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UnPaveLA Looks to Trim the Streets, Reclaim the Pavement

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Images from NYC, SF, Portland of how streets have been transformed; these images come courtesy of UnPaveLA Hey, it turns out the notion of shutting down streets in LA for pedestrian plazas isn't so crazy after all. And it turns out the city's Planning Department is already working on it. At an American Institute of Architects breakfast last week, new Planning Director Michael LoGrande made mention of UnPaveLa, a newly launched street design program. OK, the streets aren't entirely being shut down in the program's first pilot program in Boyle Heights, but it's not far off. The program in Boyle Heights will take “excess street," around four Gold Line stops (red curb parking, or too-wide corners, for instance) and remake those spaces into park-like and other pedestrian-orientated areas. Benches, bollards, or anything else could be added--sky's the limit!

Part of the inspiration comes from seeing what San Francisco and New York have done. In the gallery above, you can see photos taken in those cities. And the pilot program, which is funded in part by Measure R money, isn’t just about creating a space for you to play a game of backgammon and drink coffee. The program can also reduce traffic. We're no engineers, but we're told tweaking the streets with this kind of planning "creates a clearer path of travel, which can create efficiencies," says Simon Pastucha, head of the Urban Design Studio, the Planning Department office charged with making LA more pedestrian-friendly.

As far as Boyle Heights, in about six months, a team from the Urban Design Studio will paint sections of the street green to identify spots that could be transformed. After that, other neighborhoods in the city could be studied. Of course, some critics might say, ‘Why can’t we just shut the streets, why can’t we just move forward faster?” Pastucha points out this could be just the beginning, and that a project like creating a pedestrian plaza in Broadway in New York City took years of studies and planning.
· What Could We Do With a Pedestrian Plaza on Broadway? [Curbed LA]