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Posts from the Livable Streets Category


Bike Talk: What Bike Advocacy Needs to Understand about South Central

Pedestrians wait to be able to cross Jefferson and continue south on Central along the sidewalk. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Pedestrians wait to be able to cross Jefferson and continue south on Central along the sidewalk. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

“What is the situation in South L.A.?” is the question Colin Bogart, Education Director at the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, posed to launch our discussion of the removal of a 7.2 mile bike lane planned for Central Avenue from the Mobility Plan 2035.

Both Malcolm Harris, Director of Programs and Organizing from TRUST South L.A., and I had to laugh.

“Alright…” I said, “You said an hour? We have an hour…?”

The question was posed half-jokingly, of course.

But, as you will hear over the hour-long conversation that unfolds, understanding the history of South Los Angeles, who comprised the community back in the day (and why), who comprises it now (and why), and what folks’ histories and relationships are with each other, the city, advocates, and law enforcement are all essential to understanding how the area responds to efforts to implement active transportation infrastructure there now. [If the link below doesn’t work, please click here.]

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As both Harris and I argue, too often mobility advocates coming into the community are unfamiliar with the history of the area, the racial, cultural, and socio-economic dynamics that define the community, or the variety of barriers that can constrain mobility there. And the local advocates and actors who do have that knowledge are generally not brought in until way too late in the process – long after planning, design, branding, and engagement around plans are already well underway – limiting their contributions to a rubber-stamp approval.

As a result, mainstream mobility advocates are often unable to speak to members of the community in terms that resonate with those stakeholders’ realities. Worse still, the language used to promote active transportation can be deeply alienating. Narratives about the benefits of bicycling, the extent to which “bikes mean business,” and exhortations for people to see their “streets as sites of recreation” border on insulting in neighborhoods where the presence of bikes signals a lack of resources and a history of insecurity in the public space forced people to look to private spaces to build community.

That disconnect between the approach mainstream advocates tend to take and the lived experiences of people in lower-income communities of color is what helps breed distrust of the city’s intentions. And with new infrastructure seeming to accompany new developments making incursions into historically neglected neighborhoods, both Harris and I explain, it is no wonder the first question we often hear from folks is, “Who is this bike lane really for?”
Read more…


Lancaster’s Livability: An Interview with Planning Director Brian Ludicke

Thursday Farmers Market on closed-to-cars Lancaster Boulevard

Thursday Farmers Market on closed-to-cars Lancaster Boulevard in downtown Lancaster. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The city of Lancaster, population 160,000, is the fifth most populous city in L.A. County. It occupies about one hundred square miles in the Antelope Valley, separated from the L.A. Basin by the San Gabriel Mountains. Lancaster is at the northern terminus of Metrolink’s Antelope Valley line, a two-hour train ride from downtown Los Angeles.

Though it is arguably more commonly associated with people getting out of the city into the suburbs, Lancaster is among a handful of Los Angeles County cities that are leading efforts to re-imagine and retrofit car-oriented streets to be safer, healthier, livable, and multi-modal.   

Lancaster Planning Director Brian Ludicke

Lancaster Planning Director Brian Ludicke.

Brian Ludicke is the city of Lancaster’s Planning Director, a position he has held since 2001. Prior to that he served in various Lancaster planning positions since 1984. Ludicke’s Lancaster roots go back to 1958, when he and his parents moved there. He graduated from Antelope Valley High School and Antelope Valley Community College, and holds a BS in Urban Planning from Cal Poly Pomona.

This interview took place at Lancaster City Hall on June 2, 2016.

SBLA: We met at Chuck Marohn’s talk in Pasadena. What appeals to you about Strong Towns’ outlook?

Brian Ludicke: Several years back we had a person in the city who was working on his master’s degree. He asked if I had information on how much sprawl costs. Instinctively, we know that it’s more expensive to maintain sprawl. The city had tried several years earlier to come up with a way of clarifying this. In the attempt to help him on that, the search engine kicked up one of Chuck’s blogs. That led me to the site and I was absolutely enthralled.

Here was a guy who I felt I could relate to. I’ve only had that experience a couple times in my professional career. One was when I heard [Congress for New Urbanism founder] Andrés Duany talk back in 1991.

