On September 15, 2017, the Young Planners Group (YPG) of APA’s San Diego Chapter co-hosted a PARK(ING) Day “parklet” in downtown San Diego with the San Diego Chapter of Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP), Michael Baker International, and Rooted in Place Landscape Architecture & Consulting. The parklet was located on B Street in front of Donut Bar and spanned 3 parking spaces.

PARK(ING) Day is a global event where parking spaces are converted into parks or parklets until the meter runs out! The aim of PARK(ING) Day is to call attention to the lack of open space in cities and generate a conversation about how public space is created and allocated, all with the goal to improve the quality of urban areas. In San Diego, the Downtown San Diego Partnership works directly with the City of San Diego to waive parking meter fees in predetermined spaces throughout the downtown area. Many of the parklets in San Diego are hosted by local businesses, creating parklets that offer haircuts, yoga, and other services.

The theme of our parklet was “Nature in the 21st Century City” and featured many different items that educated the public on the greenway planning efforts downtown and brought a slice of nature into our parking spots. A nature play area which featured two teepees that parklet visitors could decorate with ribbons and pinecones was provided by Rooted in Place. Information about several types of bikeways was provided by APBP and Alta Planning + Design, and information about the Downtown Mobility Plan and its bikeways and greenways was provided by APA. The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition provided a bike rack for use by parklet visitors and fresh fruit, snacks, and giveaways were provided by Michael Baker International. Donut Bar donated apple cider and were gracious hosts. All groups provided items to create a series of comfortable seating areas that people could lounge in. Sited next to a large, old tree, the parklet created an atmosphere for visitors to enjoy the beautiful day and the nature hidden throughout the downtown area.

A wide range of people – professionals, tourists waiting in line for Donut Bar, and PARK(ING) Day enthusiasts – stopped by to look at the different informational items and participate in nature play. A lot of fun was had by visitors and the volunteers from the hosting groups. Almost everyone who stopped by left our parklet with a map of all the parklets in downtown. The parklet sparked conversation about the lack of green space downtown and many expressed interest and support for the 14th Street Greenway, which was featured in the Downtown Mobility Plan materials shown.

The partnership between the different hosting groups and firms was the secret to success for the 2017 PARK(ING) Day parklet. Each group played a unique and invaluable role in shaping the theme and programming for the space, gathering volunteers, and providing items to fill the parking spaces. A parklet of this size would have been difficult to create without the effort and contributions of each group – and the generous beverage donation from Donut Bar! We look forward to PARK(ING) Day 2018 and hope to incorporate even more interactive items.

This article was authored by Madison Roberts, YPG Member, APBP San Diego Chapter Co-chair, Active Transportation and Community Planner at Michael Baker International