Is Park(ing) Day Still a Thing?

A parklet on Grand Avenue in Oakland the expanded seating area for a coffee shop, and created a place for people to gather. Photo by Melanie Curry/Streetsblog
A parklet on Grand Avenue in Oakland the expanded seating area for a coffee shop, and created a place for people to gather. Photo by Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

Park(ing) Day, originally created in 2005 by the San Francisco design group ReBar as a fun way to reclaim space set aside to store cars, quickly burgeoned into a national movement. It led to the creation of temporary and permanent “parklets” on city streets. These mini-parks were initially meant to be public spaces for people to gather, although just as frequently they’ve become outdoor patios for nearby restaurants–still arguably a higher and better use serving more people than storage for a private car.

The event has expanded, and contracted, in the ensuing years. Is this because the parklet has become institutionalized? The phenomenon is almost old hat now, but in the early days it caused a ruckus. At one early Park(ing) Day in Berkeley, police threatened to ticket people who used fake grass to make a park outside a busy local restaurant, even though the park makers paid the meter for their two hours’ use of the space. Today, that spot is a large and popular parklet.

ReBar is no longer involved in the annual event, although it keeps renewing its website domain, making the site a nearly useless place to find out where Park(ing) Day events are happening. SBCA is aware of some scattered events around California–San Francisco, Santa Monica, L.A., Oakland, San Diego, and Sacramento (which is holding its event on Saturday, rather than on a weekday like the rest of the cities). Stockton will hold its first Park(ing) Day ever this year.

Are there other places that are participating in Park(ing) Day in California this Friday, September 15? Take some pictures of your local event and submit them to SBCA. Look for SBCA’s 2017 Park(ing) Day round up coming soon.

11 thoughts on Is Park(ing) Day Still a Thing?

  1. Why not have two days for similar purposes? No reason they should be the same day. Two separate days means more time to enjoy the streets.

  2. Only in his own mind. But on a positive note: Bob Gunderson’s, a parody of Anderson, wonderfully funny Facebook page is still going strong.

  3. In reality, World Carfree Day originated in Europe. Park(ing) Day was an S.F.-based creative positive visualization of the use of space on that day.

    Like most District 5 residents, I ignore Rob Anderson’s vigorously self-promoted blog, but from what I’ve gathered, he uses “Cute” to mean young people who are interested in things that he disapproves of. The horror, the horror.

  4. ⛐ I knew that Park(ing) Day had jumped the proverbial shark a few years back when I decided to visit the nearby sites helpfully printed up in an event map, only to find a bunch of yard sales that had spilled out onto the sidewalk, attracting cars that were left double-parked or even parked on the sidewalk, idling and spewing exhaust.

    There were better installations downtown, but no quality control in sponsoring that kind of site meant the whole day was a wash.

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