The concept of parklets (small park-like spaces on parts of streets that have been repurposed) is taking off around the U.S. I have come to expect to see them in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, but I must confess I was a little surprised to find one when I recently visited Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The following is an excerpt from a very well done “How to” manual from San Francisco on how to develop Parklets as part of neighborhood improvement projects:

San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks Program facilitates the conversion of utilitarian and often underused spaces in the street into publicly accessible open spaces available for all to enjoy. The Parklet Program is one component of the Pavement to Parks Program, which provides a path for merchants, community organizations, business owners, and residents to take individual actions in the development and beautification of the City’s public realm.

Parklets are intended as aesthetic enhancements to the streetscape, providing an economical solution to the need for increased public open space. Parklets provide amenities like seating, planting, bike parking, and art. While parklets are funded and maintained by neighboring businesses, residents, and community organizations, they are publicly accessible and open to all.

This terrific manual can be downloaded here.

According to the manual, the world’s first formal public parklets were initially conceived and installed in San Francisco in 2010. Earlier this year, 39 of the mini-parks had been installed throughout San Francisco, and the program is being emulated in cities around the world.

The creation of parklets in your neighborhood celebrates local grassroots initiatives, community- building, and sustainable transportation initiatives. While not quite a mainstream phenomenon yet, the movement is growing. Don’t be surprised if one pops up near you soon!