A couple months ago, Seth Geiser and Kirk Hovenkotter contributed an idea to an essay contest The Stranger sponsored.
Their idea? Rather than sit through "mind-numbing" meetings or wait for "complicated, costly, tedious" permits, neighbors should get together and start reshaping their streets on their own. "Put out some benches and a swing, now you’ve got a pocket park. Sure, safety and access need to be considered, but the truth is that most of our streets are overdesigned for their current auto use, and neighborhood residents should be allowed to find daily enjoyment in that underutilized space," they wrote.
Last week, their idea came to fruition. Calling themselves Renegade Planners Collective, they transformed a triangle of land between Denny, Olive, and Summit usually reserved for cars into a spot for people instead. There's a full report from Geiser and a photo after the jump.
On May 10th, the three of us transformed a piece of Summit Ave into a park. For four hours, we were able to reclaim a street that is currently used as free parking for four cars. With donated street furniture and abandoned ‘no parking’ signs, we converted the space into a community gathering spot for less than $20.
As an initial test-run during the Capitol Hill Art Walk last week, the street reclamation went way better than we’d hoped. In exchange for four parking spots, 50+ people were able to hang out and enjoy the space. Apart from a stink-eye from a guy who wanted to make a right-turn off of Denny and a guy who yelled ‘Nerds!’ at us going down Olive, the park was really well-received by people who passed by with very little disruption to traffic.
Now that we know it can be done easily and without hassle, we’re planning to transform the street again next month. We want this to be something that grows with each iteration and becomes a collaborative community effort.
The public space of Seattle is scarce and should be used for more than just the storage of vehicles. It can be used to make our city more livable and our lives more enjoyable. With limited city budgets, temporary, low-cost actions by neighborhood residents can work to make Seattle a more livable city. We ought to lay claim to our public space.
Additional information will be up at facebook.com/rpcollective