Reading Chuck’s stuff, I said, “this guy is talking about the very things we’re dealing with.” We’re talking about 2010-2011 here. The city had just gone through its downtown revitalization effort. We had done a lot of work trying to understand street design. We had just focused on what made a better environment.

What Chuck brought into the discussion was: what’s the real purpose of a street? If the purpose of a street is to be a platform for wealth, what you’re doing here is more than just making a nice place to be. What is the benefit of that to the surrounding property and to the city?

There are more now, but at that time, Chuck was one of the few people who said that there’s a very real municipal revenue issue here. You have a lot of municipalities that are going broke. They’re going broke because [of] the very things that you’ve intuitively understood, which is that this infrastructure is far too expensive to maintain for what you’re getting back for it.

That tied to something that Dan Burden had said when we were doing our Master Plan of Trails and Bikeways. He made a statement that you as a city should never make an investment that doesn’t return you a high yield. You can no longer afford to just make poor investments. You can never again invest in infrastructure that degrades the property around it.

I can look at where we’ve done that. Where we’ve widened streets, where the whole idea was to save people 30 seconds of time, but what it did is it started just degrading the property along it.

On Lancaster Boulevard you can see the results of widening. Lancaster Boulevard, west of here, was a street that went from a two-lane street to a four-lane street. The city made it better, easier to drive down. Speeds slowly picked up. What you can see there today are places where, slowly, not everybody, but slowly over time they’ve erected walls and fences and things to separate their front yards from that street.

Lancaster Boulevard west of downtown Lancaster

Lancaster Boulevard, west of downtown Lancaster.

The city is going to right-size that street back to two lanes, one lane in each direction. It’s going to be interesting to see if this process reverses. But you can see the loss of the value. That’s a specific example where, in the attempt to design a street for the sole purpose of moving as much traffic as fast as possible, we ended up degrading perfectly good areas along either side of it.

Along with that, what are some of the issues that the city of Lancaster is facing?

I think the biggest issue is that we have a development pattern that is dominated by low density, scattered, single-family residential development. Unlike a denser, more developed city that may have single-family that connects to other stuff, we tend to have these isolated, separate-from-each-other areas. The infrastructure [needed] to string that together is expensive to maintain.

We inherited the county of Los Angeles’ master plan of highways. Their master plan is very simple. You’ve seen it in the San Fernando Valley with more development in it. It’s basically every mile street is a hundred foot right of way, and every half-mile street is eighty, or we made it eighty-four.

The goal of that was to create this large-scale grid. Then everything would develop inside it. You can see that pattern out on the outlying areas to the east and west of the city. That’s what we thought was the proper way to be doing things because, as a former city manager once said, that’s what every planned community does, so that’s what we should be doing. We did it with the best of intentions. You don’t want people to have to sit in congestion. They didn’t come here to live in congestion. You wanted to be able to get quickly safely everywhere.


Many of Lancaster’s streets have been optimized for fast moving car traffic, often to detriment of cyclists and pedestrians.

That street pattern not only carries with it a long term financial burden, but we are reaping the rewards in terms of what I would call outright carnage on our streets.

We had, last year, 23 people killed in vehicle collisions. That’s a combination of people killed in cars, pedestrians, people on bikes. That may not sound like a large number, but on a basis of how many people per 100,000 in your city are getting killed every year, our number is like 14. Compare that to other major cities. I have a son in San Francisco; theirs is 3.5. Las Vegas, no walker’s paradise, is only seven. Atlanta, which is a pretty sprawled metropolitan area, is like nine. Even L.A.’s is [6.27] and the mayor said this was too many.

A lot of the reason for that goes back to speed and the perception that it’s safe to go fast. We’ve tried to design that for years through all parts of our city.  Read more…


Hit-and-Run Claims Life of Beloved Nun. We Must Do Better, Los Angeles.

The success of Vision Zero hinges on us, as a society, pledging not to be the equivalent of this lady: someone who is too focused on her own needs (eating pizza) to care about the safety of others. Screenshot of video found at

The success of Vision Zero, while requiring better design and enforcement, also hinges on us, as a society, pledging not to be the equivalent of this pizza-eating New Yorker: too focused on our own needs to be concerned about the woman we saw crushed under an SUV (seen parked on the sidewalk at the top of the image). (Screenshot of video found at

On Sunday, Raquel Diaz, a sister with the Los Angeles Archdiocese, succumbed to her injuries. She was seventy years old.

