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Bundy Triangle Park Revisited: Is One of These Not Like the Other?

This spring, livable streets activists on the Westside began working with L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl's office to reopen Bundy Triangle Park. A May 9 Streetsblog article titled, "Open Space Behind Bars," looked at the history of the park: when it opened, why it closed, and what can be done to transform it into a vibrant public space.

Part of the challenge of opening the Bundy Triangle Park has been figuring out how to keep it in active use, in order to allay concerns about it becoming a place for the homeless to seek shelter. (That said, to address the problem of homelessness, I'd hope public officials would work to address the underlying causes, instead of "treating" its symptoms by closing off dearly needed public spaces.)

Compounding that challenge, in West L.A. it seemed that there were few, if any, models for how to make a small slice of public green space a dynamic gathering point. After all, Bundy Triangle doesn't have the scale or facilities of a full-fledged park. Rather, it's ideal role would be as the public front porch of the community -- a place for residents to congregate and linger as they go about their daily business.

Google bird's-eye view of Palisades Triangle Park

And then it hit me: Palisades Triangle Park.

The similarities between the two were striking: older public spaces with mature trees and extensive shade; grassy patches and benches for seating; surrounded by retail and coffee shops; bordered by a major east-west arterial served by Metro and Big Blue Bus; and the presence of homeless individuals -- even more so in the Palisades.

And perhaps most importantly politically speaking, both parks are in Councilman Rosendahl's district -- to Rosendahl's credit, he's voiced qualified support for opening Bundy Triangle.

The similarities between the two parks begs two questions: What are the differences, then, between the two communities and two parks? And why can't this West L.A. neighborhood have a great public space like the Palisades does?

With respect to the first question, the Bundy Triangle Park has been closed since the 1990s, so it's not entirely clear how the community would embrace it and thus compare it to its fellow triangle park. But clearly Bundy has potential.

One of the keys, as demonstrated in the Palisades, is for local businesses to embrace the open space as a unique asset and use it to their advantage.

At Bundy and Santa Monica there's a Starbucks and IHOP across the street; how about an expansion of alfresco dining? There are also hundreds of bus boardings every day on six bus lines; Bundy Triangle Park could serve as a Westside multi-modal transportation hub.

Most important of all, there's a critical mass of Westside residents surrounding Bundy Triangle Park -- upwards of 30,000 per square mile according to Census data -- and these Angelenos are starved for vibrant public green space.

With such a good model already in place, let's embrace the lessons it can offer and leverage this underutilized community resource in Bundy Triangle Park to create a truly livable community.

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