One day last year some folks in San Francisco decided there was not enough green space downtown so they “leased” the area provided by a parking meter, usually reserved for cars, to created a mini-park for a day. A Park(ing) Space! Pedestrians lounged on the park bench under a temporary tree. The grass invited shoes to come off. No authority interfered at all. Today they launched their first official citywide PARK(ing) Day. Artists, activists, and citizens will transform metered parking spaces into parks, playgrounds, and social spaces. Dozens of sites are mapped on the PARK(ing) Day website.
PARK(ing) Day challenges people to rethink the way streets are used and emphasizes the need for urban open space. PARK(ing) Day was pioneered in 2005 by the San Francisco arts collective Rebar. This year they’ve joined with San Francisco nonprofit Public Architecture in association with Trust for Public Land, which is coordinating a parallel national effort.
Temporary “PARKs” will be constructed by individuals and groups, such as the San Francisco Department of Environment and the SF Bike Coalition. Several design firms will also participate.
Public Architecture, which advocates for the implementation of “Sidewalk Plazas”– permanent sidewalk bumpouts, similar to PARKs — and will construct a full-scale mockup of its open space vision for Folsom Street.
Look for its design to be unveiled in front of Brainwash Café on Folsom Street. This transformation of the street right-of-way into a place for public amenities represents a new form of urban open space–the first of its kind in San Francisco’s South of Market area.
PARK(ing) Day and the Sidewalk Plazas have garnered support from several important entities including the City of San Francisco Mayor’s Office and Department of Planning as well as the University of California Transportation Center.
Following the event, Rebar and Public Architecture plan to produce a short film and publication to document the day’s events and broader message. Check out the map of locations where Park(ing) Day will be feeding the meters in order to provide some green space.