Privately Owned Public Space aka POPS

Do you know what POPS are? You should. By law you have every right to be there — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

All POPS (Privately Owned Public Spaces) created after 2009 must have the following: bicycle racks; litter receptacles; lighting & electrical power; plants & trees; access for persons with disabilities; seating for people; & be open to the general public 24 hours a day (unless a specific POPS has authorization, documentation, & visible signage to close early from the City Planning Commission).

POPS larger than 5,000 square feet are required to have the following: food kiosks or an outdoor cafe; artwork; moveable tables & chairs; fountains or pools; play areas; & game tables.

In New York, POPS have been in the news. The original Occupy Wall Street camp was set up in Zuccotti Park, which was a Privately Owned Public Space. The protestors had every right to be there. Yet police took actions that were illegal against the protestors.

This year there was an Occupy Public Fountains Ride (it was previously known as a yearly event called Time’s Up! Fountain Ride). Many participated in this peaceful demonstration. It was a group of people that rode their bikes from fountain to fountain (dancing, swimming & relating) reclaiming POPS & spreading awareness. Security guards asked them to leave or stop what they were doing, but there was not one arrest. They had every legal right to be there.

A great website to check out is #whOWNSpace (Who Owns Space). Here is a quote from a blog post about POPS featured on #whOWNSpace: It has happened slowly. Many of us have not even noticed. Little by little, the cities we inhabit — malls, shopping centers, movie theaters, private plazas, parks, and in some unfortunate places even entire streets and neighborhoods — become increasingly privatized. Yet many of us do not often stop and ask ourselves what this means and what we are losing in the process. What happens to democracy when we do not have the spaces to meet, organize, and collectively plan for our future? What happens when our city does not belong to us? [to continue reading: click here]

There is a government website with the rules for New York City POPS. If you would like to view it: click here.

Another good resource is F-POPS, Friends of Privately Owned Public Space. It’s is an organization dedicated to the celebration & improvement of New York City’s POPS.

If you would like to read a book on POPS, check out Privately Owned Public Space Experience.

Whatever you choose do you, whether it’s taking full advantage of the POPS that you are entitled to; or educating yourself about the POPS in your community; or participating in public demonstrations that raise awareness  about POPS; or simply sharing the news about POPS in your own way — take advantage of what is available to you. And if you feel moved, maybe dance & swim a little, laugh & relate a little. Have fun. Enjoy life!

Photography by: Exercise Compassion & The Villager
Video by:
Time’s Up! Environmental Group


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