The beloved Boyle Heights nun was crossing Evergreen Avenue at Winter Street at 5:20 p.m. on December 13 when she was run down by a driver in a white, four-door Nissan or Toyota.

The loss of someone who had been such an integral member of the community for more than 30 years has devastated those who knew her.

But residents are angry, too.

The intersection where she was struck is one they have complained about for years. Drivers have long sped through that intersection, seemingly unconcerned that the street’s incline limits visibility precisely at Winter Street — a key crossing for families moving back and forth between the church and the school.

The road diet the street has had for some time (north of Cesar Chavez) seems to have done little to slow it down. Evergreen is one of the few streets that offers drivers a straight shot between Wabash and 4th Street, allowing them to connect more easily with City Terrace or the southern end of Boyle Heights. So, drivers of delivery trucks and private vehicles alike tend to run it like it is a gauntlet, doing their best to avoid having to stop for the lone stoplight at Malabar (halfway between Wabash and Cesar Chavez).

As one of the few connective streets on the eastern side of Boyle Heights, traffic along Evergreen can move quite fast. (Google maps)

As one of the few connective streets on the eastern side of Boyle Heights, traffic along Evergreen can move quite fast despite being rather narrow. (Google maps)

Potential fixes?

Street design and other amenities surely have a role to play in making this street safer. Pedestrian lighting would do much to improve visibility at night. Stop signs interspersed between Wabash and 4th would help slow the street down. So would flashing lights at Winter, Blanchard, and Boulder — three intersections with crosswalks linking pedestrians to a school, a church, and a local market. Flashing lights would be especially helpful at Winter, as the yellow crosswalk there is both awkwardly located (thanks to the hill) and harder to see at night than a white crosswalk.

Councilmember Jose Huizar issued a statement Monday afternoon that also suggested more lighting and better visibility could improve conditions at Winter, and stated that he would “advocate that those improvements be implemented as soon as possible.”

His support for such fixes is vital; without it, the likelihood of improvements coming to the street any time soon is probably not great. Read more…


Equity, the Mobility Plan, and the Myth of Luxury-Loving Lane Stealers

A man waits for a bus in the shade of a telephone pole on Figueroa Ave., just north of 85th St. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A man waits for a bus in the shade of a telephone pole on Figueroa Ave., just north of 85th St. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

It’s hard to take some of the hysteria surrounding the City Council’s approval of Mobility Plan 2035 this past August very seriously.

And by “hysteria,” I mean the lawsuit and most recent claims by Fix the City president James O’Sullivan, who told MyNewsLA that the city “want[s] to make driving our cars unbearable by stealing traffic lanes from us on major streets and giving those stolen lanes to bike riders and buses,” and that, worse still, “…not all of us — in fact, very few of us — have the luxury of being able to ride to work on a bike or bus.”

Oh, yes. All those transit-dependent people luxuriating on bikes and buses, stealing your lanes. How very selfish they are, indeed.

I’m sure that at this very moment, those very transit users are rubbing their hands together in collective selfish glee as they stand, sweating through their work and school clothes in 90-degree heat at a filthy sun-drenched bus stop while waiting for a bus that is late because it is stuck behind car traffic. In fact, they are probably high-fiving the sweaty cyclists riding past them on the sidewalk as we speak.

Some people are just so selfish.

Shameless luxuriating at S. Flower St., just south of Adams. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Shameless luxuriating at a S. Flower St. bus stop, just south of Adams. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

* * *

The crux of most arguments against the Mobility Plan generally lies in the notion that the needs of the many (beleaguered drivers) are being subjected to the whims of the few (mostly arrogant/entitled hipsters) — a claim supported by census data suggesting that only 1% of folks in Los Angeles County ride bikes to work and just 11% use transit.

Which, I’ll admit, can sound pretty damning.

At least on the surface. (And as long as you don’t consider the possibility of people switching over to transit or cycling as more and better infrastructure for both goes in as part of the Mobility Plan [PDF]. But I digress.)

When you think about what those numbers mean on the ground, you have a completely different story on your hands. One that suggests that those doing the complaining are (inadvertently, I hope) advocating for the holding of lower-income Angelenos hostage to the very traffic conditions that they themselves find so abhorrent and destructive. Conditions that will continue to present challenges to lower-income residents who desperately want their neighborhoods and the children they raise there to grow and thrive and be healthy. And conditions that the complainants themselves had the means to escape.

