Community-Led Placemaking Program Information & Application

Art in the right-of-way to increase pedestrian safety at Lake MontebelloArt in the Right-of-Way can be paired with DOT’s quick-build traffic calming program.

To install a Placemaking Project in your community, submit your project designs and documents here.

What is the DOT Community-Led Placemaking Program?

The Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT) allows community organizations to implement creative projects in Baltimore City’s roadways, sidewalks, alleys, and other areas maintained by DOT.  Creative projects in DOT’s Right-of-Way (ROW) can help to beautify Baltimore neighborhoods, calm traffic, and increase public space for pedestrians.  Placemaking projects are funded by the applicant.  Projects may include:

  • Artistic painting on streets or sidewalks
  • Landscape plantings
  • Planters and barriers for traffic calming or tactical urbanism
  • Signs such as community gateway signs and interpretive educational signs
  • Parklets or temporary public spaces built within the roadway
  • Other special projects such as art installations, special lighting, or other unique urban designs

***IMPORTANT***  If new traffic calming elements such as bump-outs, crosswalks, flex-posts or striping are part of your project, the traffic calming elements must be installed prior to the implementation of the art.  There are two ways to install traffic calming elements:

  1. Submit a traffic calming request to 311.  DOT will investigate your request and determine whether the location meets the criteria for the proposed traffic calming elements.  If DOT approves the request, you may submit your Community-Led Placemaking Application upon installation of the traffic calming elements.

    Submit Traffic Calming Requests to 311 
  2. Hire a contractor to install the traffic calming elements for your community.  All plans must be approved by DOT.  You may submit engineering drawings, materials, and installation details with your Community-Led Placemaking Application.

    Before hiring a contractor, ensure that your location does not have any planned projects.  Check DOT’s interactive resurfacing platform for all planned projects this year.

    Check Miss Utility for planned utility projects.  

    To verify your location’s eligibility, email us

Projects pursued under DOT’s Community-Led Placemaking Program include: (1) Paint in the Right-of-Way, (2) Greening, (3) Planters and Barriers, (4) Signage, (5) Parklets, and (6) Special Projects.  Submit all project requests through our Community-Led Placemaking Program Application which can be found at the end of this page.

For a step-by-step guide on how to plan and implement a project in DOT’s Right-of-Way, please review the Made You Look Toolkit created by the MICA Center for Social Design.  The referenced project in this guidebook is "Paint in the Right-Of-Way", but the toolkit contains information and guidance that is applicable for all types of projects.

For neighborhoods that need pro-bono design assistance, the Neighborhood Design Center may be able to assist you.  Apply for pro-bono assistance.

Residents painting art in the right-of-way at Johnston Square.
This project in Johnston Square was developed following MICA’s Made You Look Toolkit for Art in the Right-of-Way.

Types of Community-Led Placemaking Program projects:

1. Paint in the Right-Of-Way
Painted designs are permitted in existing crosswalks, sidewalks, alleys, bump-outs, and other locations maintained by DOT where approved.  Applicants are not permitted to paint designs that incorporate words or political messages, and all designs are subject to approval by DOT.

Paint must also be pre-approved by DOT.  Pre-approved paints include:

  • Sherman Williams Highway Products – Hotline® Traffic Paint with SharkGrip® H&C™ Slip Resistant Additive
  • PreMark® by Flint
  • Integrated Paving Concepts (IPC) installed by Alternative Paving Concepts
  • StreetBond® SB150

Locations in which organizations may paint include:

  • Within existing striped bump-outs and shoulders
  • Between the diagonal white stripes in continental crosswalks
  • Within the striping of transverse crosswalks
  • On sidewalks
  • In pedestrian plazas

Art in the Right of Way being used near a school and playground at 26th and Calvert StreetsArt in the Right-of-Way is used near a school and playground at 26th and Calvert Streets.

Aerial view of an intersection with colorful crosswalk to help increase pedestrian safety 
photo credit: Instagram @Grahamprojects

For saltbox and traffic signal box artwork, you may apply for a Temporary Use of Right of Way permit from the Baltimore City Department of Transportation Right of Way Services.  Please include the type of paint and a rendering of your design with your application. Complete the application for Temporary Use of a Right-of-Way.

2. Landscape Plantings
Greening is a process that enables trees, shrubs, flowers, and other landscape materials to enliven Baltimore City’s public realm.  Landscaping projects are encouraged for:

  • Community beautification
  • Increasing  pollinator habitat and cultivating greater biodiversity
  • Improving climate resiliency by sequestering greenhouse gas emissions and providing tree canopies to reduce the urban heat island effect
  • Capturing and infiltrating stormwater runoff and the uptake of nutrients that can pollute water

Landscape material selection shall ensure that plantings at mature size will not block sight distance, block signs or traffic lights, or overgrow into utility lines, sidewalks, or streets.  Applicants will be responsible to install and maintain landscaping.  Before installation, applicants must coordinate with Miss Utility to confirm the earthwork will not disturb any underground utilities.

Residents working in a Baltimore City community garden.Community gardening and landscaping can bring generations together and add beautiful greenspace in Baltimore.

