A Place in the Sun

LA’s burgeoning Silver Lake neighborhood scored big last week, gaining not only LA’s second bike corral but reclaiming a snippet of public street for the public’s use with the city’s first street-turned-pedestrian-plaza.

“Sunset Triangle” is based on the scrap of land left where Griffith Park Boulevard angles into Sunset a block or so east of Sunset Junction. Now the short bit of Griffith Park between Edgecliffe and Sunset has been closed to cars and opened to unarmored human beings (though it’s briefly interrupted by an access strip to a bakery’s parking lot).

Although the project’s announcement touts its resemblance to the also-triangular Times Square treatment in Manhattan, they are nothing at all alike: Sunset Triangle is a neighborhood space, long used as a mini-park, where a farmers market sets up twice a week–and it is not in the heart of town, nor is it a tourist district. While it would be wonderful to see a pedestrian plaza at Hollywood and Highland, in the Miracle Mile, somewhere on Ventura, or Downtown (where My Figueroa might actually make it happen), in a way this is better: Sunset Triangle is primarily for Angelenos.

Silver Lake is already a bike-enriched neighborhood, and replete with sidewalk strollers, dozens of bistros, cafés, coffeehouses, restaurants, pubs, bars, and breweries, and a dizzying selection of boutiques ranging from the ordinary to the esoteric. It’s the perfect location for a true public square where people can mingle and linger freely, sipping a cup of coffee, enjoying a sandwich, or just chatting up their neighbors, without having had to wrestle a two-ton prosthetic down the crowded lanes and into a rare parking space. You just walk in or ride your bike–as so many do already–sit down, and enjoy life.

What a concept, eh?

It’s also at the intersection of two bike lanes: the one on Griffith Park feeds in from North Silver Lake, starting just short of Hyperion and Rowena, and the Sunset Boulevard lanes connect the plaza to Downtown, Echo Park, East Hollywood, and the main part of Silver Lake.

It took the residents of Silver Lake six years to get this plaza built, so if we want more, we’d better start now!

I’m sure there are neighborhoods all over LA that would love a square of their own–or even a triangle.

A version of this article by Richard Risemberg was originally published in Flying Pigeon LA.

Update – August 24 ‘Pilot Streets’ Meeting

Posted by on Aug 18, 2010 in Uncategorized | One Comment

Image Courtesy of Urban Design Studio, Los Angeles Planning Department

Join L.A. City Planning Commission President Bill Roschen, Living Streets LA, Pacoima Beautiful, Niall Huffman, and ACCION Westlake, the new Westlake Community Design Center to find out about creative pilot projects in the works to transform L.A.’s streets into people friendly places. Come share your ideas and get involved!

When – 6:00 – 8:30 PM on Tuesday, August 24

Where – RailLA Exhibit, The Jewel Box/City National Plaza, 525 S. Flower Street, L.A. (Entrance on Figueroa)

Agenda:

6:00 pm to 6:30 pm - Networking & Self-Introductions

6:30 pm to 8:30 pm – Program:

1.     Ryan Snyder – Overview on Living Streets Progress

2.     Ryan Snyder – Categories of Pilot Projects

3.     Margot Ocañas – Los Angeles County RENEW Program

4.     Community Projects

  • Lauren Ahkiam, Pacoima Beautiful – Complete Streets Vision Plan
  • Enrique Velasquez, Steve Rasmussen Cancian & Beth Steckler, ACCION Westlake – 6th Street Paseo
  • Niall Huffman – Walkable Alleys in Hollywood

5.     L.A. City Planning Urban Design Studio Presentation

6.     Bill Roschen

  • City Leader Coalition
  • Multiple Pilot Projects Concept

7.     Questions & Answers – Open Discussion

Share the August 24 Flyer with people you know!

August 24 Pilot Streets Meeting at Rail LA Venue

Posted by on Jul 27, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Living Streets LA invites interested communities to present their plans for creating new public spaces in existing street right-of-ways on Tuesday, August 24, 2010.  The details can be found on the down-loadable flyer LS Pilot Mtg One-Sheet 8.24.

If you are working on a compatible project and want to present, please send an email to livingstreetsla{at}gmail.com and let us know your community name, contact person and a brief description of your idea. The meeting is open to the public for others who are interested in attending. We will send out updates as the meeting gets closer.