Pshaw! Thou art a luxury-loving lane-stealer, you might be thinking to yourself.

Just bear with me.

And let’s take the case of Central Avenue in South Los Angeles — a street slated for a protected bike lane and road diet, per the Mobility Plan — and see why a different approach to mobility matters. Read more…


Man is Shot and Killed by the Officers He Called to Help Search for Stolen Bike. Is it a Livable Streets Issue?

Three teens are detained and frisked for weapons on Ave. 50 and York Blvd. in Highland Park. They were stopped while waiting for friends.  Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Three teens are detained and frisked for weapons on Ave. 50 and York Blvd. in Highland Park. They were stopped while waiting for friends. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Several months ago, I asked that a link to a story on the beating of Clinton Alford by LAPD officers be included in our daily headlines.

The 22-year-old African-American man had been riding his bike along Avalon Blvd. near 55th St. in South L.A. one night when a car pulled up alongside him and someone inside shouted at him to stop. Because the man didn’t identify himself as a police officer, Alford told the L.A. Times, when the men came after him and grabbed the back of his bike, he took off running.

Once he realized they were cops, he lay down voluntarily and allowed them to restrain him.

That’s when another car pulled up, a heavyset officer ran over, and the assault on the restrained young man began in earnest.

“I was just praying that they wouldn’t kill me,” he said of the blows that repeatedly rained down on his head and slight frame. “I just closed my eyes and tried to hold on.”

A reader objected to the inclusion of the link in the headlines, arguing that it was racism that had prompted the attack, not the fact that the young man was bicycling, and that I shouldn’t try to push an agenda on our readers.

I was disappointed by the comment — it is well-known that law enforcement has long associated bikes with criminality, substance abuse, and gangs in lower-income communities of color. In Alford’s case, they assumed he was leaving a crime scene, despite the fact that he did not fit the description of the robbery suspect they were searching for.

But I wasn’t surprised by the comment, either.

The idea that someone’s race or status can be separated from their ability to move through the public space is a sentiment I come up against consistently in a variety of forums within the livable streets advocacy community. It manifests both in the non-inclusion of such issues in policy (like Vision Zero) and in the categorization of the hostility of the public space to people of color as separate from issues of livability. It doesn’t mean advocates don’t care about the problem. But it does mean they may not know where it fits in to livability or how.

Even at Streetsblog NYC, editor Ben Fried, in response to the Eric Garner ruling, wrote of

…grappling with how and whether the site should cover these incidents of police violence. Do the killings fall within the Streetsblog beat? My first inclination was to say they do not. I don’t believe there is something intrinsic to the streets of Staten Island or Ferguson to explain the deadly force that Pantaleo and Darren Wilson applied against unarmed black men. Wilson did initially stop Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson for jaywalking, but another pretense could have been concocted — none of the other high-profile police killings in recent months began with a jaywalking stop.

Much like the commenter, he essentially points to racism as the problem.

Which, of course, it is.

But racism has never been a passive noun. It colors the assumptions we make about those around us  — who they are and what their intentions might be. And when those assumptions manifest in the behavior of those tasked with the authority of defining “security” and monitoring the public space, we have a livable streets issue on our hands.

Advocates need to accept that part of keeping streets “safe” and “livable” for everyone else has involved curbing the “threats” to their security. And that while cars, bad design, and a blatant disregard for the rights of those on foot or on bikes are certainly a massive component of that, those “threats” have also been construed as people of color attempting to engage in the very thing that livability advocates seek to encourage — unfettered movement through the public space. Read more…


A Changing South Park Plans for “Livable Alleys”

Unless otherwise noted, all images are from ## Alleys South Park Visioning Report## prepared for the South Park Business Improvement District

Unless otherwise noted, all images are from Green Alleys South Park Visioning Report prepared for the South Park Business Improvement District

Through cinematic distortion, alleys are seen as hubs where criminals engage in drug dealing, whacking, and even murder.

In reality, most city alleys are wasted, often unkempt spaces cluttered with toilets and mattresses due to illegal dumping.

Despite this reality, alley spaces offer great, unrealized potential, says the South Park Business Improvement District (BID).

