The San Francisco Parks Alliance’s Street Parks Program represents a partnership between SFPA and Public Works to support grassroots community groups in developing and maintaining underutilized Public Works-owned open spaces. In administering this program, SFPA leverages its experience in community organizing, open-space management, and volunteer coordination to help neighborhood groups beautify and activate public land on street medians, steps, triangles or traffic circles, unimproved right-of-ways, and more.
Participation in the program begins with interest from a motivated group of residents. SFPA has developed Street Parks Guidelines to provide interested groups with initial information about the program as well as about safety, planting, maintenance, and caring for street trees. Groups who wish to participate must submit a short application to SFPA, and engage in a meeting and site visit to obtain Public Works approval for community engagement with the targeted site. Site approval is based on demonstrated neighborhood support as well as site safety.
Once Public Works has approved the site, SFPA supports community groups in developing an action plan, including drawings of proposed improvements, planting lists, and a budget. SFPA provides workshops on a range of topics to support stewardship groups throughout the year, from fundraising to plant selection and care. Groups are responsible for raising money to fund their own project, and they may chose to take advantage of fiscal sponsorship through SFPA’s Park Partners program if needed. Once adequate funds are raised, project leaders work together to engage neighborhood stakeholders in volunteer work days to implement the vision outlined in the plan. Throughout all stages of the project, SFPA’s Street Parks Program serves as a resource and advises groups on the process.
SFPA’s Street Parks program has resulted in the transformation of over 120 open spaces throughout San Francisco. The program provides an excellent model for supporting grassroots community groups acting as stewards of neighborhood open spaces. The City should explore the feasibility of developing a similar program and/or partnering with SFPA to scale up the existing program in order to enhance support for grassroots groups stewarding emerging public spaces, such as plazas and living alleys.
San Francisco, CA
Non-profit and Public Works, with grassroots community groups
Cost to set-up/create
Manager resource level