Are Parklets in SFs Mission Really Public

first_img“If it’s just an extension of the business, and at the end of the business day there’s no place to sit, then it’s just a piece of concrete,” said Jefferson McCarley, general manager at Mission Bicycle Shop and a member of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association (VCMA).McCarley drew a distinction between parklets that are intended to build community and others that only provide extra seating for a restaurant or cafe. He said that a “good” parklet can strike a balance between the two.  The association has yet to oppose a parklet, he said “but there have been designs we’ve been less inclined to support.” The latter, he said, are parklets that offer little or no seating after business hours – true of four or so existing parklets on Valencia and some new parklet designs. A good parklet, McCarley said, can be used after a business has closed. McCarley pointed to the parklets sponsored by Ritual Coffee Roasters and Freewheel Bike Shop as prime examples of good parklets – those that can be accessed by the community at all times, especially because of their permanent seating.But others, McCarley said, like cafe Blue Fig and the Crepe House – both of which have little or no seating after business hours – have drifted conceptually from the original public spaces pioneered ten years ago during “Park(ing) Day,” when architectural designers from design studio Rebar transformed a single metered parking space into a miniature park.Indeed, the parklet sponsored by the Crepe House on 22nd and Valencia Streets has no built in seating. But Shar Haddadin, owner of the restaurant, said that being able to remove the seating after business hours reduces the chances of the parklet attracting nuisances, such as loitering and late-night rowdiness. “When the bars let out there are no benches here for drunk people to sit down and make noise,” he said, citing concerns for the residences above his restaurant. Yet Haddadin said that he’s recently considered installing benches into the parklet. They would be short in length to prevent napping. “I’m concerned about homeless people during businesses hours,” he said. Despite its furniture being re-moveable and matching the restaurant’s color scheme, Haddadin feels that many people – such as students from City College of San Francisco across the street – use his parklet as a public space, and that those who sit down don’t necessarily feel pressure to buy something.For Haddadin, the parklet as a public gathering space is ultimately about attracting people to his creperie. “The more people the better for my business,” he said.“Frequently businesses fund parklets completely as an extension of their business space,” said Nathan John, designer of the forthcoming Arizmendi parklet. “They’re not the public space they’re meant to be, but an everyday business operation.”That, he said, is one of the “perils” of the parklet program. John, who designs public spaces for a living, said that the beauty of parklets is that they’re one kind of public domain transformed into another. But he sees the trend on Valencia Street moving toward more privatized parklets, as more cafes and restaurants build parklets in front of their storefronts. Some of these parklets, he said, can be less inviting to the public, despite the placards that say “public.”“There are a lot of cues that tell people ‘this isn’t for you – this is for a customer’,” John said. “The best public spaces are those everyone can see themselves in. That’s the gold standard of a public space.”In a 2014 study that examined parklets on Polk Street, U.C. Berkeley graduate students Alison Ecker and Stella Kim asked: “ … When a public space is not controlled by a public entity, an important question arises: does the public actually understand the function of this type of space? Or, put another way, do people perceive parklets to be public spaces or sites reserved for patrons?”The study examined various parklet characteristics that could influence passerby perception of the parklet as a public or private space. It looked at the number of tables and chairs, amount of flora, how much the parklet matched the storefront, as well as upkeep, cleanliness, and whether smoking is allowed.Among the study’s conclusions is that public space connected to businesses can be confusing – that “some people understand a parklet as public space, but still feel pressure to buy something,” it states. Also, the parklet in the lowest income neighborhood – in front of Jebena Cafe on Polk and Geary Streets, which had the lowest upkeep but no tables and chairs — was most clearly considered a public space. But it also faced the most “challenges,” such as fights and the use of the space by homeless, which prompted the owner to take away the tables and chairs.John, the designer, said that he and Arizmendi’s owners wanted to create a space that is seen as a “neighborhood space and not an Arizmendi space.” According to John, it will have a “semicircle, amphitheater” design that pays tribute to the community meetings once held in the Mission District.“The best public spaces don’t preclude the individual from sitting down to use space,” he said, pointing to the BART stations on 16th and 24th Streets as some of the most functional and successful public spaces in the Mission. “Public space is a public good that should be afforded to everyone, no matter their neighborhood, class, or race — it’s something everyone needs.”But John said that even the parklet he designed isn’t exempt from what he believes is a larger systemic flaw in the parklet program — that every parklet needs a private patron. After all, Arizmendi’s public community-forum-themed parklet will sit directly outside the bakery and not somewhere more in need of the public good. That, he explained, might be why there’s such a high concentration of parklets on, or near, Valencia Street and virtually no others in the Mission.