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More Innovative Infrastructure Coming to York Blvd.

Pocket Plazas won't be completed by the end of the month, as originally hoped, but city appears supportive of projects.

Development advocates in Highland Park took another step today in establishing York Boulevard as ground zero for innovative street infrastructure in Los Angeles.

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.

The innovative pocket plaza plan was hatched by a group of community volunteers at sub-committeeoverseen by Rasmussen-Cancian throughout the month of January.

The plazas would resemble mini-patios, complete with benches, tables and padded Astroturf, where pedestrians could gather after an afternoon of strolling along the developing business district.

Instead of occupying sidewalk space, though, the pocket plazas would be seated in city-owned vehicle parking spots.

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 Mondary afternoon that the project may take up to six months to complete.

"They weren't willing to do something right away, but they committed to doing something as expedited as possible," Cancian-Rasmussen said. "They wouldn't put any dates on anything, but it looks like it's probably doing to take three to six month to get it done."

Despite the delay, Rasmussen-Cancian said the community's full court press to have the pocket plazas completed before the end of February played a major role in winning Kim's and Paco's support for the project.

"They couldn't say yes to doing the project right way, but the alternative they offered, only because of the push we've all made together,  they said 'yes we can do this, something that's never been done in the city before,'" Rasmussen-Cancian said. "They agreed to come out and see the sites with us and make it as expedited a process as possible."

Rasmussen-Cancian added that the two pocket plazas on York Boulevard would be considered pilot projects, upon which a future pocket plaza ordinance could be based.

"They really embraced the idea that these two projects would be pilots for the ordinance and for this kind of work citywide," he said.

Also, because of the the intense planning efforts put in by local architects Kagan Taylor and Justin Rice, owners of on Echo Street, the design of the plazas is essentially complete and ready to be built.

"Kagan and Justin were up until about 3 a.m. on Sunday night putting plans together because we were thinking this was going to be built within a week or so," Rasmussen Cancian said.

Local Business owner Cathi Milligan, owner of the , which has been home to many of the York Boulevard planning meetings, said the sub-committee now needed to focus on other short-term projects that could be completed in advance of the pocket plazas in order to keep the community engaged in the redevelopment process.

"While we're waiting on this, we've got to be able to tell the community, we've got these plans for sidewalk benches, or new trash cans in the works," Milligan said.

xoxo February 08, 2011 at 05:51 AM
Great idea....maybe some vacant lots could be used for these plaza's. There's three that really stick out on York (York/Avenue 50, York/54 by laundry repair, York/Avenue 54 next to Seafood Restaurant).
Jon February 08, 2011 at 07:52 AM
This sounds great; similar to what New York did with painting out sections of Broadway to make pedestrian-friendly spaces. This, along with the bike corral at Ave. 50 and the new bike lanes, will serve to make for an amazing new York Blvd!
PizzaTurbo2000 February 08, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Great. Now, how about Fig, south of York?
David Fonseca February 08, 2011 at 06:18 PM
I agree. A bike lane between United Bank and the Southwest museum would be great, as biking that stretch of road is treacherous. It also seems to me that all bike lanes in Highland Park and Mount Washington should lead to the Gold Line stops. Also, congrats to your Packers, Steffen. Sorry we couldn't make it to the party!

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