People St Opens First Project with Plaza in North Hollywood

Councilmember Paul Krekorian speaks at the People St opening in North Hollywood. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/LADOTPeopleSt##LADOT People St/Twitter##
Councilmember Paul Krekorian speaks at the People St opening in North Hollywood. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/LADOTPeopleSt##LADOT People St/Twitter##

What was once an empty alley near the busy intersection of Magnolia and Lankershim Boulevards in the heart of the North Hollywood Arts District is now a public plaza with tables, chairs, green polka dots on the pavement, and sun shade.

Enjoying the plaza. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/LADOTPeopleSt##LADOT People St/Twitter##
Enjoying the plaza. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/LADOTPeopleSt##LADOT People St/Twitter##

The plaza, the second of its kind and the first completed project in LADOT’s People St Program, cost only $57,000.

“L.A. is the densest urban area in the nation, so we are getting creative to reclaim underused spaces that can be transformed into places for Angelenos to eat, shop, and spend time with their friends and families,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

“The People St initiative allows community groups — who know their neighborhoods the best — to partner with City Hall to create great public spaces that make our communities more livable and prosperous.”

For those just joining us, People St is a program where LADOT works with a community partner to take an under-utilized section of street and turn it into a plaza, parklet, or bike corral. The city works with the partner on design and permitting, but the cost and maintenance of the project is covered by the local group. In this case, the partner was the North Hollywood Business Improvement District (BID).

Aaron Aulenta, with the North Hollywood BID, reports that working with LADOT was a relatively easy and conflict-free process. LADOT even provided some flexibility when the BID wanted a different color scheme than was outlined in the “toolbox” that the department gives to successful applicants. The BID wanted a green and yellow scheme that looks more like the plaza in Silver Lake than was allowed in the toolkit.

The BID is also responsible for programming in the park. In order for the plaza’s annual permit to transform into a permanent one, the park must have programming in the form of concerts, lectures, movies or some other event that activates the space. While nothing except the CicLAvia on March 22 is planned at the moment, the BID is creating a web portal for people and organizations to apply to hold events in the plaza.

But for now, the BID is just excited to have the plaza open.

“It’s going to fill a missing gap in North Hollywood. We have a great huge park a couple of blocks away, but we don’t have anything like this in the commercial district,” writes Aulenta.

“We took the former space, which was an empty alley, that was dangerous to walk through as a pedestrian and there were people parking illegally. The space wasn’t being utilized correctly. Bringing a plaza in is going to make it more pedestrian oriented and provide something new to the businesses that they don’t have now: outdoor dining.”

The plaza is one of three that People St expects to open in the next several weeks. The other two plazas are the Bradley Avenue Plaza in Pacoima and the Leimert Park Plaza in South L.A. It is also anticipated that the two parklets on Spring St. will be upgraded and see re-openings next month, and four new parklets will come online this summer.

“This is the first plaza from the People St program’s inaugural round,” said LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds. “For community partners who would love to have a plaza or parklet in their neighborhood, we’re aiming to open the next round of applications this fall.”

Krekorian, Garcetti, Reynolds, local officials and a big pair of scissors. Photo: Tina Backstrom, LADOT
Krekorian, Garcetti, Reynolds, local officials, and a big pair of scissors. Photo: Tina Backstrom, LADOT

The opening was attended by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Paul Krekorian, LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, city staff, and representatives of the North Hollywood Business Improvement District.

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