The Vision for Portsmouth Square

January 12, 2018

portsmouth square improvement project community meeting

portsmouth square improvement project

Portsmouth Square, referred to by many as the community’s “living room,” is a gathering place for Chinese seniors, families and children. Chinatown is a neighborhood where open space is in short supply. While San Francisco sets aside 19% of its area to parks, open space makes up a mere 5% in the 18-block Chinatown neighborhood. As 40% of Chinatown’s housing is Single Room Occupancy buildings, many residents rely on Portsmouth Square as a vital open space to socialize and meet with friends and family.

The Portsmouth Square Improvement Project seeks to enhance this key space in Chinatown through a design process that revisits the plaza, children’s play areas, buildings, landscaping, and the streetscape. Community members have been an important part of the redesign process, providing key input on how the new park can be planned to better serve the community and the neighborhood. Last redesigned in 1987, changes and improvements to Portsmouth Square will impact the neighborhood for years to come.

Starting in 2017, San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department and the San Francisco Planning Department hosted four community workshops that have been well attended by the local community. The Committee for Better Parks and Recreation in Chinatown, one of Chinatown CDC’s five founding groups, has been crucial in getting the word out and ensuring the broad sections of the community participate in the workshops. This includes seniors from Chinatown CDC’s buildings, Community Tenants Association, and Self-Help for the Elderly; youth from Chinatown CDC and Community Youth Center; and business leaders from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

The fourth community workshop on January 11th at City College of San Francisco-Chinatown Campus was a standing room only event. Phil Ginsberg, General Manager, SF Rec and Park welcomed 300 seniors, families and youth anxious to learn about the selected design of Portsmouth Square and share feedback with the project managers. During the event, SF Rec and Park staff unveiled a design featuring one large plaza level for events, sheltered seating, and playground, and a lower level with large indoor space for a clubhouse and other uses. This scheme removes the existing bridge. Of the 258 people surveyed, 76% selected this design from the previous December 11 workshop. For more information, click here.

portsmouth square improvement project community meeting
Community meetings in Chinatown have been standing-room only! Residents who use the park on a daily basis are encouraged to give their input.


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