While Jose Sigala, president of the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, and architect Peter Lassen helped construct their group’s model of Glendale Boulevard from plastic eggshells and hair curlers, imagination came into conflict with reality. Lassen wanted to see a park sprout near the Glendale Boulevard exit of the 2 Freeway, but Sigala explained an affordable housing complex would already be placed in that same area.
“We’re going to do things ideally, and that means a park,” Lassen said.
Whether people struggled or found it easy to realize the future of a major thoroughfare in Echo Park, Saturday’s “Rethinking Glendale Boulevard,” sponsored by Echo Park Patch and the Latino Urban Forum, at the Echo Country Outpost allowed them to show their dreams of what the street could be.
Led by urban planner, and Los Angeles Streetsblog board member, James Rojas, participants were asked to create their ideal city out of toys and found objects, and then condense it with other members’ ideas to fit Glendale Boulevard. Middle-aged, children, and senior participants came up with big ideas such as closing the 2 Freeway to make it recreational space, and having streetcars run the length of the street. Simpler ideas such as making a skate parks and petting zoos were also well received by the audience which included representatives from the L.A. City Planning Department and Eric Garcetti, the City Councilman for the area.
Here were some other notable ideas from the workshop:
The 2 Freeway/The Los Angeles High Line:
Many of the participants considered the 2 Freeway to cause the heavy congestion on Glendale Boulevard. Many participants proposed closing the section of the freeway between the Interstate 5 freeway and Echo Park. In its place, people wanted to see a recreational area that includes walking paths, greenways and affordable housing. While New York has received praise for its conversion of an old railway to recreational space at The High Line, could freeways be the Los Angeles equivalent?
Glendale Boulevard as a winding road:
Councilman Eric Garcetti reflected on the areas history in his proposal for Glendale Boulevard to be a winding road.
“One of the first thing we did was to make the street not be straight anymore, and actually wind it,” Garcetti said. “It would slow people down and make it a more lyrical, waterway like element, which what this canyon was originally about.”
Glendale Boulevard as a destination:
The overarching theme in the workshop was that people wanted to slow the street down to make it more of a destination. Echo Park resident Matt Briskie said his group wanted to close small blocks adjacent to Glendale Boulevard to farmers market, and to place parking behind businesses to have more flexibility with altering road space currently occupied by parking spots.
“Just having this be not just a way to pass through Echo Park as people go on their way to work, but having this be a representation of what echo park is,” Briskie said.
Glendale Boulevard is a major part of Echo Park’s transportation network and community. As the community and boulevard evolve, what hopes do you have for Glendale Boulevard?