Inner Sunset Neighbors Voice Overwhelming Support for Proposed Parklet

Image rendering by architect Jack Verdon via ##http://gubbinsexperiment.blogspot.com/2011/01/restoring-public-realm-one-parklet-at.html##The Gubbins Experiment##

The Inner Sunset could see its first parklet on Ninth Avenue in front of Arizmendi Bakery, introducing a new public space to its vibrant restaurant district, after dozens of neighbors and merchants showed up in support of the project at an SF Department of Public Works hearing today.

“People are hungry for gathering spaces,” said Inner Sunset Park Neighbors Board Member Adam Greenfield, who is helping to spearhead the project.

The street addition would be similar to several parklets already installed throughout the city that have reclaimed public space occupied by private vehicles and provided a welcoming place for people to sit, eat, socialize, and park their bicycles.

Merchants widely supported the project, which would be an attractive feature for new customers. The first parklet, installed in front of Mojo Bicycle Cafe on Divisadero Street, brought a 34 percent increase in pedestrian traffic during weekday afternoons, according to Liza Pratt of the Great Streets Project.

Speakers praised the parklet’s potential to add greenery, increase public safety by adding more “eyes on the street,” and open up an already crowded gathering spot for the community.

“The parklet is restoring the street to public use,” said WalkSF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe. “The parking of private cars, which the land is used for right now, is actually a private use.”

Jack Verdon, a neighbor and architect who designed the parklet pro bono, said the design focuses on relieving congestion on the narrow sidewalk. Changes to address concerns about the security of bicycle parking in the current design are still in the works, he said.

Greenfield presented a petition with 964 resident signatures and 36 nearby businesses supporting the parklet, making the consensus quite clear despite the appearance of four opposing speakers who, at times, showed little regard for the hearing’s speaking rules.

Their main objections seemed to revolve around the parklet’s perceived potential to block emergency vehicle access, although the space is already occupied by parked cars and the SFMTA and Planning Department have approved the project.

The parklet is one of several in the approval process as part of the city’s revolutionary Pavement to Parks program, which aims to activate underutilized street space.

An official decision on the Arizmendi parklet is expected to be announced in a few weeks.

  • Nick

    I would have signed that petition too, but I was in a rush to leave the bakery as I had to leave my bike unattended due to a lack of adequate bike parking.

  • The main objections were “we don’t like anything, so we are going to throw the scariest FUD we can think of against the wall and see if it sticks”.

    That argument is working less often these days. Thank god.

  • AP

    My favorite comment at the hearing today was that the parklet would impede people evacuating Golden Gate Park in the event of a Tsunami.

  • Really excited for the Arizmendi parklet. I live just a few blocks away, and I think this would be a big improvement to that section of 9th Ave. Now if only Arizmendi would open a little earlier!

  • Gary

    Enough of these parklets and I may long last find a suitable mate.

  • Joel

    Any word on the current status/next steps for the Valencia St./Ritual parklet?

  • Wes

    Yep, apparently if there’s a tsunami big enough to reach the Inner Sunset, and we all have to get to Golden Gate Heights for safety, and the N-Judah happens to have stalled on this block, then the city has a plan to come in with a fleet of tow trucks and tow out the entire lane of parked cars (funny, they never seem to have a drill for this) so that we can all drive up 9th Ave. Except that if the parklet goes in, this plan is ruined and we’re all going to die. I kid you not, that was the first and most urgent objection they raised.

    I would respectfully suggest that in such a situation, you may want to have a plan B over waiting for the heroic tow trucks–parklet or no parklet. For instance, in even the most optimistic time it would take such a rescue, you could have simply walked the 6 blocks to safety. It’s not like all the cars are going to fit up on the hill anyway.

  • jd

    Parklets are the future! Great to see the people reclaiming the streets from cars.

  • Oh no where is Rob Anderson going to park his car!!

  • taomom

    I suppose the parklet also ruins plans for defense in case of Martian invasion. And if the bubonic plague develops, that is exactly where they were going to hand out anti-rat kits.

  • J

    This is just a minor design comment, but a bike parked as shown in the rendering would likely be destroyed by a car parallel parking. I hope some sort of barrier will be installed to make the bike parking usable. In general, I just don’t like that type of bike parking design, since the front wheels could get bent, and it looks hard to lock up a frame.

    Other than that, great stuff! I’d say I’m jealous, but Montreal has been doing this type of thing for several years now.

