Like any large city, San Francisco has a myriad of government owned parks and plazas that are open to the public.
But unknown to many “locals” as well as visitors, are “Privately-Owned Public Open Space” (also know by the acronym, “POPOS”).
The city’s Planning Department says that they are “publicly accessible spaces in forms of plazas, terraces, atriums, small parks, and even snippets that are provided and maintained by private developers. In San Francisco, POPOS mostly appear in the Downtown office district area.”
The Department also points out that the city “has a ’1% Art Program’ that requires that large projects in the Downtown and nearby neighborhoods provide public art that equals at least 1% of the total construction cost.”
But how do you find these places?
Fortunately, the Planning Department has created an interactive map that shows both POPOS and public art.
It’s possible to open that Web page on a smartphone in order to use the map, but since it’s not “optimized” for viewing on mobile devices, one has to do the two-finger pinch to zoom and and out maneuver (a bit difficult on an iPhone, easier on an iPad). There’s also a Google Map of POPOS, but that isn’t any easier to read on a smartphone.
Unfortunately, an app specifically designed to show POPOS is no longer available in the U.S. iTunes App store. But you can download and read a guide (PDF file) to POPOS from SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association) to your mobile device, although you’ll still have to do the tw0-fingered tango to read it.
If you stubble upon one of these “secret” places in San Francisco, you should find a plaque that looks something like this.