“By outsourcing public good to private entities, it’s difficult to distribute those services,” he said. “So you get a concentration of parklets next to patrons with the resources.”The planning department says the program provides “opportunities for communities to create small but important public spaces right in their own neighborhoods,” but that means they can also be a luxury of more privileged areas, like Valencia Street.After permitting from the city, design and construction, an average parklet can cost the sponsor – an individual or business – between $15,000 to $20,000. And upkeep is the sole responsibility of the sponsor, which is why some parklet sponsors might feel a sense of ownership of their investment.Robin Abad Ocubillo, a project coordinator with the San Francisco Planning Department and head of policy for Pavement to Parks, a collaborative effort between Planning and other city groups to convert street pavement into public space, said that the program hinges on the volition of each neighborhood. “Certain neighborhoods have been more excited,” he said. “It’s been a more organic process.”But Ocubillo acknowledged that the lack of parklets in underrepresented areas has been a concern. Which is why, he said, the city’s parklet program is putting together a fund of an undisclosed amount that would offer either matching or competition grants to four to six businesses each year.“It’s something we’ve thinking about for a very long time,” he said. “We want enable people in communities in all neighborhoods to create public space if they’re wanting it.”The fund, however, is only meant to assist businesses that have already proposed parklets and is not necessarily aimed at incentivizing businesses to join the program. “The city has to be agnostic about it,” he said. “We take all the proposals and look at them, and respond to the neighborhood’s initiative.”Regarding the criticism that businesses are merely extending their commercial space, Ocubillo pointed to the planning department’s parklet manual that offers guidelines. It encourages — but does not require — sponsors to integrate permanent seating and other amenities into the parklet’s structure, “so that a parklet still feels welcome[ing] after moveable…tables and seating are taken in at night.”“When you look at the way parklets’ designs have evolved over years, we’ve moved away from patio platform design toward spaces that are more complex and read more as public spaces,” Ocubillo said.Luna Rienne Gallery, on 22nd street between Valencia and Guerrero, has used its parklet space for various public art installations since 2011. The newest installation — a forest-like design with various leveled stoops and planters — is to be installed in September. “No matter your intention, it’s still an opportunity to offer public space for everyone,” said Olivia Ongpin, director of the gallery. “Some places that’s more obvious than others.” 0% But Ongpin said that parklets are still a hefty investment for businesses, and that there are a lot of liabilities in maintaining completely public space with permanent seating. She said a parklet has to be designed to last. “They’re out in the middle of the street, they’re not always gonna be pretty,” she said. “How do you prevent skaters from doing ollies all over it?”Although Ongpin said that her gallery utilizes the parklet as a neighborhood gathering spot for BBQs and major T.V. events, she admitted her parklet is still in front of her gallery and still “obliquely a revenue stream.”Manuel Godino, founder of Venga Empanadas, said his parklet is still awaiting approval. According to designs, Godino’s parklet will have an orange and blue color scheme that is similar to the restaurant’s, and the designs show little built-in seating. But Godino said “the idea of the parklet is that [it] is a public space. We will respect that concept.”Jesse Jacobs, founder of Samovar Tea Bar, plans to build a parklet that pays tribute to Shinrin Yoku, a Japanese concept involving “nature bathing,” or health-boosting walks through the forest. Jacobs explained that the concept is an extension of his shop’s mission, which seeks to connect people to nature through the tea leaf.The parklet, he said, will also include solar charging stations for cell phones and laptops. But Jacobs said his priority is to tie the parklet into the Mission District’s landscape. “The goal is to create buzz and add value to the neighborhood,” he said. “If it benefits everyone, it’ll benefit the business.” If all goes according to plan, the Mission will have five new parklets, which are miniature parks that slightly extend portions of sidewalk into the street to offer decorative seating to the general public, by early next year. That would give the the neighborhood 16 parklets in total, with 13 on Valencia Street. The Mission’s 12 existing parklets make up approximately 20 percent of the 57 parklets in San Francisco. But as parklets in the Mission have become popular fixtures for coffee shops and restaurants, some critics say that parklets have become too privatized — there for the patrons of the restaurants and cafes, but not really for the general public.The parklet in front of Dandelion Chocolate is nearly complete. Arizmendi Bakery on 24th and Valencia will install a parklet in front of its store in September. Two parklets — one in front of Samovar Tea and and another in front of Venga Empanadas — are awaiting approval from San Francisco Planning Commission. And Luna Rienne art gallery on 22nd and Valencia will soon introduce the fourth iteration of its existing parklet.   Tags: parklets • parks Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

