San Francisco’s new funding model for greening & revitalizing public spaces

Along the southeastern portion of San Francisco, California residents enjoy quaint single-family homes with multifamily developments sprinkled in, charming restaurants and old warehouses that serve as remnants of the city’s industrial past.

But as new residents flood in and attract more investment, one key area still falls short: public space. A new program may solve that problem.

The neighborhoods known as Dogpatch and Northwest Potrero Hill recently established the country’s first Green Benefit District (GBD).

Through the program, property owners will pay a small assessment that will go toward maintaining and improving parks, plazas, gardens, sidewalks and more.

It’s modeled after the Community Benefit District (CBD) program, but geared toward greening a residential area, as opposed to promoting commercial shopping districts, like more conventional CBDs.

The stake may also give community members more say in municipal-level decisions about the neighborhoods. “It gives the neighborhood better leverage with the city and state on how to move forward with infrastructure improvements in the area,” say Huie.

“It’s a real grassroots movement. The neighbors decide what they want, how much they want to pay for it and then they run it,” says Jim Chappel of MJM Management Group, who has 50 years of experience improving public spaces and helped consult on the GBD.

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