MyFigueroa multi-feature design for new bus platforms on Figueroa Street. Agreements this week enable this project to move forward with construction anticipated to begin in early 2015. image: MyFigueroa.com
This week, stakeholders hammered out an agreement that allows the MyFigueroa project to finally move from design to on-the-ground implementation.
MyFigueroa will arguably be Los Angeles’ premiere “complete street.” The three project streets will be inclusive: welcoming to pedestrians, transit riders, cyclists, and drivers.
This is great news for Los Angeles livability. Figueroa Corridor Business Improvement District (BID) head Steve Gibson describes it as “good for the district, for the bike community, and for the city.”
Mayor Garcetti, one of MyFigueroa’s stalwart proponents, described this week’s victory as follows:
I’m excited that our work to bring stakeholders together to air and address concerns has cleared the way for MyFigueroa to finally move forward. This is a critical initiative for Downtown, South L.A. and especially the corridor in between, and the result will be a better mobility balance and a higher quality of life. This is a prime example of our Back to Basics agenda for Los Angeles, which is focused on the core building blocks that strengthen neighborhoods. I want to thank Councilmember Price for working with us to convene stakeholders and resolve their concerns, and our dialogue with the community will be ongoing.
City Councilmember Curren Price, who represents the area, further stated:
Because of the conversations that were held between the City and stakeholders we will now have a groundbreaking project in the New Ninth that all members of the community will support, without compromising the integrity of the project.
It hasn’t been easy making big changes in one of the city’s most iconic corridors. Figueroa is already a thriving place with many world class features: sports venues, entertainment centers, and longstanding cultural, religious, and educational institutions. There are great historic landmark buildings, and notable new development. Figueroa is home to businesses and residents. Heavy traffic, wide streets, proximity to the the 110 Freeway, and proliferation of parking lots/structures seem to keep the Figueroa Corridor from being a truly thriving walkable place. In recent times, many of the great destinations along Figueroa Street have tended to turn inward — away from the noise and congestion of Figueroa Street.
With transit connections to Metro’s Red, Purple, and Expo Lines, Figueroa is well-positioned to be the place where Los Angeles takes a big step into a multi-modal livable future. Figueroa leaders saw this, and, nearly a decade ago, started a process to bring it into being. Two local BIDs worked with the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to pursue funding for what would become MyFigueroa.
The MyFigueroa project will be Los Angeles’ first large-scale “complete streets” makeover. It creates a street that’s truly welcoming and safe for everyone. The project features widened sidewalks, wayfinding, landscaping, pedestrian-scale lighting, improved bus stops, and the city’s first protected bikeway or cycle track.
MyFigueroa weathered a somewhat difficult midstream hand-off when the state dissolved the CRA. The Los Angeles City Department of Transportation (LADOT) picked up the reigns and became the lead city agency. MyFig later stalled due to a legal appeal filed by the Shammas Auto Group. At a March 2014 meeting of the Los Angeles City Council Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee, it appeared that a newly-established stakeholder working group, convened by Mayor Garcetti and City Councilmembers Curren Price and Jose Huizar, was nearing a consensus that would allow MyFigueroa to proceed.
This week, the working group bore fruit.
In a letter dated April 30 2014, the Shammas Auto Group’s attorney wrote:
[T]he Shammas Auto Group [...] hereby withdraws all his previously filed appeals related to the above-referenced [Figueroa Streetscape] project.
From the city staff report, it’s clear that a great deal of work went into making this happen. Representatives from the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the LADOT have been busy.