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I have some questions about the information in this recent Mission Local article about Pavement to Parks. Here’s what it says:

“If Pavement to Parks (four locations so far, designed by several different architects) is deemed a success by the different city organizations that oversee it, anyone in the city will be able to apply for a permit to replace the parking space in front of their business or home with a parklet. Those applying for space for commercial use will pay the city based on the amount of seating the area will contain. Those petitioning for non-commercial use will have no permit fees at all, though they will still have to pay the cost of building out the space.”

Really? Can I do it if I’m a renter, or do I have to own? How exactly does it work? When could one start doing this? Can you build something, then PARK ON IT?

When I read the above quote to Andres Power, Pavement to Park’s project manager, he seemed taken aback. “I haven’t read this [article] , nor was I interviewed for it,” he said (I asked Heather Smith, author of the Mission Local piece, who her source was – she told me it was Blaine from ReBar, a group which helps put on PARK(ing) Day. Of note: Smith wrote in her comments section that she edited her article after it was published by erasing all mention of a “hypothetical” ReBar parklet coffee shop).

“The intent is to pilot a number of parklet spaces throughout the city for the next four to six months,” Andres said. “Assuming that the trial is successful, we will start accepting permit applications. Exactly how is still being resolved.”

He said that, “theoretically,” anyone can apply for space, but that not every applicant will get one. “There’s going to be a whole series of criteria that will be worked out in the months to come, in terms of design specifications – how big it can be, what kind of materials, what kinds of things have to be accommodated.”

I found Andres’ statement rather vague, so I asked him the reader’s original questions:

How exactly does it work? What types of criteria? Andres didn’t want to say. “We just don’t know,” he told me about 20 times throughout our conversation in response to various questions.

“Well, what’s an example of a place you definitely couldn’t get a permit for?” I tried.

“A freeway on-ramp,” Andres said. Well, duh. Also, that isn’t even a parking space. Which I wish I had said to him at the time, but he was being so rude I just wanted to get off of the phone.

“The goal of the program is to identify where there are narrow sidewalks, a lot of pedestrian activity, and provide more public space,” Andres elaborated. “At some locations, there isn’t a need for additional public space, or it would be more dangerous to provide such space.” Oh, ok, like on a freeway on-ramp! GOOD ONE ANDRES.

Do you have to own, or can you be a renter?
“If we’re talking residential use, you will most likely have to own,” Andres said. “Commercial use, of course, will be different, as most business owners lease space.”

Can you build something, and then park on it? Andres did not think this question was amusing.

In summary: You may be able to create your own parklet someday. You may not! Especially if you want to build it on an on-ramp. Also, Pavement to Parks needs to work on PR. Their goals are awesome, so there’s no need for their representatives to be so defensive and abrasive about answering questions. Or refuse to answer questions via email and wait days to return phone calls. In my opinion.

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  • John Murphy

    Then of course, the most important thing, is that you will have to negotiate the minefields thrown at you by the neighbors who do not support your parklet. Especially if you are bold and decide to be more than a parklet. While it is unlikely that a freeway onramp is a candidate, the Castro/17th spot is not a former parking space, it is a former street.

    Noe Valley is trying to put a plaza in a street, not a parking space. And yes, we have many “neighbor minefields” we are trying to navigate to get the trial project built.

    For more information and to sign our petition, please go to
    Noe Valley Plaza Online Petition

  • John Murphy

    Then of course, the most important thing, is that you will have to negotiate the minefields thrown at you by the neighbors who do not support your parklet. Especially if you are bold and decide to be more than a parklet. While it is unlikely that a freeway onramp is a candidate, the Castro/17th spot is not a former parking space, it is a former street.

    Noe Valley is trying to put a plaza in a street, not a parking space. And yes, we have many “neighbor minefields” we are trying to navigate to get the trial project built.

    For more information and to sign our petition, please go to
    Noe Valley Plaza Online Petition

  • wlbrn2

    If I had to guess, “We just don’t know,” he told me about 20 times throughout our conversation in response to various questions.” is because, as a pilot program launched this year, he just doesn’t know. Because, as a pilot program in the early going, no one knows. The policy hasn’t been formulated.

    Perhaps a better response to the reader’s question would be “It’s too early to say, but here is Andres Powers’ email. According to the Pavement to Parks web site, they are taking suggestions for new projects. Seems like a good time to try to influence the discussion.”

