EL Mercado and York Park Grand Opening

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Folks had a rare opportunity to enjoy strolling York Boulevard free of cars during the York Park grand opening.

Yesterday Highland Park enjoyed a very special event, the grand opening of the long anticipated York Park, located on the corner of York Boulevard and Avenue 50. Planned in conjunction with what has great potential to be a recurring street fair on York Boulevard between Avenue 50 and Avenue 52, El Mercado, it was a memorable day for all in attendance.

IMG_1944Before the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the York Park, Councilmember Jose Huizar detailed the hard work it took to get to this day. The park’s grand opening reflects years of meetings and dedicated community engagement. Huizar also took the opportunity to share how proud he is of improvements that have been made over the years in the district, including the development the neighborhood’s bicycle network and piloting of small-scale innovations for more walkable streets (now formally adopted in the city’s People Street program).

Senator De Leon spoke of the park’s importance as a symbol of environmental justice. He noted that some westside neighborhoods have front yards larger many homes in the area and that every neighborhood deserves access to parks, particularly so that children have a safe spaces to play and grow.

Congressmember Becerra, aware that children were very eager to start enjoying the park, was brief in his remarks but recounted his advocacy for the community on the federal level to help secure funds for civic improvements such as the York Park.

Assemblymember Gomez, who walked to the event from his Eagle Rock home, said he is proud to live in a walkable neighborhood and frequents the bustling York Boulevard corridor often to patronize local businesses. He said he is pushing for further improvements to make the district he represents more livable, with a focus on Los Angeles River revitalization and improved bicycle infrastructure connecting to the River.

While most attention was rightfully dedicated to the York Park opening, here are some additional highlights from the event looking at the street fair along the two block stretch of York Boulevard:

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York Boulevard was truly a street for people.

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Colorful sidewalk chalking .

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Some of the businesses open during the event benefitted from the additional foot traffic.

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This was the scene at the edge of the street fair. Traffic was re-routed onto Meridian Avenue and Lincoln Avenue, streets paralleling York Boulevard.

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York Boulevard felt more like space for neighbors to gather than an thoroughfare to rush through.

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Crowd gathers around the park as it finally opens. Note the amusing sign overhead.

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The city’s first bike corral was filled beyond capacity. Many other parked bikes dotted the street fair.

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One of the delightful sights during the event was seeing bikes with child-seats.

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The focus may have been on the children, but the day was truly for everyone. Here an elderly couple takes a pause and does some people watching, utilizing the city’s first public parklet

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Old roadway marking visible in the center of the street (the dark grey lines in the middle) reminds us of a time not long ago when York Boulevard was two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane at intersections. That York Boulevard would be populated with people like this would be unimaginable just ten years ago.

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The intersection of York Boulevard and Avenue 51 became a communal outdoor seating area reminiscent of Downtown’s Bring Back Broadway initiative.

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By all accounts, the celebratory day was a huge success. A question many had before the day was over was “when can this happen again?”

A big thank you to all who made the day possible!

(ps. No pictures of the park in this post but some great pictures can be found on twitter, including this one, taken from the roof of the building across the street. Also, see The Eastsider LA’s coverage for some additional pictures of the park.)

York Boulevard Park Nears Completion

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In 20 days, this lot on the corner of Avenue 50 and York Boulevard will be a public park.

On Saturaday, February 21, a long anticipated park on the corner of Avenue 50 and York Boulevard, currently under construction, will finally open. The day will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting and a street fair as the most ambitious part of the York Boulevard Vision Plan, a comprehensive and community-driven plan for improvements along the boulevard, comes to life. However, as we count down the days to what is now an inevitability, it is important to remember that four years ago the park was just an idea and its location an empty, privately-owned lot.

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Learning From A State Route

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Colorado Boulevard’s crosswalks were upgraded to high-visibility “continental crosswalks” last year. More commonly known as “zebra crosswalks,” this simple change to the boulevard has made crossing the street safer for pedestrians.

There is broad consensus in Eagle Rock that the neighborhood’s main commercial streets, Colorado Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard, should be more pedestrian friendly to encourage greater levels of foot traffic and local shopping. While some segments of these boulevards are quite pleasant to be on, there are other portions that can be rather unfriendly for people on foot. What Eagle Rock needs are boulevards that are pleasant and provide a nice shopping experience throughout.

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Eagle Rock Walking Tour on November 23

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On Sunday, November 23, Walk Eagle Rock will be hosting a walking tour around the neighborhood to explore the town’s history on foot. The family-friendly 5 mile route will be a shorter (and slightly modified) version of the walk led two months ago in August.

Below are the details, and feel free to RSVP to the event on Facebook:

Community and Civic Engagement in Eagle Rock

  • Date: Sunday, November 23, 2014
  • Time: 10:00AM-12:00PM
  • Location: 2035 Colorado Blvd (Eagle Rock City Hall)
  • Walking Tour Length: 5 miles
  • Event is free and open to the public. Restrooms/water fountains will be available at mile 1 and 3.
  • Attendees are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring cash for lunch after the walk.
  • Questions? Email us at walkeaglerock@gmail.com

We hope to see you there and stay tuned for additional walking tours exploring different parts of the neighborhood in 2015!

For a More Crossable Colorado Boulevard

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Colorado Boulevard before it went on a road diet (left) and after (right)

It may be hard to believe, but it has already been a year since Colorado Boulevard went on a “road diet,” gaining new crosswalks and buffered bike lanes in the process. The road diet, for those who may no remember, was officially completed in October 2013.

