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Eyes on the Street: Parklet Underway on Motor Avenue

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Under-construction parklet spotted on Motor Avenue in Palms. Photos by Jonathan Weiss/Streetsblog L.A.

Last week, a new parklet opened in downtown L.A.’s South Park. The next People St parklet installation is already underway on Motor Avenue in Palms. The parklet pictured is in front of C&M Cafe at 3272 Motor Avenue, a block south of the Metro Expo Line Phase 2 and the Expo bikeway’s Northvale gap. Motor was improved with a road diet and bike lanes in 2012.

Motor Avenue will be receiving two parklets; the second (and larger) parklet will be at 3370 Motor Avenue.

More early construction photos after the jump.  Read more…

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Downtown L.A. Celebrates New Parklet On Hope Street

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This morning’s Hope Street Parklet ribbon cutting. Left to right: Tony Chou of CoCo Fresh, Mack Urban CEO Paul Keller, L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar, LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, and Jessica Lall Executive Director of the South Park BID. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

People Street meets Hope Street.

Just over a hundred people attended the grand opening of Los Angeles’ newest parklet, located on Hope Street just below 11th Street in the downtown L.A. neighborhood of South Park.

In case you are not familiar with the term, a parklet is a mini-park that replaces a parking space or two. Though it is an informal practice all around the world, the concept got its start in San Francisco. L.A. County’s first parklet was in Long Beach. Now they have spread to Huntington Park, East L.A., Northeast L.A., and other parts of downtown.

The latest parklet is actually the first to come to completion under the official LADOT People St program where communities can request parklets, plazas, and bike corrals. People St projects require a community partner; this one was shepherded by South Park Business Improvement District.

South Park is changing dramatically, with a great deal of new high-rise residential development open, and more on the way. The parklet’s Hope Street block has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past couple years. What had been just an anonymous parking structure added ground floor retail. The BID repaired the sidewalks and replaced the street trees. Now the parklet extends the already walkable, inviting atmosphere.

Enjoy the photo essay of today’s opening celebration – after the jump.  Read more…

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Main Street in Santa Monica Poised to Get 2 Parklets

A parklet on York Blvd. in Highland Park. Photo from People St.

A parklet on York Blvd. in Highland Park. Photo from People St.

Update: The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved three locations for the city’s pilot parklet program. The three locations include the two recommended by staff and a third at Main and Hill in front of Finn McCool’s.

The Santa Monica City Council next Tuesday will consider giving the go-ahead to the beachside city’s first two parklets — small public open-space expansions of the sidewalk that usually replace on-street parking stalls.

If approved by the City Council, the parklet pilot program will begin with two locations on Main Street — one of the city’s most popular commercial districts — and will be a public-private partnership in which the city constructs the parklets and contracts with local businesses for operation and maintenance. The city is proposing the parklets be roughly a block apart with one in front of Holy Guacamole (at Ashland and Main) and the other in front of Ashland Hill, formerly Wildflour Pizza (between Ashland and Hill on Main).

“The pilot would be a public experiment with the Main Street community to temporarily test this new concept in the public realm,” according to the staff report. “The parklet design would be temporary and easily reversible, should the pilot demonstrate the need for design changes.”

As proposed, the parklet pilot program will last a year, “but may end earlier if public safety issues arise,” according to city staff.

“‘Parklets (transforming small urban spaces such as on-street parking stalls into public space and/or landscaping) has become increasingly common across America, but has not yet been authorized in Santa Monica,” according to the staff report. In the report, city officials point to the success of parklet programs in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

A parklet on Spring St. in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo via People St.

A parklet on Spring St. in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo via People St.

Los Angeles, through its People St. program, has seen a number of parklets pop up in recent year, including the one on York Street pictured above. In Downtown L.A., there is also a parklet on Spring Street.

“Parklets introduce new streetscape features such as seating, planting, bicycle parking, or elements of play. Parklets encourage pedestrian activity by offering these human-scale ‘eddies in the stream,’ which is especially beneficial in areas that lack sufficient sidewalk width or access to public space,” according to the People St. website. Read more…

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Temporary Parklets Occupy Parking Spaces During Park(ing) Day L.A. 2015

Hollywood Park(ing) Day parklet. Photo via Great Streets

Hollywood Park(ing) Day parklet. Photo via Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative

In spaces around the world, Park(ing) Day happens annually on the third Friday of September. Groups take over parking spaces, feed the meter, and create and occupy temporary parklets. It all draws attention to the potential for small urban spaces, and the high opportunity cost for turning over so much urban land to storing private automobiles.

SBLA made it out to four Park(ing) Day L.A. parklet sites last Friday. Below are some highlights.

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Mid City West Community Council hosted four parklets. This is one of theirs, located on Melrose Avenue. Photos by Joe Linton / Streetsblog L.A. (except where noted otherwise)

 

Read more…

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Guide To Park(ing) Day 2015 Parklet Sites – Plus Metro Parking Update

Four Mid-City Park(ing) Day parklet locations hosted by L.A.'s Mid-City West Neighborhood Council.

Four Mid-City Park(ing) Day parklet locations hosted by L.A.’s Mid-City West Community Council.

International Park(ing) Day is not the massively humongous event it has been in past years in L.A. Nonetheless, there are still parks popping up in mid- and downtown. Below is a list of some Southern California park(s) to check out. (updated with additional sites! Some additional locations at parkingday.org)

  • In Mid-City L.A., the Mid City West Community Council hosts four parklets open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.:
    – District La Brea, at 115 S. La Brea Avenue – features three full street parking spaces, furnished with seating, a foosball game, ping-pong table, graffiti art demo, and yummies from TWIST and Front Porch Pops.
    – Miracle Mile Toys & Games, 5363 Wilshire Boulevard
    – OpenSpaceLA, at 457 N. Fairfax Avenue – open until 8 p.m.
    – Melrose BID, at 7753 Melrose Avenue
    Additional details at MCWCC.
  • In Hollywood, join HR&A LA will be park(ing) to celebrate Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets initiative. The park takes place at Hollywood and Vine, outside the Hollywood Pantages Theatre from 12 noon to 6 p.m.
    There will be three spaces: a Think Tank to brainstorm Great Streets solutions with the Mayor’s team at a pop-up office with free WiFi and cold brew coffee, a “Barklet” with dogs up for adoption, and an L.A. Philharmonic virtual reality orchestra performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Details on flier [PDF].
  • In downtown L.A., Alta Planning and Design will be on the corner of 7th and Grand with “The Sweet Spot.” Attendees are invited to come and relax with their lunch or a snack from 12 – 2 p.m., share their knowledge on hidden public spaces in Downtown Los Angeles, and eat some sweets! Attendees are invited to help populate a map of public spaces downtown. Share ideas and pose for pictures in Alta’s Sweet Spot Photo booth! Details on flier [PDF] below.
  • In Larchmont Village, Rios Clementi Hale Studios’ parklet will educate the public about the benefits of rainwater capture. Their parklet, open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., is located  across the street from the firm’s office at 639 N. Larchmont Blvd. More details here.
  • In Pacoima, Pacoima Beautiful hosts a parklet from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pacoima Branch Library at 13605 Van Nuys Blvd. More details here.
  • In Westwood, there will be a parklet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of Simplethings at 10874 Kinross Avenue.
  • In Eagle Rock, there will be a parklet from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in front of Bloom School of Music at 2116 Colorado Blvd.

Alta Planning hosts The Sweet Spot Park(ing) Day parklet in downtown Los AngelesDo you know of other locations we didn’t mention? Please post in the comments below.

Streetsblog L.A. will be touring some of these sites tomorrow. Follow @StreetsblogLA and #parkingdayla on Twitter for updates.

In other parking news, today Metro’s Executive Committee approved the agency’s revised Parking Ordinance [PDF] and Parking Fee Resolution [PDF], which is unfortunately even less nimble than the already rigid version that had been proposed in July. Instead of trusting Metro’s CEO to raise or lower parking prices, the modified parking ordinance requires a vote of the agency’s board of directors.

Yesterday, Metro’s Planning and Programming Committee approved a 12-month $620,000 contract [PDF] with Walker Parking Consultants to develop a Parking Strategic Implementation Plan for managing station parking for the next five-to-ten years. Perhaps a year from now Metro’s consultants will recommend a more nimble parking strategy.

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Eyes on the Street: Parklets Arrive In East L.A.

East Los Angeles Parklet on Mednik Avenue. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

East Los Angeles Parklet on Mednik Avenue. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Many cities are finding that sometimes, places where people park are just a little more desirable than places where cars park. Parklets began in San Francisco. The first Southern California parklets are in Long Beach. They’ve since spread to the city of Los Angeles, the city of Huntington Park, and now unincorporated East Los Angeles.

