People St Launches: Plazas, Parklets and Bike Corrals on the Way

LADOT People St Flyer

After months of promise, the LADOT formally launched the “People St” website moments ago. All of the documents a community group needs to apply to create a plaza, parklet or bicycle corral in their own community are available online. An introductory project application period will open on March 3 through April 30. After this special period, the application period will be open every fall, starting this October.

When the application window re-opens in October, the community partners will already be working with the city to install the first People St projects.

People St is a new program where local organizations can partner with LADOT to reclaim a little public space for the community. Groups can pitch a project to LADOT through the People St website. If approved the department will work with the group to bring the project to fruition. For more details, read the People St info sheet available here.

“We know there’s a lot of interest in communities,” said Valerie Watson with LADOT. “People are ready to get their ducks in a row and build their partnerships to get their applications together in advance of the two 2014 application windows.”

In addition to releasing the formal applications, LADOT also released a series of manuals to help interested parties navigate the People St process. There is no limit on the number of parklets and bike corrals can be built through People St, although Watson noted that because the city will help pay for some of the design of plazas, People St is limited to building about four per cycle.

Currently, there is one “People St style” plaza in Los Angeles, the Sunset Triangle Plaza in Silver Lake.

“People St will foster a greater sense of community making streets more active and inviting places,” said LADOT General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri.

That doesn’t mean that everyone who fills out an application form and has the money available will see a project built in their community. LADOT has to weigh each project on its own merit considering community support, project location and ability to maintain the project once it is built.

“We are looking forward to prioritizing and moving the strongest applications forward to insure the success of the project,” Watson continued. If applicants are not approved for moving forward, they will be encouraged to strengthen or re-tool their applications and re-apply in a subsequent application cycle.

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the program last October and even though the program didn’t exist outside of an informational website and a pair of dedicated pedestrian coordinators, enthusiasm was already high. Organizations such as the Los Angeles Eco-Village, which is planning a plaza near their compound on Bimini St. in Koreatown, have been hard at work envisioning new projects for their communities.

People St is also popular with the City Council. City Council Transportation Committee Chair Mike Bonin greeted Watson and LADOT staff at hearing with a hearty, “Thank you for liberating our streets.” Nobody on the committee had a negative word about a plan to repurpose street space away from the automobile on the committee which also includes Bernard Parks, Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge.

As part of the People St partnership, community partners play a vital role in conducting outreach to build neighborhood support, raising funds for materials furnishings and maintenance, and providing project site management.

LADOT is offering the following 90 minute information sessions on People St spread throughout the city:

  • January 27, 2014 at 5:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Center,6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys
  • January 30, 2014 at 6 p.m., POLA High School, 250 W 5th St, San Pedro
  • February 3, 2014 at 5:30 p.m., Caltrans Building, 100 South Main St., Downtown LA
  • February 4, 2014 at 6 p.m., LADOT District Office, 6501 Fountain Avenue, Hollywood
  • February 24, 2014 at 6:00 p.m., Mar Vista Library, 12006 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista, LA

The People St program is a new step for the City of Los Angeles. It’s a more grass-roots and community focused style of planning than L.A. (or really any city) is used to. If advocates, residents and other stakeholders wish to see more of this kind of planning, then People St needs to be an overwhelming success.

Unique to the City of Los Angeles’ People St program are pre-approved, required “Kit of Parts” of design elements, intended to expedite the project process for Community Partners and avoid lengthy design review that would come with novel designs. The Kit of Parts for plazas and parklets offer a range of options that potential Community Partners can choose from to address specific urban design needs in their local context, and offer in project costs and installation logistics. This approach may help community groups that are short on resources to get a foot in the door without having to worry about how the technical details should work.

Fortunately, there’s a way anyone can be involved…even if putting a parklet outside their doorstop is unfeasible. For better or worse, People St is hopeful that word of mouth, and social media, will help the program reach out beyond the usual suspects.

“We need folks to start talking to each other, connect people and facilitate the partnerships needed to create great projects. We need people to help get the word out about how this program works and the availability of this program as a tool to help communities reorganize the function  of their streets and make their streets safer for walking and bicycling,” Watson concludes.

Again, it’s PeopleSt.org. Start tweeting.