As part of the BID’s focus on “bettering the physical and social environment for residents, property owners, and businesses of the area,” Executive Director Jessica Lall and Director of Planning and Communications Amanda Irvine have undertaken the task of transforming South Park’s alleys into livable green spaces as part of a larger plan to revitalize and rebrand South Park.

Bringing livable green alleys to South Park will help foster community, allow for greater recreation opportunities, reduce crime, and will offer expanded retail opportunities, Lall and Irvine claim.

Green alleys, as defined in the Green Alleys in South Park Visioning Report [PDF], are alley spaces that have been transformed and rebuilt to include “materials and features that reduce environmental impacts” and/or spaces that have undergone transformation via the addition of “plantings and landscaping.” Environmental impacts of the green livable initiative include rainwater capture and filtration and relief from the heat island effect. Read more…

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The Other Lesson of Our #LA2050 Listens Events. We Need to Get Younger People More Involved.

Scarlet models her favorite childhood memory, which inspired her complete street view program for North Figueroa.

Scarlet models her favorite childhood memory, which inspired her complete street view program for North Figueroa.

Wider sidewalks, bike paths, fewer car lanes, park space.

These were some of the ideas that Scarlet, a participant in James Rojas’ interactive workshop focused on thinking of a new design for North Figueroa Street, presented to the group. The eight-year-old was the team leader for one of two tables set up for the workshop, which happened to include me and local bike-celebrity, Josef Bray-Ali. By the time we were done, we had designed a street for 2050 that was much smaller than the current five-lane mini-freeway that exists today.

At the same time advocates and residents were engaging with Rojas and Scarlet, Councilmember Gil Cedillo was working away at an alternative to the LADOT’s previously-approved proposal to both put North Figueroa on a road diet and add more road diets. Cedillo’s plan calls for Sharrows to be placed on side streets and minor improvements to the crosswalk design on North Figueroa.

The contrast between what we’ll call the Cedillo Plan and the Scarlet Plan couldn’t be more stark.

Students at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights placed as much space on the side of the traffic lanes as in the traffic lanes on Soto Street.

Students at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights placed as much space on the side of the traffic lanes as in the traffic lanes on Soto Street.

This is an ongoing theme of Rojas’ workshops when the participants are high-school aged or younger. They want to see a transportation network that provides safe and attractive options for all road users. When politicians think of transportation planning, too often they still think of how to best move the most cars as quickly as possible.

The April 26 “Fig4All Interactive Planning Workshop” was the last of ten workshops conducted by the Southern California Streets Initiative and Place It! throughout the month. The other events, held at Roosevelt High School and in Pacoima with super-group Pacoima Beautiful, were designed to help the Goldhirsh Foundation get feedback for on its Goals for #LA2050.

These goals include:

  • LA is the Best Place to Learn
  • LA is the Best Place to Create
  • LA is the Best Place to Play
  • LA is the Best Place to Connect
  • LA is the Healthiest Place to Live

There was a lot of enthusiasm from all participants for a plan that includes placing more emphasis on after-school programs, clean air, safer streets, more open space, and more transportation options. The workshops focused on the street designs, so we received the most feedback related to complete streets, open space and public safety.

Not one person of any age argued that Los Angeles needed more space for cars, wider streets, or faster car commute times. Not. One.

Of course, these are near-universal truths. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who is not a member of the Los Angeles City Council who thinks we need fewer transit options, and even then it’s hard to imagine someone opposing after-school programs.

So, the lesson learned wasn’t just that young people want better, safer, streets that support the environment, mobility, and having places to come together…but that there’s a strong disconnect between young people and these goals and some of our decision makers.

In Pacoima, the workshops were open to anyone attending the Bradley Street Plaza festival...but it was younger attendees that  mostly took part.

In Pacoima, the workshops were open to anyone attending the Bradley Street Plaza festival…but it was younger attendees that mostly took part.

I’m not saying that we need to hand over planning decisions to our children, but there’s clearly a major gap between what future generations want and what we’re planning to leave them. Building the city of the future necessitates inclusion of the voices of today’s younger residents, tomorrow’s city dwellers.

How to best do that is the million dollar question.

In Boyle Heights, City Planning’s David Somers attended a second set of workshops on April 25. After the workshop, Somers and teacher Gene Dean discussed the possibility of having both he and two of his students participate in the city-sponsored roundtable regarding the future of Soto Street. Sahra Sulaiman will have more on the second set of workshops later this week.

