How to Make Privately Owned Public Spaces Truly Open to the PublicPosted: December 17, 2012
By Emily Badger
Published: December 17, 2012
Some of the best privately owned public open spaces in downtown San Francisco are, by nature, a little hard to find. They’re on upper-floor terraces with fantastic views of the city, or in interior plazas of office towers that look from the sidewalk like places where you don’t belong. Part of their charm comes from their hybrid nature: These “POPOS” can be more intimate sanctuaries than traditional open spaces, with office-caliber amenities – leather chairs and potted olive trees – you’ll won’t find in Golden Gate Park.
San Francisco’s 1985 downtown plan required large new office and hotel developments built since then to incorporate such public spaces, in proportion to the size of the properties. But it’s the kind of ordinance that’s been easily thwarted in spirit. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s urban critic John King wrote several years ago, some buildings have embraced their POPOS, “others are more Scrooge-like than welcoming.”