    From personal experience, I emailed Mr. Powers my opinion on the 24th/Noe project and received a rather thoughtful response.

  • wlbrn2

    If I had to guess, “We just don’t know,” he told me about 20 times throughout our conversation in response to various questions.” is because, as a pilot program launched this year, he just doesn’t know. Because, as a pilot program in the early going, no one knows. The policy hasn’t been formulated.

    Perhaps a better response to the reader’s question would be “It’s too early to say, but here is Andres Powers’ email. According to the Pavement to Parks web site, they are taking suggestions for new projects. Seems like a good time to try to influence the discussion.”

    From personal experience, I emailed Mr. Powers my opinion on the 24th/Noe project and received a rather thoughtful response.

  • Katie Baker

    I completely understand that their policy hasn’t been formulated. If he had told me so in a friendly, non-defensive way, that would have been lovely! However, I was trying to elicit some information to share with our readers about what I think is a really innovative venture. If I worked for Pavement to Parks, I would want to get people excited about upcoming projects – I would not refuse to elaborate on ideas/give ridiculous statements like, “you won’t be able to make a parklet on an on-ramp.” But maybe that is just me.

  • Katie Baker

    I completely understand that their policy hasn’t been formulated. If he had told me so in a friendly, non-defensive way, that would have been lovely! However, I was trying to elicit some information to share with our readers about what I think is a really innovative venture. If I worked for Pavement to Parks, I would want to get people excited about upcoming projects – I would not refuse to elaborate on ideas/give ridiculous statements like, “you won’t be able to make a parklet on an on-ramp.” But maybe that is just me.

  • John Murphy

    Katie –

    I have had the pleasure of sitting on on a couple of unpleasant meetings with Andres – and Andres was one of the few people who made those meetings tolerable.

    There are several projects going on, that are subject to the issues wlbrn2 alludes to, and in the middle of it Andres has had to deal with a major dust storm over the Noe Valley project. Throughout, he’s been very professional.

    I’m pretty sure the on-ramp answer was meant to be intentionally ridiculous, because something less ridiculous might give ammunition to someone. For example if he said “well, if there are only a certain amount of off street spots on a street”, then he pins himself. So his answer communicates exactly that – that there is probably a boundary but who the heck knows where it is. A parklet? An “odd” street like 17th? A “primary” street like Noe. A crosstown expressway like Fell?

    You never know, he may have just left a meeting with one of the Noe Valley Plaza supporters/opponents. That would certainly impact his mood.

  • John Murphy

    Katie –

    I have had the pleasure of sitting on on a couple of unpleasant meetings with Andres – and Andres was one of the few people who made those meetings tolerable.

    There are several projects going on, that are subject to the issues wlbrn2 alludes to, and in the middle of it Andres has had to deal with a major dust storm over the Noe Valley project. Throughout, he’s been very professional.

    I’m pretty sure the on-ramp answer was meant to be intentionally ridiculous, because something less ridiculous might give ammunition to someone. For example if he said “well, if there are only a certain amount of off street spots on a street”, then he pins himself. So his answer communicates exactly that – that there is probably a boundary but who the heck knows where it is. A parklet? An “odd” street like 17th? A “primary” street like Noe. A crosstown expressway like Fell?

    You never know, he may have just left a meeting with one of the Noe Valley Plaza supporters/opponents. That would certainly impact his mood.

  • Katie Baker

    Perhaps he was having a bad few days. If he or anyone else is feeling better, here are some more questions that I’d love to hear answered:

    1. Where are some of the upcoming pilot parklets going to be located? If you don’t know yet, which neighborhoods do you think need parklets the most?
    2. Where do you think there’s the most chance for innovation? Which POTENTIAL (note the potential – not holding you down to anything!) spots excite you the most?
    3. Have you heard any great POTENTIAL ideas so far?
    3. What kinds of parking spaces/areas MIGHT not be right for a parklet, and why? A freeway on-ramp is not a parking spot at all, so the fact that this was the only answer is slightly unhelpful, no?

    These types of answers might help prospective owners brainstorm creative and exciting ways to create parklets!

