Back-Seat Driver

Sacramento wants to create ‘uplifting habitat’ in urban jungle

Sacramento is asking business owners a novel question this week: Would you like to enliven the street scene on your block by turning a parking spot or two into a communal patio where people can sit, chat, eat or drink?

The “parklet” concept, popular in San Francisco and other cities, is coming to Sacramento this fall if enough businesses are willing to put in the work to design and build them, and pay the $1,500 to $2,500 estimated cost for permits and fees to pay for removing the parking meter, if there is one.

City Councilman Steve Hansen is among officials with high hopes of creating what he calls “uplifting habitat” on a human scale that can draw people to hang out on business district streets. City officials are hoping to see six to 10 parklets built.

“We want to make sure we give people the tools and opportunity to create great quality experiences,” Hansen said. “We shouldn’t approve parklets that aren’t high quality in the right places, that provide the kind of viscerally pleasing place.”

City parking official Matt Winkler said he hopes to bring San Francisco landscape architect John Bela, one of the movement founders, to Sacramento May 28 to hold a workshop about what makes a good mini-park.

People interested in the program have until June 3 to submit an application to the city. For information, go to Winkler says he hopes someone comes up with a parklet design so creative that it makes headlines.

No bus stop here

When the recession slammed Sacramento Regional Transit five years ago, forcing the agency to cut service, officials tried to keep routes open within walking distance of medical facilities, shopping malls, colleges and libraries.

One lonely library, however, missed out. The Rancho Cordova Public Library on Folsom Boulevard at Horn Road has a bus stop across the street. But, says Jerry Jaggers, the bus stop carries a sign saying: No bus.

Just a few yards east of the library, busy Folsom Boulevard has no sidewalks, making the mile-plus trek from the nearest light-rail station unfriendly. Jaggers, co-president of the local Friends of the Library group, said librarians tell him some elderly patrons do walk there, and immediately ask for a chair to rest.

He and others have been pushing RT and Rancho officials to rectify the situation, but with little success so far. “Everyone says yes, we need to do something, but we don’t have money to do it,” he said.

RT official Alane Masui this week said the agency cut the bus route there in 2010 because of low ridership. RT is now evaluating how it can get some service back to the library “depending upon funding,” she said.

Rancho Cordova Councilwoman Linda Budge said the city is adding sidewalks on Folsom when it has money, and talking with RT about possibilities for a bus line that would run length of the street.

Another possibility: RT’s light rail Gold Line runs across the street from the library. The agency says it would like to add a station at Horn Road. But it has no timetable.