  • J, “Changes to address concerns about the security of bicycle parking in the current design are still in the works, he said.”

    I thought the same thing when I saw the rendering, but sounds like it’ll be addressed.

  • Looks good.

    I’m looking forward for Farley’s parklet in Potrero Hill. Already I think there is going to be overwhelming support.

  • 4Smart Parklets

    If a mingle makes a maclet
    and a dingle makes an anklet,
    when will a parklet
    need a smartalleck?

  • dHard

    I still don’t get the appeal of sitting on the street. It doesn’t seem that enjoyable. If you want to hang out at park, go to a real park. if you want to sit outside a cafe, put some tables and chairs out on the sidewalk. These parklets just seem dumb to me. Whatevs… Enjoy the exhaust fumes with your Chocolate Thing nerds!

  • taomom

    Okay, the tsunami thing has been bugging me. If you look at the Tsunami Inundation Emergency Planning Map for the San Francisco Bay Region (which I’m sure all of us do frequently) you’ll see that the evacuation area in the event of a tsunami doesn’t extend much east of 48th Ave.

    48th Ave. So let’s imagine that a really big, super-dee-duper tsunami might get itself all the way to, say, Sunset Blvd.

    This proposed parklet is at NINTH AVE. At the foot of Twin Peaks. Almost in the center of the city. For a tsunami to reach this spot, IT WOULD HAVE TO BE OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS. The sea would have to reach up and TRY TO SWALLOW SAN FRANCISCO WHOLE. SAN FRANCISCO WOULD DISAPPEAR FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH LIKE ATLANTIS.

    And someone is really, truly arguing that one small parklet in such a scenario (A SCENARIO MORE UNLIKELY THAN AN ASTEROID HITTING GOLDEN GATE PARK, CRATERING THE CITY, AND SHROUDING THE PLANET IN DUST FOR SEVERAL CENTURIES) is going to make a difference.

    I’m not sure if we collectively inhabit a city or an SNL skit.

  • Aaron Bialick

    I’d like to point out another gem somewhere in the “tsunami” speaker’s fantastical ramblings perhaps even more vexing:

    “It’s not fair to other businesses who don’t have a parklet.”

    I kid you not.

  • Aaron, reading her ramblings on the Inner Sunset Facebook group have been entertaining but for the fact she seems pretty serious. I wonder if she just made her mind up early to be against parklets and has now spent all her time and energy pointing out any and all reasons she feels this way. Kind of like Rob Anderson, he hates bikes for whatever reason and now is working really hard to continue feeding that mind-set.

    dHard, best part about parklets is that you aren’t forced to use them. Feel free to walk by it though and observe the hundreds (and probably thousands) of different “nerds” enjoying it. Ever better, there will soon be more parklets so no matter what part of the city you are in you’ll be able to look down your nose at those “nerds” – they’ll be everywhere!

  • Frank

    “It’s not fair to other businesses who don’t have a parklet.”

    Although that’s obviously not a sound argument against parklets, it does beg the interesting question of why this coffee shop over that coffee shop? Clearly it’s very good for the lucky cafe that gets picked.

    Could the city be making a conscious choice to favor Arizmendi over, say, the nearby Starbucks, Beanery or Howards? Do competing businesses “bid” in some way?

  • Aaron Bialick

    Frank –

    As I understand it, they choose applications based on adherence to requirements [pdf] for the design and location of the parklet that seem to have little to do with the business itself. I don’t know if any other places in the area even applied (although I handed out applications and encouraged them to). The Beanery is fronted by a bus stop, unfortunately.

    Adam Greenfield, Caleb Haley and others took the initiative and apparently through a community outreach process determined the location to have the greatest need. They also then found the architect to come up with a design – a required part of the process. Arizmendi worker-owners said they were approached and that it was an honor to be chosen by the community.

    But the point about the “unfair” statement is that it’s a concession that parklets are a good thing and an argument that we should be putting them in front of more businesses.

  • dHard –

    A parklet is like putting chairs and tables on the sidewalk, but making more room to do it and putting some other cool stuff. Also, it’s public so you don’t have to be a customer.

    Mikesonn –

    I nerded out a few weeks ago and read at the quite populated Mojo parklet on Divisadero, had a chat with some cool girls, and was thinking: if it wasn’t here, it would just be two cars and none of this social interaction would be happening!

    I love it when we make space for people instead of cars that occasionally happen to have people in them.

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