San Pedro’s Gaffey Street is no one’s idea of a quaint village. Cars pour off the 110 Freeway, frequently at high speeds. The street’s palm trees provide little shade. The corridor is dominated by businesses catering to the automobile — KFC, Taco Bell and 7-Eleven, among others.
Yet Mayor Eric Garcetti hopes to transform Gaffey and 14 other major thoroughfares into hubs of neighborhood activity. In a process the mayor describes as “urban acupuncture,” the city plans to add bike racks, plazas, crosswalk upgrades and other amenities aimed at drawing in pedestrians and attracting new businesses.
Los Angeles is famous for wide and frequently traffic-clogged boulevards that stretch across the landscape, built more for getting people from point A to point B than for fostering street life and a sense of community.
Garcetti’s “Great Streets” effort has been met with both excitement and skepticism. Several communities have hailed their selection, but some people in the targeted neighborhoods are dubious their boulevards can be tamed.
“Twenty years ago, a street was a place that moved cars. You moved through it, and there were very few people who conceptualized a street any other way,” said Marlon Boarnet, a professor of urban planning at the USC Price School of Public Policy. Now, L.A. is looking to make streets people “would want to go to and spend time at, as opposed to places you just want to move through.” ( Continue reading at LA Mayor)