The Sylmar Business Improvement District (BID) is seeking to improve and re-imagine a just-over-half-mile section of San Fernando Boulevard through the power of greenspace creation and landscaping. The BID isn’t seeking to change the use of the road, all changes will happen on existing medians. Instead, they just want to make San Fernando Boulevard a more pleasant place to be.
Last week, the BID, Councilman Richard Alarcón and the Community Redevelopment Association celebrated the groundbreaking for an interesting and colorful project that will replace concrete medians with plants, flowers, trees, benches and waste stations. The stated goal of the project is to beautify an ugly piece of road and create an attractive place for people to walk and bike between Hubbard Street and Polk Street, the entire jurisdiction of the BID.
The commercial property owners within this district pay a self-imposed annual assessment to improve the economic vitality. In this case, businesses aren’t just committing to maintain the investment in a beautified Sylmar, they’re also putting their own skin in the game by paying for part of the construction. The CRA has granted another $350,000 towards improving the roadway making the project a true public/private partnership. The BID already paid for the planting of 36 trees and an entryway to the area announcing “The Vista at Sylmar” and will add the benches and other street decorations.
While the street scaping is designed to make the business area more attractive to cyclists and pedestrians to visit the shops, there are many other benefits to the project. The trees on the far left will create a buffer between the “car area” of the street and the pedestrian area. All of those plantings will also act as traffic calming, slowing down traffic and making the street safer. While the bike area is clearly designated a path because cyclists will only be able to access the shops on the south side of the road at certain intersections; visually it looks awfully similar to a separated bike lane.