If you can think of a better plan, leave it in the comments section.

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Events: 2 Hit and Run Court Appearances, Finish the Ride, #Fig4All #LA2050 Visioning Workshop

sblog_calendarJust as the week before Easter/Passover is usually a light one, the week after is usually a heavy one. And this one is heavy. Court appearances, committee hearings, educational events, a Streetsblog L.A. event with the Bike Oven, two amazing sounding events on Sunday. It’s a packed house.

  • Tuesday – Wendy Villegas, the woman who struck and killed Andy Garcia will formally turn herself into authorities after accepting a deal that will put her in jail for at least a year and a half. Despite hitting a human being with her car and killing him and cowardly leaving the scene in the murder weapon, Villegas was given the lightest possible sentence and was allowed to leave the courtroom at sentencing before turning herself in. Family and friend’s of Garcia are planning a community ride to the courthoue to see the legal portion of Andy’s story come to an end. Get the details, here.
  • Tuesday –  Jose Gonzales is being charged with vehicular manslaughter for hitting Philip O’Neil from behind with his car, killing him. . So far, there have been two pre-trial hearings and a third one has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 22, 8:30 am, at the Pasadena Courthouse, 300 East Walnut Street. Family and friends of Phillip as well as concerned individuals and LACBC staff have attended both pre-trial hearings, which are open to the public. Get the rest of the details for this week’s hearing, here.
  • Wednesday – Learn, network, and be inspired at the Urban Land Institutes’s 14th Annual Urban Marketplace – a conference and expo designed to promote real estate investment opportunities and development strategies for LA’s lower income and higher poverty neighborhoods. In a half-day, you will hear from an exclusive keynote panel, then participate in 20+ interactive roundtable discussions led by industry leaders who have made meaningful and innovative contributions to the urban environment. And hey, Streetsblog is a media partner! Go, us! Get the details, here.
  • Wednesday – The City Council Transportation Committee meets at 2 p.m. in City Hall to discuss what’s going to happen to all of the good bicycle and pedestrian projects that were abandoned when the state dissolved the Community Redevelopment Agencies last year. I have a surprise for you. They have a plan to complete them! Really! Read the full agenda, here.
  • Wednesday – Come and join Las Ovarian Psyco-Cycles for a space fundraiser and watch the film “Wadjda”. Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun-loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn’t be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race.  Movie starts at 7 p.m. Get the details, here.
  • Thursday – It’s your monthly dose of political rancor and public policy known as the Metro Board of Directors Meeting. The highlight of this month’s agenda is a proposal by Gloria Molina to add a $1 account fee on all Metro transponder accounts regardless of use. Read the agenda, here.
  • Friday – Our friends Aurisha and Somerset are opening Los Angeles’ first worker-owned electrical and solar co-op. The opening party is this Friday at Eco-Village. Get more details, here.
  • Friday –  Come & join Las Ovarian Psycos & Yerberia Mayahuel and have a good time! Since January 2014, OPC & YM inherited the space Centro de Comunicación Comunitaria located in Boyle Heights. Since then, both collectives have been utilizing the space to do movie nights, Qi Gong classes, worm composting workshops, health and wellness circles, reading circles etc. Get the details, here.
  • Saturday – First we announced that The Bike Oven, Streetsblog and Place It! would be holding a community visioning workshop for North Figueroa Street in 2050 as part of the #la2050 event. Then, the Mayor announced it would be a “Great Street” in his state of the city. Coincidence? Let’s assume not. Come participate in one of James Rojas’ workshops, enjoy some local cuisine, meet Josef Bray-Ali…all in one day and place. 4 p.m. this Saturday in front of the Oven on North Figueroa Street. Read more about it, here.
  • Sunday – It’s finally here. Damian Kevitt and Friends’ Finish the Ride, the fundraising ride that will literally start where Kevitt was hit by a hit and run driver in 2013, is this Sunday. There are rides for people of all ages and skill levels. Get the details at Finish the
  • Sunday – On April 27th railLA’s Expo Explorers presents a full day tour exploring the historic Metro Expo Line. The interactive event will teach new riders how to ride Metro Rail and take them to discover amazing places along the Expo Line. As event guests explore each destination, they’ll complete an activity in their Event Passport and learn about the past and future of Los Angeles. We’re told that the Mayor of Santa Monica and a host of local Livable Streets Advocates will be on hand. Get all the details, here.

