The littlest parks could make the biggest civic changes

Maybe it’s time for the parklet to take root in Houston, and help cool off the heat island effect.


Eight years after the first “parklet” occupied a parking space in San Francisco as an act of protest, these mini-parks have become a favorite “placemaking” tool of urbanists across the country. A little wood platform, some sod, tables and chairs, and boom, you’ve got a new urban park — so long as you keep feeding the meter.

In San Francisco, parklets have graduated from do-it-yourself novelties to government-sanctioned parts and parcels of the urban landscape, with a little influence from New York City plazas and European open-streets movements. “We took this Park(ing) Day model, which is really an act of civil disobedience, and we sort of codified it, institutionalized it, and made it like a legal thing to do,” says Paul Chasan, the parklet program manager in the San Francisco Planning Department.

Yes, San Francisco has a parklet program. It’s called “Pavement to Parks.” And with 40 parklets on…

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