A SFMTA worker walks away after removing the pole garden from in front of Seedstore on Clement.
Photo courtesy of Matthew R.
The gardens were being hung by an anonymous resident of the neighborhood, who only identified themselves as “Pole Gardener” in a blog comment, telling readers “I’m glad you like the gardens, I’m the person putting them up. I would invite all of you to maintain/adopt them as you see fit, including watering and replanting.”
Reaction to the mini gardens was overwhelmingly positive, and in a KTVU news story on the small creations, city officials said they have no plans to remove them from the poles and parking meters where they had been installed.
But that city stance seems to have changed. Today we received several emails, and photos, alerting us that the SFMTA is removing the pole gardens that are attached to parking meters along Clement Street.
This included the ones installed in front of Green Apple Books and Foggy Notion Boutique, both near 6th Avenue and Clement. Both business owners contacted the blog, disappointed that the gardens were being removed.
“I really love them and want them to stay in the neighborhood and most business owners and residents feel the same!” said Alissa Anderson, owner of Foggy Notion. She recently began surveying Clement Street business owners about the pole gardens, and says “the response was overwhelmingly positive”.
Anderson says the SFMTA is only removing pole gardens from parking meters, not from other poles on the street.
We have not contacted the SFMTA for comment, but one reason for removal may be that the planters interfere with the process of emptying the meters. One blog commenter described it: “They open the meter directly above the plantings with a special Allen wrench and then attach a custom hose to the meter. The hose’s collar has a handle to turn the coin cup in the meter upside down and empty the contents into a wheel-mounted numbered lockbox. The collector then removes hose, closes circle cover and walks to the next meter.”
Or maybe someone at the SFMTA just doesn’t like the pole gardens.
While we don’t expect the SFMTA to reinstall the pole gardens in a better location, let’s hope they don’t feel inclined to take down all of the pole gardens that have popped up on Clement Street. As one commenter put it, “It’s wonderful that someone cares enough about the neighborhood to beautify it like this.”
UPDATE: Paul Rose of the SFMTA left this comment: “Due to potential concerns related to safety, loose wires and some of the boxes falling apart, we had to remove the plants. We’ll work with other city agencies to see if we can come up with parameters for a reasonable and acceptable arrangement for future consideration.”
UPDATE #2: Peter Lauterborn, legislative aide to Supervisor Eric Mar sent an email out saying, “The good news is that we are told that they haven’t been destroyed and will be maintained until a new plan is figured out.”
The pole garden that was mounted on a meter outside Foggy Notion on 6th Avenue