Is there something we missed? Is there something we need to know about for next week? Email


If Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, Surely it Should Also be a Component of “Complete”-ness, No?

Bus stop, bus goes, she stays, trash grows... Olympic Blvd., Boyle Heights. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Bus stop, bus goes, trash stays, trash grows on Olympic Blvd.  Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

As folks were preparing to cut the cake in honor of the Complete Streets Day motion put forth by Councilmember Jose Huizar at City Hall last week, I was getting geared up to volunteer at a high school located in his district, around which many of the streets are decidedly incomplete.

I had run into Roosevelt High School teacher extraordinaire Jorge Lopez a couple of weeks prior; students from his food justice class were helping give a tour of two corner markets that had received healthy makeovers courtesy of Public Matters. When he heard I was interested in interviewing the students involved in the project, he suggested I stop in his classroom instead and assist the students in reworking their own interviews with food activists and workers in the area into articles.

Hell, yes! I thought.

Teens — besides being inspiring to work with — are often incredible, unfiltered informants about the unique dynamics of their communities and how those dynamics impact mobility, health, and access to opportunity.

When I first worked with his English class two years ago, students were writing speeches about things they would like to see improved in their neighborhood. Given the myriad challenging circumstances that the youth came from, immigrant rights, living wages, affordable housing, protection from gang activity, and access to healthy food and other health resources unsurprisingly figured prominently into their discussions.

But, I was also struck that one of the recurring themes was an inferiority complex many expressed with regard to East L.A.

It was so much cleaner, they complained.

Complete Streets should also encompass clean streets. Couch on Rivera St. (just off 1st), a frequent dumping site. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Complete Streets should also encompass clean streets. Couch on Rivera St. (just off 1st), a frequent dumping site. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

When we think of “Complete Streets,” we tend to focus on ways to facilitate mobility by “design[ing] and operat[ing streets] to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.”

But, for these students, it was clear that having streets that looked clean, inviting, and safe was important for mobility and access, too.

In comparing their neighborhoods to East L.A., many voiced a belief that people in East L.A. took more pride in their community because the sidewalks and streets there were well taken care of. Boyle Heights streets’, they said, felt run down and forgotten.

It was something that bothered them a lot. Read more…


We Can Tell You How to Get, How to Get to People St

The People St program seeks to bring more plazas, such as the one above in Silver Lake, parklets and bike corrals through the city by encouraging partnerships with community groups.

“Thank you for liberating our streets,” City Council Transportation Committee Chair Mike Bonin greeted LADOT staff last week. While LADOT staff may not be used to a hero’s welcome, Assistant General Manager Dan Mitchell and Assistant Pedestrian Coordinator Valerie Watson weren’t there to present a typical transportation project, or even to talk about why some five-lane street in The Valley needs to have its speed limit increased.

They were there to talk about People St.

For those that missed it, People St is a new LADOT program, which will be formally launched next week, to partner with community groups to create more bike corrals (L.A. has 2), Parklets (L.A. has 3) and pedestrian plazas (just one…and it has polka dots). Mitchell and Watson were there to ask the City Council to approve a timeline for an application process.

In other words, People St isn’t just a flashy website. It’s a real program that’s going to create more space for humans on a small portion of the thousands of underused miles of streets in Los Angeles. The first application process will begin on March 1. The next one will begin October 1 with future cycles beginning on October 1 in future years. While the second application process is beginning, the city will actually begin installing the first People St programs.

The full proposed timeline is available below.

Once approved by the full Council next week, community groups will be able to propose their own parklet, plaza and bike corral locations and work with the city to make them happen. Some local advocacy groups are already working on their own People St projects. For example, the Los Angeles Eco-Village is already planning for a new plaza located near their Bimini St compound.

“Communities that know their neighborhoods best propose project locations and are responsible for long-term maintenance,” explains Watson. Costs will be split between the city and the community partners for construction.

Currently, the People St website is informational. An expansion of the website is planned for early next year. On March 1, 2014 the city plans that the site will be a two-way portal for people to learn about the program and for the city to collect project ideas from community groups and businesses. Read more…