Saturday, May 29, 2010

Parklets: 22nd and Valencia

San Francisco - Wandering the city has always been part of what makes this town so special.  Tree-lined alleys and bustling corridors offer solace and commerce.     Among the newest of these environs are the new 'Parklets' being installed throughout the city, offering citizens innovative ways to take a break.  17th and Castro was first (and the most expensive) of those installed to date.   San Jose and Guerrero, Grove and Divisadero are among others. 
     Stopping by on a Saturday at noon, the 22nd and Valencia parklet was empty, although many others were photographing and 'kicking the tires' of the new structure.  It's bamboo construction felt very sturdy, while it's modular capabilities also impressed.  The xeroscaped planters were apropos, and the section incorporating a standing bar table was creative.
     One drawback was the lack of pre-existing trees on the street segment where the parklet was situated, providing inadequate shade at midday.  Friends of the Forest did plant two new trees within the parklet itself, but time will be needed before those benefits are felt.
     Merchants' reactions to the parklet were mixed.  Some felt the parklet had decreased business from their out-of-town clientele.  Escape from New York employee, Chewy, stated, "[the parklet] is probably responsible for about a 5% increase in sales."
     Will the proposed sit-lie ordinance need to be amended to accommodate these new parklets?  Will public input determine the design of more permanent structures like the one at 17th and Castro?  Time will tell. 

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