Which Is It, SF? Do You Want Sidewalk Gardens Or Not?

By Matt Baume
|  Wednesday, Feb 9, 2011  |  Updated 9:00 AM PDT
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Which Is It, SF? Do You Want Sidewalk Gardens Or Not?

Sarah Walsh

Good afternoon! I went for a walk today and found someone had done a fabulous drawing in chalk on the sidewalk. That is photo one. Photo 2 is a drawing I found in a similar location a couple of months ago. Nice surprise on a beautiful day like today, don't you think? Sarah Walsh Des Plaines, IL

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The city of San Francisco would really like residents to start maintaining gardens on the sidewalks outside their homes. And it also does not want them to do that at all.

For reasons known only to a surly building inspector, a sidewalk garden at Sanchez and 16th has been told to remove plants from in front of their home. The side sidewalk provides plenty of room for pedestrians and wheelchairs to pass, and yet the resident claims that the city is threatening to cite them and put a lien on their home.

It's a peculiar situation, since many of the other surrounding homes have similar planters. The resident has asked neighbors to sign a petition to save the garden, according to a local hipster journalist.

But in the mean time, another city agency is hard at work trying to convince residents to put out more plants.

The Botanical Garden and the Department of Public Works have launched a program called "Grey 2 Green" that seeks to transform pavement into plantings. Workshops will be held starting this weekend, providing residents with training for ripping up sidewalks and replacing them with legal, well-maintained gardens.

Keeping a healthy, eco-friendly garden in San Francisco is no easy task, since the Mediterranean climate demands specific drought-tolerant plants.

Until recently, the city's process of permitting sidewalk gardens was lengthy and expensive. Neighborhood activists rallied to streamline the process, but it's unclear whether the threatened homeowner had sought proper permitting for his planters.

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