The parklet pictured above is located in front of So-Cal Burgers on Mednik Avenue, across from the East L.A. Civic Center.

In late March, County Supervisor Hilda Solis celebrated the opening for East L.A.’s parklets. The County installed three new parklets; they can be found at 203 S. Mednik, 4514 Whittier Blvd., and 3534 1st Street. Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Huntington Park Building Its Fourth Parklet!

Construction underway on Huntington Park's fourth parklet. Photo by Ryan Johnson

Construction underway on Huntington Park’s fourth parklet. All photos by Ryan Johnson

Friend of the blog Ryan Johnson visited the Southeast L.A. County city of Huntington Park and spotted crews building that city’s fourth parklet! SBLA reviewed Huntington Parks first parklet last summer.

Unless I am mistaken, if Huntington Park (population 60,000) can open this parklet before Los Angeles (population 4,000,000) repairs and re-opens its damaged parklet on Spring, then H.P. will be the county’s clear parklet leader. Right now, I think Long Beach (population 470,000), L.A., and Huntington Park each have three parklets open. Los Angeles is planning four additional parklets, expected to open late in 2015. Huntington Park has three more on the way, too.

Johnson adds:

I ran into the Huntington Park public works team on Pacific today [February 12] installing their 4th parklet (with apparently 3 more being planned). Their Public Works supervisor I talked to was stoked about their impact in downtown, and several businesses are requesting more in front of their establishments. This one under construction is in front of Winchell’s Donuts at Pacific/Randolph. They’re so committed, they relocated the fire hydrant to appease the Fire Dept!

More photos after the jump. Read more…

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Damaged DTLA Parklet to Be Repaired, Four New L.A. Parklets in 2015

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Last July a drunk driver damaged this parklet on Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. The city is working with parklet sponsors, the Historic Core Business Improvement District, to repair it for a March re-opening. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

In July 2014, according to coverage at LAist and CBS, a drunk man made off with his friend’s car and, after clipping a couple of parked cars, smashed into a parklet. That parklet is located in front of Downtown Los Angeles’ L.A. Cafe, on Spring Street between 6th Street and 7th Street. Sadly, since the collision, the parklet has been closed.

The L.A. City Department of Transportation (LADOT) People St program recently announced that the Historic Core Business Improvement District (HCBID), L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar, and LADOT have collaborated to devise repair and modification plans for the damaged parklet. According to HCBID executive director Blair Besten, the repairs will cost “into the thousands of dollars.” Besten said that the HCBID and LADOT “are taking the opportunity to revamp some things about the parklet that we thought could be a better use of space. For example, the [stationary exercise] bikes were underutilized, so we are replacing them with additional seating and bike racks.”

In addition, People St’s Valerie Watson stated that LADOT will be adding “reflective flexible delineators on parklet corners, like the ones you see out on Broadway Dress Rehearsal, for extra nighttime visibility.”

Besten said, “We are excited to get this program back up and running for the neighborhood and hope everyone will be happy with the usability changes we are making.”

In addition to getting the damaged parklet back up to spec, People St announced that four more parklets are on the way, and they are expected to appear on L.A. streets by late 2015.  Read more…

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Former Huntington Park Parking Now a Popular Parklet, More on the Way

Southern California's newest parklet on Huntington Park's Pacific Boulevard. All photos: Aviv Kleinman/Streetsblog L.A.

Southern California’s newest parklet on Huntington Park’s Pacific Boulevard. All photos: Aviv Kleinman/Streetsblog L.A.

A new phenomenon hit the streets of Huntington Park this year. It’s a space where people can catch up on their reading and feed their coffee cravings, a space where family and friends can gather together, and a space where business deals can take place right next to kids playing dominos. It’s called a parklet.

Parklets are parking spaces converted into sidewalk mini-parks. They primarily offer seating areas, also often greenery and bicycle parking. They foster lively pedestrian-oriented streets. For the unfamiliar, view a SF parket in this StreetFilms documentary.

L.A. County’s first parklet was in Long Beach. They have also come to Los Angeles City neighborhoods, including downtown and El Sereno.

Also, for the unfamiliar, the city of Huntington Park is located in Southeast Los Angeles County. The city has a population of roughly 60,000, more than 95% Latino.

