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.