Public Space Stewardship Guide

Successful public spaces require funding, programming, and maintenance; and the most celebrated spaces need community partnerships to implement all three.

Public Space Stewardship Guide CoverDownload the entire Public Space Stewardship Guide – V.1 (PDF 58MB)

However, cities and communities have historically lacked the resources to better understand, compare and budget for these essential elements of public space stewardship. The Public Space Stewardship Guide comes at an opportune moment as more neighborhood associations, non-profits and elected representatives seek to support public life in their own plazas, parks and neighborhood spaces.

The Public Space Stewardship Guide is the result of a comprehensive research study of best practices and sustainable methods for public space stewardship nationwide. It presents 17 case studies organized around five models for sustainable public space stewardship:

  • Event-Based Models;
  • Grassroots Partnerships;
  • Public/Private Partnerships;
  • Self-Governing Special Assessment Districts; and
  • Maintenance/Technical Assistance Partnerships.

The guide introduces the models, illustrates them with case studies, and summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The models provide a helpful framework for understanding each project, but many case studies integrate more than one model. Each case study has strengths and weaknesses unique to the objectives, funding and capacity of the stewarding organization or partnership. Case studies were selected to represent a range of organizations, space types, “use levels,” and budgets. The appendices in the document provide ready to-use tools, including a recommended outline for a public space management plan, maintenance plan templates, and a guide to funding sources which references additional case studies.

This document is just a starting point.
Join the conversation, download all the tools and submit your own case studies at


Jeremy Shaw
San Francisco Planning, Project Manager
(415) 575-9135

Julie Flynn
The Street Plans Collaborative, Project Director
(860) 539-8061

The Public Space Stewardship Guide is a collaborative effort between San Francisco Planning,
the Street Plans Collaborative, and the MJM Management Group