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