Re-imagining Glendale Boulevard

Bruce Chan, second to the right, explains his group's model of Glendale Boulevard as a culturally rich roadway. Photo: Kris Fortin
Bruce Chan, second to the right, explains his group's model of Glendale Boulevard as a culturally rich roadway. Photo: Kris Fortin
Bruce Chan, second to the right, explains his group's model of Glendale Boulevard as a culturally rich roadway. Photo: Kris Fortin

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:

Los Angeles CD 13 representative Eric Garcetti creates a model of Glendale Boulevard. In the brainstorming exercise, Garcetti proposed winding Glendale Boulevard to slow down traffic. Photo: Kris Fortin

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?

  • May this dream do come into a reality. I believe in the skills of Lessen and Sigala so there is no doubt they can make this happen. I can’t wait for the new ecopark!

  • james rojas

    Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”
    — Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912)

  • Marcel

    Garcetti is CD13.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like an amazing idea to me, but I wonder what Level-of-Service-obsessed LADOT has to say about closing down a section of the 2 Freeway.

  • Slwriter

    Closing a large section of the 2 makes sense… in your pants!

  • r.bennett

    Fascinating ideas.  One idea to slow down traffic thereby creating more pollution, and as we know, to the benefit of the occupants of the proposed new housing, if  during our evolution process, the inhabitants of Los Angeles begin to become anaerobic. The other to create a park is equally fascinating, if we observe the model of Stadium Way, where commuters slow down from 70 mph on a good day to 60mph.  Perhaps the most thoughtful is closing the 2 down, thereby forcing commuters to find another neighborhood to sully. I guess public catharsis is soothing.  Radical plans to deal with traffic is what is needed, not doctoring symptoms of inadequate and archaic travel patterns.

  • Ubrayj02

    Slowing down traffic creates more pollution. Really? Are you referring to that one Japanese study of highway travel and air pollution? If you make car travel less convenient, and make other modes more convenient and safer – that will be a net benefit for air pollution. Treating automobile traffic as a constant (like water in a river) is fallacious reasoning.

    The noble and anonymous “commuters” in private automobiles cause some serious damage to this community, to the air quality, and planning for private automobiles is a black hole leading to financial ruin. Car-only planning, like that on Glendale Blvd, creates city blocks that can’t pay to support themselves, can’t afford the services they need just to keep going, without requiring the city to issue bonds, beg for money, or go into debt to Wall Street speculators.

    The entire slant to making LA more friendly for these “commuters” is one that is literally driving our local government into a ditch.

    Public catharsis is how you change the paradigm within which people discuss reality and their responses to reality’s dictates.

    What is more radical than slowing down cars on Glendale Blvd? The shit storm it will bring is not “radical” enough for you?

  • Ubrayj02

    First, they will object because LA will be able to avoid costly road repairs and planning around this value-destroying throw-away highway.

    Second, they will object because of our “car culture”.

    Third … who cares, our government is bankrupt and we can’t afford this car only crappola any more.

  • r.bennett

    Always wonder about those that don’t have the balls to announce who they are.  No, I don’t need to refer to a Japanese study to understand the harm created by the stand still or slow moving traffic on Route 2 and the Glendale Blvd.  I live right next to it, and breathe the
    the bad air caused by the congestion.  Yes, I concur that cars are poisonous to the environment.  We all know that.  We don’t need more studies to know that. But, I must point out that stalled, start and stop, acceleration and deceleration with cars causes more pollution than cars moving through an area at a constant speed. We don’t have an
    adequate public transport system to offer commuters an alternative.  A radical alternative may be in the order of tunnels or end of commute areas to then take an alternative means of transport, such as a ring around downtown where commuters must end their auto journey and then take public transport, much as is done in other cities. Tell you what “Ubrayj02”, why don’t you stand with me next to the appalling congestion along Glendale Blvd. one morning with me, breathe the air (sic) and then tell me about a Japanese study.  That is, of course, if you come out of hiding.

  • Kenny Easwaran

     If there’s a segment of freeway to close down, this segment south of the 5 is one that might possibly work.  It’s probably the least-used segment of freeway for anywhere in a ten mile radius (if not farther) and it doesn’t really connect anything.  It would have made sense to keep it if they had ever completed the connection to the 101, but given that that idea would be a non-started, it might be nice to just cut things off smoothly at the 5.

    Of course, we’d need some actual numbers about how many people use that, and it would be good to know what the alternatives are for people in Echo Park that want to get to either the 5 or the 2.


Park 101 Community Outreach Meeting

The Park 101 District is an innovative plan for capping the 101 Freeway in the Downtown area. It will provide opportunities for the creation of new signature urban boulevards along First Street, Cesar Chavez Avenue, Sunset Boulevard, Alameda Avenue, and Grand Avenue that will become models for future great streets throughout Los Angeles. This area […]

Today’s Headlines

Livability Advocates Calling For Mobility Monday Today (L.A. Thrives) L.A. Walks Encouraging Support Of Street Vendors L.A. City Housing Committee Looks To Legalize Bootleg Apartments (KPCC) Orange 20 Not Too Excited About Beverly Hill’s Few Bike Lanes Five-Part Series On How To Make L.A.’s Density Bonus Effective (Urban One) Blackbirds In Echo Park Part of […]