By Brian Rinker
An aesthetically-pleasing public patio called a “parklet” extends six feet into the road and takes up three parking spots at 22nd and Bartlett streets, kitty-corner from the City College Mission campus.
Public roads constitute up to 25 percent of public space, the majority of which is ultimately used by motorized vehicles for commuting, rather than by pedestrians for relaxation and enjoyment. This has caught the attention of groups such as design firm Rebar, who built the parklet on 22nd.
“Three quarters of public roads are comprised of private vehicles and obviously, there doesn’t need to be that much metal out there,” Rebar designer Blaine Merker said. “Public roadways should be more comfortable for humans. We understood the huge need for that.”
Originally conceived as a grassroots movement, parklets became permanent city fixtures when former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom pushed the idea of creating parks on public roads.
“He wanted it to be the last great thing before he left office,” Escape From New York Pizza Manager Chewy Marzola said. Escape from New York Pizza is one of the parklet’s five owners and they are responsible for its maintenance, Marzola said.
“All in all the parklets are great,” Marzola said. “But right now I’m just worried about the upkeep — keeping all the wear and tear to a minimum.”
Because parklets are meant for public use and reside street side, upkeep can be difficult at times. The graffiti on the decor wood is especially problematic, Marzalo said.
Marzola is also concerned about the amount of trash collecting underneath the parklet. Every time the street cleaners come they push the entire street’s garbage underneath it. But he has no serious complaints, nor does anyone else.
“There have been no legitimate complaints, except for some parking issues at first, but people have adapted,” Marzola said. “They don’t receive any more negative attention than anywhere else around here.”
Around the Mission, people are in favor of parklets.
“I think parklets are a great idea,” said Oliver Gomes, FedEx delivery driver and parklet patron. “ I want to go to all of them in one day.”
Some neighbors have complained about pending parklets in front of two cafes: Ritual Coffee and Farm:Table. The proposed parklets have yet to receive permits, and no parklet opponents went to the appeal hearings. A final decision has not yet been reached.
The application process is fairly easy, but getting grants and money to build the parklets is a long and tedious process, said Debra Niemann, representative for the association Noe Valley Community Benefit District. The association is in charge of maintaining parklets located on 24th and Sanchez streets and on 24th and Noe streets.