Scattered throughout Downtown San Francisco are public plazas, atriums, and roof gardens. Privately Owned Public Open Spaces (POPOS) hide behind secret elevators, security guards, and stairs. Their elusive trait begs the question: if they are public, then why are they hidden?
In a city where land is scarce, POPOS allocate open space to prevent overdevelopment. The 1985 Downtown Plan mandates developers build and maintain 1 sq ft of public space for each 50 sq ft of commercial space. Yet, developers hide them from the public to keep cost of maintenance low.