Kickstarter Drive Underway for New Parklet at 903 Cortland



Miss Mutsumi from 903 (and Sandbox Bakery) has launched a Kickstarter campaign to install a cute little parklet in front of 903 Cortland, just east of Gates:

There are currently no parklets in Bernal Heights. We at 903 are taking steps to be the first to provide this amenity, and with the help of the residents and friends of the neighborhood we can make it happen. Not only would 903’s parklet be the first in Bernal, it would continue to inspire and facilitate the on-going revitalization of the community happening along Cortland while providing a convenient and central gathering place for friends and family. Imagine meeting up at 903 to enjoy a delicious outdoor lunch on the sunniest street in San Francisco!

The parklet will replace two parking spots on Cortland Avenue directly in front of 903, a restaurant and offshoot of Sandbox Bakery that has quickly become a go-to lunch spot for many residents of Bernal Heights. At 40 feet long, the parklet will boast seating for up to 25 people, a canopy for shade, greenery consisting of native plants, and it will, of course, be wheelchair accessible. The structure itself will be constructed out of reclaimed wood and steel scraps.

The City of San Francisco has approved our permit and all the fees have already been paid.  Now, we are trying to raise funds in order to begin building this much-anticipated addition to Cortland Avenue. Our current goal is to start construction as early as June.  After that, the parklet will be completed in only a few weeks!

If the number of emails I’ve received and tweets I’ve seen about the project are any indication, the Citizens of Bernalwood are very enthusiastic about the idea. You can contribute to toward the parklet’s $12,505 goal here.

Here’s the video:


61 thoughts on “Kickstarter Drive Underway for New Parklet at 903 Cortland

  1. Power to the people. This is a simple way to make Courtland just a little bit better.
    It’s sort of strange though that private citizens have to fund a business district improvement. Maybe we can start a kickstarter to get a private security services to patrol the neighborhood too.

    • Private citizens do not have to fund this. You’re right though, money would be better spent for security to make Cortland just a little bit better and I’d be on board for that.

  2. I’m all for more parklets and continued improvements on Courtland, but does it seem strange for her to be soliciting donations to create a seating area that will clearly benefit her restaurant? Have other businesses that created parklets in the city done the same?

  3. How about a kickstarter so that Sandbox can figure out how to not run out of 2/3rds of their pastries by 9:20am on a Sunday morning? Just sayin’….

  4. I must say I don’t really understand the parklet thing. Why should one business get outdoor seating as opposed to another? I like 903 and visit frequently, but this doesn’t make any sense to me.

    But, if anyone can do it, can I give the city $12k to take over the street in front of my house? We could use some more useable outdoor space for entertaining.

  5. Do you think we should donate $5 a piece to This Parklet Just because we can and we like Bernal?!!

    Just a thought!

    Sent from my iPhone

  6. i’m all for a parklet if it’s an actual park and not exclusively overflow seating for various eateries, which is basically what you see on Valencia. remember folks, you can sit in a parklet and do anything you want (within the law)… including not honoring ‘turnover’ for the local cafe. er..right?

  7. What’s stranger is that her husband is leading the construction on the project. I love the idea of parklets, I do, but to ask neighbors to fund her husband to build what is essentially outdoor seating for her restaurant seems, well, kind of unclassy. Would be much more fair to raise money independently and have everyone who contributed vote as to where they would want the parklet. Those votes, I have a feeling, would strongly favor a little drinking zone outside of Wild Side West.

      • If there’s to be a parklet on Cortland (and the if is doing a lot of work here), it should be in front of the library.

      • As the nearby bus bench and stoops are already popular with the local ne’r-do-wells for smoking and sipping tall boys, I can’t see “it’s illegal” slowing them down much. I’d also recommend building the thing out of materials that can be easily hosed down.

    • I went to a parklet meeting last year held by the planning department. They said the average cost of parklet (application fees, permits, construction) was $30k. Farm:Table did a kickstarter for a parklet last year when they were raising $14,500. So in comparison, 903 isn’t asking for an absurd amount.

  8. I can understand the skepticism about the concept of private citizens funding for public goods. However, I’m also optimistic about being the agent of change that you wish to see. That said, I think it would behoove 903 to make transparent how the cost of installation is derived AND spent, as well as a commitment to and a plan of how they will ensure it is for public (i.e., non-903, non-sandbox) use.

    Otherwise, I will just keep making going-nowhere digs and swipes, and holding on tight my credit card. 🙂

    • “Once
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      • Thanks! Without knowing average usage during metered hours, we can’t say exactly how much revenue the city loses to the parklet, but it could be as much as $12,000 annually for those two spaces. Even if we say that the spaces are occupied during metered hours only 25%, that’s still a lot more money than the permit holder is contributing to the city’s revenue.

