Citywide

Public Space Stewardship Guide

Successful public spaces require funding, programming, and maintenance; and the most celebrated spaces need community partnerships to implement all three. This project web page provides inspiration, practical information, and ready-to-use tools that will support local leaders and community organizations in their public space stewardship efforts.

view of Powell Street
Public Private Partnerships
Powell Street Promenade in Downtown San Francisco (Photo by Kathleen Corey)
kids playing basketball
People St
A program of Los Angeles DOT
people in alley waving and smiling
Yerba Buena Community Benefit District
Annie Alley Plaza in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood

However, cities and communities have historically lacked the resources to better understand, compare and budget for these essential elements of public space stewardship. The Public Space Stewardship Guide comes at an opportune moment as more neighborhood associations, non-profits and elected representatives seek to support public life in their own plazas, parks and neighborhood spaces.

The Public Space Stewardship Guide is the result of a comprehensive research study of best practices and sustainable methods for public space stewardship nationwide. It presents 17 case studies organized around five models for sustainable public space stewardship:

  • Event-Based Models;
  • Grassroots Partnerships;
  • Public/Private Partnerships;
  • Self-Governing Special Assessment Districts; and
  • Maintenance/Technical Assistance Partnerships.

The guide introduces the models, illustrates them with case studies, and summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The models provide a helpful framework for understanding each project, but many case studies integrate more than one model. Each case study has strengths and weaknesses unique to the objectives, funding and capacity of the stewarding organization or partnership. Case studies were selected to represent a range of organizations, space types, “use levels,” and budgets. The appendices in the document provide ready to-use tools, including a recommended outline for a public space management plan, maintenance plan templates, and a guide to funding sources which references additional case studies.

view of Powell Street
Public Private Partnerships
Powell Street Promenade in Downtown San Francisco (Photo by Kathleen Corey)
kids playing basketball
People St
A program of Los Angeles DOT
people in alley waving and smiling
Yerba Buena Community Benefit District
Annie Alley Plaza in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood

Resources for Public Space Stewardship

The Public Space Stewardship Guide is a collaborative effort between San Francisco Planning, the Street Plans Collaborative, and the MJM Management Group.

Join the Conversation

This document is just a starting point. Download all the tools and submit your own case studies at publicspacestewardship.org

Contacts

Jeremy Shaw 
San Francisco Planning, Project Manager
(415) 575-9135
jeremy.shaw@sfgov.org

Julie Flynn
The Street Plans Collaborative, Project Director
(860) 539-8061
julie@street-plans.com

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to all of the City, County and neighborhood organizations, business owners, neighbors, and artists who are doing great work every day to help San Francisco’s public spaces thrive.

This project is the result of a comprehensive research study of best practices and sustainable methods for public space -stewardship nationwide. The study process included online research, as well as interviews with relevant project and program managers around the country. We would like to thank all of the program and program managers who participated in interviews to help us learn more about their stewardship model.

Funding for this project was provided by the Friends of City Planning.