Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Los Angeles to try out 'parklets' at four locations

Image from the Inhabitat article, "Sunset Triangle Plaza: LA's First Pedestrian Plaza Conversion is Now Open!"

From the Los Angeles Times article:

In the latest attempt to cultivate a pedestrian lifestyle in Los Angeles, the City Council has approved plans to temporarily block off a few street parking spaces at four locations so they can be turned into tiny public plazas big enough to hold a bench or two.

These pocket parks, or parklets, will use parallel parking spots to provide bike racks, a little greenery and a place to sit. Two parklets were approved Friday for downtown on Spring Street, another on Huntington Drive in El Sereno and one for York Boulevard in Highland Park. The downtown parklets could be ready as early as the fall.

If the six-month pilot program is successful, city leaders hope to sprinkle these mini-plazas throughout the city. Councilman Jose Huizar, a cosponsor with Councilwoman Jan Perry, said it's a cheap and fast way to provide open space...

It takes about three days and costs about $10,000 to $30,000 to build a parklet, according to Madeline Brozen of the UCLA Complete Streets Initiative. The money comes from grant funding, some council discretionary accounts and foundations. Maintenance will be handled by designated community sponsors including art walk organizations, business improvement districts and neighborhood councils.

The city's first pocket park, Sunset Triangle Plaza in Silver Lake, debuted in March, funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. It's a slightly larger space sprinkled with chairs, tables and potted plants abutting a grassy median. The concrete is painted with large green polka dots and is closed to cars.
This is a welcome example that experimentation and advocacy do make a difference.  It's an example of using the design method instead of rational planning, including experimentation, and what is now called  "tactical urbanism."

It's an incredible endorsement of the power of advocacy as the parklet movement is an outgrowth of the Park(ing) Day movement initiated by the San Francisco organization Re:bar back in 2006.

And a confirmation of the importance and the impetus to launch/take part in a Park(ing) Day event on Friday September 21st.

Casey Trees will be leading the way in DC, and many planning, architecture, and landscape architecture firms are leading similar efforts in Baltimore.

It takes time, but change can happen.

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