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Curbed Cup 1st round: (1) Santa Monica vs. (16) Pacoima

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Which neighborhood should advance to the second round?

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Santa Monica

The perfectness of LA’s progressive and bustling beachside city reached new heights this year. It’s stepping up its game to be a good steward of the environment, requiring new single-family homes to meet net-zero energy standards and adding native plants to its beach to help resist rising sea levels. It hosted its first open-streets event and turned its crosswalks into pedestrian-friendly scrambles and art pieces. Its residents rejected a ballot measure that would have curtailed the construction of much-needed housing. New Santa Monica branches of trendy spots such as Bobarrito, Knuckle & Claw, Wexler’s Deli, and Plan Check opened this year, and Proper Hotel announced it’s adding one of its chic outposts at Seventh Street and Wilshire Boulevard in a new development at and around the Santa Monica Professional Building.

But the biggest, most important addition to Santa Monica was the opening of the Expo Line. The city embraced the light rail extension with open arms, building a charming “esplanade” festooned in lights to connect riders with Tongva Park and the pier.

Pacoima

This San Fernando Valley city has come a long way since the 1950s and 60s, when Los Angeles Times writers described it as depressing and filled with residential blight. As Max Podemski, planning director for Pacoima Beautiful told Curbed, the city celebrated some major milestones in 2016, chief among them is the completion of a plan to create more parks and transform streets and alleys, making them inviting for pedestrians and cyclists by adding more lighting, crosswalks, and landscaping.

#PacoimaHolidayParade in full effect ❄⛄ #RichieValens Mural !! #labamba #pacoima

A photo posted by MIC BLES (@microphonebless) on

That’s not all.

The National Endowment for the Arts awarded a $100,000 grant for a new arts incubator on Van Nuys Boulevard, a thoroughfare that was recently designated one of the city’s “Great Streets.” It was put on a “road diet” this year, shaving off space for cars to add bike lanes and space for parklets. In that same spirit, Podemski says the community has lined up funding to make its new Bradley Plaza even better with the addition of a “green” alley (with permeable pavers and a system to capture stormwater runoff), connecting residents of San Fernando Garden public housing to Van Nuys Boulevard.

Now, the decision is in your hands: Which area should advance? Cast your vote below, and may the best neighborhood win.