Public Space? Should municipalities rent it out?

Last week there was an incident when Dropbox & Airbnb employees rented a soccer field but found the neighborhood teens playing there. The controversy, while seemingly blown out of proportion, raises fundamental questions about how we continue to balance the privatization of public spaces.

San Francisco’s startup culture has thrived on monetizing commodities that were once free, like public parking spaces and restaurant reservations. It’s no wonder that the parks department wants in on the action. Activists are highly suspicious of the general manager, Phil Ginsburg, who they believe wants to turn the parks department into an enterprise agency—a government institution that generates its own budget (like the airport) by charging for access and services instead of relying on tax dollars.

Maybe the municipality should privatize the public spaces to raise money for other causes? Of course, that could potential lead to fewer and fewer public spaces. (New Yorker)

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