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Long Beach: After Successful Small Projects, City Fabrick Launches and Aims for the Grander Scale

10:48 AM PDT on March 21, 2013

City Fabrick, the nonprofit urba-nerd group in Long Beach, has officially launched. And this, Long Beachers, is a good thing.

The organization has no little--or amongst cities like San Francisco, New York, and even good ol' Los Angeles, not an uncommon--task: to rearrange the city's physical space to "promote progressive urban design that enhances the livability of communities and the health of residents in Long Beach," according to Executive Director and urban guru Brian Ulaszewski.

And even before the formal brouhaha of launching "officially," they did so quite literally in the streets.

Take the rather successful Park(d) Plaza. Sitting across the street from the parklets of Berlin and Fingerprints, the space reconfigured an entire parking lot into a 30'-by-75' foot public space--while simultaneously improving ADA access and adding an additional parking spot. Oh, and they have tetherball courts to bring out your inner third grader competitiveness.

Then we can meander to Walk LB, a simple albeit essential project that involves that highly old-school task of walking. The first Walk LB--held in Cambodia Town--had a simple goal: show people their neighborhood in slower light to see what their neighborhood actually looks like and what has to offer. This has now developed into thirteen walking routes (with more to come) through various Long Beach neighborhoods that ask people to not just regard the highlights--significant architectural, pedestrian, and historical points--but the bad as well--dilapidated sidewalks, unsafe crossings, etc.

And their future projects are even more ambitious, particularly what they call The Yards, a series of planning proposals that alter the entire westside of Long Beach. Spanning from Anaheim Street north to Dominguez, the proposal revolves around five major projects: relocating the Union Pacific's Intermodal Container Transfer Facility; repurposing the land of the Southern California Edison corridor; realigning the San Pedro Branch Railroad with bypass; replacing the Terminal Island Freeway with a neighborhood street; and sharing the Long Beach Unified School District recreation areas.

If all goes as planned, the park created would be some 350 acres, making it only second to El Dorado in size and making it the largest within the adjacent communities of Carson, Torrance, Compton, and Wilmington. This, of course, is in addition to shifting freight facilities further west--both of which act as catalysts in increasing the health of its residents.

"This plan incorporates significant investment proposed for the area to reduce land-use conflicts and transportation impacts from nearby goods movement infrastructure and industrial uses while creating substantial public benefit," said Ulaszewski. "City Fabrick developed the concept and is working with local stakeholders and government agencies to implement the plan."

The next public event presented by City Fabrick will be their lecture series, Context + Discourse, that will discuss park development in compact cities. It will take place March 25 at 6PM in the solarium of the Willmore Building.

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