The Los Angeles City Council on Firday unanimoulsy approved a plan to convert sidewalk space in Highland Park, El Sereno and Downtown to small parks complete with benches, planters and public art.
The council approved a motion co-authored by Councilmember José Huizar to direct the Planning, Transportation and Public Works Departments to support the construction of the parklets. The project would be the first of its kind in the city, Huizar said, and if proven to be a benefit to their respective communities, would pave the way for more being built throughout the city.
"We are, to be honest, a bit behind the ball,'' Huizar said. "Hopefully this is the first of many.''
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."
The York Boulevard parklet, which will be located across a 30-foot-long strip of sidewalk and a designated no-parking zone outside Do It Best Hardware, was
"The important thing about this project is that we approved it in well attended meetings," Arnold said.
Despite the support shown for the parklets throughout those public meetings, which were held as part of Councilmember Huizar's "new York" vision project to spur development in the area, some Patch readers have expressed concerns about the project.
In previous Patch articles about the plan, Patch readers have left comments questioning the safety of the parklets.
Steve Rasmussen-Cancian of Living Streets LA, who was contracted by Huizar to facilitate the planning meetings, said that the parklets would extend six-feet into the street, be constructed from wood and concrete and be surrounded by Caltrans-approved planters.
"We looked carefully at safety and we think these parklets will be safest place to stand on the sidewalk," Rasmussen-Cancian said.
Cathi Milligan, the owner of the on York Boulevad and the Director of NELAart, said that residents need not worry about upkeep of the parklet either, as the organization has signed an agreement promising to maintain it.
"I'm very much looking forward to having this here to help our community," Milligan said. "NELAart has signed the maintenance agreement and will be maintaining the street porch."
The parks could cost up to $50,000 to construct, according to City News Service, and will be paid for out of the $100,000 budget Huizar set aside for "new York" projects.
The payoff for Highland Park, Rasmussen-Cancian said, will be a more pedestrian-friendly street that encourages neighbors to congreate and support local businesses.
"If you just create a small deck on the sidewalk you don't just have a shopping district, you have a community gathering space," he said. "It's an opportunity to go from car dominated streets to people dominated streets."
The two Downtown parklets will be funded by a $75,000 grant from from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation administered by UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs' Complete Streets Initiative.
The grant requires those parklets to be built by the end of the year and to include two pieces of exercise equipment as part of the foundation's effort to prevent diabetes.
Friday's motion also requires that the city identify and support a future parklet project in Council District 15.
According to Ryan Lehman of Living Streets LA, York Boulevard's parklet will be built by Los Angeles Conservation Core and should be completed by Thanksgiving.