Local design studio Rebar was instrumental in developing the concept of using public parking spaces to create a more engaging use for the public – even temporarily. Rebar’s original project started in 2005 with a public art intervention called “PARK(ing)”, in which the designers paid to use the parking space for two hours like any other vehicle, but then renovated it into a temporary public park instead. A statement on the lack of public open space in many of San Francisco’s busy downtown areas, the project morphed into “PARK(ing) Day” – a yearly tradition of guerilla (and increasingly, city-sponsored) art installations in cities worldwide.
With streets and other paved surfaces making up a full quarter of San Francisco’s land area, reclaiming wide zones of wasted space at curbsides, intersections, alleys, and other spots is a key motivation behind the growing parklet program. San Francisco’s Department of Planning is teaming with other city agencies, businesses, and key stakeholders to evaluate the success of the project as it enters its third iteration in the coming year.