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Photo Essay: Pacoima’s Opening Celebration For Bradley Plaza

Ribbon-cutting

L.A. City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes (left in light blue shirt) along with many others, including LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds, cut the ribbon to open Bradley Plaza. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday, the community of Pacoima celebrated the opening of the city of L.A.’s latest car-free space: Bradley Plaza. The plaza closes to cars one block of Bradley Avenue immediately east of Van Nuys Boulevard in the north San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Pacoima. The plaza is a product of the city Transportation Department’s (LADOT) innovative community-driven People St program. Through the People St program, community groups can apply for and receive local plazas, parklets, and bike corrals.

And, as with Leimert Park Village’s plaza, community groups are key in siting, designing, programming, and generally making these projects a success. The non-profit Pacoima Beautiful has been key in making Bradley Plaza happen, in raising funds for street furniture there, and is already looking toward additional seating and shading for the site.

Enjoy these photos that tell the story of yesterday’s celebrations, and give a small sense of how the plaza is already being embraced by the surrounding community.

xxx

Two young girls share the durable lounge furniture.

Read more…

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Cartoon Tuesday: Yo La Tengo Video Showcases Sunset Plaza

For decades Hollywood has exported Southern California car culture images around the world. That’s changing now. Made-in-L.A. commercials, films, and videos now increasingly feature bike lanes, inverted-U bike racks, and, yes, even People St polka-dotted pedestrian plazas. From NPR via Streetfilms‘ Clarence Eckerson, have fun watching Yo La Tengo’s ‘Friday I’m In Love’ video – showing L.A.’s premiere pedestrian plaza – the Sunset Triangle Park Plaza. Tomorrow we return to serious news.

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Broadway Dress Rehearsal Project Gets New, More Durable Surface

New yellow makeover for Broadway Dress Rehearsal. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New yellow suface being installed on Broadway Dress Rehearsal bulb-outs last month. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Downtown L.A.’s “Broadway Dress Rehearsal” project entered a new phase last month. SBLA readers will recall that the Broadway project was a relatively quick and low-cost creation of bulb-outs designed to calm traffic. The project removed space from cars, giving it to people dining and traveling on foot on one of L.A.’s highest pedestrian-volume streets. Broadway’s Dress Rehearsal opened August 2014 and every day plenty of people use it, especially the tables and chairs there. Last fall, the city Transportation Department (LADOT) published a study showing baseline conditions on Broadway; this fall LADOT will be following up with comparison data on what has changed.

Installation of Broadway's epoxy-aggregate surface in 2014

Installation of Broadway’s epoxy-aggregate surface in 2014

Initially the Dress Rehearsal bulb-out surface was, according to LADOT People St’s Valerie Watson, an “epoxy-based aggregate mix” — think tiny smooth rocks embedded in a thin layer of glue. Some merchants reported that some of the tiny stones were getting dislodged and tracked into stores.  Read more…

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Dangerous Intersection of Venice and Robertson Gets a Flashing Yellow Signal

Last November, David Lindley was walking across the street at the five point intersection of Venice and South Robertson Boulevard when he was struck and killed. Lindley, an autistic teen who attended nearby Hamilton High School, was mourned by friends and family who vowed to see the intersection fixed.

Three months later, with the construction and reconfigurations complete, a video by longtime Expo Line supporter/watcher Gökhan Esirgen showed that cars turning on to Robertson Boulevard were routinely turning left into the pedestrian path well after receiving a red light. Esirgen noted this wasn’t an unusual occurrence, but a decision to place expediency over the safety of pedestrians that was made with nearly every crossing.

Over six months after Lindley’s tragic death, LADOT recently unveiled its answer to the safety issues created by what one Hamilton High School student described as a “busy, confusing and dangerous” intersection, a flashing yellow arrow warning drivers to be aware of pedestrians. This is the first time the City of Los Angeles has used this traffic control device, but they are common in other parts of the country. Motorists have shown greater likelihood to yield during a flashing yellow arrow than a red one.

