Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Do Real Planning #1: Demand a Walkable City

Hollywood Walkabout
Originally uploaded by CD-13.
Last week, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission unveiled a 14-point policy agenda to set the city on a course towards sustainability, using Planning Director Gail Goldberg’s mantra-“DO REAL PLANNING” as an acronym for the platform.

I am encouraged by the Commission's passion and commitment to city-building. Their agenda speaks to me and to the work that my office has been doing in the Thirteenth Council District during my tenure.

Over the next two weeks, I will write on this blog about my thoughts on each of these planning principles through the lens of my own district work and the potential for citywide direction along these lines.

The first principle is DEMAND A WALKABLE CITY. This principle may seem like an anathema to our car-oriented city, but Los Angeles has always been a great city for walking, and as we have filled in our sprawling spaces, this has become more and more apparent. I walk in my own neighborhood of Echo Park a few days a week. We are blessed with parks, a great lake, parks, and a central business district that are all interesting to and convenient for pedestrians.

One of the ways we have been trying to make all of the streets of our council district friendly to pedestrians is by organizing walkabouts. Our first, the Great Hollywood Walkabout, was an event I hosted last year to engage the community in a discussion about the pedestrian experience in Hollywood. More than one hundred volunteers joined me on a Saturday in June to walk the streets of Hollywood armed with tape measures, cameras, and a careful eye with which to survey our street and sidewalk conditions. This information has helped influence the work that we are doing to update the Hollywood Community Plan to ensure that city-wide street standards are not applied to our existing street grid to unnecessarily widen streets and narrow sidewalks.

Our report on the Great Hollywood Walkabout is here (pdf). Read it and possibly be inspired to do the same ... especially if you are in Northeast L.A. For on Saturday June 9th, we are having the Great Glassell Park and Cypress Park Walkabout. Come join us!