Emerging Street Life of So Cal's San Fernando Valley Threatened

L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne reports on the changing nature of Lankershim Blvd., which appears to be at a crossroads between integrating transit into a multi-modal future or turning to outdated planning strategies.

Read Time: 2 minutes

January 6, 2013, 5:00 AM PST

By Erica Gutiérrez


The most vital north-south corridor in the San Fernando Valley “is emphatically on the rise” reports Hawthorne. In the latest entry in his excellent series on L.A.'s boulevards, he looks at how Lankershim Boulevard illustrates how the "hierarchy of Southern California boulevards is being reshuffled by the growth of the region's bus and rail network."

Lankershim Blvd.'s southern end, which is connected to the region's history and wealth, has benefited immensely from the arrival of the Red (subway) and Orange (rapid-bus) lines, with new pedestrian, cultural and economic activity resulting from the investment in infrastructure and redevelopment.

Now, this fledgling pedestrian and commercial activity is being threatened by “plans to build both a $22-million pedestrian tunnel to connect the Red and Orange lines in North Hollywood and a $20-million footbridge over Lankershim at the Universal City subway stop," which though reasonable enough on the surface given pedestrian safety concerns, may have an ulterior motive, he suggests. “What's driving the proposals to remove pedestrians from the boulevard is not just a concern for their safety. It's also a fear of traffic congestion along Lankershim, a worry that all those people on foot are proving an impediment to the free movement of cars.”

Hawthorne asserts that there are far simpler and cheaper solutions to the proposed plans, including: "[widening] the crosswalks, [giving] people more time to get from one side to the other, and [ticketing] drivers who fail to yield.” He also cites studies which show that drivers become more cautious as “more kinds of users crowd together along a boulevard”.

Though Hawthorne concedes that the firm behind the pedestrian bridge plan, Rios Clementi Hale, has “challenged head-on the primacy of the car in Los Angeles and opened up new space for those on foot” in other projects, he calls out the inconsistency of their approach in the Valley, which on the contrary, seems intent on “[mounting] an old-fashioned defense of car culture” “along a boulevard that is otherwise showing the dramatic benefits of an expanding transit network for sidewalk activity and economic development”.

Saturday, December 22, 2012 in Los Angeles Times

Congestion

Redesigning Streets for Livability: A Global View

An excerpt from the introduction of the recent book, “Streets For All: 50 Strategies for Shaping Resilient Cities,” edited by Vinayak Bharne and Shyam Khandekar.

January 18, 2023 - Vinayak Bharne

Aerial view of Bend, Oregon with river and old mill district

Bend Eliminates Parking Minimums

The city is complying with an Oregon state mandate that some cities have challenged in court.

January 20, 2023 - KTVZ

Sunset view over canal and downtown Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale Cuts Water Supply to Nearby Suburb

The city claims it has no responsibility to provide water to the unincorporated Maricopa County community.

January 18, 2023 - The Washington Post

Pedestrians and people on bikes on Atlanta BeltLine multiuse trail

How To Prevent ‘Green Gentrification:’ Lessons from the BeltLine

For one author, the key is focusing on affordable housing from the start.

January 27 - The Conversation

View of stone-paved street with pedestrians and "Farmers Market" neon sign on left and old buildings on right in Seattle, Washington

Push and Pull: The Link Between Walkability and Affordability

The increased demand for walkable urban spaces could make them more and more exclusionary if cities don’t pursue policies to limit displacement and boost affordability.

January 27 - Smart Cities Dive

Rendering of freeway deck over Interstate 10 in El Paso

El Paso Freeway Cap Linked to Road Expansion

A deck reconnecting neighborhoods divided by the interstate is part of a controversial freeway expansion proposal.

January 27 - Smart Cities Dive