Dane Ohri plays an original song on his thin, “backpacker” Martin guitar. A harmonica is strapped around his neck.
Alice Leroy, Kari Koller and Gigi, Koller’s Maltese poodle, listen as the lean, young, pork-pie hat-sporting Ohri sings, “A smile goes a long way/It makes the green grass grow.”
Koller, in a T-shirt, is dressed simply compared to her furry beribboned and vest-wearing companion.
“We like the parklets,” Koller says. “In a San Francisco winter, it’s nice.”
Koller and Leroy talk with Ohri between songs, sounding as if they’re old friends. Ohri tells them he’s playing with two other singer/songwriters at the Bazaar Club on St. Valentine’s Day eve.
The three are enjoying a warm early February afternoon at the parklet in front of The Crepe House, an eatery located directly across the street from City College Mission campus. The public space’s deep red café tables and chairs match the color of the wood fence and planters.
There is a cluster of six parklets within walking distance of the Mission campus. Each parklet offers a different take on one of San Francisco government’s latest attempts to enhance a spirit of community upon the city’s sidewalks and street parking lanes.
“From a business point of view, it is always recommended to have something like that [outdoor seating]. It attracts the people to your business,” Hishan Massarweh said. Massarweh and his daughter are co-owners of The Fig Shop.
Massarweh worked with the mother of the owner of After Life Boutique, located next to The Blue Fig, when designing the parklet in front of 988 and 990 Valencia Street, respectively.
The parklet features stone-inlaid café tables and chairs, solid wood plant cabinetry, a wire fence separating the area from Valencia Street traffic and a circular iron arch centerpiece for the elegant sitting space.
Massarweh has planted ten creeping fig plants whose vines will spread onto the seating area’s open fence.
“It’s been helpful for the beautification of Valencia Street,” Massarweh said.
Although almost all of the city’s 42 permitted parklets are placed in front of businesses, the space in front of a bright blue Victorian at 937 Valencia Street has been created by pure whimsy.
Deepistan National Parklet, according to its website, deeplet.org, is a joint project of “megafaunaphile” Amandeep Jawa, “Chief Ranger” Kimberly Conley and “instigator, architect and parklet mastermind” Jane Martin of Shift Design Studio.
A model of sustainable design, Deepistan’s website informs the curious that the parklet is “constructed of recyclable and recycled aluminum planters,” “concrete pavers are made from recycled porcelain from toilets/sinks,” and “wood benches are Forest Stewardship Council certified,” as well as several other environmentally friendly principles.
Deepistan National Parklet is topped off by Trixie, a sculptured succulent dinosaur.
City College Mission campus students are lucky to have such easy access to San Francisco’s burgeoning parklets program. They are a great place to eat, people watch, study, sun and, on occasion, listen to some good folk music.
Where to find parklets near Mission campus:
Valencia Street and off-Valencia Street parklets
The Blue Fig (990 Valencia St) and After Life (988 Valencia St.)
The Crepe House (1132 Valencia St.)
Deepistan National Parklet (937 Valencia St.)
Escape from N.Y. Pizza (3242 22nd St, Valencia and Mission Sts.)
Fabric8 (3318 22nd St, Valencia and Guerrero Sts.)
Freewheel Bike Shop (914 Valencia St.)