Quick, tell me what can beautify the urban landscape, help control runoff into the San Francisco Bay, and bring neighbors together for a neighborhood improvement project?
They’re called “pocket gardens,” and they’re popping up all over the city. This year, the city has started a new program called Grey2Green, described like this in an article at SFGate today:
San Francisco’s Department of Public Works and the San Francisco Botanical Garden are making it easier for residents like Carlson to transform lifeless sidewalks into vibrant pocket gardens. The new Grey2Green program offers free workshops for hopeful gardeners, and it guides applicants through a streamlined permit process with price breaks for collaborating neighbors.
In San Francisco, the city owns the sidewalks, but property owners are responsible for maintaining them. So when the city puts some of those tell-tale white dots on your cracked, uneven sidewalk squares and notifies you that you must correct the problem, why not replace concrete (grey) with some California native plants (green)?
It not only beautifies the area; it helps with rainwater runoff.
It’s a way both to make the city more pleasant and to control urban runoff into San Francisco Bay by spreading, slowing and percolating storm water. “The storm-water management function of pocket gardens is a huge benefit to the city,” said [Carla] Short [the Department of Public Works’ urban forester].
How do you get started? Attend a workshop:Â Grey2GreenÂ workshops:Â 9 to 10 a.m. the second Saturday of the month at the County Fair Building, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park. The next dates are Oct. 8 and Nov. 12. Call Mike Gonzalez at (415) 336-1119 or go toÂ www.sfbotanicalgarden.org/Grey2Green.
How much does it cost? “Property owners are responsible for paying for sidewalk removal; some San Francisco contractors offer group discounts for neighborhood projects. The conversion permit itself costs $215 for a single property, $185 each for two to four neighbors and $160 each for five or more – an incentive for cooperative neighborhood ventures.”
Let’s get planting!