  • Katie Baker

    Perhaps he was having a bad few days. If he or anyone else is feeling better, here are some more questions that I’d love to hear answered:

    1. Where are some of the upcoming pilot parklets going to be located? If you don’t know yet, which neighborhoods do you think need parklets the most?
    2. Where do you think there’s the most chance for innovation? Which POTENTIAL (note the potential – not holding you down to anything!) spots excite you the most?
    3. Have you heard any great POTENTIAL ideas so far?
    3. What kinds of parking spaces/areas MIGHT not be right for a parklet, and why? A freeway on-ramp is not a parking spot at all, so the fact that this was the only answer is slightly unhelpful, no?

    These types of answers might help prospective owners brainstorm creative and exciting ways to create parklets!

  • macrocarpa

    Andres is a great guy who is 150% committed to what he does. He’s also very busy. If he was short and it took him a while to get back to you, maybe it had something to do with the questions or the tone in which they were asked? That being pushy and snarky.

  • macrocarpa

    Andres is a great guy who is 150% committed to what he does. He’s also very busy. If he was short and it took him a while to get back to you, maybe it had something to do with the questions or the tone in which they were asked? That being pushy and snarky.

  • Eve Batey

    The suggestion that reporters should not be “pushy” is quite an interesting perspective! That seems like a fun approach, and an excellent way to serve the public.

    We will have to keep that in mind for the next time we speak with a public official who’s speaking for a project that has the potential to impact the entire city!

  • Eve Batey

    The suggestion that reporters should not be “pushy” is quite an interesting perspective! That seems like a fun approach, and an excellent way to serve the public.

    We will have to keep that in mind for the next time we speak with a public official who’s speaking for a project that has the potential to impact the entire city!

  • John Murphy

    pushy is fine but sometimes you have to take “No comment” for an answer, n’est pas?

    Let’s look at Katie’s questions with the perspective of history. In February, P2P let slip that there was an upcoming project in Noe Valley, without starting with proper outreach first. Some blame our erstwhile Mayor who wanted some more splashy PR. This resulted in all sorts of misinformation getting out about the project, which allowed a small group of opponents to build a bigger coalition in large part based on the argument “The City never consulted us!” which was true, because the information came out before the consultation was supposed to happen.

    Katie’s questions are excellent in a world without NIMBYs. Unfortunately that is the LOST “flash-sideways” timeline. In this world, Andres has learned the hard way that they really need to control the message in order to roll these things out in a manner that avoids the problems we encountered in Noe Valley.

    I am not Andres, but I can say there is a proposed *PLAZA* on Noe Street at 24th – which is differentiated from “parklet” in that the plaza will take up the entire street (a.k.a. “Not a parking spot at all”) for 60 feet from 24th towards Jersey. This project is certainly a bigger, bolder step than the parklets on Divis or 22nd Street, and nominally a street used more by motorists than 17th, San Jose, or the Showplace location. I think this is very innovative, and has great potential.

    More information on that project can be found in detail at http://yesnoevalley.blogspot.com/

  • John Murphy

    pushy is fine but sometimes you have to take “No comment” for an answer, n’est pas?

    Let’s look at Katie’s questions with the perspective of history. In February, P2P let slip that there was an upcoming project in Noe Valley, without starting with proper outreach first. Some blame our erstwhile Mayor who wanted some more splashy PR. This resulted in all sorts of misinformation getting out about the project, which allowed a small group of opponents to build a bigger coalition in large part based on the argument “The City never consulted us!” which was true, because the information came out before the consultation was supposed to happen.

    Katie’s questions are excellent in a world without NIMBYs. Unfortunately that is the LOST “flash-sideways” timeline. In this world, Andres has learned the hard way that they really need to control the message in order to roll these things out in a manner that avoids the problems we encountered in Noe Valley.

    I am not Andres, but I can say there is a proposed *PLAZA* on Noe Street at 24th – which is differentiated from “parklet” in that the plaza will take up the entire street (a.k.a. “Not a parking spot at all”) for 60 feet from 24th towards Jersey. This project is certainly a bigger, bolder step than the parklets on Divis or 22nd Street, and nominally a street used more by motorists than 17th, San Jose, or the Showplace location. I think this is very innovative, and has great potential.

    More information on that project can be found in detail at http://yesnoevalley.blogspot.com/

  • NoearchSF

    Some good comments perhaps, but the P2P program has done a very poor job in outreach to the community, and a very poor job in formulating their particular policy BEFORE going public and going on line.

    The proposed closing of Noe St. at 24th is very ill conceived with virtually no notification to the residential and business community. There is strong opposition to the plaza, temporary or permanent, primarily because it would close off a section of an important cross town street, currently used as a STREET for vehicles.

