Inaugural People St Plaza and Parklet Pre-Installation Existing Conditions Reports now available!

We are proud to share the Pre-Installation Existing Conditions Reports for the six Plaza and Parklet projects approved for installation during the inaugural 2014 application cycle of the official People St program. By tracking trends over time using an established pre- and post-installation evaluation methodology, People St aims to illuminate how new public spaces facilitated by the program can impact the life of the street, evaluate project success, and inform future program direction.

These Pre-Installation Existing Conditions Reports are the first step in the process, offering an in-depth look at livability, safety, and economic prosperity prior to the installation of the Plaza and Parklet projects. Primary and secondary data were collected starting in September 2014. Corresponding post-installation studies will be conducted in 2016 for Plazas and 2017 for Parklets to compare the existing conditions reported in these documents with those observed after the projects have been in place for at least a year. The purpose of the evaluation is not to find a direct causal effect from the projects, but rather to demonstrate how the project may contribute to changes across a variety of indicators, recognizing there are additional factors and fluctuations that may contribute to conditions at these sites.

By looking at the array of existing conditions data, some interesting findings emerge:

  • Mode of arrival: The comparison of merchant perceptions of how their customers arrived to the sites reveals inconsistencies with responses from people who participated in the pedestrian intercept surveys–people actually visiting the site. We are interested to see if this gap shifts after post-installation data is collected.
  • Presence of women is an indicator of the quality and perceived safety of the public realm; differenced in weekday and weekend activity levels for women across the project sites were noticed. We will be interested to see if there is an increase in the presence of women throughout the week post-installation.
  • Severe and fatal collisions: Disparities between the percentage of total collisions (all severity) and percentage of collisions resulting in death or severe injury for people walking are shown. Similar to initial data analysis citywide for Vision Zero, collisions involving people walking at every site make up a disproportionately large percentage of the fatal and severe collisions as compared to other modes. Although people walking make up a small percentage of the total collision incidence (all severity), they make up a large portion of those killed or severely injured.
  • Daily visit frequency: Across all sites, people interviewed in the intercept surveys reported high responses of “daily” to the “how often to you visit this area?” question. In no instance did the “daily” response make up less than half of survey responses. This shows that People St sites are serving not just occasional visitors or shoppers, but often people who may live and/or work in the area, or rely on trips to the site for daily needs.
  • Safety and cleanliness: Survey respondents reported generally favorable perceptions of safety and cleanliness in the People St neighborhoods, which span many different communities across the City, from a dense, urban core and commercial corridor to a historic district and residential neighborhood.
  • Things to watch: The amount of stationary activity in Leimert Park Village Plaza area was considerably higher than other sites (possibly attributable to the adjacent park). A dearth of stationary activity in Bradley Ave Plaza area was recorded. Will both sites see significant increases after project?

Click on the links below to download PDF files of the individual project reports:

Leimert Park Plaza – South Los Angeles

Bradley Avenue Plaza – Pacoima

NoHo Plaza – North Hollywood

Hope Street Parklet – Downtown Los Angeles

3272 Motor Avenue Parklet – Palms

3340 Motor Avenue Parklet – Palms

Project locations can also be viewed on the interactive map found on the Current Projects page of this website.


January 30, 2016 News, Studies and Research Permalink

Broadway Dress Rehearsal Existing Conditions Report Now Available

People St is pleased to announce the release of the Broadway Dress Rehearsal Existing Conditions Report. Evaluation efforts like this are integral to the City’s Great Streets initiative, and facilitate implementation and benchmarking of LADOT’s Strategic Plan and the City’s Mobility Plan 2035.

Evaluation Methodology

LADOT is committed to understanding and reporting on how projects impact neighborhoods, and evaluating their overall effectiveness in achieving project goals. By using established metrics that illuminate how new public spaces and street design impact the life of the street, we can track trends over time, evaluate project performance, and inform future program direction.

People St has developed a robust methodology for pre- and post-installation evaluation and data collection: the People St Project Evaluation Manual and Fieldwork Toolset. [PDF] This document contains our standard approaches to methodical observations and data gathering at project sites, both before and after installation. Analysis of these data allow us to describe changes in safety, mobility, accessibility, and economic vitality. We also capture perceptions of the neighborhood and the project itself from people walking or bicycling in the project area and local business operators.

A New Milestone Reached with the Broadway Dress Rehearsal

This week, we celebrate the completion of the first report based in LADOT’s evaluation methodology: the Broadway Dress Rehearsal Existing Conditions Report. [PDF]

This report offers an in-depth look at safety, public life and economic indicators existing prior to the installation of the Broadway Dress Rehearsal. Data were collected starting in January 2014, just in advance of the project’s installation, which was completed in August.

