Beyond Bottom-up

Title: Beyond Bottom-up: Public-Private Initiatives and the Potential for Proactive Citizenship
Author: Antje Steinmuller

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Public space—by its original definitions a place of debate and struggle—is characterized by its
continuous formation and reformation through public dialog and participation.The move of large
tech companies to San Francisco has contributed to growing densification and gentrification in
the city, disproportionately affecting black and Latino communities. In response to ongoing
displacement and evictions of both working-class and middle-class citizens, San Francisco is
experiencing a surge of advocacy and activism shaped by multi-faceted bottom-up organizing
and protest movements around the privatization of public space. Such actions have lead to
significant outcomes including a political revisiting of the Ellis Act. At the same time, small-scale,
public-private or hybrid models for shaping neighborhood public space are increasing in
popularity as a modality of citizen participation. While urban planning literature has offered
critiques of this model, it is timely to examine specific and ongoing cases, their differing
articulations of participation, and potentials for inclusiveness in the city. This article presents a
reflection on citizen alliances that emerge within current models of public-private partnerships in
San Francisco and evaluates them for their potential as new forms of pro-active citizenship.
About the publication:

Participatory Urbanisms is a compilation of interviews with urban practitioners and a critical
anthology of peer-reviewed articles, examining the triangulation of urban participation,
aesthetics, and politics.