Westside Coastline

Westside Coastline
Westside Coastline

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pacific Palisades Parklet - To Be or Not To Be


At its September 11, 2014 meeting, the Pacific Palisades Community Council after hearing input from the community, passed two resolutions regarding this Parklet project and future proposed Parklet applications.

Passed 16 / 4

“The Pacific Palisades Community Council finds a consensus in favor of parklets in general but is opposed to the specific parklet proposed for the Alma Real and La Cruz intersection. Accordingly, PPCC requests that PRIDE withdraw its application and/or that the City reject or rescind its approval.” 

Passed Unanimously the following motion recommended by leadership of the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (coalition of all 13 Neighborhood and Community Councils on the Westside of Los Angeles, of which PPCC is a member):

“WRAC urges the Mayor, LADOT and the City Council to amend the process for consideration of design and location of L.A. People St projects (including Plazas, Parklets and Bicycle Corrals) to include a requirement for advance notice to and consultation with Neighborhood and Community Councils. To the extent applicable, designs and locations should comply with local Specific Plans. We also urge the program to comply with CEQA as necessary.”
The City of Los Angeles introduced a program named "People Street" that is intended to transform neighborhoods across the city.  Administered by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LA DOT), the program seeks to transform portions of the 7,500 miles of streets into public spaces.

The program features three different types of spaces: Plazas, Parklets and Bicycle Corrals.  Working in collaboration with Community Partners, the program re-purposes a portion of the street in front of a designated property and converts it into a public space.

A Plaza is the largest facility and it converts a portion of a street into a public space with tables and chairs.

A Parklet expands the sidewalk into one or more on-street parking spaces to create people-oriented places.

A Bicycle Corral installs bike racks within on-street parking spaces or Plazas.

According to the program materials, the goals are to:

  • Convert underused street space into people space  
  • Emphasize streets as venues for social interaction and vibrancy
  • Support high-quality streetscape experience and improve the day-to-day life of the street
  • Create venues for community gathering, events and celebrations
  • Increase safety for people who walk, bike and take transit
  • Encourage increased levels of walking and bicycling which, in turn, support local business communities
  • Foster future investment in more capital intensive infrastructure to support walking and bicycling

 Community Partners can be a Business Improvement District (BID), a Community Benefit District (CBD), a Chamber of Commerce, a ground-floor business owner, a fronting property owner or other eligible Community Partner.  Those Community Partners agree to be responsible for the design, installation, operation, management and maintenance of the facility.

Here is an example of a completed Parklet (before and after) on Spring St. in downtown Los Angeles.

A Parklet Proposal for Pacific Palisades

Pacific Palisades PRIDE (PRIDE) is a non-profit organization that seeks to undertake projects to enhance the visual appeal of the Palisades, particularly in the business areas of the community.

A member of PRIDE's board brought information about the Parklet application process to the attention of the board which then voted to submit an application to see what happens.  PRIDE searched for property owners willing to participate in the program, which involves a commitment to maintain the Parklet and found a willing owner in Elliott Zorensky, owner of the property where Palisades Garden Cafe is located at the intersection of La Cruz Dr. and Alma Real.  PRIDE then submitted the application which LA DOT approved.

The PPCC invited various parties from PRIDE, City of Los Angeles and the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce to come discuss the project at the PPCC's July meeting.

At the PPCC meeting on July 10th, it became apparent that there were two principal concerns with the project.  The first concern was the lack of community input.  LA DOT had determined that the project was not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and so no environmental impact studies would be required.  At some indeterminate time in the future, according to LA DOT's schedule, they will open a 10 day period when the public may submit their comments regarding the proposal.

According to the City's People Street website, these are the next steps:
What’s next for these projects?
Prior to installation, LADOT will post public-notice posters at all approved project locations for 10 business days.  During this time, members of the public can submit public comments directly to LADOT via our website.

Additionally, LADOT will work with these Community Partners to collect baseline information about the site before project installation,  and guide them through the design development process.  People St looks forward to continuing to work with the approved Community Partners to create these innovative people-oriented spaces throughout the City!
The second concern focused on the proposed location.  Looking at the map above, it is clear that the site for the Parklet is at a (very busy) T-Intersection.  Furthermore, it is to be located a block away from Seven Arrows Elementary school and in the nearby proximity of two other schools (The Village School and Palisades Elementary Charter School).

Notwithstanding any decisions coming as a result of the public comment period, if the project goes forward, it will require a substantial fundraising effort to cover the cost of construction and maintenance of the Parklet.

After its meeting, the PPCC did address a letter to the City of Los Angeles pointing out a very recent traffic accident involving a downtown Parklet, asking the City to "reconsider the advisability of proceeding on a fast track with this or other parklets in light of potentially serious liability issues" while at the same time making it clear that the PPCC has no objections to the goals of the Parket program.  The full letter is available here.

A public forum is scheduled to be held this Thursday, August 7th at 7:00 PM at the Palisades Garden Cafe at 15231 La Cruz Dr.  The public is welcome to attend.

The PPCC will hold a second forum on the Parklet project on at its regular meeting on September 11 to solicit community input regarding the project.

For further information:

Pacific Palisade PRIDE

Pacific Palisades Community Council

LA City Parklet News

City of LA Parklet Manual

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