    Many of us get seriously tired of the verbal rhetoric the pro-plaza people continue to throw around. The word NIMBY should simply be removed completed from the discussion. It’s damaging and immature and tiresome to hear.

    While the parklets may be a somewhat valid use in some locations, for the most part they are an expensive waste of tax payer money invested in a flimsy, current “trend of the moment”.. Witness the many comments already criticizing the new parklet at 22nd and Bartlett by Mission residents. Sitting right next to traffic on flimsy wood benches does nothing to garner community, or safety, or solve the homeless and drug problems in this city.

    Let’s communicate to Andres Power to get serious and put the money to better use in planting trees, creating permanent streetside landscaping, and making the City safer and cleaner for all residents.

  • NoearchSF

    Some good comments perhaps, but the P2P program has done a very poor job in outreach to the community, and a very poor job in formulating their particular policy BEFORE going public and going on line.

    The proposed closing of Noe St. at 24th is very ill conceived with virtually no notification to the residential and business community. There is strong opposition to the plaza, temporary or permanent, primarily because it would close off a section of an important cross town street, currently used as a STREET for vehicles.

    Many of us get seriously tired of the verbal rhetoric the pro-plaza people continue to throw around. The word NIMBY should simply be removed completed from the discussion. It’s damaging and immature and tiresome to hear.

    While the parklets may be a somewhat valid use in some locations, for the most part they are an expensive waste of tax payer money invested in a flimsy, current “trend of the moment”.. Witness the many comments already criticizing the new parklet at 22nd and Bartlett by Mission residents. Sitting right next to traffic on flimsy wood benches does nothing to garner community, or safety, or solve the homeless and drug problems in this city.

    Let’s communicate to Andres Power to get serious and put the money to better use in planting trees, creating permanent streetside landscaping, and making the City safer and cleaner for all residents.

  • John Murphy

    The word NIMBY should simply be removed completed from the discussion. It’s damaging and immature and tiresome to hear.

    I’ve been called worse, many times, by some guy named “rocky’s dad” who is a plaza opponent, yet I will still apologize for the reference.

  • John Murphy

    The word NIMBY should simply be removed completed from the discussion. It’s damaging and immature and tiresome to hear.

    I’ve been called worse, many times, by some guy named “rocky’s dad” who is a plaza opponent, yet I will still apologize for the reference.

  • NoearchSF

    LOL, yea, right. go ride your little bike and work off some steam.

  • NoearchSF

    LOL, yea, right. go ride your little bike and work off some steam.

  • Xenu

    Fuckin’ parklets, how do they work?

  • Xenu

    Fuckin’ parklets, how do they work?

  • Alex Zepeda

    Eve: If you’re not shitting rainbows you’re not doing your job.

    Katie: From your description neither you nor the other guy were being too pushy. But, come on, this is city government. At what point can you stop and realize that he probably knows less than you do about this whole program.

    Anyhow. There’s this abandoned house next door to where I live. I wonder if I can turn their driveway into a parklet. Stupid fuckers paid a maid to go rip up all the weeds leaving plots of dry dirt to fester in what was otherwise a decent looking sidewalk.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Eve: If you’re not shitting rainbows you’re not doing your job.

    Katie: From your description neither you nor the other guy were being too pushy. But, come on, this is city government. At what point can you stop and realize that he probably knows less than you do about this whole program.

    Anyhow. There’s this abandoned house next door to where I live. I wonder if I can turn their driveway into a parklet. Stupid fuckers paid a maid to go rip up all the weeds leaving plots of dry dirt to fester in what was otherwise a decent looking sidewalk.

  • macrocarpa

    The reason so much of what passes for news sucks such huge donkey is that all too often journalists mistake, or intentionally substitute, pushy for persistent. And the abusive bile puked up by huge donkeys like Alex “he probably knows less than you do” Zapeda is all too common and tends to cause “city workers”, also known as public servants, recoil when approached with snarkiness and condescension.

  • macrocarpa

    The reason so much of what passes for news sucks such huge donkey is that all too often journalists mistake, or intentionally substitute, pushy for persistent. And the abusive bile puked up by huge donkeys like Alex “he probably knows less than you do” Zapeda is all too common and tends to cause “city workers”, also known as public servants, recoil when approached with snarkiness and condescension.