By KEVIN MCCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A small slice of Fifth Street was transformed into an outdoor patio Friday by folks urging Santa Rosans to rethink how much urban space is devoted to parking.
The Share Exchange and Greenbelt Alliance took over two parking spaces in front of their buildings, filling them with rugs, potted plants, patio furniture and board games.
Meanwhile, in Railroad Square, the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition set up a bike parking and loaner operation covering four spaces that might otherwise be filled by cars.
The groups were taking part in PARK(ing) Day, which began in San Francisco in 2005 and now bills itself as a worldwide event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to transform metered parking spaces into temporary public places.
“Land is a limited resource,” said Jennifer Gennari, spokeswoman for the Greenbelt Alliance. “Do we want to devote as much as we do to parking?”
All three groups paid for the six parking spaces they used, all in two-hour parking zones, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Organizers said the city and businesses near the parking spaces were supportive of the effort.
“We’re not trying to be controversial,” said Amanda Bornstein, a field representative with the Greenbelt Alliance. “We’re trying to have some fun.”
The spaces are often called “pop-up parks” or “parklettes,” and in cities like San Francisco they’ve gone from a form of guerilla art to beloved quirky tradition.
Kelley Rajala is one of the founders of Share Exchange, a cooperative of small local business people and artisans. The organization thrives on people exchanging ideas, so creating a welcoming outdoor space seemed attractive.
“I think what the world needs more than anything is creativity,” Rajala said.
Share Exchange member Vicky Kumpfer said she hoped the event would help people imagine more people-friendly downtown land uses.
“We’re such a car culture,” Kumpfer said. “There is so much space dedicated to the car.”