Which Local Streets Should Become Living Streets

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So what of all that ‘let’s liberate these languishing streets now!’ energy generated by Janette Sadik-Khan’s exhortation at the Los Angeles StreetSummit a month ago? Pilot Projects Now! is the response of one ambitious group.

A coalition group called Living Streets, composed of representatives from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and LA Walks, together with a couple of urban planners and advocates, has some ideas. Living Streets wants to act now to locate and launch feasible, short-term pilot projects that move forward with the simple idea met with so much energy at the StreetSummit: Streets are for People (but somehow they forgot, and we noticed, so we’re gonna fix it!) The group is holding a ‘pick your pilots’ meeting next Thursday, April 29, to discuss where we could start replacing asphalt with Astroturf, on the way to permanently reclaimed streets in this hardscape city.

The group coalesces around some shared principles about how streets can better reflect more of what people need out of them10 Tenets of Living Streets, it calls themwhichemphasize the symbiosis between healthy urban residential and commercial places, a healthy environment and healthy people. They see thoughtful street design as a lever for all these things. The group has studied up on the strategies of a San Francisco-based group, Pavement to Parks, which locates under-used street swaths and orchestrates community-based design and implementation of small parks to replace them. At their April 29 meeting, Living Streets will begin to marshall the talents of interested Angelenos to locate such places of possibility, together with the requisite political support and designpower, and transform them into the asphalt oases we need.

Recently, Living Streets was selected as one of a handful of Los Angeles County organizations to receive federal funds to help model the kinds of agency and policy changes we need in order to someday be a people instead of car-driven metropolis. As part of this project, thanks to LA County Department of Public Health‘s RENEW program, it will coordinate with streets-overseeing public agencies and streets-interested communitymembers to help fill out the sidewalks and streets of Boyle Heights, and make the neighborhood’s moving parts more people-accommodating. Ultimately, the project will create a template for discerning the location-specific possibilities and tools for bringing to life streets all over Los Angeles.

In the meantime, they’re looking for a few good streets!

Bring ideas from your own neighborhood to their upcoming meeting:

Thursday, April 29 at 7pm 634 S. Spring Street Edison Room (1st Floor)

Questions and/or RSVP should be sent to: livingstreetsla@gmail.com

  • Very exciting!

  • LA should look into Boston’s Main Streets program. That helped to revitalize many areas of Boston by making communities walkable and livable by fixing facades, limiting signage, fixing sidwalks, adding street furniture and planting trees. It also brought in community grocery stores so that you no longer had to drive across town, you could just walk a few blocks.

  • Sounds great! Congratulations on securing grant funds. I look forward to seeing this work evolve in LA. Thanks.

  • realism

    They want to use astroturf??? Putting down (toxic) rubber and plastic is not “green,” nor a substitute for living, breathing plant material. If they think astroturf is any different than concrete, then they’re not on my side. Astroturf has chemical runoff, and eventually clogs landfills. It needs a ton of water to stay clean, can invite mold and bacteria to set up root, and is actually more environmentally harmful than concrete.

    What a short sighted approach!

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