SF Mayor Launches Development Initiative Off Chapter Pocket Park

SF Mayor Launches Development Initiative Off Chapter Pocket Park

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Mar 07, 2012
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Early last year, San Francisco chapter member and architect Reaz Haque reached out to the City for potential projects. The City chipped him a cul-de-sac abutting an Interstate in a low-income neighborhood. This east end of Burrows Street had become neglected, a dumping ground and gathering spot for vandals and illicit activity. Six months following the architect's design presentation, the Office of the Mayor is engaging the 1 Burrows Street Pocket Park as flagship project for neighborhood development and public greening.

On Tuesday, March 6, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee visited the tucked-away neighborhood of Portola to deliver a short speech at the future site of the pocket park. The City has launched a broad Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative to stimulate commercial corridors across the city. Small interventions such as the pocket park play a crucial role catalyzing economic development, increasing foot traffic and creating business opportunities for nearby retailers. A vacant building adjoining the site has been identified for a future cafe with a biodynamic menu.

The park project is to install permeable paving, landscaping of local plant varieties, and a bioswale as part of the public contribution to the neighborhood. The park design utilizes horticulture as a tool for fostering stewardship, beautification and humanization of the surrounding area.


View from across San Bruno Street, looking east

Sketch Perspective
Sketch perspective presented to City last fall

Site cleared, TV crews massing
The site has been cleared, and some street trees have been planted on the North side (not shown)

To date, the site has been cleared of debris. While still in its infancy, even achieving these ends was a major struggle. The state transit agency Caltrans and the San Francisco Department of Public Works shared ownership of the land. Raez and the SF Chapter pulled these two organizations together with the Portola Neighborhood Steering Committee, Portola Garden Tour Association and Mayor's Office for Economic and Workforce Development to negotiate appropriating the land and spreading local enthusiasm and commitment to help develop and maintain the park.

Mayor Ed Lee recognized the significance of the resulting collaboration in his speech. These were the ingredients for successful public interventions - the reason the Pocket Park will soon become a reality and set an example for similar projects across the city.

The garden and public plaza may be open by the end of the Summer.

Crezia Tano, Raez Haque and Mayor Lee catch up after the speech
Crezia Tano, Raez Haque and Mayor Lee catch up after the speech. Ms. Tano represents the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development

Final Board Presentation
Final board presentation