The new York Boulevard
This past Saturday, Los Angeles Councilmember Jose Huizar held a Community Clean Up and kick off for the “new York Vision Plan” in the parking lot of the 90050 Post Office on York Boulevard. The event included city certificates for the new businesses on York, the city’s Department of Public Works, contractors from Northeast Graffiti Busters, Victory Outreach’s clean-up crew, and most importantly, the first step in involving the Highland Park community with the redesign process of York Boulevard.
The project, titled “The new York” (with a little “N”) is dubbed as a “Pedestrian Improvement Project and Local Business Support Program.” It involves the design and installation of creative, low-cost pedestrian improvements on York between Avenue 50 and Avenue 56.
The design aspects of the project is being facilitated by Green LA, as a Living Streets type project and is expected to take a six months to a year to implement. In these tight budget times, the boulevard improvement is not a major redevelopment project, but more of an aesthetic enhancement and greening project that will be designed to encourage more foot traffic than car traffic. Much like it was originally developed as.
A fun part of this project is how much community is being asked about what they would like to see along the boulevard as far as features such as benches, trees, and identifying decorative elements. In a couple of weeks there will be a Community Workshop on this “new York” project at Cafe de Leche on Wednesday, October 13th 6pm-8pm.
What surprised me about the event was how much the business owners of York didn’t understand the scope of this project. That the project as I understand it, seems to be more about greening York, than developing it. When it came time to write ideas for York Blvd. on the participatory map, there were comments like, “More Parking” “Free Parking” “More traffic lanes” “Create another parking lot.” Not exactly the Green sort of ideas that this project is designed to accomplish.
We have a unique opportunity of re-creating the destination village it once was. This was where the trolley took us to see a movie at the York Theater, get an ice cream soda at Reynolds Drugs, or a Brew 102 at one of the bars. This is about bolstering York Blvd’s identity as a destination once again. A destination that uses the best contemporary environmental practices as Living Streets where people and aesthetics are the focus, not accommodations for car parking.