Most city agencies operate in silos; little coordination and even less cooperation among agencies occurs, even on projects being worked on simultaneously by different departments. The City of Los Angeles recently took a bold step towards shifting this paradigm to a more collaborative method of inter-agency engagement and community partnership. Emboldened by the approval of a Street Design Standards document to guide the future configuration and pedestrian amenities for downtown streets, crafted through an interagency collaborative process, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) decided to offer training to city staff as to how to work together to make similar improvements to other LA streets and public spaces in a revitalizing downtown core/district.
Gathering staff from the seven CRA planning regions around the city, as well as the Bureau of Engineering, City Planning and City DOT, the CRA hired PPS to develop and deliver a Placemaking academy-style training program. The training focused around existing public spaces and key streets in the City of Los Angeles that are slated for investment and the implementation of capital improvements. PPS facilitated “Streets as Places” and “How to Turn Place Around” training programs to augment and expand upon CRA’s current planning and design process. PPS also held an additional “Streets as Places” webinar in conjunction with the event.
This work marked another important step in PPS and CRA’s ongoing collaborations, which initiated with “Live on Hollywood!,” a project that evaluated several metro stations in downtown LA; continued with a technical advisory role in Federal Transportation Administration funded work on developing processes for engaging communities in transportation planning; and focused on two demonstration public space planning projects in Panorama City and Chinatown. All of these efforts underscore the importance of designing and managing streets and public spaces as well as transit stops that are people-friendly, important “places” that reach out to the communities they serve in myriad ways.
The CRA is now focusing on building on the energy to facilitate a “Streets Renaissance” on the order of what we lead in New York City.
Transit is a component, but by no means the extent, of your experience at a station that is a place. Memorable and enjoyable stations and stops that create value for neighborhoods are perfectly attainable. In fact, a transit station or stop can serve much more than a transportation function; it can be a setting for community interaction, a place that fosters a diversity of activities.