The parklet in happier times at the Bike Away From Work Party.
After appearances at three popular events in early May, the Alcatraz Parklet was last seen on Wednesday, May 18 between 5:40 and 6 pm being driven away in a white Subaru wagon, license plate 4UEG667.
Parklets, a combination of platforms and benches that create usable public space and "miniparks" in unattractive patches of the street, are popular in San Francisco and New York. Oakland just began drafting an ordinance to make parklets legal in Oakland's streets, and Actual Cafe rallied volunteers and neighboring businesses to create a portable parklet for the Golden Gate neighborhood. Once a permit existed, the parklet would be more permanent.
Because the parklet could not yet legally be left in the street, it was designed to be portable. After the Parklet Love-In on May 15, the parklet was deconstructed and its pieces stacked on the curb next to its intended home. The platforms, planters, and rough cut lumber were in front of a locked gate and near Actual Cafe's trash and recyclables.
"My hope is that someone will realize what they have and bring it back," says Sal Bednarz, owner of Actual Cafe. Bednarz is a driving force behind both the Alcatraz parklet and the City of Oakland's recent push to make parklets a more permanent park of Oakland's streetscape.
"We don't think it was done out of maliciousness--it was dismantled, so folks probably thought it was up for grabs. We're not mad at anyone, just want the pieces back because so many people worked so hard on it" wrote Gail Lillian on the official Help Actual Cafe get our Parklet back Facebook page.
"It's not the money, or even the time I spent, that I'm sad about. It's the fact that so many other folks gave their sweat and blood (literally) to get the thing built, moved, re-built, etc. I don't want their work to have been wasted, "Bednarz continues on the Actual Cafe blog. "Please, if you've seen our parklet, let us know. If you took it, please bring it back. I'll make it worth your while - no questions asked. No one here is angry - just sad and hopeful."
"I hope the parklet is recovered and returned to its spot at Actual Cafe soon," said Rebecca Stievater, outreach coordinator with the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. "Having spent the better part of a weekend helping in construction, I know the parklet was definitely an Actual Cafe community project, and I want that community to be able to enjoy it! Plus, I haven't had the chance to sit in it yet, and I'll definitely be a little sad if that never gets to happen."
Have you seen the planters, platforms, or lumber? Send your tips to Sal Bednarz.
Writer Ruth Miller is one of the many volunteers who helped make the parklet a reality.