Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pucking Farklets

Because in a city that is already 30% covered with parks and beaches, it seems necessary to have faux, posh mini-parks take up available parking spaces. GMAFB!


I don't know what mini-mind ever came up with this big idea. I have ranted here in the past about the newest urban disease that has cropped up in San Francisco: the dreaded "Parklets" (see last 'blog-entry from March 10th, 2013). Not only do they take up 2-3 parking spaces each along city streets, but due to their obscure constructions, it makes it virtually impossible to try to parallel park in the spaces directly surrounding them. Yes, parklets are a good idea "in theory", but so wasn't the National Socialism movement in Germany in the 1930's (I just think they liked pogroms[1] more than tiny, little, useless parks where idiots can sit and idly enjoy their coffee). Did I just compare these stupid traffic nuisances to Nazi Germany? Yes, and for that, I truly apologize, Adolph.

I happened across several more parklets in the past few weeks:
one on Haight Street (between Ashbury and Clayton Streets, in front of/hosted by Martin Macks Gastro Pub); two on 24th Street (one between Sanchez and Vicksburg Streets, in front of/hosted by Martha & Brothers Coffee; and one between Noe and Sanchez Streets, in front of/hosted by Just For Fun & Scribbledoodles); and another two on/off Divisadero (one on the corner of Fulton Street at Divisadero, in front of/hosted by Cafe Abir; and the other on Divisadero between Grove and Hayes Streets in front of/hosted by Mojo Bicycle Cafe). Now the two on 24th Street I can somewhat forgive, but all of the other three are just a few blocks from Golden Gate Park or the Panhandle. If you are too lazy to walk the few extra blocks while enjoying your Double Vente Decaf Mint Latte with a twist, you really shouldn't be wasting precious breathing space in front of these places either.

Don't even think about parking anywhere downtown along Powell Street[2] or in North Beach along Columbus Avenue. There are so many new parklets in those areas that it has basically become an entire "No Parking" zone. Hmmm?! Maybe they should just close Union Square and Washington Square Park altogether as they seem to be completely superfluous now with all of these new parklets, or, better yet, pave them both over entirely for free public parking lots.

Here are the original goals of the Pavement to Parks program:

(1) Reimagine the potential of city streets.

(2) Encourage non-motorized transportation.

(3) Encourage pedestrian activity.

(4) Support local businesses.

Okay, I will address these one-by-each:

(1) Ummm… correct me if I'm wrong, Sandy, but if we kill all the streets where are the people going to park? City streets were developed for cars. You want to "reimagine the potential"? Imagine potentially no cars at all; imagine potentially no people at all; oh, and that would mean potentially imagining no businesses at all, too. Yeah, sounds about right to me. The best way to improve inner city blight is to have absolutely no one in them at all. Because people are the worst transgressors when it comes to everything, well, in my imagination potentially.

(2) San Francisco is already one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the United States. I really don't see how taking away more parking spaces is going to change that in any way. You can't enjoy sipping on your stupid Mochaccinos while riding your bikes, anyway.

(3) Can someone perhaps explain to me what the definition of "sidewalk" is? If I am already a pedestrian, what makes you think I want to patronize your stupid businesses just because you have some insect-infested plants and crummy benches in front of it? Isn't that what all the City and National parks are there for?

(4) They want to generate more business for local places? Fine, but I refuse to give any of these idiots any of my money. I will support local businesses… just other local businesses, not these.

However, it's gotten to be such a joke now. There are currently 30-50 of these atrocities already completed throughout the city with more expected to be installed by the end of the year; plus, there are more applications still in the works. Stupid yuppie establishments "sponsor" these in front of their places of business to drum up business for themselves, not for the neighborhoods. From now on, I am going to boycott any place that sponsors these parklets (well, except in the cases of places that I really like ~ Outerlands, Caffè Grecco, etc.), and I am thinking of doing a little "urbanette" protesting of my own by sitting on their stupid parklet benches while enjoying coffee or food from rival joints and leaving the litter for them to clean up. (See, they don't "own" the spots, they just have to "maintain" them for "public use".)

Now don't think that I am some Monsanto Company corporate shill. I am all for the beautification of this fine city. But if you really want to clean it up, start with some nice parklets in Hunters Point, the Tenderloin, or along the grittier areas of 3rd Street.

Sorry, Joni, but sometimes a pink hotel with a boutique and a swinging hot spot in place of another stupid parklet might just be a better idea.

Rant over… for now.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Stupid parklets ~ 4.5

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

"Pogrom (погром)" comes from Russian. It is the noun derivative of the verb "погромить" meaning "to devastate/to destroy". This comes from the word root "гром", meaning "thunder".

2. Ironically, the parklets along Powell Street were funded by a corporate "donation" by Audi. Uh-huh.


  1. Who knew that the word "Farklet" is an actual term? Apparently it is some running term meaning "speed runs". Google it for a giggle.

  2. "City streets were developed for cars."
    Actually not. City streets were developed eons before cars existed. In fact, it was bicyclists in the 1890s who were the political force who got the first streets in SF paved. In double fact, a lot of the streets you're talking about had wider sidewalks and streetcars running down them decades ago which were ripped out to make way for more cars. So, consider the parklets a modest return to the original purpose of streets in SF.

    1. Yeah, right. That is exactly why all of the streets in San Francisco are paved and maintained... for bicycles. And what does any of that have to do with parklets? In triple fact, they still suck.

  3. There are numerous studies that demonstrate the value of having street parking available in front of your building rather than parklets. Depending on the city a parking space can have a five figure impact on sales. Maybe you could Google up some of these articles and share them with the managers/owners of said establishments and ask them if the goodwill generated by their parklets is monetizing as well as having an actual parking space out there.

    1. Thanks, Jim. That is actually a great idea... for someone else with a little more ambition than I have. I will just stick to my rants and boycotts of these stupid urban blights for now.

      As it stands right now, I really don't think it's an economic decision by most of these fancy-shmancy places. I think they view it as a status symbol and just how "hep" they really are.

      However, the bottom line is that these are parking spots (correction: multiple spaces) on public streets that are being utilized for (let's be honest here) private concerns.

      I say "Puck them all!"