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Parklet To Be Unveiled Next Week: See How it Happened

We look back over the last two years to see how the York Boulevard parklet went from idea to reality.

The years of public meetings, planning sessions and design sessions are complete. Highland Park's first parklet will be unveiled to the public next week.

A grand opening ceremony will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, 1 p.m. on York Boulevard, just east of Avenue 50.

The parklet, which will be located in a no-parking zone on York Boulevard near Do it Best Hardware, was first pitched in 2011 during a community forum held as part of Councilman José Huizar's "new York" Vision Plan.

Here's a look back at how the York Boulevard parklet went from an idea, to a reality.

  • Community Creates 'New York' Wish Lists

The first 'New York' Vision plan meeting was held in January of 2011. At that time, community members were provided blank canvases and asked to pitch their ideas for the boulevard. It was then that owners of the Knowhow Shop, Kagan Taylor and Justin Rice, pitched an idea that would eventually become the parklet template. 

The group came up with the idea of encouraging business owners to sponsor parking spaces at every block along York Boulevard, which could be used on certain weekends for art or music exhibitions, instead of for parking for automobiles.

  • Community Narrowly Chooses Street Plazas for First York Project

The following week, attendees of a followup 'York Vision' plan meeting were asked to narrow down their list of immediate projects. Parklets, which were being called pocket plazas at the time, made the cut.

Installing Street-Side "Pocket" Plazas

Pro:

- First of a series of projects that ties York Blvd. together
- Easy to combine aspects of other projects
- Easily replicated
- Most unique
- Would have a natural traffic slowing effect

Con:

- Takes away parking spaces
- Not as easy to implement
- Safety concerns
- Could take away a traffic lane
- Would lock community into series of projects
- Trash cans needed in plazas

  • More Innovative Infrastructure Coming to York Boulevard

In February of 2011, Design Firm Living Streets Los Angeles, who were hired by Huizar's office to steer design efforts, got word that city officials were firmly behind the pocket plaza plans.

According to Steve Rasumussen-Cancian of Living Street's Los Angeles--an architectural group hired by Councilmember Jose Huizar to facilitate redevelopment efforts on York--city planners have indicated that they are firmly in support of installing two state-of-the-art sidewalk plazas on the booming Highland Park thoroughfare.

However, pocket plazas supporters also learned that the project would not be completed as soon as they hoped.

Rasmussen-Cancian said he had hoped that Los Angeles Bureau of Engineers would fast-track the first-of-its kind project, which he believed would help curry favor for Huizar's and Living Streets' grander redevelopment plans for York Boulevard.

However, after a meeting with Lemuel Paco of the Bureau of Engineers and Jay Kim on the Department of Transportation, Cancian-Rasmussen told a small group of community volunteers on Monday afternoon that the project may take up to six months to complete.


In April of 2011, the list of potential projects was narrowed from 12 to 3. Pocket Plazas made the cut.

“This is not just a talking party,” said Steve Rasmussen-Cancian of Living Streets L.A., the organization responsible for facilitating the planning meetings. “We are going to actually build something to improve the street.”

  • Huizar to Pitch Highland 'Parklets' at City Council Friday

In September of 2011, Patch readers began to raise concerns about the potential impacts on parking. Cathi Milligan, owner of the Glass Studio on York Boulevard, responded.

"As a participant of this project I have to correct a couple of the things mentioned. This will also address the concerns with John's comments. First, we made it understood that we would find locations that did not take a parking space since we all agreed parking is very much needed on the boulevard. Second, the seating design that has been proposed would not allow a homeless person to lie down on it. It just wouldn't be comfortable and a person could not fit on the surface. These are important points because these issues have been addressed in a slow and thoughtful manner. I too have a business on York, in the same block as the bike corral and the proposed "parklet" and I welcome the innovation and change that is coming to the boulevard."

  • Patch Poll: You Pick the York Boulevard 'Parklet'

A pair of street porch designs were released to the public for review in October of 2011, they can be viewed above.

 

  • Images Inside: Take a Look at the Designs for York Boulevard's Proposed Parklet

After months of planning and debate, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved installing parklets in Highland Park, El Sereno and Downtown.

