Eric Garcetti takes a picture with the Downtown Los Angeles skyline in the background (Photo: EricGarcetti.com)
By Tom De Simone
Dear Fellow Angelenos,
I just returned from another evening of phone banking for Eric Garcetti and since I’ve been calling complete strangers, trying to convince them to vote for Garcetti for Mayor, I figured I should certainly reach out to my friends as well. We are fast approaching a mayoral election (Tues. May 21) in which the media would have you think there is no use even bothering to vote because the two candidates are mere carbon copies with little to distinguish them. Yet, while there are several similarities between Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, there are key differences that make this race important and one in which I urge you to vote for Eric Garcetti to be our next Mayor of Los Angeles.
This snapshot I took in Chelsea of a typical scene in New York shows how wonderful a city can be when it is pedestrian oriented
Every time I visit New York, I’m like a kid in a candy store. Why? I’m an urbanist at heart and New York is brimming with urbanism. No, it’s exploding with urbanism! I love walking and being a pedestrian free to roam the city, and whenever I’m here in New York (usually for a week at a time), I feel liberated and empowered as I dart through the energetic streets, slide my MetroCard on my way down into the ubiquitous subway stations, and jaywalk whenever and wherever I please. The way New York and other East Coast cities are built, compact and mixed-use, encourage a thriving pedestrian culture. What are some key ideas that we can bring back from a city like New York that can continue to help Los Angeles (and specifically Downtown LA) develop that wonderful pedestrian urban lifestyle and lessen our dependence (read: handicap) on automobiles?
Posted in bicycle oriented, community involvement, downtown los angeles, education, environmentally green, Ideas for Downtown LA, parks, pedestrian oriented, public spaces, smart growth
Tagged flatiron district new york, gansevoort plaza meatpacking district, gansevoort plaza new york, greeley square new york, herald square new york, pedestrian plazas downtown la, pedestrian plazas los angeles, pedestrian plazas new york, road diets downtown la, road diets los angeles, road diets manhattan, road diets new york
Some ideas on how to bolster pedestrian connections — between City West and the rest of Downtown LA — include making the 110 overpasses safer and more attractive for pedestrians (mainly Wilshire Blvd and 7th Street)
As Downtown LA continues to evolve and mature into a multi-faceted urban center that’s not only a commercial hub but a bona fide residential community, it becomes even more important that we focus on creating an environment that is pedestrian friendly making it enjoyable and convenient for residents to live, work, and play in. That enhancement to the pedestrian realm — wider sidewalks, narrower streets, more bike lanes, etc. — in Downtown LA is needed to create the strong walkable connections that eventually spawns a walking culture.
Posted in architecture, art and culture, bicycle oriented, city west, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, environmentally green, financial district, Ideas for Downtown LA, pedestrian oriented, public spaces, smart growth
One of the first redesign options for Pershing Square is to get rid of the walls to increase visibility and accessibility, returning it closer to the original form seen here in 1965 (Photo: LAPL)
Pershing Square has gone through several major overhauls since its inception in 1866 when it was then called La Plaza Abaja, or “The Lower Plaza.” In its current state (another major overhaul designed by Ricardo Legorreta and completed in 1992), purple, yellow and beige walls surround most of the square with giant pink cylinders lining the wall on Hill St, blocking accessibility and visual connections. In addition, long driveways on all four sides of the park — leading cars into an underground parking garage — run parallel to the sidewalk (instead of space saving perpendicular driveways) creating uncrossable rifts between the sidewalk and square. It’s as if the park was designed deliberately to cater to the automobile with the intention of keeping people out of the park.
Posted in architecture, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, education, environmentally green, financial district, guest writer, historic core, Ideas for Downtown LA, parks, pedestrian oriented, pershing square, public spaces, smart growth
Tagged bryant park new york, friends of pershing square, pershing square downtown la, pershing square dtla, pershing square los angeles, pershing square pictures, union square san francisco
Post WWII, Grand Central Terminal faded away from the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and was almost demolished in the 60s, but today, the station is now more relevant than ever as one of New York’s top destinations — a path LA Union Station will hopefully follow
I just got back to LA after spending a week in New York. Every time I visit America’s largest urban center, I am inspired by the incredible urbanism that defines the city. The infrastructure and built environment, mix of architecture, diversity of businesses, and strong pedestrian culture never ceases to amaze me. For us in LA, as we continue to press for change — improving our own urbanism in a city still dominated by a suburban, car-oriented mentality — it would behoove us to look at successful models and examples from other cities that could be applied to Downtown LA. One of those prime examples is Grand Central Terminal in Midtown at 42nd Street, which has experienced an amazing turnaround from irrelevancy and near demolition in the 1960s to one of the greatest rail stations in the world today.
