Day 102: Garcetti Launches “Great Streets Initiative” (UPDATED: 1:25)

Council President Eric Garcetti celebrates the installation of Los Angeles' first Sharrows in 2010 with the LADOT Crew that he helped toinstall them. Photo: LADOT Bike Blog

Update: A copy of the executive directive is available after the jump.

I’ve been hearing from friends in the Mayor’s Office and LADOT for weeks that I needed to be patient. That good things were just around the corner. While Streetsblog has been more critical of Mayor Garcetti than most other non-partisan publications, we’ve felt the criticism justified. This morning I posted an “open thread” asking our readers what they thought of the Mayor’s first 100 days while highlighting some of the best and worst from the city.

I guess I should have been patient for another couple of hours.

Moments ago, during the keynote speech of the Urban Land Institute’s “Transit Oriented Los Angeles” conference; Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an executive order called the “Great Streets Program” which is focused on bringing order to the chaos that sometimes mars the cities efforts to create a coherent transportation strategy.

“Today, I issued my first Executive Directive – establishing the City of Los Angeles ‘Great Streets’ program – creating jobs and making city government work better. We are taking another big step towards a fundamental change in how we perceive, interact, and build around us. A great neighborhood needs a great street as its backbone, and, as city leaders, we need the backbone to make the bold changes necessary to build great streets,” said Garcetti.

Part of the program sounds similar to his predecessor’s “Transit Corridors Cabinet” calling for interdepartmental cooperation between LADOT, Engineering, Planning, Cultural Affairs, Public Works, and Street Services to work together to create a unified calendar for street planning and programs. A working group between the departments is created to coordinate these efforts. While he doesn’t have direct control over these agencies, the working group is expected to closely coordinate with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as well as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

“Their first priority will be to make sure streets projects are coordinated.  No more Bureau of Street Services paving a street on Monday, DWP digging it up on Tuesday,” said Mayor Garcetti.  “Let’s also combine a DWP pipe project with some street furniture funds and with a sidewalk repair project all at the same time.”

Throughout the years, Streetsblog has countlessly covered stories where one hand didn’t know what the other was doing. From LADOT not knowing when streets would be resurfaced to the city’s unintentional destruction of Sharrows or their even more bizarre attempts to preserve them when a repaving was scheduled shortly after a Sharrow installation.

According to the press release, The Great Streets Working Group will be tasked with the following deliverables:

1.     Criteria and strategy for identifying streets to be included in the Great Streets Program

2.     Candidate list of 40 potential streets

3.     Comprehensive matrix of project elements and associated costs

4.     Strategy for the coordination of city services to Great Streets

5.     Project implementation timeline

6.     Funding strategy

7.     Metrics and benchmarks to evaluate and track project impacts

“There are two essential elements to a strong city: a thriving economy that creates opportunity and pays the bills and a city government that delivers the core services that improve the quality of our life – safe streets, clean streets, and streets in good repair,” added Garcetti.

Garcetti ED 1

  • bikinginla

    And yet, we’re told the mayor supports the high speed, deadly-by-design Hyperion/Glendale bridge project? Forget LA Departments not talking with one another; it sounds like the mayor isn’t even talking to himself.

  • AJ

    By Great Streets, does he mean Great Photos and Great Filming?

  • Excellent news! AIA|LA has been advocating for more investment in our streets for years. It’s uplifting to hear that this is becoming a priority.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Sounds like an interesting idea, but the description of the project sounds like it’s one to coordinate plans among various city agencies, which doesn’t sound like something that needs a specification of 40 streets to include in the program. So perhaps there’s more to it, that the particular 40 streets will get extra upgrades? Or perhaps it’s just too difficult to try to coordinate all these departments on all the streets in the city, and it’s better to start just by trying to coordinate them on certain streets?

  • Anonymous

    This looks like an executive officer who is hoping someone will figure out the mix of city services that will make him look like a success in three years.

    This proposal needs to have the end point goals stated clearly in his executive order, and if those goals are only better delivery of city services you can expect the effort to be a flop even if it succeeds.

    Nobody is living a substantially happier life just because their streets was paved a little faster than their neighbors. Businesses don’t flock to LA because the tree trimmers are doing their jobs and the lanes are being re-striped a little faster than normal on one or two streets in an area.

    The end goals for the mayor are spelled out pretty clearly at the top of the Hall of Mayors: equal access to justice, a culture of inclusion for all segments of society, the preservation of the good life, and enabling civil service and volunteerism to flourish.

    Those may seem stupid, abstract, and lofty, but they are actually pretty easy to measure. “The good life” is especially easy: measure livability in a district, make some small inexpensive changes, and see what the result is. We can measure livability using the well-worn methods of the sociologist Donald Appleyard and the urban anthropology of Jahn Gehl.

    The goal in a retail district is today “Does the sewer system move as much poop as it should?”; “Are 20,000 cars moving at LOS C?”; “Are the street lights working? etc. when the real questions should be “Are we making anyone happy here?” “Is the city making enough money on this block ona $ of income per acre basis to justify what the city is spending?” “Do people here have more friends?” “Do people, when asked, feel safer?” “Can all the different demographic groups freely use the space?” “Do people linger and enjoy themselves here?”

    Of course, sewers, potholes, and street lights are important – but they don’t in and of themselves make a city prosperous, more democratic, etc.

    His focus shouldn’t be on showing how well the City can polish all its turds. The city can’t afford to roll out this type of focus citywide so this will just demonstrate how little he cares about areas that don’t get included in this program. His focus should be on showing these departments how to grow a viable tax base, human happiness, and an accessible and just city we all claim we’d like to live in.