In San Francisco, a One-Stop Shop for Building Better Streets

A new website streamlines the process for creating parklets, art installations, bike parking and more.

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Eric Allix Rogers/Flickr

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The city of San Francisco has launched a new website to help residents take advantage of city resources and programs for neighborhood-scaled street improvements such as parklets, bike parking, plantings, art installations, sidewalk fixtures, green infrastructure, and permits for car-free events. The site is co-sponsored by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the city’s Planning Department, Department of Public Works, and Public Utilities Commission.

Writing in SF.Streetsblog, Aaron Bialick quotes Joana Linsangan of the Planning Department:

Before this website was launched, this information wasn’t available. For someone to go through the process, someone would have to go and contact various departments around the city.  People may not think they have the ability to do so, but if they want to, they can apply for a parklet, put out bike racks or put out planters in their neighborhood, at their storefront, and we’re trying to give them all the information to make it happen.

Courtesy of throgers/Flickr



Courtesy of Lafayette College/Flickr

Bialick writes that easier access to permits could smooth the process for neighborhood street fairs and “more regular, small-scale, car-free events in the style of Sunday Streets,” a version of which was highlighted in different cities in an article last week by my colleague Marissa Ramirez. In San Francisco, the program seems large-scale and immensely popular, and the city also has a website dedicated to it with a schedule of which streets will be participating as the year goes on.

Curb ramps, crosswalks, pedestrian signals, and outdoor café seating are among additional possibilities highlighted on the site.  There are sections of the site for residents, developers, and business owners. As more cities come to recognize and enjoy the benefits of people-oriented streets, let’s hope San Francisco’s encouragement becomes a model.

Photo courtesy of jeremyashaw/Flickr

Top photo courtesy of Eric Allix Rogers/Flickr

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog.

About the Author

  • Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. More
    Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. He is the author or co-author of Once There Were Greenfields (NRDC 1999), Solving Sprawl (Island Press 2001), Smart Growth In a Changing World (APA Planners Press 2007), and Green Community (APA Planners Press 2009). In 2009, Kaid was voted one of the "top urban thinkers" on Planetizen.com, and he was named one of "the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" in 2010 by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. He blogs at NRDC's Switchboard.