Posted in architecture, bicycle oriented, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, environmentally green, Ideas for Downtown LA, mass transportation, mixed-use development, pedestrian oriented, retail, smart growth, union station
Tagged grand central manhattan, grand central new york, grand central station new york, grand central terminal new york, union station downtown la, union station los angeles
It has been 50 years since the last streetcar ran on any street in Los Angeles and now we will be bringing it back
As an ardent supporter of the LA Streetcar (read my op-ed piece here), I am elated by this great game-changing news! Just announced from the official LA Streetcar Twitter page at about 8:40pm, @lastreetcar tweeted: “You wanted streetcar. You got it. Unofficial results are in: 73% YES! Thank you #DTLA!!!!
#WeWantStreetcar.” According to LA Streetcar, only registered voters in the Community Facilities District who reside within three blocks of the proposed streetcar route voted in the mail-in-ballot election with over 10,000 registered voters. Because of the relatively fast construction process associated with streetcars, downtowners could be riding in the streetcar by 2016.
Please check out the official LA Streetcar press release below for full complete details:
Posted in community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, environmentally green, mass transportation, pedestrian oriented, smart growth
Tagged downtown la streetcar, la streetcar, la streetcar downtown la, la streetcar passes, los angeles streetcar
An updated rendering provided by Wood Partners of the new 22-story 290-unit apartment tower rising at the corner of 8th and Hope in Downtown LA
In February 2012, we reported that Wood Partners filed permits with the City of LA to begin construction on their new 22-story 290-unit apartment tower in Downtown LA. Then early last month, ground broke on the new project at the SW corner of 8th and Hope with a timeline to finish construction in 2014. The developer of the new mixed-use urban infill project, Wood Partners, is a national developer with a construction portfolio totaling $5.5 billion. Not only will the project add tremendous value to the immediate neighborhood by activating the corner with pedestrian and commercial activity — there will be 5,000 square feet of retail space at the corner — but Wood Partners is also reaching out to the community to get involved with the project through their “8th and Hope” blog. One of the first outreach efforts entails getting feedback from the downtown community to name the new apartment tower!
Posted in architecture, community involvement, downtown los angeles, financial district, mixed-use development, real estate, south park
Tagged 8th and hope downtown la, wood partners 8th and hope, wood partners downtown la, wood partners downtown los angeles, wood partners dtla, wood partners los angeles
The deadline to register to vote for the LA Streetcar in Downtown LA has passed. Now registered voters within Downtown will be mailing in their votes by mail – to ensure the ballots are received on time, they should be mailed in by November 28. What direction future developments will take in Downtown LA will depend on whether residents see the value of the streetcar circulating pedestrians around town — promoting a walking culture and decreasing our dependency on the automobile — or allowing the status quo to remain perversely slanted toward a car-oriented mentality. This is LA after all, right? Wrong. I believe that most Downtown residents embrace the idea of urbanism and its car-lite or even car-free tenets.
Posted in community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, education, environmentally green, events, mass transportation, pedestrian oriented, politics, smart growth
Tagged la streetcar downtown la, vote yes on la streetcar
In honor of Streetcar and the upcoming vote in November, we hope you’ll join us for a fun family picnic & movie night at the newly unveiled Grand Park – which just so happens to be one of the many Downtown destinations that’ll be accessible from the proposed Streetcar route.
Posted in art and culture, civic center, community involvement, downtown los angeles, education, entertainment, events, parks, pedestrian oriented, public spaces
Tagged la streetcar downtown la, la streetcar dtla, los angeles streetcar
A new public elementary school called Metro Charter is slated to open next fall 2013 in response to a growing number of parents with children who live downtown and don’t want to move to the suburbs
It’s no secret that Downtown LA’s full-time resident population has been growing – reaching almost 50,000 today. When downtown first started attracting residents over a decade ago, most were young singles and couples attracted to the unique urban landscape that only Downtown LA could offer in the region. The skyscrapers and subways, the dynamic commercial street grid, the rich history and architecture. However, many of those singles and couples who were the pioneers of downtown — who are now grownup themselves — have become parents with children. According to the DCBID 2011 demographic survey, there are approximately 2,700 children under the age of 5 who live downtown. And that’s the conundrum that many parents face today living in Downtown LA: How do we continue to live and be a part of the community we love (and helped build) but also have access to high quality education for our children?