Park(ing) Day Tempe 2013 | Students for the New Urbanism @ ASU

Park(ing) Day is an internationally known “open-source” event that occurs annually since September 2005 where residents, activists and urban planners turn preferred on-street parking spaces into temporary public spaces, “parklets” or places of leisure. This year, three student organizations at Arizona State University worked together in downtown Tempe. The Students for the New Urbanism teamed together with the Student Planning Association and the American Institute of Architecture Students to transform 3 parking spaces along Mill Avenue into an interesting and inviting public space with green space, seating, reading materials, games and educational information.


The collaboration was the effort of a few weeks of planning in association with Park(ing) Day Phoenix, a larger group of residents and activists who have been a prominent fixture in Phoenix for several years. The main purpose of the international event is to provide a commentary on parking space in the city and the lack of public space thereof and to show citizens the importance of public social space and green space in the accessible areas of downtown districts. These goals directly relate to the principle of Sustainable Urbanism, promoting public space and green space, less concentration on automobiles and more interaction of pedestrians and the use of streetscapes by them. 





The event was held from 7-10 am on Friday September 20th, and by 8 am the spaces had drawn upwards of 20-25 people, and as the hours progressed, so did the interaction, the population of students and interested residents, and more importantly the intervention of police officers and Tempe staff. By 8:30 a.m., when around 30 people inhabited the 3 spaces along Mill Avenue, several staff members from the Tempe Community Services Special Events office stopped at the park. Instead of promoting the interactive and public involvement event and joining the festivities, the staff members were looking to shut them down, citing a lack of a special use permit.


Faced with the threat of an arrest by one of the multiple police officers on the scene, the students began to slowly break the park down. At this point, Parrish Spisz (Town Council Aide) and staff from Downtown Tempe Community had come down to the event to show their support for the parklet, which was now being reviewed by the Tempe police commissioner, who was on scene. By the end of the discussions, it was already about 9:15 am and once the Zoning Ordinance was brought forth on paper, they were forced to leave the spaces by 9:30. DTC apologized for the inconvenience and had expressed interest in collaboration with the ASU Student Organizations in the future, especially next year’s Park(ing) Day.


The event elaborated on one major thing, that politics in planning is still one of the most important factors of how decisions are made and how change is brought about, and it was evident to every student attending.


For more information please feel free to contact Mitchell Bobman (SNU President) at or Daniel Barusch (SPA President) at


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