San Francisco: Parklet Program

The cities of New York and San Francisco have taken the concept of Park(ing) Day and created official programs to repurpose curbside parking into public space on a longer-term basis. The San Francisco Parklet program seeks applications from business improvement districts, retail stores, and restaurants for the opportunity to design, construct, and maintain the spaces for one-year leases that can be renewed on an unlimited basis. The program specifies design standards for the Parklet while streamlining the permitting process, reducing fees to a minimum. The Parklet can feature tables and chairs as long as they are distinct from the existing furniture of the parklet’s sponsor, bike parking, benches, and landscaping features.

While privately sponsored, the program explicitly states that all seating within repurposed curbside spaces must not be reserved for customers but remain free and open to any member of the public. Parklet permit holders are required to maintain the site, secure any moveable furniture overnight, and show proof of $1 million in liability insurance.

The program is a resounding success: The city has received about 30 applications for each of the three rounds of requests for proposals (RFP) it has put out so far, and there are 70 more businesses on a list to be notified when the next RFP is released. Since the program’s inception in late 2009, 27 Parklets have been installed, 11 Parklet projects are about to go into implementation, and 27 more projects are in varying stages of the design and permitting process.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.