Highland Park resident Margaret Arnold was among dozen or so community members who attended the council meeting to state their support for the parklet program.

"It's very hard to do something creative in Los Angeles, you have to have every nut and bolt on a pre-approved list," Arnold said. "We are doing something creative."

kevin January 28, 2013 at 05:53 PM
nonoise-- Why are you so bent out of shop on parking meters? Melrose has only parking meters and businesses are able to survive? So does Colorado blvd.
VDJM January 28, 2013 at 05:59 PM
I mean, this looks too dangerous for me. Plus, I don't find anything aesthetically beautiful about sitting in front of Do It Best Hardware/Alley and staring at the Pawn shop across the street. No thanks. Thumbs down.
Creper Chimone January 28, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Well just because something doesn't appeal to you doesn't mean it's a reason to contact the city about it. These racist comments really are disheartening. the ones by nimby about domestic violence and sterilasation are not funny but hurtful. Yes another coffee shop that's the answer. Why did you move into a hispanic community if you obviously hate hispanic people?
kevin January 28, 2013 at 07:01 PM
@creeper chimone. So because I don't like their painted sign with gang tags then I must not like Hispanic people. Not sure how you came to that conclusion given that you do not know me. I am not hispanic , but I have many of my good friends are. Trust me, they hate these gang tags as much as me. I am new to the neighborhood, yes. But why is it so wrong to report graffiti or care about the neighborhood I live in? Why is it so bad that I want places to open up so I can enjoy and walk to them?
David Fonseca (Editor) January 28, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Susan, did you not read the article? Not a single parking space will be taken away by this project. I repeat ...
Creper Chimone January 28, 2013 at 08:30 PM
when you call our culture ugly, and say we don't care about the neighborhood, to me it implies that you hate hispanics and our culture. you said you report Guerrero's to the city, why not talk to them? Why not go into the store? also there is a coffe shop called cafe de leche. you can go there. When i said 'hate hispanics' I also talk about the other posters who write that there is more domestic violence. Also I am talking about the people who move hear and want to strip our culture away to me one must hate a people to want to strip them of their art and culture. So glad you have friends who are hispanic, that's basically a racist catchphrase. It is a shame you are here and are so unwelcoming to others who have different backgrounds than you.
Nimby pimp January 29, 2013 at 01:04 AM
@Creper. My comments about domestic violence in the area were based on data that a social worker friend recently shared with me. In no way do the facts meant to disparage any ethnic group, but rather to challenge the idea proferred by some that the "hipsters" and other new residents have come to undermine somebody else's idyllic way of life. I believe that the upswing in home values and the increased demographic diversification of the neighborhood have potential benefits to all residents of the area.
Nimby pimp January 29, 2013 at 02:13 AM
@ Creper. Your accusations of racism to the contrary, your suggestion that "hispanic" culture equals cheap murals on a stinky market disrespects the culture that you believe yourself to be defending. Latino culture, particularly the Mexican variety, enjoys an incredibly rich visual tradition. That garbage painted on the Guerrero market does not resemble or honor that tradition.
El Cid January 29, 2013 at 02:37 AM
For those residents who have been here 50 plus years....graffiti or murals did not define HP! In 1970's birth of the Chicano Mural Art Movement in Los Angeles was a tool used to placate LA RAZA. Keep the wild Mexicans happy...give them a few public walls to draw their creative works. That's when all these murals suddenly sprouted throughout LA - primarily in Hispanic communities! Yet, for many of us, we could easily differentiate between the great muralist such as Rivera, Siquieros, and Orozco and the Want-A-Be's in the Chicano movement! As for unkept lawns, barking dogs, poorly stuccoed homes, possibly high rates of domestic violence....I choose to believe contributing factors are: ignorance, lack of common sense and education, socio-economic circumstance, and overly saturated communities with liquor stores!
nonoise January 29, 2013 at 08:20 AM
Kevin, people do not want to shop where there are parking meters. Many people stay out of Pasadena and Los Angeles because of the parking meters. Many people go to Burbank to shop because there is lots of free parking at the Burbank Mall and the Media Center. Parking meters are bad for business.
