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Public Space Management

The Delicate Balance: Streets and Sidewalks as Social Destinations

Downtown streets and sidewalks have increasingly become new destinations for socializing. Sidewalk cafés, events, street performance, vending and public art, tools which can successfully activate public space, can also bring rogue and illegal formats such as street performers using portable amplifiers at all hours and “gypsy” vending. Pedestrian traffic also attracts panhandlers, homeless and a new breed of transient: Nomadic belligerent youth who are creative at circumventing laws. Public perception of safety relies on managing all these dynamics and requires a delicate balance of vibrancy, safety and constitutional rights. This webinar will present Tempe, AZ's comprehensive strategy to manage a vibrant public space with a balance of uses and users, to communicate and uphold standards for civility, and restore a positive downtown experience.

  • Public Space Plan: The process Tempe used to research & develop a comprehensive strategy, including a street performer program that reduced undesirable/illegal busking by 75%.
  • Collaborative Partners: How Tempe engaged businesses, the City and other partners to identify and respond to gaps, develop ordinances and enforce aggressive panhandling and amplified sound.
  • Sustainability and Perception: How establishing a customized training for frontline BID staff works to assure the program’s sustainability and influence public perception.
  • Lessons Learned: The complexities of free speech rights and a management structure that can build vibrancy while operating within local and constitutional parameters.



Allison Harnden

Leslie Criger

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