Called Pavement-to-Parks, the program has already green-lighted 25 of these “Parklets:” spaces where people can stop, relax and enjoy the city around them. Some are created by businesses, some by community organizations, others by individuals. Permits are for one year, but can be renewed annually.
But what about all the change that would have been fed to those now-uprooted meters?
“The city does lose out on parking meter revenue,” explains Andres Power, who manages San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks and Parklets programs. “But recent studies show that people who visit neighborhoods by foot, bike or public transit spend more money than those who drive there.” Increased sales taxes, in other words, might well make up for those lost dimes and quarters.
The idea is spreading, with New York City and Philadelphia launching their own programs. Other cities—including Portland, Palo Alto, Oakland and Chicago—are following suit. “The potential designs for Parklets is limitless,” says Power. “I'm excited to see where creative minds can take this.”
Meanwhile, the creative minds at Rebar continue to branch out. During my last visit to their offices, the workshop was filled with huge pink “Bushwaffle:” inflatable, star-shaped cushions that can be joined together, transforming city streets into personal living rooms.
If this keeps up, those aliens may be in for a surprise. Humans might yet prevail in the end.