06/13/2012 07:31 pm ET Updated Aug 13, 2012

San Francisco POPOS: Privately Owned Public Open Spaces Will Now Be More Visible (PHOTOS)

San Francisco's Financial District is not the first place we think of when it comes to discovering the city's best hidden parks. Downtown is for Starbucks and H&M; green spaces are for areas that don't have two-in-one Bart and Muni stations.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to learn the neighborhood that barely operates outside business hours is also home to dozens of secret parks, plazas, gardens and terraces.


Known as POPOS, these Privately Owned Public Open Spaces (get it?) are operated by adjacent building owners but available for anyone to enjoy. (Take that, Sit/Lie!)

And thanks to new legislation approved by the Planning Commission, these small slices of paradise will no longer be kept under the radar.

The measure, introduced by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, will require POPOS to erect signage touting their various locations that's "easy to notice and read," the San Francisco Examiner reported. The guidelines would also require POPOS owners to keep their spaces well-maintained for public enjoyment.

Local urban planning nonprofit SPUR recently compiled a guide to said spots, which includes a map, descriptions of each area and even a smartphone app. "Public open spaces should be the pride and joy of any city," the organization's report read. "They are especially important in downtown San Francisco, where a quarter of a million people converge on a daily basis."

Experts speculate that POPOS have remained a secret for so long because building owners don't want to deal with an influx of individuals on their property. Blogger Frank Jacobs pointed out that to access many of these spaces, one must travel through unmarked doors or walk past security guards.

According to the Examiner, one member of the Planning Commission even expressed concern that adding signage to POPOS would attract homeless people and drug users.

Still, as Financial District inhabitants ourselves, we couldn't be more pleased that it now might be easier to access nearby greenery. Visit SPUR's website to learn more, and take a look at some of our favorites below, courtesy of the company's Flickr page:

San Francisco's POPOs