permitted or designed, and inquires for nearly one hundred (100) more have been made.

Reveille Coffee Parklet

In addition, a number of new Street Plazas have taken root, including the Persia Triangle Plaza at the intersection of Ocean, Mission and Persia in Excelsior.

And while only a temporary plaza at the moment, the transformation of Persia Triangle into a permanent plaza as designed by Fletcher Studio – with wider sidewalks, new lighting, community and coffee kiosks, new benches and art – will begin next month.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Amewsed

    The rendering with the child and the polka dots makes me immediately want to vaccinate against chicken pox, measles, rubella.

    The transformation should look nice. The addition of a bakery would be nice for this area.

  2. Posted by Futurist

    Parklets!

    Finally, we’re about to become a world class city like Paris or London.

    • Posted by SFrentier

      U being sarcastic?

      • Posted by Futurist

        Completely. Let’s start with planting 100’s of thousands of street trees.

        Parklets are the hipster answer to growing an ironic beard.

        [Editor’s Note: The Plan To Make San Francisco More Green.]

        • Posted by Futurist

          Yes, I’m encouraged by the “proposed plan” to green out city with 1000’s of more trees.

          And I’m skeptical of it happening with any serious impact. The street trees being put in, say, along Sanchez St. in Noe V are about 2″ in diameter and about 6′ high.

          • Posted by Spencer

            We did friends of urban forest planting and were very happy with it

          • Posted by mission dweller

            When you plant a small tree it has an easier time taking root than a bigger one.
            I wish SF would prioritize replacing the big old trees that fall down when we have storms, before someone gets hurt.

        • Posted by Dylan

          Agree. We need so many more trees.

        • Posted by SFrentier

          Personally I love dem lil parklets. Let’s me hang out in cool spots throughout the city w/o having to shell out $4 for an overpriced latte. No need to compare with the grand and majestic parks of Paris or London. Parklets, it’s a San francisco thing!

          • Posted by tj

            Give this city a break! It still has 200+ years of development and at least one large fire or emperor to deal with first…

          • Posted by Brian M

            San Francisco is by no means bereft of “grand” parks. Golden Gate Park, Presideo, etc. Let’s not be unrelentingly negative.

            Given his preferences, Futurist should be advocating for replacing parks with parking lots and expressways. (Futurism is very 1950s!) Because everyone drives and should be encouraged to drive.

        • Posted by Zig

          My family and I really liked the parklets on 24th street and used them weekly. Why are you so bitter and dismissive?

    • Posted by Alai

      One interesting article I read (I’ll have to seek out the reference) compared the land usage in different cities. For instance, some cities had a high percentage of land area dedicated to public parks and green space, and others hardly any. The article compared several uses– buildings, transportation (streets, parking lots, etc), public open space (plazas and parks), and private open space (backyards).

      It compared various cities, including newer American cities and old European and Asian cities. As you might expect, newer cities had 2-4 times as much space devoted to transportation (San Francisco, I think, had twice as much as a typical old city). What was interesting was that the newer cities also had much more green space and public “open space”, even though it was the old cities which had well-used and well-loved public spaces, and which were well known for their streetlife.

      The conclusion was that the new cities needed a lot of “buffer space”– space which wasn’t used for much, but whose sole purpose was to shield people from the unpleasant aspects of the large amounts of public space devoted to transportation. On the flip side, the old cities did not have much buffer space, but they also didn’t prioritize transportation to the same degree, and instead put public space throughout the city. Instead of putting the squeeze on buildings, they put the squeeze on roads.

      And that’s what parklets are. They take away a little bit of transportation space, and replace it with a little bit of public space. To argue parks instead of parklets is strange to me. Because parks fight for space with buildings, while parklets fight for space with transportation (ie parking). It’s to argue that public open space is a better use of land than condos/offices/retail (ie we need more parks instead of more buildings, even when rents are sky-high), but then to also argue that storing cars at a couple bucks an hour is better still. That makes no sense.

      • Posted by S

        well said. too many haters here as per usual

      • Posted by CantankerousWino

        If you can remember where that article was, I’d be interested in reading it too.

      • Posted by Brian M

        Excellent!

  3. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Only three seconds left on the countdown timer. Better pick up that tyke and hustle to the curb.

    (just playing the new SocketSite game of find-the-rendering-flaw)

    Also clever trick of “hiding” that ugly sign on the corner by painting it to blend in with the mural behind. But that only works when viewed from exactly one angle.

    • Posted by Dan Clark

      Actually, the rendering flaw is the bicyclist who’s stopped for the red light.
      jk 😉

      • Posted by Bob

        Bikes shouldn’t have to stop at red lights. There should be separate rules for them, that give them priority over cars.

        • Posted by Futurist

          They don’t anyway, as well as stop lights. They already believe they are separate from the rest of us. they don’t care.

          • Posted by Bob

            They are separate; they aren’t clogging the city in traffic. They are the future of transportation. Cars can wait at lights for bikes. On street parking should be converted to either, bike lanes or landscaped, or both.

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            Yup, that’s why a bicycle-intensive culture (such as in China and Vietnam) has steadfastly held on to its use of bicycles despite a rapidly growing GDP. Oh, no, wait, no they didn’t…

          • Posted by Bob

            no environmental or social problems there

          • Posted by John Murphy

            How’s that working out for Beijing, SierraJeff?

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            didn’t say & never implied it was working out. just responding to the notion that bikes “are the future of transportation”. doesn’t seem like cultures that were already fully bike-dependent feel that way…

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            bikes are the past of transportation. not the future. we just need to keep evolving and innovating the car.

            and seriously “Bikes shouldn’t have to stop at red lights. ” talk about entitled.

        • Posted by Patrick

          So they can hit pedestrians with impunity?

          • Posted by Brian M

            Because the future of transportation is encasing every (obese, unfit) individual in several thousand pounds of plastic and metal, requiring them to spend thousands of dollars on said transportation annually?

            Yep. Sounds more like a dystopia to me.

  4. Posted by Joel V

    Or we could turn one of these streets (or a portion) into an actual park or pedestrian centered street.

  5. Posted by alberto rossi

    Maybe if we change the name of the Persia Triangle to Francisco Reservoir, the city will make an effort to make it a park.

  6. Posted by tj

    Love the polka dots! In all seriousness, though, would not distinctive crosswalk markings unique to a neighborhood be a cheap and effective way to add some vitality to the streetscape?

    • Posted by AnonArch

      All of the new street painting, parklets, and even the neon stripes on top of the Muni bus stop enclosures is adding to a very cluttered ugly street vocabulary in this city. If people want more landscaping, wider sidewalks, and public plazas, BUILD THEM, but enough with these silly gestures.

      I find the parklets to be a typical unserious gesture by the MTA to show they are doing something, when they are really not doing anything. The only subway being built in this city is the subway most people did not want, and instead are begging for subways on Geary and Van Ness, but are told that is “impossible”. Van Ness BRT is shown to only increase travel time from Market to Lombard for MUNI passengers by about 1 or 2 minutes (and increase auto travel time by over FIVE minutes), but build it they will and remove almost all the parking along Van Ness in the process.

      I think the biggest design catastrophe is the “plaza” at Castro and Market. If there is going to be a public pedestrian space created, we can certainly do something better than the mess that is there currently. It is time for this city to start building the “World Class” infrastructure so many claim on this site we already have, but trust me, we don’t.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Yes. That mess at Castro & Market is a turn-OFF for me, something I hustle through – not something I think of as a welcoming park or oasis. And I’m just waiting for the first lawsuit (surprised it hasn’t happened yet) when a driver hits a pedestrian in those rainbow-striped crosswalks – of course I despise frivilous litigation, but I can certainly see the driver’s attorney claiming that the driver was confused because instead of the customary zebra striping, there were just some thin colored lines…

        This rendering shows more of the same – drivers trying to make that right off Ocean won’t be able to see diddly around the corner – pedestrians, bicyclists or anything else … which means they’re going to pull further into the crosswalk (to try to get a line of sight), and run red lights more, etc. The opposite of what’s intended by such “calming” measures.

