By Stephen Kane
It’s no longer a secret: DTLA is on the verge of becoming a great urban core once again. Promise and opportunity abound in this rapidly growing community, but so do the challenges that we must address in order to keep downtown on the right path and direction. As we continue to grow and evolve, we will increasingly wrestle with who we are and what we aspire to be.
I’m running for neighborhood council to do my part to help answer those questions. I care immensely about the direction of DTLA and being on the neighborhood council is an opportunity for me to voice the community’s concerns with the City, and a platform for making positive things happen in DTLA. I also want to get more residents engaged, starting with the election this Thursday 12-8pm at Central Library (Don’t forget you’ll need proof of residency, i.e. Photo ID w/DTLA address or Photo ID + Mail w/DTLA Address).
The history between me and DTLA go way back. I’m LA born & raised and spent a lot of time downtown as a kid when DTLA was still considered a “scary” place. Both my parents worked in redevelopment — my mom worked for the CRA from the 70s to the 90s and helped pave the way for revitalizing Little Tokyo — so the topic of DTLA and its seemingly ever-evolving future was normal dinner table conversation. I’ve seen us go from ghost town to the thriving and diverse community we are now, and I want to see that momentum continue to grow.
I want to see more local businesses thrive, create more open space and cleaner-safer-greener streets, more public transportation options, and positive realistic solutions to our chronic homelessness, all while preserving authentic DTLA and with a keen eye towards affordability for residents and cost-effectiveness for the City.
I’ve spent the last few months talking to literally hundreds of you about your needs, concerns, and ideas for DTLA, and have thought long and hard about the feedback I’m hearing. This post represents the intersection of my vision and the general sentiments I’ve gleaned from listening to the diverse range of DTLAers.
Homelessness is by far the greatest challenge facing DTLA. And for good reason – it embodies many of the difficult social issues we confront daily, including mental illness, substance abuse, basic human decency in a civilized society and public safety. We can’t be a great urban core if we don’t rehabilitate Skid Row. I think it is critically important to seriously begin the discussion instead of viewing the issue as the pink elephant in the room. I don’t pretend to have a silver bullet answer to such a vexing set of challenges. But I am committed to doing my part to listen to your ideas, learn from other communities with successful programs, and we must hold our City and County officials accountable. I challenge you to do your part by keeping the discussion going. To read more about my thoughts on homelessness in DTLA, please check out my Tumblr page.
Urban Planning & Design
Urban planning & design is perhaps our most exciting opportunity here in Los Angeles. And for good reason – we get to essentially rebuild a major world city. It’s time LA lived up to its potential as the nation’s West Coast hub. Let’s use that opportunity to create a strong downtown that’s safe and sustainable, clean, and with high aesthetic and artistic standards thatreflect our creative energy, diversity, and character while properly preserving and respecting the historic integrity of DTLA. Revitalizing Broadway is a perfect example.
In addition to creating more open green space, let’s further utilize existing park space by adding more programming and making our parks more family friendly. Let’s repair our cracked sidewalks and plant more trees. Let’s put urban gardens on bare rooftops lowering energy costs for our buildings. Let’s get creative and ask private companies to sponsor more services like adding dog waste stations and 10×10 foot grass patches in parking lots. Let’s light up our dark streets and widen our sidewalks to encourage pedestrian activity. Oh, and of course, let’s add more protected bike lanes. In short, let’s make DTLA feel like a truly sustainable and liveable community that residents will embrace and simply enjoy!
We need to change L.A.’s excessive driving culture: our smog, horrible traffic, and long boring commutes. And DTLA can lead the way as the model for the region as we continue to grow. Let’s see more-DASH-more-often so we can enjoy a night out without driving a mile to dinner. Let’s coordinate and organize our plethora of parking structures so that those who do drive into the city know exactly where to park if necessary. Let’s keep pushing for installing the long-delayed bike rental kiosks and continue to support the DTLA streetcar project. Let’s do all of this to better connect DTLA.
Redesign Pershing Square
The biggest specific complaint I get centers around the infamous 5th & Broadway-Pershing Square corridor. We all know it’s more than patty cake going on out there. We need to do two things: (1) continue to press our police department to station a more persistent and visible police presence and (2) redevelop Pershing Square so it becomes something DTLA residents and visitors actually use, which would also establish a critical mass to help change the overall environment for the surrounding area. I’m not an urban planner or architect, but I do think a redesigned Pershing Square should be:
- More open & inviting (take down those walls)
- Provide space for live music and events
- Provide plenty of room for dogs
- Provide a playground for our DTLA children
- Have more food/beverage vendors to liven things up (because you want ice cream in the park on a hot day!)
Finally, let’s get to know each other better. Let’s have more community building events and fun activities like building-to-building dodgeball and bowling leagues for instance. And let’s get that Budokan community rec center built sooner rather than later. So when we walk down the street, it’ll feel even more like the home we never want to leave.
We can do great things out here as long as we have the courage to confront real problems and the imagination and open-mindedness to solve them. I hope you join me in making it happen. And please remember to vote for me this Thursday, April 3rd 12-8 p.m. at the LA Central Library (please bring proof of residency, i.e. Photo ID w/DTLA address or Photo ID + Mail w/DTLA Address). Sign up to stay in the loop. — Stephen Kane
Check out Kane4DTLA.com for more info about Stephen Kane.