Living Streets will facilitate a discussion with the attendees at the August 24 meeting to choose 2-3 pilot projects that we intend to provide technical assistance support to and post on our website.

RailLA has graciously agreed to host the meeting at its ‘LA Beyond Cars: A Global Perspective on Rail and Public Space’ exhibition in Downtown LA, which is ‘A multimedia experience showcasing concepts, ideas, and musings from around the world on the future of Los Angeles, a future beyond just cars’.  We look forward to hearing YOUR ideas on August 24.

LA StreetSummit follow-up: the power of pilot projects

Posted by on Apr 21, 2010 in Uncategorized | One Comment

Re-Place Los Angeles with Living Streets!

 

The recent, well-attended LA StreetSummit was proof enough that we Angelenos—from East Los Angeles to Long Beach, school age to elderly, bicycling to median gardening—have a shared future in redeemed streets.  But wait a second…we already own these streets!  Now is the time to ask them to serve us better.

Living Streets has been scheming ways to ‘flip’ our city’s existing vasphalt hardscapes for better use: serving people instead of cars.  We are eager to wield the power of demonstration by paintcan and paintbrush, which New York City’s Transportation Department Commissioner touted during her recent visit to Los Angeles. Even elected officials and City Planning Department staff who heard Sadik-Khan’s talks are excited to see some similar, LA projects sped towards implementation!

But we need your help identifying these streets, their stakeholders, and especially their park, square, protected bike lane, garden, bulb-out, bioswale, and otherwise people-serving better selves.

Doing something is what we’re about, and as Sadik-Khan’s crew at NYCDOT and our friends up at San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks have shown, it’s hard to quarrel with the quality of life improvements these simple, low-cost pilot projects have stacked up.   The places they create so easily trump what many figure as the imperative of reserving on-street speeding and parking space for cars.  We know that once people live in the difference between our current, car-accommodating streets and ones designed for them, they won’t want to go back!

 

We’d like to work together to find sites for at least one 6-month pilot project before Street Summit 2011.

Join us to plan how and where we can pool our resources to make this happen!

Here’s what to do now:

1.)   Check out Pavement to Parks’ criteria for locating leftover spaces waiting to be discovered as lovely streetside oases.

2.)   Start surveying your own neighborhood for such roadside respites in hiding!

And then,

 

Come learn about the 10 Living Streets Tenets and opportunities to see them implemented in your neighborhood’s starving streets at:

 

Living Streets’ April 29 meeting at 7pm:

634 S. Spring Street Edison Room (1st Floor)

Please RSVP to: livingstreetsla{at}gmail.com

Re-Placing LA with Living Streets – Get Involved!

Posted by on Mar 16, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments

We are looking for a few good streets…streets where local residents and businesses see the potential to create demonstration Living Streets.  For the past few decades the City of Los Angeles, like many other U.S. cities,  has largely built its streets with one purpose in mind – to move cars as rapidly as possible.  Now, there is a growing movement in cities around the country to redesign streets to serve bicyclists and pedestrians and to provide usable public space.  It is time to ramp up similar efforts in Los Angeles – which Living Streets LA is prepared to do.

While this may seem like a complex undertaking, we can learn from what others are doing.  The best way to learn about what we have in mind for our pilot projects is to look at the examples from the Pavement to Parks movement in San Francisco:  http://sfpavementtoparks.sfplanning.org/

We believe the time is ripe to try this in LA.  People have put great energy into Park[ing] Day LA in the past three years, transforming ordinary parking spaces into hip urban spaces for a day.  Now we need bigger and more permanent interventions such as this mini park being carved out of an underused turning lane in Silver Lake.

To this end, we are hosting a two-part workshop at the March 20 LA StreetSummit 2010 on Living Streets and following it up by soliciting proposals from communities around the city to select our first project(s).  We’ll be posting the details in a separate entry for those who missed the Summit.

We will be hosting a community meeting to rank the proposals based on various factors such as level of community support, feasibility, creativity, conformance to our 10 Living Streets Tenets and likeliness for success.  We’ll then go down the list and meet with City of L.A. officials to ensure official support is there for at least a 6-month pilot project.  We hope to implement one or two pilot projects, depending on the level of participation, before Street Summit 2011.  We invite you to join us and share your ideas for making the streets of your neighborhood more people friendly!

More information to come, so stay tuned to the Living Streets LA channel…