Here is a preview of some of the interesting findings from this snapshot of Broadway taken before the installation of the Dress Rehearsal project:

    • Pedestrians generally outnumber vehicles on Broadway. There were more people walking along Broadway over the course of just 6 hours than motor vehicles traveling along the corridor over a 24 hour period on the same weekend day.

    • From 2007 to 2012, 120 intersection and 94 midblock injury collisions were reported along Broadway (involving people driving, walking and bicycling).

    -Pedestrian and bicycle injury collisions have been increasing.
    Most midblock collisions were caused by unsafe lane changes and unsafe speed by drivers.

    • Vehicular speeds and volumes differ for northbound vs. southbound traffic. Traffic speeds were higher and volumes lower going southbound; traffic speeds were lower and volumes higher northbound.

    • Excessive driver speeding behavior was observed. Almost one-quarter of drivers were speeding heading southbound on Broadway on the weekday studied.

What’s Next?

A corresponding post-installation study (under separate cover) will be conducted in Fall 2015 to compare the existing conditions reported in this document with those observed after the project has been in place for a year.

Hungry for more data? LADOT has also been conducting pre-installation data collection around the seven plaza and parklet projects approved earlier in 2014 under the first-ever application cycle of the People St program. Stay tuned for even more data from People St!

People St would like to thank our colleagues in our LADOT Survey Division who participated in vehicular volume and speed capture, and the consultant team who worked tirelessly on this groundbreaking effort for LADOT.

 


November 25, 2014 News, Studies and Research Permalink

Recruiting Volunteers to study NELA Parklets

The York Boulevard and Huntington Boulevard Parklets are two of the first four pilot parklet projects in Los Angeles.  Parklet Studies is partnering with Cal Poly Pomona to conduct post-occupancy studies at both sites for LADOT.  Fieldwork will take place through October 2013.  To sign up, please go to tinyurl.com/Parklet-Studies-NeLa

UCLA and Parklet Studies release Spring Street Parklet Evaluation

The Spring Street Parklet Evaluation examines how the new projects – initiated by DLANC and maintained by the Historic Downtown BID – are being used and perceived by the neighborhood.  Major findings?  Pedestrians, parklet users, and local business operators think the parklets are a great local asset that the BID is taking great care of them.  For more information, visit The Lewis Center website, or download the report here.

Partnering with Business Improvement Districts…

Partnering with Business Improvement Districts to Create ‘Streets for People’ Parklet Plazas in Los Angeles” by Gary Benjamin provides fresh guidance on the creation of optimum community partnerships.  The establishes the qualities belonging to a community partner and to the partnership agreement that are most important to a successful parklet project.1 The study examines individual BID-managed parklet project cases in New York City and San Francisco by conducting interviews with BID directors and staff, as well as public agency personnel in the NYC Plaza Program and SF Pavement to Parks. The study also establishes the applicability of the lessons learned from parklet projects in other cities.

Street Studies in Northeast LA

People St would like to highlight the recent study, Highland Park Next Generation: Reviving Street Culture in Northeast Los Angeles.  The study was undertaken as a Master’s thesis project in Cal Poly’s Urban and Regional Planning department by Elizabeth Gallardo, now an Assistant Bicycle Coordinator in the LADOT Bicycle Planning and Outreach Program.

Elizabeth studied York Boulevard for over a year, closely observing the physical life of the street including cultural happenings, sentiments of residents and business owners, and traffic patterns.  The research explored the relationship between street revitalization and the cultural and environmental dynamics that motivate and encourage community-driven placemaking. Interviews, reviews of historical documents, and policy analysis helped to identify those factors affected the street’s development, particularly looking at the local arts community, small business development, transportation policy, and the human scale of the built environment. The study found that a general neighborhood zeitgeist, street configuration, affordability, local anchor businesses, Council Office supported improvement, and the physical character of the corridor were some of the most significant factors leading to placemaking and corridor revitalization in Northeast LA.

Elizabeth’s research into the social, economic, and physical life of York Boulevard has provided her a unique perspective for her current work at LADOT, establishing a Bicycle Friendly Business District program in the City of Los Angeles.  Understanding how culture, economics, and physical design is key to invigorating our streets, making them a safe, desirable, and engaging place for people.  Besides working at LADOT, Elizabeth enjoys promoting LA’s urban wilderness, engaging in community planning, teaching, and writing about the nexus where streets and people meet.

For more information on LADOT’s Bike Friendly Business District program, contact Elizabeth at: Elizabeth.Gallardo@lacity.org

Preliminary Economic Impact Report for Sunset Triangle

Parklet Studies released a Preliminary Report for the Economic Impact Study at Sunset Triangle Plaza. This study involved interviews with business operators at and around the Sunset Triangle Plaza for four successive quarters after the Plaza opened.  Here are some major preliminary findings from the study:

“In general, the study found positive perceptions of the Plaza.  Throughout the initial six-month period of monitoring and surveys, over 80% of surveyed merchants confirmed that they would ‘recommend a Plaza project to other neighborhoods [or business districts].’”

