downtown park study

Downtown Parks and Bay Connectivity Project

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Background | Phases of Study | Next Steps | More Resources 

What's New

December 20, 2019 Release Date

Request For Qualifications (RFQ) for the Downtown Parks and Bay Connectivity Project has been released! 
Click here to download.

Deadline is February 18, 2020 at 5:00pm

September 24 City Council Meeting

The City Council approved the selection of three sites in the Downtown to create a large, linear park that extends from Downtown to the bay.

pop up park pic

Next steps include staff developing a scope of work, releasing an RFP and selecting a professional design services firm to assist with the design phase of the urban parks and recreation corridors, including a comprehensive public engagement strategy. Staff anticipates developing the scope of work and releasing the RFP this winter, selecting a professional design services firm in early 2019, and returning to the City Council with a proposed schematic design in fall 2019. This is a preliminary estimate and other steps may shift this timeline, as Redwood Creek portion of the park area will go through a CEQA analysis, has private property lines and other items to address as well. These steps will inform the cost estimates of designing the large, linear park and phasing of the park or parks. 

City Council Meeting Documents

Read below for more on the various phases of this initiative.


In early 2017, the City Council held a Study Session regarding the implementation of the Downtown Precise Plan (DTPP). Through this discussion, the City Council placed a high priority on implementation to “create a network of great public open spaces”. As a result of City Council direction, staff requested proposals for the preparation of a
Downtown Parks Site Assessment and Feasibility Study for the creation of new downtown parks and SERA Design and Architecture, Inc. from Portland, Oregon was selected by the panel to lead the study. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the feasibility for improvements to City-owned land and its adjacent right-of-way and to provide recommendations for park development and the potential for creating green linear systems and urban recreation corridors that connect the City’s existing and future public open spaces.

Phases of the Study

The study is the first step in creating parkland to serve downtown. The study has three phases: site assessment and ranking of sites for downtown parks; preliminary site planning and identification of site improvements and amenities; and recommendations for park development.

Phase 1 - The site assessment phase looked at the potential of future parks on City-owned property and right-of-way in the general downtown area. City staff presented the site assessment at the March 12 City Council meeting and gained City Council input. The Council selected three sites and directed staff to move forward with community engagement. Staff returned to the City Council in September following launching park pop-ups, an online survey and other outreach. 


Phase 2 - The preliminary site planning and site improvement analysis studied the opportunities and constraints for the construction of parks at each of the preferred location(s), and generated site-specific bubble diagrams and recommendations for the type of improvements. Staff also conducted community engagement and outreach through public surveys, a one-day community event hosted by the PRCS and Library, and a meeting with tenants at 830 Main (apartments adjacent to the parking lot). Because the proposed park locations are active parking lots, survey questions assessed the use of downtown parking facilities.

The Pop-Up Park, held at the two proposed sites in the downtown on Saturday, June 9 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., was developed by staff with support from the Parks and Arts Foundation (PAF) and the Library staff and volunteers. With the exception of Roselli Garden, the event location simulated the shape and size of a single linear park that extended from Broadway to the corner of Middlefield Road and Main Street. A survey booth was set up where people could look at a map of the proposed locations, view a copy of the preliminary report, take the survey, ask questions about the study, and express their concerns or support for the proposed locations for a future park. Moreover, the event offered participants an opportunity to see and feel the potential size and scale of a future linear park in that location.

Phase 3 - Phase three included a final report and presentation with recommendations for park development to the City Council. View the final study here: Downtown Parks Site Assessment and Feasibility StudyThe report was presented to Council at the September 24, 2018 Meeting. Go here for the City Council presentation. 

While the study was not intended to resolve the numerous issues from the conversion of the existing use of City-owned land to parkland, it was aimed at disclosing them and offering the City Council a summary of observations that can inform the decision of site selection for a park and the future design of the spaces. In addition to the feedback received at the Pop Up event and multiple meetings, the public surveys captured the community’s preferences for amenities and programming. Most indicated a preference for a large, green linear park that provided a soft visual and tactile respite from the hard surfaces of the downtown streets. This input informed the general diagrams of the proposed public spaces that will be the foundation for the subsequent park and urban recreation corridor designs.

Highlights of the Downtown Parks Site Assessment and Feasibility Study

The report provides the comprehensive findings and recommendations for park development in the downtown. The recommendations illustrate various options for developing a park, or a collection of parks, located in the downtown area. The report recommends the implementation of an urban recreational corridor, including the proposed corridor stretching from the Downtown Library to the Highway 101 Undercrossing. And, after considering existing conditions studies, community input and public opinion, analysis of downtown parking usage and future plans, and land surveys, the high-level site plan diagrams that reflect community- informed programming and amenities, staff recommended that the City Council consider with proceeding to a detailed design phase of the three selected sites to create a large, linear park. At the September 24 City Council meeting, the Council approved the selection of the three sites and gave staff the direction to move to the design phase. If the three sites selected by the City Council were to fully develop in accordance with the diagrams in the report, concurrently with the development of the 101 Undercrossing and a version of the proposed bicycle network in the City-wide Transportation Plan, the City would capture an opportunity to create a new urban recreation corridor that would greatly contribute to the existing and future network of great public open spaces.

Next Steps

Staff is developing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for professional design services for the design of an urban park(s) and recreation corridors, including a comprehensive and inclusive public engagement strategy.

More Resources

Park Assessment

March 12 City Council Staff Report

March 12 City Council Presentation

March 6 Planning Commission Staff Report

2008 Parks and Facilities Needs Assessment

Downtown Precise Plan