A good start, to be sure. Now if only the city would prioritize ticketing cars that turn against the light over pedestrians who are crossing the street safely and efficiently.

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Leimert Park People St Plaza Opens; Stakeholders Debate Building a Cultural Center

Leimert Park Village's People St Plaza officially opened for business this past weekend. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Leimert Park Village’s People St Plaza officially opened for business this past weekend. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

“Don’t tell anybody I’m using these,” Councilmember Herb Wesson said of the blue art scissors he wielded as the moment came to cut the ribbon on Leimert Park Village’s People St Plaza project this past Saturday.

The enormous pair of wooden scissors held by Institute for Maximum Human Potential President/CEO Delores Brown — the fiscal sponsor of the plaza project — were only ceremonial.

The cutting of the ribbon on the People St Plaza. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The cutting of the ribbon on the People St Plaza. Councilmember Wesson is flanked by (l-r) Johnnie Raines, Empowerment Congress West (ECWA) member-at-large, ECWA Chair Danielle Lafayette, Institute for Maximum Human Potential President/CEO Delores Brown, Leimert Park Art Walk co-founder Ben Caldwell, LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds, Director of Special Projects for the Dept. of Cultural Affairs James Burks, Urban Design Center founder Sherri Franklin, Manager/Program Director of Great Streets, Nat Gale, and Metro Boardmember Jackie Dupont-Walker. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The ribbon-cutting marked the end of the first stage in a long process for Leimert Park Village stakeholders.

A year and a half prior, at the first community-wide design charette, they had talked about the possibility of converting part of 43rd Pl. into a plaza space.

With the Leimert Park Metro station due to be finished in the next few years, they had felt the time for deciding what face they wanted to present to the world was now.

Situated directly in front of the beautiful Vision Theater, the KAOS Network, and part of Mark Bradford’s Art + Practice campus, the site looked to be the perfect anchor for the rebranding of the community as a hub for black creatives and the celebration of the African diaspora. Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Downtown L.A. Has Three Great Bike Corrals

Downtown Los Angeles' first bike corral - in front of Blue Bottle Coffee. Really. Photos by Joe Linton

Downtown Los Angeles’ first bike corral (really) in front of Blue Bottle Coffee. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

A couple weeks ago, I reported that the great new bike corral on Main Street at 5th was the first in downtown Los Angeles. Commenter Steven White correctly pointed out that there are indeed two other on-street bike corrals in the Downtown Arts District. So although it is the first in the historic core, the Main Street corral wasn’t the first downtown L.A. bike corral, nor was that my first or or likely to my last error to appear in writing.

I checked in with Elizabeth Gallardo, L.A. City Department of Transportation’s (LADOT) assistant bicycle coordinator, and the brains behind LADOT’s bicycle-friendly business programs. According to Gallardo, the the bike corral on Willow Street at Mateo Street was the first in downtown L.A., having been installed in October 2014. That corral serves and is sponsored by Blue Bottle Coffee‘s cafe at 582 Mateo Street.

Downtown L.A.'s third great bike corral in front of Pie Hole.

Downtown L.A.’s third great bike corral in front of Pie Hole.

 

On June 15th, LADOT installed both the Main Street corral, sponsored by Peddler’s Creamery, and a third corral on Traction Avenue at Hewitt Street, sponsored by The Pie Hole. The Main Street corral edged the Traction Avenue one out by a couple hours to claim the vaunted second-corral silver medal.  Read more…

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Saturday! Leimert Park Celebrates 2nd Annual 20|20 Vision Charette with People St Plaza Launch

Adinkra symbols for Unity and Human Relations (Nkonsonkonson -- "chain link" -- at bottom right) and "Except for God" (Gye Nyame), intended as a nod to the spirituality of the Ghanaian people (the symbol is prevalent there) have already been painted on a few dots in the Plaza. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Adinkra symbols for Unity and Human Relations (Nkonsonkonson — “chain link” — at bottom right) and “Except for God” (Gye Nyame), intended as a nod to the spirituality of the Ghanaian people (the symbol is prevalent there) have already been painted on a few dots in the Plaza. The Plaza officially opens this Saturday. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

It is noon on a Monday.

