Funding Guide

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The Funding Guide consists of a table that lists potential sources of funds and revenues that organizations can use to manage a public space. The Funding Guide incorporates mechanisms that support the models discussed in the main section of this guide, as well as others that may be relevant for public space managers in San Francisco and around the nation.

In each section of the Guide, items that are active and/or readily available in San Francisco appear at the top, highlighted in yellow. Items that are not highlighted in yellow represent case studies that may be considered for adaption and application in San Francisco, or may serve as inspiration for development of future programs.

It is important to note that there is no “silver bullet” funding mechanism to address public space management costs. Indeed, the case studies discussed on this website illustrate that most public space managers rely on a combination of revenue sources that includes a constantly shifting make-up of grants, financial and in-kind donations, sponsorships, government funding, user fees, and earned or raised revenue. Managers that get creative in combining financial resource streams - by thinking of new angles, partnerships, and ways to engage a broad base of stakeholders - are typically the most successful.

With each type of funding, public space managers must weigh pros and cons. Offering sponsorship opportunities for a plaza, for example, may bring in new funds but may also be perceived as undesirable “privatization” of public space. Grants can be very helpful, but they may not be a sustainable source of funds year after year. In a climate with limited reliable funding streams available through state or local governments, public space managers must remain flexible and creative in their efforts to secure resources. They must be entrepreneurial and must adapt to a constantly-changing funding and political landscape.

Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s People St program is a public-private partnership framework designed to support communities in transforming L.A.’s streets into active, vibrant, and accessible public spaces. The program website provides a clear table of responsibilities and costs for stewards, according to three pre-approved project types (above). For more information on this and other resources, please visit: