These privately owned public open spaces (aka POPOS) have been a development requirement in San Francisco since the passage of the 1985 Downtown Plan.
Looking back at said plan’s effects, San Francisco Chronicle urban design critic John King said in 2011, “Early years were marred by fussy design reviews, including so-called ‘beauty contests’ to decide what could be built, but that’s less important than the plan’s emphasis on publicly accessible spaces that, for instance, translates into plazas that help make the new towers near Second and Mission streets humane despite their height.”
What the 1985 Downtown Plan lacked in foresight (who could’ve have predicted the unprecedented wealth set to descend 35 years later?), it made up for in dozens of POPOS scattered around the city's core.
Though all were built to provide San Franciscans with more space to relax and catch a break from downtown's glut of financial centers and busy sidewalks, not all POPOS are created equal. From lush rooftops and sunny indoor atriums to redwood mini-forests and free Wi-Fi, this list of 20 publicly accessible, privately maintained oases are ideal for lunch, meeting a date, or just relaxing within the frenzied confines of the FiDi.Read More