Sometimes it seems like the last thing people in San Francisco want to do with parking spaces is actually park their cars in them.
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Exacerbating that trend is PARK(ing) Day, an annual celebration of "parklets"former parking spaces that have been converted into tiny patches of urban green space.
Now a worldwide phenomenon, PARK(ing) Day began in 2005 when San Francisco design studio Rebar converted a metered parking space in Downtown San Francisco into a public park for two hoursthe length of time allowed on the parking meter. When the meter ran out, Rebar's polite urban activists rolled up their astroturf and went home.
As word of the project went viral online, cities across the country started asking Rebar to make "parklets" for them too. Instead, the firm put out a how-to guide for anyone interested in creating parklets and encouraged people from across the country to construct their own.
From those auspicious beginnings, PARK(ing) Day has grown to include participants from as far away as Stockholm, Sweden and Sydney, Australia. Last year's PARK(ing) Day saw parklets taking over 800 parking spaces in 30 countries on six continents.
Check out this Streetsblog video detailing the history and mission of PARK(ing) Day:
According to PARK(ing) Day's official website, "The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!"
San Francisco has embraced parklets on a long-term basis as a number of former parking spaces all across the city have been permanently converted into the now ubiquitous parkets.
The parklet concept has grown so popular in the city that when the San Francisco Bike Coalition asked all the current mayoral candidates their views on increasing the number of parklets, virtually every one of them expressed their full-throated support.
"Turning ordinary parking spaces into parks for a day is a test drive for creating more permanent people-friendly places," says Jeremy Madsen, executive director of Greenbelt Alliance, which is working with Farley's East to host a parklet on Grand near Broadway. Greenbelt invites neighbors of the nearby Broadway-Valdez triangle to visit the parklet and discuss that and other streetscape improvements they would like to see in the area's redevelopment plan.
Check out this map of PARK(ing) Day parklets popping up all over the country Friday:
Some other events happening during PARK(ing) Day include: a traveling food installation at SPUR, blow-up car parking in SoMa, a composting workshop at the Seed Lending Library and "Yoga Between Two Meters," a free yoga class in a Mission parklet.
And it wouldn't be San Francisco without a gaggle of naked people: Accordingly, a group of nudists staged a naked parking space in front of the Castro Theatre to add their contribution to the festivities.
Converting parking spaces into parks isn't the only thing people have been doing with them lately. An inventive Bay Area design firm recently proposed the construction of "pooplets," which turn what was once a parking space into a free, enclosed bathroom targeted for use by the city's homeless community.
The pooplet idea is still in its planning stages, meaning that POOP(ing) Day sadly remains a pipe dream.
Take at some of the parklets sprouting up around the city below: