Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other community leaders held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new parklet opening in East Village on 16th Street Thursday.
"This is the start of really fostering open spaces, more walkability...bikability," Mayor Faulconer said. "This is a milestone under the city's new permit process...We streamlined that process...so we can create more spaces like this one in the near future."
Rob Nelson Pedestrian Plaza is the first under the city’s new permit guidelines, and the first to be installed during Faulconer’s term in office. The parklet is located on the 700 block of 16th Street.
This parklet is part of the East Village Association's "Do The Ride Thing" initiative, which is based on encouraging the increased use of alternative transportation while improving urban street aesthetics for those who live, work and play in East Village.
The opening comes amid a controversy over big rocks installed along Imperial Avenue by the City and pushed by a former city employee who worked closely with the Padres. The rocks were meant primarily to relocate homeless people before the All-Star game, according to emails between a city traffic employee and city ballpark administrator, John Casey.
"I understand the frustration," Councilmember Todd Gloria told NBC 7. "But what we have to do as a community is actually commit to doing the hard work, and I think too often people are looking for a simple solution to homelessness. Homelessness is an incredibly complex problem."
He said the answer is long-term rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing, programs that have been adopted in other cities.
"We're a great city. We're better than this," Gloria said. "We can get this done."
The City said the rocks were installed for public safety reasons, and The Padres said they never requested the rocks. Casey is no longer employed by the City.