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Competition Offers $5,000 To Design Downtown San Diego Mobile Park

Credit: RAD Lab

An East Village "pocket park" designed by Rad Lab with Downtown San Diego Partnership and HP Investors will open Sunday, June 8, 2014.

Aired 8/14/14 on KPBS News.

A new competition is soliciting ideas for temporary "parklets," or small parks, that could be installed in downtown San Diego.

Ever want to build a park? Now may be your chance.

A new competition is soliciting ideas for temporary "parklets," or small parks, that could be installed in downtown San Diego. The winner will get $5,000 from the city to fund construction.

The contest is a collaboration between the nonprofit advocacy group Downtown San Diego Partnership and City Council President Todd Gloria's office.

Its purpose is to bring new life to unused spaces in downtown, said Kris Michell, president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership. Her organization backs a strategy called "tactical urbanism," which means creating quick, cheap and sometimes temporary projects that draw foot traffic to downtown spaces. In June, they helped install a temporary pocket park in a vacant lot at 13th Avenue and J Street.

This contest takes the idea a step further by making the park mobile, Michell said.

"It takes spaces that might be enlivened for a day or two, and can then move to another side of downtown and enliven places there," she said.

For example, a design could have play space for children and would move to different locations to make up for the lack of downtown parks.

"It doesn't have to stay stationary, because things move around, activities come and go in downtown, so we want to respond to that," Michell said.

Gloria said in a statement that they made the project into a competition to attract the best ideas.

“I encourage San Diegans to be innovative, creative and competitive and bring their best mobile parklet designs forward,” he said. “Downtown is a thriving neighborhood, and a mobile parklet designed and developed locally will be a great new community amenity.”

Entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Aug. 25, and the winner will be announced Sept. 1. The park is scheduled to open Sept. 19. Details on how to apply can be found on Downtown San Diego Partnership's website.

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