Noe Valley Voice November 2010

Pair of Parklets to Sprout Soon on 24th Street

By Heather World 

Parklet Preview: As envisioned by San Francisco architect Riyad Ghannam, the two parklets arriving on 24th Street this month for a six-month trial will have space for tables and chairs and greenery-filled planters to buffer pedestrians from traffic.   Courtesy RG Architecture

It’s official—the city is moving forward with plans to install parklets in front of Martha & Bros. Coffee and Just for Fun on 24th Street, with construction scheduled to begin in mid-November.

Riyad Ghannam of RG Architecture said both sites would look the same: red metal bistro tables and chairs surrounded by foot-wide steel planters nearly three feet tall, laced together by stainless-steel cable railing.

“The idea is to create a landscaped buffer between the space and the adjacent parking and cars,” said Ghannam, who also designed the city’s first parklet on Divisadero Street between Hayes and Grove. The materials are high-quality, durable, and easy to maintain while still being relatively inexpensive, he said.

Just for Fun co-owner David Eiland said his initial fears about the design were put to rest when he saw preliminary plans.

“It really is going to feel like a park because there will be a lot of green, a lot of plants,” said Eiland, who has already

replaced the sidewalk along the curb with greenery. He is especially keen to brighten the space with flowers that, until now, have died from repeated car-door collisions.

“My biggest fear was that it was going to look like a platform sticking into the street, but I think it’s going to look like a real sitting area,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about it.”

The Noe Valley sites will be the fourth and fifth parklets built in San Francisco’s year-old Pavement to Parks program, which seeks to turn roadway into public space at minimal cost. The design requirements call for materials that can be easily moved should the parklets prove unpopular.

P2P projects require a partner in the community—neighboring businesses or a local benefit district—to maintain the space. Earlier this year, 24th Street’s community benefit district, the Noe Valley Association, secured a $32,000 grant to build a P2P project in the neighborhood. Original plans for the grant to be spent on a plaza that closed Noe south of 24th Street were scrapped because of public opposition, but the parklets garnered more support, said Andres Power, manager of P2P.

“We want these projects to be community-building exercises, and we need support for that to happen,” Power said. While he was surprised at the level of discord around the plaza, he said he recognized the process needed improvement.

“I think the solution we are moving forward with is the right one given that level of disagreement,” he said.

The parklets got the green light in late October from the Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation, which will review the permit again in six months. Things move relatively quickly from here, Power said.

“They pop up in a matter of a day or two,” he said.