Mayor Garcetti’s State of the City: Six Great Streets Announced

Mayor Garcetti announced six Great Streets, including Figueroa pictured here, that will become more accessible to wheelchairs, pedestrians, strollers and bicycles. photo Flying Pigeon L.A.

Mayor Garcetti announced six Great Streets, including Figueroa pictured here, that will become more accessible to wheelchairs, pedestrians, strollers and bicycles. photo Flying Pigeon L.A.

Mayor Garcetti gave his first State of the City speech yesterday. The mayor touched on a number of transportation issues. He pledged to “bring rail to LAX” and to open the 405 Freeway’s new billion-dollar carpool lane “next month,” a bit earlier than its October 2014 projected completion date. The most detailed transportation news was a peek into some of the specifics of Garcetti’s Great Streets initiative.

Garcetti named six of what will be 15 selected streets: Crenshaw Boulevard, Figueroa Street, Gaffey Street, Reseda Boulevard, Van Nuys Boulevard, and Westwood Boulevard. Apparently the focus for now is entirely north-south streets.

Here’s the mayor’s description of “Great Streets” from yesterday’s address:

Here’s how it works. We’ll saturate your street with services. We’ll make your street accessible to pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers and bicycles–not just cars.

We’ll create an environment where new neighborhood businesses can flourish. We’ll pave the streets and make them green streets — clean and lush with plant life, local art, and people-focused plazas.

I know this works because I did it in my old council district — in Atwater Village, Echo Park, Silver Lake, and Hollywood.

Focused improvements attract new cafes, help local businesses expand, and give people a great place to gather without getting in their car.

I’m pleased to announce today that the first 15 Great Streets will begin to roll out this spring.

On Reseda Boulevard next to Cal State Northridge, we’re going to create a place for town and gown to come together.

On Gaffey Street in San Pedro, we’re going to join forces with its burgeoning creative community.

We are going to bring back the glory days on our storied Crenshaw, Westwood, Figueroa and Van Nuys Boulevards.

There’s a lot of potential on the mayor’s initial six streets, but many of these have also been host to livability struggles. This comes as no surprise, because great commercial streets are popular. Everyone – from pedestrians to drivers – wants to be there, so there’s competition for space.

Here’s Streetsblog L.A.’s quick preview of these six streets.

  1. Crenshaw Boulevard – Crenshaw extends north-south from Wilshire Blvd through South Los Angeles. Construction is underway on Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX rail line, expected to open in 2019. The boulevard is also the subject of future plans that could soon move into implementation phases: the Crenshaw Boulevard Streetscape Plan and possible connections with the Slauson corridor’s Rail to River.
  2. Figueroa Street – Figueroa is one of L.A.’s longest streets, extending all the way from Eagle Rock to the Harbor. Bike lanes planned to revitalize North Figueroa have been contentious; advocates are already organizing for community meetings coming up in May. Further south, the MyFigueroa complete streets makeover has stumbled, but appears to be poised to proceed to construction later this year. The mayor’s speech took place on Figueroa – at the California Science Center, one of MyFigueroa’s vocal opponents.
  3. Gaffey Street – Gaffey is a main north-south artery for San Pedro. Though it’s a commercial corridor, much of it a historic main street, stretches of it suffer from being treated more or less as an on-ramp to the 110-Freeway, especially during rush hours.
  4. Reseda Boulevard – Reseda is a main north-south street for the San Fernando Valley, connecting with Cal State Northridge. Though its implementation was contentious, the boulevard now features a continuous 10+mile bikeway, mostly bike lanes – including a couple blocks where parking was removed – with a few short stretches of sharrows.
  5. Van Nuys Boulevard – Van Nuys is another great north-south San Fernando Valley artery. It’s currently the subject of Metro’s East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor study.
  6. Westwood Boulevard – Westwood Blvd extends north-south from UCLA to National Blvd. At times, the Westwood neighborhood has been a thriving commercial district, but parking, arguably mismanaged, has long been contentious. Westwood Blvd will see a new Expo Line Station open in 2015, but Councilmember Koretz, caving to shortsighted neighborhood opposition, put planned Westwood Blvd bike lanes on hold.

SBLA looks forward to seeing how the mayor’s intiative translates into on-the-ground livability improvements in the coming months.