Mission Housings fortunes rise — as do two affordable projects in the

first_img Email Address Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter This follows a 94-unit project for seniors at Shotwell and Cesar Chavez that broke ground in June to be erected by the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), which has a total of 557 units and five projects in the pipeline. Mission Housing’s last Mission development was Valencia Gardens, a 260-unit structure completed in 2006. It also built Rich Sorro Commons, a 100-unit building in Mission Bay, in 2002. Now, more than a decade later, the nonprofit developer is hopeful to follow up on October’s groundbreaking with another: the planned December kickoff of a 165-unit affordable project at 1950 Mission Street. Moss said Mission Housing has secured all the funding commitments needed to begin construction, and hopes it will get the shovels out within the next month.The homeless Navigation Center at 1950 Mission Street, where 165 new affordable housing units will be constructed. Image from Google Maps.Mission Housing was thrown into turmoil in 2005 during a city audit that resulted a loss of all its city funding as well as other grant money — roughly a third of its operating budget. The audit was a result of bitter infighting between the nonprofit’s staff and its board of directors, leaving the institution crippled financially, unable to win contracts, and out of the graces of neighborhood groups. Not long after, it ventured elsewhere for development: Fresno. But the low-income development it had tried to develop there stalled as the nonprofit failed to secure funding. The project ultimately went kaput in 2014.Enter Moss and Mission Housing’s deputy executive director Marcia Contreras. “The biggest thing we tried to do was to establish trust,” Moss said. That meant a number of things: refinancing its existing housing stock, paying off bad debt, and taking on renovation projects of old buildings for low-income seniors. It also backed the proposed Mission market-rate housing moratorium, which won it back some credibility among neighborhood groups. “We now have 30 employees,” Moss said. “We were at 7 when we took over (in 2013).” Moreover, in 2013 the nonprofit’s revenue nearly doubled, according to its tax filings. And it saw a 163-percent spike in revenue between 2014 and 2015.  Now the nonprofit developer has more than 1,000 affordable units in the pipeline. Aside from its Mission District projects, it has partnered with BRIDGE to build around between 1,100 and 1,500 units of housing near City College of San Francisco, 50 percent of which are affordable units. “I’m really proud,” Moss said. “I’m looking back seven years ago and how far we’ve gone, and I still need to convince myself every once and a while that it’s actually real.”   center_img A seven-story, fully-affordable housing development at 490 South Van Ness broke ground two weeks ago and another at 1950 Mission is on the way. But more than anything, these projects are a groundbreaking moment for Mission Housing Development Corporation, which has not built a single unit for more than a decade. “Breaking ground on two affordable housing sites is a tangible culmination of the hard work and the in-depth soul-searching that Mission Housing and its current leadership has done to make it into the development corporations it was meant to be,” said Sam Moss, the executive director of Mission Housing, which was founded in the Mission in 1971. The project at 490 South Van Ness, the former site of a gas station the city purchased for $18.5 million in 2015, will bring to the city’s housing stock 89 units for low- and moderate-income families — 35 of which will be reserved for District 9 residents living within a mile of the site. Mission Housing, which currently manages around 1,600 apartments, is building the project in partnership with BRIDGE Housing. The estimated project cost is $45 million. last_img read more