The new parklet in Huntington Park is quite a wonderful scene. It features comfortable sitting areas and potted plants surrounded by aesthetically pleasing wooden tiles. And it is well-sited, located in front of one of the city’s most frequented coffee shops: Tierra Mia, a specialty Latin American coffee shop, located at 6706 Pacific Boulevard.

As I enjoyed my coffee that was sustainably harvested from a small finca (agricultural estate) in the Guatemalan highlands, I watched a young family with loud and happy children eating a takeout lunch, a pair of friends enjoying a fancy-looking latte, and a speech therapy session in progress, all taking place in the small public parklet. Taking up only three diagonal parking spaces on the bustling boulevard, the parklet is the perfect size to feel both large enough to relax and breathe, but petite enough not to take up too much room on the busy street.

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The Parklet’s pragmatic placement in front of the popular Tierra Mia coffee house

According to Fernanda Palacios, Huntington Park’s Community Development Project Manager, the parklet is park of the city’s Pacific Blvd. Revitalization Plan, designed to bring more activity to the city’s most prominent thoroughfare. Pacific Boulevard is a former streetcar corridor, and has retained much of its historic Main-Street-type commercial character. The street is dotted with restaurants, clothing stores, and specialty cultural shops. The Boulevard hosts a popular Christmas Lane Parade.

As part of the revitalization plan, the city has set aside a $60,000 budget for parklet development. These funds are from grants directly funded by Measure R and the Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The city’s funding goes to four parklets, each budgeted at $15,000 for construction and maintenance. According to Palacios, the city government does not fund the parklet with any of its own money, but it does contribute its own Public Works department’s labor to construct the site.

The $15,000 in grant money is used to purchase furniture and raw materials, in addition to touch-ups as the parklets age. With regard to collision safety, the parklet is surrounded by well-hidden K-rails (the same concrete barriers used to divide freeways) that are covered with wooden planters. In fact, I would have had no idea that the K-rails were there within the wooden planters had Ms. Palacios not pointed them out. Because the street space is owned by the city, no special permits or zoning variances were needed for parklet development.  Read more…

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Pop-Up Plaza Enhances Art Walk, Hints at What Could Be in Leimert

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The blocking off 43rd Pl. in Leimert Park created space for people to play this past Sunday. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

As we watched the group led by female elders drumming their way toward us, Rashida, a vendor of wonderful-smelling body scrubs, leaned over and said, “You can’t get this anywhere else in L.A.!”

She’s so right.

For the last four years, the monthly art walk in Leimert Park has brought together community, culture, art, and African heritage in a truly unique way.

Few places in the city, if any, feel so vibrant and warm as Leimert does on the last Sunday of the month.

Which is why the Pop-Up Plaza event at this art walk was so exciting — it offered a glimpse into the future of what Leimert Park Village could be if 43rd Place (the street running along the base of the village) were to be closed to cars and converted into a plaza.

The idea of making that conversion is one that many in the community have been kicking around for some time.

With the birth of the 20/20 Vision initiative — the strategy to drive the economic development of Leimert Park Village and its creative district in tandem with the arrival of the Metro station — the potential value of creating a plaza space has come more sharply into focus. So much so that the community is currently in the process of putting together a People St. application in the hopes of making that happen sooner rather than later.

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Drummers serenade a woman as they move around Leimert Plaza. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Speak to anyone who has been coming to the area for years, and you will hear stories of the incredible street life Leimert once hosted: chess games up and down the sidewalk, spontaneous poetry performances, live jazz blasting, and a strong sense of community.

The loss of Richard Fulton and his coffee house and jazz emporium, which had played host to much of that joyful noise, helped push that culture into hibernation.

On days like this past Sunday, however, when several generations of Leimert residents and aficionados turn out in droves to celebrate art, music, community, and unity, that culture feels tangible and ready to be revived. It is just looking for a home base.

A plaza might be a good place to start.

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Women serenade the plaza with gospel and love. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

In addition to the existing arts spaces and businesses, the opening of new gallery Papillion (on Degnan), the construction of artist Mark Bradford’s art and community space (on the corner of Degnan and 43rd Pl.), and the renovation of the Vision Theater (still underway), offer the possibility of a packed calendar of events that can draw crowds to spend the afternoon or evening in the area.

Read more…