The weekly Leimert Park Village (LPV) stakeholders meeting has just finished, and Sherri Franklin, founder of the Urban Design Center, and Romerol Malveaux, former Field Director for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, are leading a small group of people on a walk around the village streets.

Map in hand, Franklin is taking note of existing issues with the sidewalks, trees (or lack of), pedestrian lighting, planters, and street furniture. The notes will be used to help determine how the Prop 1C dollars Leimert Park received should be deployed to improve the streetscape.

It’s not an altogether uncommon scene.

Since the launch of the Leimert Park Village Stakeholders 20|20 Vision Initiative in January 2014, it seems there is always work to be done.

The 20|20 Vision Initiative was born out of the LPV stakeholders’ desire to harness the change the Leimert Park station will bring to the area when the Crenshaw/LAX rail line is completed in 2020. The nearly 200 stakeholders in attendance focused on developing an overarching vision for the area and what they would need to do to make that vision a reality. Participants debated how to make Leimert Park a destination, deepen relationships with sister cities or communities, attract investors looking to build partnerships with local artists and cultural caretakers, support black creatives and foster development from within the community, and the possibility of turning the space in front of the Vision Theater into a car-free plaza.

Since that initial charette, LPV stakeholders have been meeting every Monday morning to hone those plans and move forward on their implementation.

A year and a half later, their People St Plaza project is set to open in a ceremony this Saturday, June 27, at 2 p.m.

But instead of the Plaza symbolizing the end of the journey and cause to take a breath, it seems more like a beginning. Or maybe a benchmark. But definitely not an end. To wit, the ceremony will be taking place during a break for those attending tomorrow’s Second Annual LPV 20|20 Vision Initiative Charette, “Harnessing Our Cultural Economy.” Read more…

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Transportation Committee Questions LAPD’s 8,000+ Annual Ped Tickets

Don't assume that you actually have 19 seconds to cross this intersection. Pedestrian countdown signal via Systemic Failure

Don’t assume that you actually have 19 seconds to cross this intersection. Pedestrian countdown signal via Systemic Failure

This afternoon the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee discussed a motion questioning the effectiveness of LAPD’s “jaywalking” enforcement. The pedestrian enforcement motion, 15-0546, was authored by City Councilmember Mike Bonin, who chairs the committee.

LAPD reported that there was no way to provide the analysis requested in the motion, but did provide some pedestrian enforcement statistics. In 2014 LAPD issued 8,068 citations for pedestrians who entered the crosswalk after the walk signal had ended, typically during the countdown. LAPD reported a recent increase in “in-crosswalk” fatalities, which numbered 27, 26, 34, and 35 in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively. When questioned by Councilmember Bonin, the police representative did not have information regarding who was determined to be at fault for these fatalities.

Councilmember Bonin pursued a number of lines of inquiry about LAPD’s pedestrian safety priorities, strategies, and effectiveness, but repeatedly came up against limited LAPD data.

Fellow committee members Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian expressed support for pedestrian safety, but generally focused their comments and questions on drivers’ ability to make turns at intersections.

Department of Transportation (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds also testified, stating that there is a near-universal lack of understanding on crosswalk laws, which have not kept pace with the recent technology, especially countdown signals. Reynolds reported on recent timing changes at the federal level, dangers to seniors and other slower moving people, and stressed that LADOT and LAPD were partnering on a city Vision Zero steering committee, which is in the process of crunching data to inform enforcement strategies.

Committee chair Bonin concluded the hearing directing LAPD and LADOT to return to the Transportation Committee in 60 days. LAPD was directed to return with additional data on fatality causes, areas targeted, and impacts of current practices. LADOT was directed to report back on possible legislative changes and adjustments to signal timing.

With change needed in state law, and no clear consensus yet on an effective enforcement strategy, it doesn’t look like there’s any quick fix to, as Bonin characterized, L.A.’s countdown signals “literally giving a mixed signal.”

