Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Ma’ayan Dembo: Reclaiming Public Spaces for the Public

Shortly after the American mass urbanization, city streets became infested with parking lots and spaces– great spans of pavement that have negative impacts on our environment (heat, run-off, etc). Recently, there has been a new initiative throughout many cities all over the world to convert some of these parking spaces into parklets in efforts to create a more livable urban environment. Spearheaded by the San Francisco Planning Department, in 2010 the first parklet was installed, with 38 more by the end of 2012. Parklets have been created along major thoroughfares, especially along the Valencia, Divisadero, and Columbus corridors.

Parklets repurpose street space to achieve greater utilitarian goals. These parklets also represent a wonderful public-private partnership– processes are expedited by city partnership, but funded mainly through residents, business owners, and community organizations. Moreover, achieving egalitarian goals, these parklets are open to the public and require no purchase necessary. Parklets accomplish four main goals: they reimagine the potential of city streets, encourage non-motorized transportation, encourage pedestrian activity, and support local businesses. These parklets are an ingenious and inexpensive way to turn ordinary streets into cozy and warmer public spaces.

If you have an under used space in mind by your house or in your community, check out the Pavement to Parks manual on the SFDP website for more information and ideas.