      • @Brandon – you’ll have to include the difference of business taxes paid before the parklet and then after to be more accurate.

      • If the proprietors get enough extra revenue to generate as much as an additional $12,000 annually in taxes, then they can afford more than $1,400 for the permit and $245/year for the renewal.

  9. In san francisco, both Outerlands and Farleys used kickstarter defray the cost of building a parklet in front of their establishments.

    • Interesting. I won’t be donating, but hey, if she can get people to give her money for free so she can make more money at her restaurant.. more power to her.

  10. How about a Kickstarter campaign for bitter Bernal residents who are in need of therapy? It might be called “parklet paranoids.”

  11. It’s totally brassy. Seats for the cafe, husband builds it and we fund it. Can’t get cheekier than that. But I’m all for it. It’ll be great. I’d love to see them pop up all over. I donated $100.

  12. That’s a depressing little patch of Cortland – the Parklet will cheer it up. I’ll throw some $$ at it.. Remember you can buy your beverage from any of our other lovely purveyors and consume it there.

  13. For what they charge for food, they can pay for their own damn parklet. If there is going to be a parklet on Cortland, I’d rather see it in a more central spot, say near the library or community center.

  14. I seem to remember 336 got a permit and tried to raise funds, but it didn’t pan out…

  15. Does anyone know what happens if the goal is not met by July and the permit expires? How long does it take to renew the permit?

    • From Kickstarter’s FAQ:

      “Every project creator sets their project’s funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.”

  16. Does seem to be a conflict of self-interest. Parklet “Sponsor” is a business owner whose bakery will benefit from sidewalk cafe seating; husband is a contractor whose construction business will be paid to build it. What part of this is about the greater community? How about they look into option to transfer the permit or reapply for space in front of library. Ask folks to kickstart for a parklet in front of neutral ground between Cortland bakeries. Everyone can sip coffee, eat scones and check out public library books.

    • I’m just going to chime in here briefly; I don’t have a horse in this race.

      The whole point of the Parklet program is to have private entities create public spaces that are basically contiguous with their existing space. It is all about self-interest aligning with the public good. **There are no city-owned parklets. That’s not how the program is structured.** This is not an abstract ideal; take a look at any parklet anywhere in the city and you can see how it works/is working.

      The rules to create a parklet are complex and cumbersome, but based on my (admittedly quick) reading, I don’t think that 903 could put a parklet in front of the library even if if they wanted to.

      Want more detail, read all about how the program works here:

      Then, after you’re done, you can evaluate this proposal against the requirements of the parklet program itself. But it doesn’t seem fair to ding the 903 proposal for following the rules laid down by the City.

      • A good, and necessary, point. To clarify my own position, I’m generally against parklets, not just this one.

      • You are entirely correct, Todd, thank you for clarifying! I do some work with the art and design group Rebar, who created one of the first parklets (at Revolution Cafe) and helped the planning department develop and streamline the permitting process, and I can say with authority that the intersection (and balance) of public and private benefit was precisely the goal set forth at the inception of the program.

        By city definition, parklets are mini *public* parks, funded and maintained by private entities who have a verifiable interest in the community. It’s true some execute on the community part better than others, but at the foundation, they are all public spaces and must remain just as available to all as any other public park.

        On a side note, it may be possible to put a parklet in front of the library, but it would require some party with ties to that establishment obtaining a permit and agreeing to maintain it, and I’m not sure it’s been done before at a city building. Interesting idea, though, if someone wants to take it on! I think parklet saturation is left to the planning department’s discretion, so there can certainly be more than one on a given street.

  17. I’m also in favor of having a parklet that benefits the community, instead of an individual business. However, I am not volunteering my time nor resources to lead and make that happen. Therefore, I will choose the next alternative, as I would like to see a parklet on Cortland. I won’t lose sleep if that parklet indirectly benefits the party that takes the initiative to make it happen.

  18. There seems to be plenty of seating outside the library already and people rarely use it. And aren’t there already built-in benches alongside the Sandbox building, or am I thinking of something else? This is the opposite argument that a lot of businesses in SF seem to have. They actually want parking by their store so it is more accessible and get angry when the city puts up meters or eliminates the spaces. I’m all for public, neighborhood spaces, but this city is getting so anti-car that parking spaces are being eaten up left and right by parklets and I see so many that go unused that should have been left for cars.

    • You are so correct GLH ! The library already has pleanty of seating and people rarely use it ! I do see a few homless smashing there stolen cans use it but thats about it . People will use it at first then it will just be tagged up and used as a place for the local drunks and gang members that now hang out at the church steps and in front of the corner store. One would think that 903 would want the space for customes to pull up and park. Why cant they just put a few tabels outside on the sidewalk 903 and leave the space for cars !