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A Look at Downtown L.A. Parking Enforcement Riding with LADOT

Officer Guerra and Sgt. Smith ticketing a parking violation on Spring Street. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Officer Guerra and Sgt. Smith ticketing a parking violation on Spring Street. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Earlier this week, I accepted an invitation to do a downtown Los Angeles bike-along with City of L.A. Transportation Department (LADOT) parking enforcement officers. LADOT also uses bicycle officers to do parking enforcement in the Valley, West L.A., and Hollywood. The parking enforcement staff downtown is 30 strong, all on bicycle.

Traffic Officer Michael Guerra has been doing parking enforcement in downtown Los Angeles for 17 years. Also accompanying us was his supervisor Sergeant Rodney Smith.

Officer Guerra rode Los Angeles City bike number 75

Officer Guerra rode Los Angeles City bike number 75

The officers rode on Giant brand bicycles, complete with the city seal and vehicle numbers. This got me thinking that there’s a system in place for managing a city bicycle fleet, perhaps other city staff could use a city bike fleet for short trips.

My first question to them was about handicapped placards. Is handicapped placard abuse really as prevalent as I’ve read? Parking expert Don Shoup has asserted that widespread abuse of handicapped placards is a serious barrier to making variable pricing work in downtown L.A. The officers responded that handicap placards were typically on 75 to 80 percent of cars parked in the Little Tokyo and Historic Core, where we were going. And they said it’s worse in the Financial District.

This was confirmed during our ride. Many blocks on streets we rode, including on First Street and Third Street, had all but one or two cars displaying a handicap placard. It’s difficult to tell if some or all of these are legitimate. Other LADOT officers have been involved in placard enforcement sting operations typically headed by the DMV. Based on the headlines, both media and law enforcement have little trouble finding widespread abuse. Sgt. Smith mentioned that, in the past, LADOT had tried to push for placard reform via the state legislature, but that it had not yielded any results, and it was no longer a top priority.

I also asked about how the city’s L.A. Express Park variable pricing program has affected their work. Though they were aware that prices were sometimes changing, the program had not really made things perceptibly different from an enforcement end. I thought to myself, perhaps the placards do impact managing pricing; with so much placard use, most drivers pay nothing and it doesn’t matter how much the going rates are.

It didn’t take long for the officers to find and ticket illegally parked vehicles. Guerra said that it varies a lot, but that he writes 20-30 tickets on a typical day, though typically a lot fewer when it’s raining, and sometimes more around the holidays when drivers frequently park illegally to run in to get last-minute shopping done. On weekends, he writes more tickets, typically 40-50 per day, but that is because there are fewer officers deployed than on weekdays.  Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Downtown L.A.’s First Bike Corral, on Main Street at 5th

New bike corral and repair stand in front of Peddler's Creamery in downtown Los Angeles. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New bike corral and repair stand in front of Peddler’s Creamery in downtown Los Angeles. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Correction: Commenter Steven White correctly points out that there are indeed already two on-street bike corrals in the Downtown Arts District. So this isn’t the first downtown L.A. corral – it’s the third, and, AFAWK, it’s the first downtown L.A. corral west of Alameda Street.

L.A.’s Department of Transportation (LADOT) has installed a new bike corral, the first in downtown Los Angeles. It’s on the east side of Main Street, just north of 5th Street, right in front of Peddler’s Creamery, where the main attraction is yummy “bicycle-churned ice cream.” And there’s more – in addition to the bike parking there’s a fix-it stand with pump and all. According to LADOT Bike Program Instagram, Councilmember Jose Huizar will be there will be at an official opening celebration ceremony today at 4 p.m. If today’s Metro committee meetings end early enough, Streetsblog L.A. will be there to enjoy a scoop or three.

Downtown L.A.'s first bike corral on Main at 5th

Downtown L.A.’s first bike corral on Main at 5th

If you want a bike corral in front of your business, follow the instructions found on LADOT People St.