The Street Parks Program is a partnership involving Public Works, the San Francisco Parks Alliance and the residents of San Francisco, with the common goal of creating community-managed spaces on City-owned land. The Street Parks program transforms Public Works-owned parcels into green open space, gardens, neighborhood gathering spaces and more. Since the program’s inception in 2004, more than 100 Street Parks have been developed and more are in progress.
Each Street Park is unique because it is created to meet the needs of the community that develops it. Street Parks function as ornamental gardens, places of recreation, community meeting spaces, wildlife habitat and other open space uses.
Public Works is responsible for confirming parcels are Public Works owned and appropriate for community stewardship under the Street Parks Program. Public Works considers such factors such as site slope, safety, and visibility to nearby traffic in their assessment of site suitability. Public Works reviews all Street Park site and maintenance plans, and ensures that site plans meet technical requirements of the Public Works Code. Public Works provides material support such as tool loans for site work days, and services such as green waste pick up.
San Francisco Parks Alliance serves as a resource to Street Parks groups, providing information on funding, grant opportunities, and other guidance helpful to groups as they develop their sites. Parks Alliance co-presents practical workshops twice a year, and distributes Street Wise, an e-newsletter with information pertinent to creating and maintaining Street Parks. Parks Alliance is an organization that provides fiscal sponsorship services, and many Street Park groups engaged in fundraising choose SFPA as their sponsor.
Street Park stewards are the leaders who organize their neighbors around the development of a Street Park project. Street Park stewards are responsible for project leadership including conducting neighborhood outreach, designing, funding, developing, and maintaining their Street Park project. Street Park stewards agree to maintain their site for a minimum of three years, and are responsible for keeping the site watered, weeded, and free of litter and graffiti.
Street Parks have been developed throughout San Francisco and exist in every district. Street Parks are created on public rights- of-way; unaccepted streets; areas along public sidewalks and stairways; and traffic circles and triangles. The title “Street Parks” is a bit of a misnomer, as adopted parcels are usually smaller spaces and don’t contain standard elements associated with traditional parks, such as baseball diamonds and manicured grass lawns. Rather, Street Parks are developed from the community up on smaller fragments of Public Works-owned land, and result in distinctive neighborhood spaces that suit the communities that create them.