      • Posted by SFrentier

        It’s less the plaza itself and more all the homeless, etc. that have infested that place. But good luck policing that in this town.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          Even without the homeless (and the naked guys, which are as much of a negative), the whole ‘park’ feels too ad hoc and gritty. A parklet taking up a parking space is one thing, but the Castro ‘park’ essentially cuts off a road (17th Street), and because of the need to keep that free for emergency vehicles the whole thing has a temporary, man-the-barricades! feel to it. i.e., sitting on a lightweight chair plopped down on asphalt, with only a planter box (on wheels!) to protect me from idiot drivers, is hardly my idea of a relaxing public space…

          Plus they’ve really screwed up the new crosswalk across Market, on the E side of the intersection – they painted it due south, so that it lands on the outside edge of the planter boxes – meaning they apparently intend pedestrians from the SE corner of Castro and 17th to walk *outside* the planter boxes, next to traffic (and not on a dedicated sidewalk) to reach the landing of the actual crosswalk across Market. (Formerly the crosswalk angled to the Chevron, which was shorter and made sense – but see above about drivers’ lines of sight; because of the ‘park’ planters, drivers turning from Castro to Market couldn’t see pedestrians starting to cross from the Chevron. Instead of fixing the line of sight issues, they’ve just shunted the pedestrians further into traffic!)

      • Posted by tj

        While I agree wholeheartedly with your critique, it unfortunately ignores the financial realities that govern projects built in this city from those in, say London or New York. HIgher densities and higher taxes do create an incentive to make durability the key criteria for any investment in improving public spaces, and a corporate culture that contributes a significantly larger share of its revenues towards public projects should not be overlooked. In addition you have a significantly larger and arguably more professional staff responsible for the design and implementation of public space projects. How many Landscape Architects does the SFMTA or Parks and Rec have on it’s staff, and what is their standing within the local design community? It is only when you address some of the structural issues which determine how things are built that you will be able to address the quality of design and construction of what is built in this city.

        • Posted by AnonArch

          Nonsense…it is not a shortage of money or “staff” that is stopping the city. The SFMTA has a far higher budget and larger staff than many cities two or three times the population of San Francisco. When a city can no longer build decent public plazas while at the same time experiencing the economic boom that this city is going through , I give up! Dropping off some planter boxes and throwing up your hands because we are not London or Paris is not the solution. By that line of thinking, we should never have been able to build Golden Gate Park, Coit Tower, City Hall and adjacent civic structures, the bridges, Union Square, etc. etc.

          The Golden Gate Bridge was engineered and the construction was managed from a couple of wooden shacks with an extremely small staff and mostly financed through private bonds as tax money was not available. I read recently that the Golden Gate Bridge now has a larger management staff operating the bridge than the number of staff used to manage the construction back in the day, and they were now crying in the article about not having enough funds or “staff”. I would imagine in the recent Bay Bridge reconstruction, the staff used to “manage” that project was 40 times larger then the number of people who worked on managing and creating the original design and construction.

        • Posted by SFrentier

          The city of SF has an insanely large budget for its population and physical size- something like $8 billion. More than almost any city per capita. The fact that it’s wasted so “efficiently” due to absurd legacy bureaucracy would make the Kremlin proud.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            totally agree. we should be able to build visionary transportation and infrastructure. instead, we are 3rd world. way to go politicians. keep building those bike lanes. maybe if the AI machines take over everything,then we can count on our bike lanes to protect us from the terminators

  7. Posted by James Itard

    Parklets are odd duck spaces. Unlike sidewalk cafes, you feel vulnerable to passing traffic – and a row of parked cars do [not] provide a buffer zone between between street and sidewalk… They’re like half-ships, slight creaky under your feet, that never disembark.

    They cost the cafe owner the cost of materials – $20,000 – $30,000 – and can be taken away for other projects, as on Polk Street for bike paths.

    They’re conceptual art really – the idea of a park… And as W H Whyte has shown, where people gather – what develops as a public gathering nexus – is a bit of a mystery.

  8. Posted by Grace

    I would much prefer the addition of some actual small parks and some trees and grass to balance out all the high concrete, characterless buildings we seem to be in love with. Who is it exactly that thinks these are great ideas? Is this the work of the the planning commission again? Check out the lovely ‘parklet’ across from Whole Foods on fourth. It is an overgrown, red container of weeds. Actually, I think it looks like a dumpster. No one ever sits there – well maybe a homeless person every now and then. They don’t even like it.

  9. Posted by AlfieJr

    who issue the report this story cites? what is the web link to it?

  10. Posted by Paul

    San Francisco needs more green space.

    Least amount of green space of any city I have been in – even Tokyo.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      Technically true but the Emperor squats on the largest green space and flushes the commoners out every evening. Be sure to relinquish your numbered token to the guard on your way out.

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