 Perceived Impacts:  “A majority of surveyed businesses reported perceived increases in business performance after Plaza installation, at both the 1-month and 6-month survey dates.  A majority of participants also reported a higher volume of sales from increased ‘foot traffic’ (or ‘walk-ins’).”

Business Confidence: “In general, responses indicated high levels of business confidence.  Confidence was measured by asking merchants about anticipated changes to revenue, debt, profit, number of employees, and number of customers for the year subsequent to Plaza installation.”

“The majority of businesses within the two-block catchment area anticipate an increase of the size of their customer base; an increase in revenue; and an increase in profits.  At the same time, most merchants anticipate either no change or a decrease in their debt.  This indicates the optimism of businesses within the two-block catchment area surrounding the Plaza.”

The complete preliminary findings report can be downloaded here.

UCLA Releases “Reclaiming the Right of Way”

The UCLA Luskin’s Complete Streets Initiative released a comprehensive guidebook to planning, building and maintaining “parklets,”—small parks created in urban areas from the conversion of parking spots, alleyways and other underutilized spaces for cars into places for people.

The report, Reclaiming the Right-of-Way,” compiles best practices from cities in the U.S and Canada that have implemented parklet projects in their communities. These projects, which enhance neighborhoods through low-cost, small-scale inventions, were pioneered in San Francisco but have also appeared in New York, Philadelphia, and Vancouver, B.C., among other cities.Download the full document here.

“Experimenting with the Margin: Parklets and Plazas as Catalysts in Community and Government”

“Experimenting with the Margin: Parklets and Plazas as Catalysts in Community and Government” was published this month by the University of Southern California this month.  This graduate thesis from student Robin Abad Ocubillo resulted from interviews with over sixty parklet and plaza stakeholders in New York, San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles.  Parklets and Plazas – besides being novel new open spaces where communities gather – actually play a huge role in bringing neighbors together through the process of planning, fundraising, design and implementation.  From the Abstract:

Two related  typologies  of  small-scale,  experimental  urban  design  have  emerged  in  recent  years  as  a  synthesis  of  community  action  and  progressive  governmental  experimentation:  the  Parklet  and  the  Pedestrian  Plaza. The  Parklet  occupies  curbside  parking  spaces  while  the  Pedestrian  Plaza  reclaims  excess  roadway,  often  at  irregular  intersections. While  the  typologies  differ  in  physical  form,  both  emerge  from  a  common  thrust  of  experimental  action  redressing  the  urban  fabric  and  environment. Together,  these  two  typologies  –  and  the  city  programs  created  to  facilitate  their  implementation  –  begin  to  define  a  process  of  Heuristic  Urbanism:  a  collaborative  practice  that  engages  urban  design  through  provisional  programs  and  projects  that  are  continually  self-evaluating. This  thesis  illustrates  how  the  Heuristic  Urbanism  of  Parklets  and  Pedestrian  Plazas  necessitates  innovation  within  city  government  through  the  assimilation  of  grassroots  initiatives. A  literature  review  outlines  the  theoretical  and  practical  contexts  from  which  Heuristic  Urbanism  emerges;  suggests  the  evolutionary  heritage  of  Parklets  and  Pedestrian  Plazas;  and  examines  the  range  of  assumptions,  expectations,  and  outcomes  engendered  by  the  new  typologies  and  their  relatives. The  thesis  then  leverages  interviews  with  over  65  individual  stakeholders  from  government,  advocacy  groups,  design  and  business  communities  in  four  California  cities  which  are  in  various  stages  of  advancing  Parklet  and  Pedestrian  Plaza  programs…

The  discussion  then  moves  from  overarching  examination  of  program  development  to  circumstances  at  the  site  and  neighborhood  scale;  identifying  common  physical  and  social  conditions  as  pre-requisites  for  Parklet  and  Plaza  viability. This  set  of  conditions  is  generated  from  stakeholder  interviews  and  correlated  with  the  literature  review. Here  the  thesis  articulates  a  coherent  practical  framework  for  evaluating  future  potential  sites  of  intervention;  engaging  the  dialectic  between  action,  research,  analysis,  and  refinement  that  characterizes  Heuristic  Urbanism.  The  study  concludes  with  a  discussion  on  the  long-term  implications  of  Heuristic  Urbanism  for  urban  design  and  planning  practice. Significant  and  recurring  themes  emerge  from  the  interviews;  defining  a  territory  which addresses  public-private  tensions,  the  role  of  design  professionals  in  activism  and  governance,  and  the  catalytic  potential  of  Heuristic  Urbanism  for  re‐adapting  both  the  urban  fabric  and  modes  of  its  management.

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