San Francisco

New North Beach pop-up park series aims to fill gap left by Washington Square's closure

On July 7, North Beach Neighbors launched a new weekly pop-up park, Sundays in the PARKing lot. The new pop-up aims to close the gap left behind by the closure of Washington Square Park until early next year.

Lack of access to Washington Square Park is a big loss for North Beach. Not only does it serve as a community gathering space and dog park, it consistently attracts tourists that visit local businesses, according to North Beach Neighbors open space committee chair Laura Mancuso.

As of late June, the park's main lawn is closed through early 2020, to allow for renovations that will significantly reduce its water usage and improve drainage. 

But even with the recreation area and playground remaining open, “we are still missing something big,” Mancuso said.

The proposed plan would add trees and replace the existing lawn on top of the new drainage system. | RENDERING: SF REC & PARK

That’s why North Beach Neighbors launched the new weekly pop-up, in the same parking lot as the North Beach Farmer's Market, as a place for people to connect and enjoy the neighborhood.

“As the name suggests, we're transforming a parking lot into a mini pop-up park and activity space each Sunday,” the organization’s president, Danny Sauter, told us.

The location was suggested by Dario Hadjian, owner of Piazza Pellegrini, who allows the farmers market to operate on its parking lot at 699 Columbus Ave. He suggested the lot could be available on Sunday as well, since it is otherwise empty, Mancuso said.

North Beach Neighbors’ Open Space committee has been predominantly focused on tree removal and maintenance issues, so Mancuso said it's a nice departure to discuss new outdoor programming.

Community yoga led by a Glow Yoga instructor at the inaugural Sunday event on July 7. | Photo: Sundays in the PARKing Lot/Facebook

Mancuso said Sundays in the PARKing Lot events are planned for every Sunday at noon throughout the fall, and programming will be announced on the pop-up’s Facebook page each week.

North Beach businesses are supporting the effort by volunteering materials, time, and services, Mancuso said. A budget of $1,500 for the events came from fees from a small local movie production.

Given its fixed budget, the committee is being very judicious about spending, but still aims to make the space look less like a parking lot each week by spreading astro turf, erecting temporary fencing, and adding seating. 

The committee and neighborhood partners are aiming for some consistency in the pop-ups, such as providing yoga at least once a month and having some form of arts and craft opportunity each week. 

Mancuso said Glow Yoga, Cole Hardware, Jeffrey's Natural Pet Foods, and Artist & Craftsman Supply are contributing to the effort and helping spread the word to neighbors.

The first Sunday saw a yoga class, followed by a pop-up dog park. Last Sunday offered a wide selection of yard games. 

On July 28, Cole Hardware will reprise a popular terrarium-building workshop held last year at the farmer’s market, Mancuso said.

The second Sunday's activities featured corn hole, giant Connect Four and bingo. | Photo: Sundays in the PARKing Lot/Facebook

It’s not clear yet whether programming in the parking lot will continue once Washington Square reopens, Mancuso said –– it depends on the community’s reception of the concept and would require a strong core of volunteers to keep it going.

Mancuso said North Beach Neighbors would love additional volunteers to help put the space together each Sunday while it's ongoing.

“It’s extremely pop-up, in that we have to put it all up and take it all down each week,” she said.

She also encouraged community partners to contribute in any way they can. 

“I think this is a good opportunity for someone who has, or is launching, a business to connect with the community,” Mancuso said. “We will entertain anything at this point, provided that it is open to and inclusive of the community.”

Interested partners and volunteers can contact the committee through the pop-up park's Facebook page.

699 Columbus Avenue

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