Creper Chimone January 29, 2013 at 05:21 PM
and in the tradition on america that "garbage" and that family who has run that store for years has a right to be there. oh and a friend gave you statistics well then it must be true. so because you have these stats this somehow resolves you of your bias. do murals equal culture no but it is surely a part of it. and painted storefronts are indeed a tradition in mexico.
Nimby pimp January 29, 2013 at 05:30 PM
@ Creper. You are flailing. It is your right to fight the future and defend backwardness and mediocrity. Good luck!
Creper Chimone January 29, 2013 at 05:41 PM
@racist it is your right to think that progress means doing nothing for others and complaining about everything that doesn't appeal to you. it is your right to not even start a conversation with a long time business owner and instead call the city on them and try to have them removed because they don't fit into your white vision of the world, it is your right to try and demean people who have different views than yours, it is your right to move into a neighborhood when you are priced out of your other neighborhood and then move here and want to price out those who already live here, it is your right to try to hide your racism behind your put on intelligence and made up statistics. buena suerte
Nimby pimp January 29, 2013 at 05:47 PM
@ Creper. Pobre menso.
David Fonseca (Editor) January 29, 2013 at 05:48 PM
Parking meters have nothing to do with this issue whatsoever. You are fixated on an unrelated issue.
Creper Chimone January 29, 2013 at 05:58 PM
wow racist in two languages good for you
Nimby pimp January 29, 2013 at 06:10 PM
@David. Thanks for the reminder and for keeping comments about this interesting initiative on track.
David Fonseca (Editor) January 29, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Nimby and Creper, please refrain from the personal and emotionally charged attacks. I'm sure we can agree to disagree about the aesthetic value of the sign or the parklet without having the debate degrade into an exchange of insults.
Creper Chimone January 29, 2013 at 07:45 PM
excuse me David we can agree to disagree but when someone states about domestic violence in my community he is insinuating basically that hispanics beat their wives that is not ok and sorry that is something that people should be emotionally charged against, also if you read my comments i said nothing about the parklet, i only responded when people started downgrading a member of my community who has been here for years
David Fonseca (Editor) January 29, 2013 at 07:51 PM
Creper, I understand. That's why I'm asking both you and Nimby to put an end to this conversation. You have every right to stand up for what you believe in. I think you've been able to do that. I'm just saying that this is a comments section about the parklet, and if you're not going to even remotely address that, then the conversation needs to take place elsewhere.
Creper Chimone January 29, 2013 at 07:54 PM
No I don't think you do understand. Parklet.
Nimby pimp January 29, 2013 at 07:56 PM
But teacher! Nimby started it!
Jeff January 29, 2013 at 08:49 PM
When is the actual parklet going to be installed? I was on York this morning and it was empty.
David Fonseca (Editor) January 29, 2013 at 08:50 PM
Saturday, Feb. 2 Jeff.
Jeff January 29, 2013 at 08:54 PM
David, thank you. As a local I am looking forward to this as well as the park on the corner of York and Ave 50.
AJ January 30, 2013 at 07:22 AM
part of its there now you can go check it out the next few days they are installing it from 10-2
Tina Gulotta-Miller February 02, 2013 at 05:41 AM
I look forward to using the parklet it will be a nice addition to York. A big thank-you to Cathi Milligan for all her hard work and the beautiful glass mosaics that will adorn the parklet.
Local business owner February 02, 2013 at 06:01 AM
David. Maybe you need to check again. They have moved the structure west about 6 feet, added more red paint to the curb and removed one parking meter from infront of Bobby's Auto Parts.
Tina Gulotta-Miller February 03, 2013 at 02:38 AM
Saw the parklet today and it is going to be such a great addition to our community. The beautiful mosaics and the exquisite succulents are cheerful and brings a little nature on our boulevard. A great turn out and wonderful day with community, Wendy Gruel and CM Huizar.
Nimby pimp February 03, 2013 at 07:09 AM
I checked it out. A lot funkier than I had pictured it - a handmade, found-object aesthetic that didn't quite come together for me. But as symbol of a community's will and initiative, it is a step in the right direction. Thanks to those who made it happen.

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