IF youve renewed your Season Ticket for 2015 you

first_imgIF you’ve renewed your Season Ticket for 2015 you can take advantage of an exclusive member discount for the 2015 First Utility Super League Grand Final.Buy a ticket to the end of season finale and get 25% off plus a free scarf for every ticket ordered before December 1 2014.Not only that but the scarf will also be delivered in time for Christmas.The Grand Final is more than a game with live music, fanzone, fireworks and much more for fans of every club.The 2014 event saw headline act James wow the crowd with their hit sit down before the two teams entered the field to a burst of fireworks and flames.Simply use the code StHelens25 at or by calling 0844 856 1113.last_img read more

New program teaches students about construction jobs

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — At Cape Fear Community College a new program is introducing students in the Cape Fear region to a career in construction.The program was at CFCC’s North Campus, allowing students to meet with area employers and CFCC construction faculty.- Advertisement – More than 20 different construction companies were there explaining their roles including fall protection, hardhat safety and drone surveying and more.The program is also meant to help bring more attention to construction jobs due to misconceptions about the career path.“Parent and high school counselors are no longer steering students in the direction of construction trades and so it’s very important that they realize that there are some really good paying jobs and some very secure careers in the construction industry,” Construction Management Technology Program Director Jonathan Begue said.Related Article: US adds robust 263K jobs; unemployment at 49-year low: 3.6%CFCC said the number of construction related jobs has gone up over the years in the area and a program like this helps showcase students the reality of a career in this field.last_img read more

Lawmakers propose tax for beach nourishment

first_imgBRUNSWICK COUNTY (WWAY) — If you are a tourist or a resident in Brunswick County headed to a restaurant for a meal, you could soon pay 10 cents for every $20 bill.Rep. Deb Butler and Rep Frank Iler are pushing House Bill 17 to keep tourist money local.- Advertisement – If passed, the tax will be used for beach re-nourishment or public infrastructure projects.The goal is to have tourists pay for the sand.This would be a local option for municipalities within the county since, few towns have resources to pay for this need.Last session, almost two years ago, Southport and Oak Island asked for this tax.Related Article: US poised to begin immigration enforcement operation“Our beaches don’t get sales tax back in proportion to their summer time population but, yet, one town of 600 sends in over $10 million in sales tax and gets back $130, 000,” said Rep. Frank Iler.This bill has a long time before impacting any pockets. The next step is for HB17 to be heard before the finance committee.last_img read more

Facebook cofounder buys New Republic magazine

first_imgAdvertisement He is also expected to apply his expertise in digital technology in his new role.The New Republic currently publishes a daily Web magazine. The New Republic did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction or the exact size of the stake.Hughes co-founded Facebook in 2004 at Harvard with his then- roommates Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz. – Advertisement – Since working on the Obama campaign Hughes founded in 2010, a non-profit site that aimed to help people find ways to help each other. It was later combined with GOOD in 2011, an online content and social engagement platform.As well as his new role Hughes will continue to invest independently and work with non-profits like the Knight Foundation.last_img read more

Facebook will not make its own smartphone – Zuckerberg

first_imgAdvertisement Zuckerberg has come out to dispel rumours that the social networking company is planning to create its own smartphone. He said his company does not plan to create a Facebook-branded smartphone during a conference call with financial analysts and reporters this week.Building a phone, he said, “wouldn’t really make much sense for us to do.”Zuckerberg also said, however, that the company is looking to make the mobile Facebook experience more complete, and that he wants to “support a development ecosystem, where other apps can build on top of Facebook.” – Advertisement – The Facebook CEO’s precise phrasing led AllThingsD blogger Mike Isaac to argue that Zuckerberg’s non-denial could be purposefully misleading, given the fact that he used the word “build.”“His comments still leave tons of room for the company to be doing most of the work on a phone, while working alongside one or many partner manufacturers to do the actual hardware. Even Apple could arguably say it doesn’t manufacture phones — Foxconn builds the phones — and Apple is the most profitable phone maker in the world,” he wrote.Indeed, Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Facebook was working with HTC to develop a phone to be released by mid-2013, though few details were available. The news agency also pointed out that more than half of Facebook’s 900 million-strong user base logs into the service from smartphones, but the company does not make substantial sums from mobile advertising.“We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world,” Facebook told Bloomberg in a statement. Source: computerworld.comlast_img read more

