Portsmouth Square Improvement Project

Redesigning Chinatown’s Historic Public Plaza

Scope of Work

Portsmouth Square, located in Chinatown, is one of San Francisco’s most significant historic, cultural, and civic spaces. The park is eligible for listing in the California Register of Historic Resources for its role as an important cultural space for the Chinatown community and for its association with important events and early development of San Francisco. As the city’s earliest public square, the park was the site of the 1848 declaration of California independence, the proclamation of the discovery of gold in 1849, California’s first public school, and the site of a refugee camp after the 1906 earthquake and fire. Portsmouth Square has also served as both a formal and informal public square and gathering space for San Franciscans since the settlement of Yerba Buena was first platted circa 1835. Portsmouth Square has served the Chinatown community for more than a century.

The park, located above the Portsmouth Square parking garage, will receive a complete renovation with funding from the 2020 Health and Recovery Bond. The design is the result of a robust community engagement and participatory design process, is reflective of the significance of the neighborhood, and addresses programmatic challenges unique to Chinatown. The renovated park will include the following community-identified priorities:

  • A large flexible outdoor event space with an elevated stage
  • A new larger community clubhouse with a large assembly area and meeting rooms
  • A large shade structure
  • A new consolidated playground with adult fitness equipment
  • The removal of the existing Kearny Street pedestrian bridge
  • Perimeter park fencing to allow for night security
  • Enhanced accessibility
  • New planting, irrigation, lighting, and furnishings
  • Generous seating and gathering areas
  • Replacement of the garage roof’s waterproofing and drainage system
  • Adjacent streetscape improvements

Environmental Review

The San Francisco Planning Department is conducting the environmental review for this project. For more information please visit the Planning Department’s website here.


The project will be largely funded through developer impact fees and the 2020 Health and Recovery bond. The current identified funding sources include:

  • Transit Center Impact Fees:  $10,865,000
  • Downtown Park Fund:  $500,000
  • 2020 Health and Recovery Bond:  $54,000,000
  • Grants:  $8,400

Project Timeline

Existing Conditions and Feasibility Report2014
Community Engagement and Concept Plan Development2015 - 2018
Detailed Design and Environmental Review2019 - 2022
Construction2023 - 2025


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  1. What's New
  2. Background & Project Goals
  3. Documents & Materials
  1. Capital Project Update

    Portsmouth Square Draft EIR Publication Date: August 4, 2021!

    The Portsmouth Square project team has been incredibly busy over the past several months . . . Read on...
  2. Capital Project Update

    Portsmouth Square Schematic Design Complete! (10/13)

    The project has reached an important milestone as schematic design wraps up. . . . Read on...
  3. Capital Project Update

    Portsmouth Square Project Update 3/31!

    We are excited to move towards our next phase for the Portsmouth Square improvement project! Read on...
  4. Capital Project Update

    Workshop #4 Summary

    Thanks again to everyone who came out to our fourth community workshop Read on...
  5. Capital Project Update

    Workshop #3 Summary

    Thanks again to everyone who came out to our third community workshop Read on...
  6. Capital Project Update

    Workshop #5 Summary

    Thanks to everyone who came out to our fifth and final community workshop Read on...
  1. Cara Ruppert

    Project Manager Supervisor