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:
Click on the links below to download PDF files of the individual project reports:
Project locations can also be viewed on the interactive map found on the Current Projects page of this website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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
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 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” 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.