While not widely publicized, over 12,000 square feet of public open space was constructed in the form of two sunny terraces off the fourth and sixth floors of the 31-story Intercontinental Hotel at 888 Howard Street, a condition of the development's approval and the result of a 1980s-era city policy which requires new South of Market commercial buildings to provide such privately owned public open spaces.
Next month, a proposed amendment could be adopted which would allow developers to pay an in lieu fee rather than provide any on-site public open space in their buildings.
If the amendment is passed and the Intercontinental is successful, don't be surprised if a flood of similar requests to privatize other existing public spaces in San Francisco soon surface.
In other words: when required to build public parks, developers used a loophole to build terrible, inaccessible, effectively-private balconies instead. So let's close that loophole by not requiring even that much.
I can't find any details on this supposed amendment, though. This appears to be the only source.