Friday, June 8, 2012

We Need Your Feedback - New Signage Requirements for Privately Owned Public Open Spaces (POPOS)

Click to enlarge.  Image from SPUR's guide to POPOS

BOMA San Francisco Members -

The San Francisco Planning Department has approved an ordinance introduced by Supervisor David Chiu that would change the signage requirements for privately owned publicly accessible open spaces (POPOS).  The Board of Supervisors must still review and vote to approve the ordinance.

This San Francisco Examiner article summarizes the issue nicely.  As the article and the SPUR guide to POPOS details, many of the spaces are in or around BOMA San Francisco member buildings.

Please take a moment to review the Planning Department's Executive Summary of the planning code amendments, examples of current and possible updated signage requirements and send your feedback to Ken Cleaveland at and John Bozeman at

From the Executive Summary

The Way It Is Now

Privately-owned public open spaces (POPOS) are publicly accessible spaces in forms of plazas, terraces, atriums, small parks, and even snippets that are provided and maintained by private developers. In San Francisco, POPOS mostly appear in the Downtown office district area. Prior to 1985, developers provided POPOS under three general circumstances: voluntarily, in exchange for a density bonus, or as a condition of approval. The 1985 Downtown Plan created the first systemic requirements for developers to provide publicly accessible open space as a part of projects in C-3 Districts. The goal was to “provide in the downtown quality open space in sufficient quantity and variety to meet the needs of downtown workers, residents and visitors.The Downtown Plan also established guidelines that define eleven types of open spaces in Downtown. These guidelines prescribe detailed standards regarding each open space type size, location, access, seating, landscaping, food service, sunlight and wind, and public accessibility. Section 138 of the San Francisco Planning Code (herein after the “Code”) refers to these guidelines and establishes required amount of open space in C-3 Districts. It also regulates POPOS signage which is the focus of the proposed Ordinance. The Planning Department designed a customized plaque template for POPOS featuring a distinctive logo and required project sponsors to install the plaque at the space. However, while the Code specified what information to include in the plaque, it did not identify the location and the size of the plaque. As a result, many of these sites do not include proper informational signage, which has created a deficiency in informing the public about the existence of open space. Section 135 and 135.3 also provide provisions for POPOS in other Districts such as Downtown Residential and Eastern Neighborhood Mixed Use Districts. Some provisions in these two Sections regarding POPOS are not in consistence with provisions in Section 138.

The Way It Would Be

The proposed Ordinance would amend Section 138 to include more specific requirements and standards for the informational plaques of POPOS. In order to maintain consistency in the Code, Section 135 and 135.3 of the Code will also be amended to match the same standards.

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