The COVID-19 pandemic threw daily life into a state of upheaval, with lockdowns, social distancing guidelines, travel bans, and digital work becoming a new norm. While these measures largely worked to preserve the health of many Americans, bold actions needed to be taken to curb the economic and social impacts of the virus. The City of Oakland launched several innovative programs to maintain public health while also enabling public spaces to be used for business and safe gatherings. This included reimagining the public right-of-way with the deployment of Slow Streets: Essential Places and Flex Streets, which build on existing initiatives such as “Paint the Town,” sidewalk cafes, and parklet pilots that aim to foster a sense of culture and belonging for all Oaklanders.

Nearly a year after their initial launch, FUSE will partner with Oakland to reimagine these right-of-way initiatives, moving them from emergency response measures to platforms that spur equitable recovery and support community cohesion post-pandemic. FUSE will manage and streamline these initiatives through a community-focused program that not only increases the number of residents, businesses, and schools participating, but also encourages NGOs, nonprofits, and community-based organizations to utilize the community-focused program for service delivery.