Street Parks Program
Street Parks is a partnership between San Francisco Public Works, the San Francisco Parks Alliance and the residents of San Francisco to develop and create community managed gardens on public rights of way owned by Public Works.
The Street Parks program transforms vacant lots into gardens, trash and illegal dumping spots into greenery, and hillsides into parks. Since its inception in 2004, 100 community gardens have been developed and many more are in progress.
What is a public right-of-way?
Public rights-of-way are streets, unaccepted streets, sidewalks, medians, stairways, circles and triangles that are public space.
Where is there available land?
Land is scattered all over the city of San Francisco. In general these sites are Public Works-owned sidewalks, stairways, median strips, traffic circles and vacant land.
Who pays for the improvements?
Neighborhood groups are encouraged to apply for grants from public and private funding sources for materials. Costs for improvements are off-set by volunteer participation and support from The San Francisco Parks Alliance and Public Works.
How do I start greening a public open space in my neighborhood?
Check out the Street Parks Manual.
- Identify Public Works-owned public right-of-ways in your neighborhood
Read the Street Parks Guidelines at The Parks Alliance website to better understand the scope of Street Parks projects.
Apply on-line by filling out the Street Parks Application and we will schedule a meeting with you once we receive your application.
Contact neighbors and organize a planning meeting to create your Street Park.
Create a drawing of your proposed improvements.
Create a budget.
Share your plans with the neighborhood through community meeting or flyers so all neighbors are aware and agree with the plan.
Submit your plans to San Francisco Public Works for approval.
The Street Parks Program applies to:
Unaccepted streets. These are public areas where private property owners are responsible for maintenance.
How the Street Parks Program Works
- Resident (aka Steward) locates a site there are interested in planting/developing and maintaining for at-least 3 years. Ideally within close proximity to their home (1-3 blocks).
- Fill out application for Street Parks program, then submit to SFPA
- SFPA will contact you to set up a site meeting between the applicant, Public Works and SFPA at the site.
- We will confirm the property owner and ensure the land is safe and suitable for development.
- Once confirmed, Steward is responsible for scheduling a meeting with adjacent and neighboring property owners/residents using the meeting template provided by SFPA/Public Works. All residents/property owners who may be impacted by the site because they can view the site, can hear work or people at the site should be invited to initial meeting. SFPA/Public Works representatives will try to attend the first meeting, but will not necessarily attend subsequent meetings.
- At the initial meeting the agenda should include:
- Introduction of Steward
- Overview of Street Parks Program
- Informal assessment of participant interest and skills that can be brought to the project, depending on the dynamics of each group.
- A basic idea of the type & scope of development should be discussed and concerns should be brought up at this time.
- Community should discuss how they plan to maintain the site for at least 3 years. Maintenance includes, but is not limited to cleaning, weeding, planting and watering.
- Fundraising – it is the responsibility of each Steward or Street Park group to raise enough funds to complete the project. Before design plans begin, the group should decide how much grant writing and fundraising they are willing to do.
- Someone should take notes and everyone should provide their email address/contact information for future meetings.
- Plan next meeting and/or site clean up.
- Depending on the group, obstacles involved in development, funding and design – it could take up to 1 year for a neighborhood group to decide on the plan for their open space. Once, all neighbors need to agree on plan (landscape design, plant list, irrigation plan, maintenance plan), the plan must be submitted to the Public Works Street Parks Program for approval before any work can be completed.
- All information going out to the community regarding the land must include the San Francisco Public Works name and/or logo. San Francisco Public Works logos must also be used on all printed materials, signs and banners. Such items must also be approved by San Francisco Public Works before they are sent to neighbors/residents or displayed to other community members. For details about how to apply for the Street Parks Program, please click here.
- Transforms vacant lots into garden-parks, and trash and illegal dumping into greenery
Reinforces City efforts to maintain public rights-of-way
Supports and enhances public land use, community control of and engagement in local green open spaces
Makes a statement to others about the community's long-term commitment to the area and to preserving open land in the neighborhood
Beautifies neighborhoods and enhances the value of neighborhood properties
Builds community, provides recreation and is fun and rewarding
Since its inception in 2004, 35 community gardens have been developed and 64 more are in progress. View a list of completed Street Parks and gardens in progress here.
Click here to find out more information on what is available to develop your street park.
If you have any questions, please contact us.
San Francisco Public Works
2323 Cesar Chavez St., Bldg. A
San Francisco, CA 94103
If you have questions about the program and the application process, please contact San Francisco Parks Alliance by mail, email or phone.
Street Parks Program
Mail: San Francisco Parks Alliance
Attention: Julia Brashares
1663 Mission St., Suite 320
San Francisco, CA 94103