Eyes on the Street: Rebar Crews Grace Columbus Ave. with Second Parklet

The Rebar crew assembles the parklet. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Within a span of just a few hours, a new parklet has transformed a part of Columbus Avenue in North Beach. Fronting Caffe Roma, it’s the second project to bring some breathing room to choked sidewalks on a section where cafe and restaurant life fill one of the city’s densest and most historic neighborhoods.

“Somebody called it our own little Via Veneto,” said Tony Roma, the owner of Caffe Roma. “If you’re familiar with Via Veneto in Rome, it’s open to the cafes and people sit down outside in the sun and drink their spritz.”

“So if we’re gonna get a warm weekend, here’s the place to do it.”

The parklet, designed and installed by the art and architecture collective Rebar Group, features a section of tables and chairs for the public to relax, eat and drink, while greenery in the rest of the area is intended to have more of a “park” feel, said Roma.

Søren Schaumburg Jensen, a Rebar Group intern and landscape architecture student from Copenhagen, Denmark, assisted with the project. “I really like the module concept of parklets,” he said. “It can be temporary, and you can exchange modules if you want to and move them.”

“I think Copenhagen could learn a lot from taking up parking spaces and extending the sidewalk like this,” he added, to the surprise of project manager Noah Brezel and myself.

Although other parklets being installed in the city originated from last fall’s open application period, Caffe Roma’s is the last in a series of the initial trial projects that began last March, said Andres Power of the SF Planning Department. The cafe has also featured a temporary parklet on PARK(ing) Day, demonstrating a flexible parking spot.

Other parklets are expected to sprout up in the coming weeks in front of Four Barrel Coffee on Valencia and 15th Streets and Cafe Abir on Fulton and Divisadero. Power said the Planning Department is expected to issue a new request for proposals this week. A high number of applications is expected as interest throughout the city remains high.

Project manager Noah Brezel and crew, with Jensen on the right. Photo: Aaron Bialick
Caffe Roma owner Tony Roma. Photo: Aaron Bialick
  • Tonyspqr

    tony from caffe roma here…the rebar group is awesome !

  • mikesonn

    Awesome! Very happy to see my neighborhood, which is very pedestrian heavy, take another huge step forward. Kudos!

    Now to widen the sidewalks all the way down Columbus!

  • MAB

    Awesome! Columbus desperately needs more pedestrian/lounging space. Looking forward to checking this out.

  • Dabenebi

    What a nice article letting people know about these “parklets” and how they are a wonderful addition to the particular neighborhood.

  • Cookiebal

    The city has money for this, and they can’t fix the broken sidewalks on Lombard Street caused
    by City own trees. Give me a break. It only beniftis the cafe owners not the pedestrians.(less
    space ti walk(

  • Caleb

    The City does not pay for the cost of the parklet, the applicants pay for the cost. The applicants must also pay for the required liability insurance, plus a $1000+ initial permit fee to the City, plus annual permit fees to the City.

  • It actually creates more space to walk by placing a platform where there used to be parked cars – it’s right there in the photos. They’re likely also removing the parking meters.

  • Urbus

    Landscape is the Answer !! Parklets are such an innovative way to approach Urban Design as they are compact, light weight and easily relocated if they become a problem. Great article as well although I would have liked to see the SF Planning department get more credit for all the hard work and political capital they put into this City Wide initiative. Also for all of those “less parking will destroy retail” zealots, go figure !! Cafe Roma would only be doing it if Cafe Greco’s formula worked. Go Landscape !

  • Ruthlletts

    Noah, this is great! Have been reading about this street concept in the Chron…didn’t know your were a major piece of it. I love the whole concept.  Have to get up to SF/NoBeach & try it on!  Ruth Letts

  • Katie

    Love this! Can’t wait to visit.