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Proyecto Pastoral Crowdfunds for Pico-Aliso Neighborhood Project

4:44 PM PDT on July 28, 2016

The residents living in the Pico Aliso neighborhood are squeezed in between busy corridors, freeways, the river, and now a growing series of art higher-end galleries. They are hoping to make the streets safer for the many families that walk there. (Google maps)
The advocates from Proyecto Pastoral living in the Pico-Aliso neighborhood are squeezed in between busy corridors, freeways, the river, and now a growing series of art higher-end galleries. They are hoping to make the streets safer for the many families that walk there. (Google maps)

Squeezed in between the major thoroughfares connecting Boyle Heights to downtown, the Pico-Aliso community has long been treated by the city as an area to be passed through, and as quickly as possible, at that.

With the demolition of the 6th Street Viaduct and the subsequent increase in commuter vehicle traffic during peak hours along 4th and 1st Streets, safety for lower-income families who must cross those thoroughfares to get to transit stops, school, or recreational opportunities has become even more of a concern.

This past January, a new stoplight was installed at 4th and Pecan Streets after the youth from the Boyle Heights Technical Center conducted a study that demonstrated the clear need for traffic calming there. And a new signal is planned for 4th and Clarence Streets (where one person was killed when a car slammed into a taco stand, recently) along with improvements to sidewalks and pedestrian lighting that will help Pico Gardens' residents access the new park planned for underneath the 6th Street Viaduct (thanks to $5 million in funds secured in the second cycle of Active Transportation Program funding).

But members of Proyecto Pastoral’s Comunidad en Movimiento (CEM) seem to believe there is more to be done. And they would know best - volunteers from the group have been helping children navigate busy corridors as part of their Safe Passage/Camino Seguro program for almost 20 years now. The program began in 1999 as a way to help children move unscathed through a public space that was heavily impacted by gang activity.

The drop in violence in the neighborhood, thanks in part to their efforts, has allowed them the space to turn their attention to traffic safety over the last several years.

Recently, CEM was selected by ioby - a crowdfunding platform dedicated to helping communities make meaningful change “in our backyards” - to complete a project aimed at improving pedestrian safety around a transit stop in Pico Aliso. The project will combine data CEM members have collected from residents over the years with new community input to design pedestrian improvements to be tested at either 1st Street (near Mendez High School) or 4th Street (between Gless and Clarence).

The approximately $8,000 CEM is seeking in funding will allow them to pay small stipends to local staff and a local artist (to help with visuals), host a community event, and implement a temporary solution, as designed by the community.

Considering the significant neglect the community has endured over the years and the nearly half a billion dollars being spent to rebuild a shiny new bridge just a few blocks over, it does seem rather insane that the community has to ask for donations just so children can move safely across the street. And it is unfortunate that any project implemented will only be temporary.

But in their write-up on ioby, CEM anticipates the project will "serve as a model for a more permanent change to the unsafe conditions that our children and families face as they walk in the neighborhood."

Those interested in learning more about the project or donating to the cause can visit their project web page, here. Every dollar donated before August 5 (up to $100 per person) will be matched by ioby.

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