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POPOS to Become Not-So-Secret

An existing POPOS sign at 101 2nd Street [Photo: SF Planning]

Today the Planning Commission will hear a Planning Code change that would require additional signage for POPOS (privately-owned public open spaces). Even though the Planning Department already require customized plaques, there’s no detail on size or location, so the signs are often hard to find - making the POPOS even harder to find. The new ordinance would include more specific requirements and standards for the informational plaques of POPOS, including hours of operation, features of the space, directions, and a uniform logo. The new regulations would apply to all the existing spaces, not just new ones.

POPOS got their start when developers would create them either voluntarily, in exchange for a density bonus, or as a condition of approval. The 1985 Downtown Plan created the first systemic requirements for developers to provide publicly accessible open space as a part of projects in certain downtown districts. SPUR has identified 45 pre-1985 POPOS (mostly urban gardens and snippets) and 23 that have been built since then. The Planning Department is also planning on publishing a definitive map of the spots on their website by the end of the summer (SPUR published their own version a few years ago).
· Signage Requirements for Privately-owned Public Open Spaces [SF Planning]
· Better signs pitched for privately owned slices of green in sea of gray [SF Examiner]
· New rules may help you find not-so-public spaces [SFGate]
· Secrets of San Francisco [SPUR]

Spur Urban Meeting Center

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