Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved plans to temporarily convert red curb and a couple curb-side parking spaces into four small public plazas.
Part of a larger movement to cultivate a pedestrian lifestyle in L.A., these sidewalk extension pocket parks, or "parklets," will provide bike racks, a little greenery and a place to sit or exercise. Of the four Council approved projects, two parklets will be located downtown on Spring Street, one on Huntington Drive in El Sereno and another on York Boulevard in Highland Park. The downtown parklets will open this fall and will represent the first active recreational partklets in the U.S., complete with exercise equipment.
A grant from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation allowed UCLA to partner with the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council to implement the two active partklets in park-poor downtown. Also as part of the Gilbert Foundation grant, UCLA produced a soon-to-be-released parklet toolkit, called Reclaiming the Right-of-Way. Authored by UCLA Luskin Urban Planning professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and others from the Luskin School of Public Affairs, the toolkit gathers together best practices from cities in the U.S and Canada that have implemented parklet projects in their communities, as well as provides guidelines for planning, designing, implementing and maintaining parklets in Los Angeles and other communities.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, if the six-month pilot program is successful, city leaders hope to transition the pilot to an established parklet program and sprinkle the mini-plazas throughout Los Angeles. Councilman Joze Huizar, a co-sponsor of the plan with Councilwoman Jan Perry, said it’s a cheap and fast way to provide open space.
“People want to feel like they belong to a community, and this is providing that space — not just for building community, but also economic development,” Huizar said.
Huizar spoke at a press conference at City Hall on Friday along with parklet leaders including Madeline Brozen, program manager of the UCLA Complete Streets Initiative.
“These community driven projects are allowing for citizens to be engaged in improving their communities in a new way,” stated Brozen. It takes about three days and costs about $10,000 to $30,000 to build a parklet, according to Brozen. The money comes from grants, some council discretionary accounts and foundations. Maintenance will be handled by designated community sponsors including art walk organizations, business improvement districts and neighborhood councils.
Upon Council's vote, Valerie Watson of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council proclaimed, “Happy birthday to parklets.”
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