New plazas and more vibrant streets sprout across the city

Last year, PPS helped set up the San Francisco Great Streets Project modeled after our New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign. Now, with the successful launch of two municipal projects that allow greater pedestrian use of road space, San Francisco is showing its commitment to Placemaking as a strategy for creating more vibrant public life.

Applying lessons from a PPS led “Streets as Places” training workshop for city transportation planners as well as a forum for Merchant Associations earlier this year, the city has launched the Pavement to Parks program, which reconstitutes swaths of roadway into temporary parks and plazas, as well as the Better Market Street Project, which aims to transform the downtown arterial into a world-class street.

Pavement to Parks was inspired by the New York City Public Plaza program and has already implemented three temporary plazas across San Francisco and has plans for a dozen more. One of these newly created plazas was championed by the San Jose/Guerrero Coalition to Save Our Streets, a community group PPS helped through a community Placemaking process, in their auto-dominated central San Francisco neighborhood beginning in 2005. The idea for a temporary plaza first arose during a PPS workshop at that time, and has finally happened thanks to the Pavement to Parks Program, as well as a lengthy citizen-led campaign.

Newly created public plazas at Castro Street (top) and in the San Jose/Guerrero neighborhood (bottom)

The “Better Market Street Project,” a partnership of numerous city agencies and community organizations, has planned numerous improvements to Market Street including concerts, events, mini-plazas and public art displays in at least ten storefronts. Several blocks of Market Street have already been closed to private vehicle traffic in one direction to allow for temporary public space experiments including food kiosks and performance spaces. More public amenities and pedestrian, bike and transit improvements are being planned for the following months.

As longtime advocates of short-term public space improvements as a way to inspire long-term change, PPS is thrilled to see these changes coming to life. And as a partner in the San Francisco Great Streets Campaign, we are proud of our instrumental role in urging both the city and Business Improvement Districts to make the most of their streets and public spaces as a way to generate both social and economic vitality.

For more information, see this article from SF Streetsblog.