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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