  19. I just want to reiterate that parklets are public spaces – just like the parking spot once was – but serving a lot more people at once! On the order of 20 or more an hour, rather than one or two. Certainly parking is a challenge sometimes, but just think how many more people will get to use that precious city space, and for what fun and beneficial social purposes. A well-placed, nicely-maintained parklet can be much more meaningful to a community than reserving yet more space for the private storage of a vehicle.

    Go parklet! I contributed, and wish 903 et al the best with this!

    • Perhaps the parklet will be used by more per hour than a parking space, but that’s really neither here nor there. Parking on Cortland is useful. We are getting better as a city at making people pay for that utility, too.

  20. Thank You Mutsumi & Mike for trying to upgrade Cortland Avenue.
    You’ve been great Bernal Neighbors! You were so generous in contributing
    to the Holly Park Renovation Grand Opening – 2005 (?)… Mutsumi donated 5
    gourmet sheet cakes! Cathy/Original owner of Liberty Cafe & David/Original
    owner of Four Star Video would be in support of your efforts.
    All you new Bernal Newbies – My guess is that you spend most of your
    money outside of the neighborhood… Valencia & Noe Valley.
    Let’s upgrade Cortland Avenue!

    • You started off so well, why the backhanded comment about newbies?
      If you build it, they will come. People are going to spend their disposable income where the service exists. You must admit that 24’th, Valencia and Hayes St. are all much more mature from a retail standpoint than Cortland? One can only hope that some newbies with money will invest further developing the neighborhood.
      From my experience, it’s the old-times who don’t want change. When I moved to SF in ’91, I remember people telling me that the city isn’t what it used to be. I’m surely not dreaming of SF returning to what it was in the 70’s or 80’s although I do miss the Hippo ‘burger on Van Ness.

    • Yes, Lets upgrade Cortland Ave ! It sure and hell can use it ! Steamclean the dirty sidewalks , plant flowers around the trees , hanging baskets of flowers on light post . Better lighting and for the local business take better pride in the way the store front looks ! and what about more trees on the street !

      • I would gladly contribute money and sweat to all of these efforts. I’ve seen this mentioned in other comments, so we aren’t alone here.

        Is there anyone out there willing to lead this effort? I’m afraid I don’t have the knowledge or time to get it done correctly, but would gladly pitch in when needed.

  21. I, too, am anti-parklet. I rarely see anyone using the ones i pass by in the Mission. As a resident of the north slope, parking is essential for me to visit Cortland. Parklets and other attempts to remove pairing hurt the local businesses. As soon as it becomes more difficult to park there, I’ll just walk to the businesses in the Mission instead. There are other local businesses for me to support.

  22. I’m all for parklets on Cortland Avenue. Where the proposed location is certainly will improve that stretch of Cortland. It is rather blighted at that end, especially as you move closer to Bayshore. Lots of neglected properties.. Wish more mainstream, upgrade businesses would move into the neighborhood. Far too many nail places, salons, & liquor/corner stores.

  23. wow, the anti-parklet’ers are a vocal bunch. Previously, i thought it was silly to take-away two parking spots in places where parking is way more constrained the bernal, like the mission or north beach. i dont think parking has gotten any worse in those neighborhoods 😉 and some of the parklets are really nice, i especially like the one at four barrel

    there is already a great park behind the library and really nice seating in front of the library. I think that spot that was created was excellent!

    As someone else mentioned, that end of cortland doesnt have any nice outdoor space. although i do like to sit along the wall up gates st that is attached to the back of sandbox bakery. looking at the design, i am hopeful that there will be a nice shady spot in the morning/afternoon close to my house and near the places i like to get coffee and snacks. (you should also add bike parking like the four-barrel parklet 😉

    neighbors, if you like this idea, then support it on kickstarter, this project is on the way to succeed Kickstarter is fun, and a good way for people to get support for new concepts in many forms, including artists, designers, product developers and businesses. Lots of folks are doing it from right here in san francisco,

  24. I am going to start Kickstarter campaign asking people to help fund my continued unemployment so I can enjoy the parklets they also help fund so businesses don’t have to spend their own money. I mean people seem to be willing to give businesses money for shouts out on Facebook, why not me? Maybe I need to incorporate first?

  25. Last month, I saw another petition circulating for a parklet in front of VinoRosso–anyone know what happened to that? I live close to 903 Cortland and am not sure about getting off the bus in the evenings and passing by the proposed parklet and whoever would be hanging out there after 903 is closed for the night. What about some LIGHTS for the parklet, not to mention bike racks, which are in shortage on Cortland and would make up for the lost parking spaces.

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