The changes along Colorado Boulevard have primarily been championed by the local non-profit organizations Take Back The Boulevard (TBTB) and The Eagle Rock Association (TERA), but reflect only one aspect of a grander vision to transform the boulevard into a delightful pedestrian-friendly commercial street.

While Colorado Boulevard gained two crosswalks during the road diet last year, TBTB would still like to see more crosswalks. Anecdotal experience along the boulevard suggests many of the shoppers and restaurant-goers feel the same way. There remain a few key intersections where pedestrians continuously cross the street to reach their destination. This post will highlight where these intersections are and explore the impact crosswalks would have.

Colorado Boulevard and Vincent Ave

Whether it is to have brunch at Le Petit Beaujolais in the mornings, or picking up pizza from Casa Bianca in the evenings, this intersection is used throughout the day. The reason, based on observation, is that the availability of parking on the north and south side of the Colorado Boulevard fluctuates. Sometimes there is more parking available on the north side of the street but one’s destination is on the south side. Conversely, sometimes there is parking on the south side but one’s destination is on the north side. A crosswalk here seems appropriate and well-warrented to encourage a more pedestrian-friendly Colorado Boulevard.

Unfortunately, for any crosswalk to be installed, some curbside parking must be lost. This is because adequate sight-lines must be provided so drivers can see pedestrians who intend to cross. While necessary, the amount of parking-prohibited curbside space the city requires almost completely negates the benefit a crosswalk in this situation would provide. The benefit of a crosswalk here is that it allows one to park their car, and then cross the street. However, if too much parking is lost, there may not be that open space to use in the first place. It is for this reason that crosswalk placement must be very carefully thought out.

The below placement seems it would be optimal in serving the natural desire to cross and adhering to the city’s sight-line requirements.
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As noted by the red line in the illustration, a crosswalk located here would require the loss of 3 parking spaces immediately east of the crosswalk on the north side of the street to satisfy the city’s standards. No parking would be lost on the south side. The parking lost could potentially be offset to a degree by slightly shortening the bus-zone at Colorado Boulevard/Mt. Royal Drive to add a parking space on that end of the block.

Colorado Boulevard and La Roda Avenue

This intersection is also a popular space to cross. Fortunately, due to the existing configuration, it appears a crosswalk could be added here with losing no more than 1 parking space (the one immediately west of the crosswalk on the north side might have to go if a crosswalk here is added).
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Colorado Boulevard and Shearin Avenue

Although a crosswalk was added to just a block away at Glen Iris Avenue, this intersection remains a spot where people are frequently seen running across to get food at one of the many popular restaurants in the area. A crosswalk appears it could be added at the expense of two parking space in front of The Oinkster on the north side of the street.
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Fortunately, The Oinkster has its own parking lot, which can accommodate about two dozen patrons. The loss here is not as significant as it would be in front of a business with no parking lot, but it would still be felt. The loss in parking is not ideal, but the hope is that it can make it easier for people to park further from their destination and comfortably (and safely) cross the street to get where they are going. The added crosswalk here might – as it hopefully would at the other two locations – also encourage more locals to simply stroll over from their home to a local restaurant, knowing they don’t have to walk an extra 500 feet out of their way to use a safe, marked crosswalk.

Eagle Rock Walking Tour on August 23

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In March, LA Walks hosted a walking tour of Eagle Rock. On August 23, 2014 we at Walk Eagle Rock will host our own walking tour.

It was not long ago in March that Los Angeles Walks hosted a walking tour of our neighborhood. Topics of interest ranging from architectural landmarks to transportation history and recent civic improvements were covered by two knowledgable local guides. We here at Walk Eagle Rock have long discussed the possibility of hosting walking tours and we are pleased to announce that on August 23, 2014 we will finally be doing so.

As the environmental impact report (EIR) comment period for the Scholl Canyon Landfill is coming to a close (the deadline is August 29), we think it would be appropriate to host a walk focused on community and civic engagement. Eagle Rock has a long history of being an active community and it certainly would not be as fantastic as it is today without the efforts of residents taking the time to participate, on all levels, to improve the neighborhood.

Find the details of our walk below and (if you would like) RSVP to our Facebook event:

Community and Civic Engagement in Eagle Rock

  • Date: Saturday, August 23, 2014
  • Time: 9:00AM-12:00PM
  • Location: 2035 Colorado Blvd (Eagle Rock City Hall)
  • Walking Tour Length: 6 miles
  • Event is free and open to the public. Restrooms/water fountains will be available at mile 2 and 4.
  • Questions? Email us at walkeaglerock@gmail.com

A Lot of Green

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The triangular surface parking lot outside of Delevan Elementary (visible in background). A row of trees planted in the parkway along Wawona Street visually obscure the park lot’s bleakness. Image via: Google Maps

Surface parking lots are seldom thought to be aesthetically pleasing. In fact, whether they are empty or cluttered with cars, the oil-stained asphalt areas are often considered downright ugly. Residents of Northeast LA – newcomers and old-timers alike – upon seeing photographs of beautiful buildings that once stood where strip-malls and surface parking lots exist today frequently lament the architectural losses. The damage can be observed throughout the neighborhood but there is no turning back to prevent the mistakes of the past.

Nowadays, locals are much more tuned into local development plans and it is difficult to imagine any existing buildings being demolished to create strip-malls or parking lots. Along  much of Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock such development plans are explicitly prohibited thanks to the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan. But there is no denying that we must live with many of the surface parking lots we have today into the foreseeable future, either out of necessity or because development can take decades to transform an area since it happens incrementally on a case-by-case basis.

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