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A Win for Pedestrians in the Land of the Automobile

Nate Berg reports on the opening of L.A.'s first effort at a street-to-plaza conversion project in the city's Silver Lake neighborhood, which was inspired by similar street plazas created in New York City and San Francisco.
March 6, 2012, 2pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The project is the result of an effort called Streets for People, being led by Bill Roschen, president of the city's planning commission, with the intention of spreading similar projects throughout a city starved for public gathering spaces. The park's one-year trial is seen as part of a larger movement to rethink L.A.'s streets as a resource for all users (pedestrian, cyclists, buses, etc.), and not just automobiles.

The Streets for People led projects are also seen as connected to county-wide efforts to improve public health through design and planning. Funding and leadership for the project was provided by the L.A. County Department of Public Health (DPH), who, with federal funding, have been able to dedicate both staff and money toward developing new parks and public spaces throughout the city, reports Berg.

"This plaza conversion – even with the associated first-time learning curve – essentially went from idea to ribbon-cutting in a year for a total cost of about $25,000. With a template now in place, future projects will likely be able to come about much faster. Roschen envisions the creation of 30 to 40 plaza projects per year, but Ocañas' [with County DPH] expectations are a bit more reserved. She's hoping three to four will be open by mid-summer."

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Published on Monday, March 5, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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