Tiny Parks Pop Up in Urban San Diego

The mini parks are part of “PARK(ing) Day,” a global event that aims to highlight the need for more public gathering spaces in busy urban communities

Various new, small parks sprouted in urban parts of San Diego Friday as part of ongoing efforts to transform car-dominated areas into public gathering spaces.

First, in bustling downtown San Diego, a temporary pop-up “parklet” was unveiled at 4th Avenue, between Market Street and Island Avenue. A free street yoga class was held in the space typically reserved for vehicle traffic. Visitors were also able to play games in the roped off area and were treated to a free, live lunchtime concert.

Over on the roof of the 6th and K Parkade, another parklet opened to the public, complete with blue artificial turf, a pop-up tent, beach balls, pink flamingos and lawn chairs.

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In all, about a dozen temporary mini parks sprouted throughout downtown, with most staying open through the afternoon.

The mini parks are part of “PARK(ing) Day,” a global event that aims to highlight the need for more public gathering spaces in busy urban communities and finding creative ways to reallocate even the tiniest of spaces for public use.

In San Diego, the efforts were spearheaded by the Downtown San Diego Partnership, as well as the City of San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter Association.

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For downtown business owners like Darren Moore, it was a welcome sight. He told NBC 7 he loved seeing people hanging out in the street, playing games and using the area in a whole new way.

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“This is offering residents an opportunity to see their downtown in a different way,” said Moore. “It’s nice to have people riding by on their bikes and stopping in and just taking it all in. It’s a real fresh way to look at what’s happening downtown.”

Moore said he’d love to have more permanent parklet move into downtown San Diego because it would shift the focus of the area from vehicle traffic to more pedestrians.

Meanwhile, over in North Park, a permanent parklet was set to be unveiled by San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria at 2 p.m.

Located at 4237 Alabama Street in front of Mama’s Lebanese Bakery, the mini park will replace two parking spaces and serve as an extension of the sidewalk, providing a public gathering area resembling a mini plaza.

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This particular parklet is San Diego’s second permitted parklet. The city's first permitted parklet is located on 30th Street, in front of Caffe Calabria.

Back in June, a “pocket park” also opened in a 2,500-square-foot private lot snugly situated between buildings at 13th Avenue and J Street, next to the Mission Café.

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Last month, the City of San Diego and the Downtown San Diego Partnership held a competition calling for innovative design ideas for a mobile “parklet” to continue this initiative. The winning design received $5,000 to construct a roving mini park.

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