By Jenny Niemann and Madeline Keating
PARKing Day is a day of action to create temporary public spaces to demonstrate alternative, positive uses of parking spaces. Organizations around the country host pop-up parks in parking spaces to create new public spaces and enhance the urban environment in creative and interactive ways.
Denver has a huge number of underutilized land devoted to parking, which not only wastes valuable downtown space but also makes housing more expensive, produces added traffic congestion, and worsens environmental problems (Jeffrey Tumlin, Getting Parking Right in Denver). By getting involved with Denver’s biggest PARKing Day yet, you can help explore opportunities for these spaces to be allocated to a more productive use. PARKing Day 2015 is on Friday, September 18th.
PARKing Day is “an annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places” (from Parkingday.org). It is for any person, organization, artist, designer, or passerby that is invested in urban sustainability, transportation and mobility, urban planning and design, and so much more. For more information on the international movement, see the official PARKing Day website.
We want PARKing Day to be celebrated throughout Denver, highlighting the importance of open space and the huge amount of public land we currently dedicate to automobile parking spaces. Any organization, company, or individual can get involved: Just reserve a parking space for the day, and set up a simple pop-up park in that spot. Spaces can host all sorts of activities: a park, a library, games, art, seating, etc. Be careful not to let your activities interfere with the active travel lanes. For inspiration, check out Inhabitat’s round up of 2014’s PARKing Day Parks.
To host your own PARKing Day Space, follow these Denver Public Works processes for reserving a spot:
If you are requesting to reserve a spot with a parking meter:
a) Fill out the Parking Meter Request form
b) When submitting this form to DPW, you’ll need to include two additional things:
- A drawing / site plan of what your 7′ x 18′ space will look like: what will be in there? This must include information about the barrier you will create between the travel lane and the parking spot. Please note that a bike lane is considered a travel lane and cannot be utilized as the buffer for your spot.
- A traffic control plan for set-up and tear-down of the site. This is most easily accomplished by making sure you don’t disrupt traffic during these times. Last year, we simply parked in the adjacent space and did not enter traffic lanes during move-in and move-out. (It’s also possible you’ll be bringing very little items, or bringing things from an adjacent building and only entering from the sidewalk).
If you are requesting to reserve a parking spot with no parking meter:
a) You will need a street occupancy permit. Click here for the street occupancy permit form.
b) In addition to completing the street occupancy permit form, applicants will be required to rent “No parking anytime tow away zone” signs through a barricade company of their choosing. Those signs are required to be placed at back of curb for each parking spot reserved (approximately every 20 feet) and placed 24 hours in advance of the time of occupancy. A signed copy of the permit must be on site to over-ride the signage restriction.
Please note: If you are building a structure in your parking spot, you may need a lane of traffic to do the work safely. Closing the travel lane will require a traffic control plan and street occupancy permit.
Three other important notes:
- Denver Public Works will only permit parking spaces on the ends of a block for PARKing DAY set-ups.
- There needs to be a physical barrier between the parking space and the travel lane, for safety reasons. This barrier should constrain all activity to the parking space, and make sure entrances are from the sidewalk side of the space.
- The parking space cannot include advertising for a business.
Please contact Denver Public Works Permit Operations at 303-446-3759 if you have questions about any of this—we are just passing along the process. Thanks and good luck!
For more information, please visit the Denver Parking Day 2015 Facebook page. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions, or want to chat about your space or Parking Day in general. Happy PARKing day!
Jenny Niemann and Madeline Keating are students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at CU Denver.