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  • Rooftop Pop-Up Park

    When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to noon Sunday.

    Where: Parking garage at 20th and L streets, Sacramento

    What: Yoga, food, beer, demonstrations, information, bike polo

    Cost: Free

Sacramento group hopes to inspire rooftop garden movement

Published: Friday, Sep. 20, 2013 - 11:13 pm

Hoping to inspire Sacramentans to create more green space, a group of local activists is inviting the public to a “pop-up park” party this weekend that features a rooftop garden on the parking garage at 20th and L streets in midtown.

“Rooftop gardens offer a place for urban dwellers to garden, grow their own food in the city and have that experience of being in touch with their food and with nature, even while they are living in more dense urban environment,” said Ed Chandler of the Rooftop Alliance.

The alliance is working with the young leaders group of the Urban Land Institutes’ Sacramento chapter to share its vision with the public and encourage property owners to view a rooftop green space as an asset.

The pop-up park party runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday. It will feature morning yoga and acoustic jam sessions, demonstrations, food from the LowBrau restaurant and beer from Ruhstaller.

Rooftop green space can vary widely – from deep planter boxes sprouting tomatoes to a thin layer of grass providing energy savings to a handful of potted pants providing ambiance. A handful of Sacramento buildings, such as the CalPERS building and the California Lottery headquarters, have rooftop green space. Rooftop gardens are even more rare.

On a similar theme Friday, more than a dozen “parklets” temporarily replaced asphalt parking spaces along 20th Street between K and J streets. The goal of Park(ing) Day is to encourage a re-evaluation of the amount to public space devoted to auto transit and parking, according to the event website. Lush grass, chess boards, and art sprung up where there was once warm asphalt.

While the events are not connected, many of the Park(ing) Day displays will be taken to the Rooftop Alliance’s pop-up park, Chandler said.

When architect David Mogavero’s firm moved into his office space at 2012 K St., he said it was important to carve out a little green space. The space, roughly 12 feet by 25 feet, doesn’t have the best view. It overlooks a parking lot, but it does provide a comforting place for employees to eat lunch among flowers, green potted plants, a bubbling fountain and art.

“People need access to outdoors,” Mogavero said. “It’s about urban living and providing people access to sunlight.”

Mogavero said he hopes to do more developments with rooftop green space, adding that on some projects they can be a bankable asset. But he added that constructing the building to support the extra weight of a rooftop garden adds cost. A cubic foot of soil weighs around 70 pounds. The extra support required can add $20 to $30 per square foot in construction costs, Mogavero said.

In some instances, he said, he’s had to weigh the benefit of adding solar panels to the roof vs. green space.

Chandler, managing partner at the Sacramento-based Loftgardens Landscape Architecture, not only wants to encourage new development to feature rooftop green space, but also inspire apartment dwellers to persuade their building owners to retrofit their properties.

“We want to work with them to help them be able to grow vegetables on the roof of their building,” Chandler said.

Turning a flat roof into a rooftop garden isn’t as simple as leaning a ladder. Chandler said each situation is unique, depending on how intensive the proposed green space would be. But generally, safety upgrades and perhaps structural upgrades are required.

Creating a livable roof space also requires additional approvals in most cities, including Sacramento, but city officials acknowledge their benefits.

“From the standpoint of planning and sustainability, they can be a benefit if done right,” said Maurice Chaney, a spokesman for the city. “They offer additional open space, particularly in urban settings, and also provide a way to insulate the roof and reduce storm water runoff impacts.”

Read more articles by Ed Fletcher

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