Role of S.F. Parklets as Public Space Not Always Clear
Parklets have sprung up throughout San Francisco in recent years, with many providing additional space for customers of restaurants and cafes. However, they are not extensions of these establishments, reports Justin Phillips:
San Francisco requires parklets to make clear that they are public spaces and part of the city’s program. The design is also supposed to stand alone from the business, at least aesthetically. An example of this can be found at Ritual Coffee Roasters on Valencia Street, where the structure is made to look as though a wooden ship has washed up along the curb.
Phillips says that parklets go through an extensive review process, including public hearings, and they have to conform to a set of design standards. The price tag for parklets varies, but the cost can be substantial for smaller businesses. Still, business owners report that the parklets are an amenity that helps attract customers.
"Yet questions are growing about the use of public space for the benefit of private businesses such as restaurants and cafes that can afford to build one to essentially expand their seating areas," notes Phillips.