3. Planters and Barriers
DOT permits planters and barriers to be placed in the roadway for traffic calming or to aid in the protection of pedestrian and bicycle spaces.  Example planters and barriers may include:

  • Concrete jersey barriers
  • Plastic barriers
  • Granite blocks
  • Wooden crate planters
  • Tire planters
  • Custom wooden, metal, plastic, or concrete planters
  • Self-watering planters
  • Straw wattle
  • Concrete buttons
  • Parking Stops
  • Flex-posts
  • K-71 Delineator posts

Many of the above-listed planters and barriers also have the opportunity for additional artistry and beautification.  For example, jersey barriers can incorporate planter boxes and murals.  All requested planters and barriers, with accompanying designs, materials, and locations, are subject to review and approval by DOT.  Applicant organizations will be responsible for any ongoing maintenance of their project.

Planters and traffic barriers being used to protect parklet spaces within the roadway along a city block.Planters and traffic barriers can be used to protect parklet spaces within the roadway.

Planters and colorful barriers helping to delineate spaces separate from the travel lanes along a city street.Planters and colorful barriers can help delineate spaces separate from the travel lanes.

4. Signage
Signs play a positive role in the aesthetics of the neighborhood and make it easier to identify surroundings.  Some of our neighborhoods may be interested in installing special signage.  DOT has processes in place to facilitate the installation of:

  • Pole-mounted aluminum signs
  • Standing signs
  • Pole-mounted vinyl signs (please follow the procedure outlined on the DOT ROW page for this signage)

Additionally, DOT requires that all pole-mounted or standing signs installed under this program fall under one of the following categories:

  • Community Name Signs
  • Industrial Park Signs
  • Historic Sites Signs
  • Museum Signs
  • National Historic Landmark Signs
  • Historical Marker Signs
  • Program Recognition Signs (recognizing the Department of Transportation’s role with partnerships in certain programs)
  • Hospital Signs
  • General Services Signs
  • Reference Location Signs
  • Business District Signs

Request vinyl banners.

Educational signage being used to highlight cultural or environmental resources in a city communityEducational signage can be used to highlight cultural or environmental resources in the community.

Community name sign along median in Roland ParkCommunity Gateway Sign in a roadway median


Pile with a round pink sign affixed above.  Sign says "Pigtown", has a cut up silhouette of a pig and "Baltimore MD" beneath 
Photo Credit: Instagram @PigtownMainSt

5. Parklet 
Parklets are temporary installments of public space within on-street parking areas.  Parklets can transform street parking into vibrant and usable spaces that foster relationships between communities and businesses.  They are ideal for areas with a high volume of foot traffic, mixed uses, and areas that require additional pedestrian amenities.  These amenities may include seating, greenery, lighting, and bicycle parking.  Oftentimes these mini-parks become crucial assets to communities with limited public space.

Please note that all parklets must be accessible to the public.  For private businesses who wish to convert parking spaces to outdoor seating or other amenities, you will need to apply for a permit through DOT's ROW department.

Within DOT, the Planning Division will provide guidance and technical assistance to community partners interested in sponsoring a parklet.  Community partners may include community associations, BIDs, local businesses with frontage, local non-profits, and school PTAS/PTOS.  The applicant will be responsible for funding, maintaining installing, and operating the parklet.  All applicants must have commercial liability insurance in order to sponsor this kind of project.

Applicants are encouraged to consult with design professionals such as a licensed architect, engineer, or landscape architect for the execution of the parklet.  Please refer to the Parklet and Plaza Design Manual for additional information.

Parklet along a city block
Parklets can provide additional space for pedestrian safety and enliven the sidewalk area while also helping to calm traffic.

6. Special Projects
Occasionally, neighborhoods may be interested in implementing special projects in the right of way.  Such projects may be allowed after special consideration by DOT.  In the past, special projects have included plazas, specialized lighting, and art installations.  Organizations that wish to implement special projects may need commercial liability insurance.

Plazas are ways of recapturing under-used space for pedestrian activities.  They are subject to many of the same design and citing criteria as parklets.  Interested applicants will work with DOT to determine the appropriate size, shape, and composition of the plaza.  Please consult the Parklet and Plaza Manual for preliminary guidance.

For any special project inquiries, please email us.

Painted plaza transforming a city street into a vibrant community space.Plazas can transform the street into a vibrant community space.

People at tables in an alley used for outdoor dining
Photo Credit: Instagram @MobtownBallroom

Projects will not be approved under the following circumstances:

  • Contain any obscene, vulgar, or violent messages
  • Inhibit universally accessible walkways or are non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Introduce a roadway safety hazard such as blocking sight distance
  • Require unreasonable maintenance on behalf of the DOT
  • May cause damage to DOT assets or public utilities
  • Contain noxious plant material

All requests must include:

  • A design rendering
  • The location(s) of your project
  • The materials to be used
  • Letters of support or signed petitions from adjacent occupants (renters and owners):
    • For parklets and other mid-block projects, the petition must include 60% of the occupants of the block
    • For intersections, the petition must include 60% of occupants of three properties in each direction
  • Proof of property owner support from property(s) directly abutting the project
  • Proof that your organization is in good standing with the State of Maryland
  • Commercial liability insurance ($1 million for each occurrence, $2 million in aggregate) for parklets and special projects
  • A maintenance plan for the project

Project Approval
When an application is accepted, a memorandum of agreement will be issued to document agreements and the approved scope of work, time frame for implementation and duration of the project, maintenance requirements, and any special considerations as needed.

To install a Placemaking Project in your community, submit your project designs and documents here.