Firefox for Android Beta gains new features and improvements

first_imgAdvertisement It’s been a busy couple of months for the folks over at Mozilla. The company rolled out a new logo, launched the first Firefox OS handset and shipped version 23 of its popular web browser.Still, Mozilla shows no signs of slowing down; it just announced a new version of Firefox for Android Beta, which is ready for download and testing.[related-posts] – Advertisement – The update brings a raft of new features and improvements, including WebRTC support for real-time web communications, a new Reader and Reading List with enhanced functionality, NFC Bump to share URLs on compatible phones, a Quickshare menu to share content with other apps and additional languages (Catalan-Spanish, British-English and Swedish) for a total of 24.Moreover, Firefox Beta for Windows, OS X and Linux gains a tweaked Browser Console to help web developers. Credit: engadgetlast_img read more

Worlds biggest Bitcoin database created

first_imgAdvertisement The world’s largest database of businesses dealing in Bitcoins has been built by a Nordic venture capital firm in an effort to shed light on a virtual currency which has seen its value rocket in the past year.Creandum said the database contained more than 300 companies trading Bitcoins – ranging from exchanges to payment processors and gambling companies – and was intended to give entrepreneurs and investors an overview of companies with a significant role in the Bitcoin system.Since Bitcoin’s launch in January 2009, the system has grown popular with people who lack confidence in the traditional banking system, though it has also aroused concerns it could be used for money laundering. – Advertisement – Creandum, which has invested in fast-growing Nordic tech firms such as online music streaming service Spotify and payment solutions firm iZettle, said it hoped to encourage Bitcoin enthusiasts to participate in the development of the currency.“This year and next year the Bitcoin needs to prove itself as a payment mechanism, and it could go either way,” Creandum associate Joel Eriksson Enquist said.“Our hope is that the database will work like Wikipedia, with more and more contributors and more comprehensive data,” he said of the open-source site which can be found at .The Bitcoin has recently traded above $1,000, up from $10 at the start of last year and fuelling concerns of a bubble.Creandum said it may take another three years before it is clear whether Bitcoin is a bubble, or whether this is “the beginning of a new world”.In December, the digital currency was dealt a blow when the People’s Bank of China banned financial institutions, though not individuals, from trading in Bitcoins.Creandum’s database lists 46 Bitcoin exchanges in North America, 24 in Europe and 21 in Asia. BTC China and Europe’s btc-e and Bitstamp are the biggest exchanges, with the three seeing 2.5 million Bitcoins traded on their platforms in the 30 days to January 9.Source: Reuterslast_img read more

UCC Hands Over SolarPowered ICT Lab to Bezza Al Hijji Secondary School

first_imgNyombi Tembo (third left) speaking to the Deputy Prime Minister; Gen. Moses Ali at the Bezza Al Hijji Secondary School new computer laboratory | File Photo/New Vision. Advertisement Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) on Tuesday last week handed over a state-of-art solar-powered ICT computer laboratory to Bezza Al Hijji Secondary School. The lab comprises of 41 computers and is expected to boost the study of sciences in the school.“Through this lab, students will no longer struggle to search for information because they will get it from the internet. This is an excellent step in the right direction,” Deputy Prime Minister; Gen. Moses Ali who also happens to be the Director of the school, said at the handover ceremony.Gen. Ali, said “technological skills are necessary for oneto participate in the global economy.” Emphasizing that the use of ICT ineducation can improve the quality of teaching and learning. – Advertisement – According to a report by New Vision, Gen. Ali said the government realized the need for Uganda to embrace the fourth industrial digital revolution without forgetting the children in rural areas.Gen. Ali explained that the use of technology is at the centerof revolution, therefore creating room for new forms of delivery of educationalcontent.Notably, the lab cost UGX90M (roughly USD$) and wasinstalled by UCC under the Rural Communication Development Fund (RCDF).RCDF which gives an opportunity to children of less privilegedto succeed in science subjects has implemented multi ICT projects for ruralareas with the help of the government. RCDF has been in position to set up ICT trainingcenters, Internet Cafes, GSM towers, among others.last_img read more