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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pedestrians and bikes to rule the road on this Silver Lake street

A plan to turn a small section of Griffith Park Boulevard in Silver Lake into a traffic-free zone for pedestrians and bikes is moving forward.  Under a City Council motion introduced by Councilman Eric Garcetti, nearly two blocks of Griffith Park Boulevard between Sunset Boulevard and Edgecliff Drive will be off limits to most motor vehicle traffic to create additional a public space with seating areas. It’s part of a pilot project under Streets for People, which consists of a coalition of planning  departments, public health agencies and other groups seeking to transform underused streets into public spaces.

Roughly the same section of Griffith Park Boulevard that runs north of Triangle Park is already closed a few hours a week for the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market.  While concrete bollards will seal off  westbound Griffith Park at Sunset, one, east-bound lane of Griffith Park would remain open as an access road, according to the rendering above presented to the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council.

The project, which has been championed by Silver Lake resident Anthony Crump, would transform the road into a pedestrian plaza with moveable tables and chairs, said Garcetti spokeswoman Julie Wong. The road would be closed for at least one  year but that closure could be extended if the pilot project work out. “It just seemed like a good place to try this out,” Wong said.

Closing off Griffith Park Boulevard to traffic is the most recent Silver Lake project designed to make streets more pedestrian and bike friendly while reducing access to motor vehicles.  A portion of Sunset Junction, for example, would be turned into a bus transit plaza and public gathering space while some Silver Lake residents want to put Rowena Avenue on a road diet and reduce traffic lanes.

It’s not certain when Griffith Park Boulevard will be closed off but the city has already accepted a $25,000 grant to help pay for the project.

48 comments

  1. This. is. awesome.

    More like this please!

  2. Perfect spot for something like this… Can’t wait!

  3. Oh cool, so I won’t be able to park in front of my building anymore. Thanks.

  4. Like, there’s already a bike lane on Sunset, is an extra 100 feet for bikes to do, I dunno do tricks or something necessary? If you want to build a park, build a park. Better than elongating a glorified patch of grass with some concrete and what I’m sure will be ugly and uncomfortable patio furniture.

  5. This is a great idea. Can’t wait to see the result.

  6. This is currently a very dangerous spot for pedestrians. Fast westbound Sunset traffic merges onto Griffith Park as people try to cross. Great project!

  7. Three cheers! This is just the right thing to do. My hat goes off to those who have championed this development.

  8. we need to make more parklets out of left over spaces across los angeles. our streets are our gathering spaces so let’s make the best use of them that we can.

  9. It’s fine as long as it doesn’t become an encampment for the homeless like many urban park spaces become.

  10. Can’t wait for this!

  11. I back this.

  12. What Steve said.

  13. Gentrify — EXACTLY. I mean, I’m all for it, on paper. But I live in this area and have for a decade — and I really think this will run the risk of becoming a homeless encampment. It almost already is some nights.

  14. Fantastic! Hopefully the first of many such efforts in our community.

  15. Not looking forward to this.

  16. This is an EXTREMELY bad idea, and VERY ill considered. It is being looked at in a vacuum, not in the entire context of its location. I know a lot of the promoters are those who push every extreme thing they can to do anything at all to thwart cars. This is a fantasyland idea and a very bad one for our future as it is making for very badly planned transportation for the future that you will scream about in years to come, asking how could they ever let this happen.

    There happens to be a number of these bikers in this neighborhood who push these things and have managed to get their voices loud far beyond their actual numbers or support. I will say, I am all in favor of encouraging bicycle riding, and even as much as possible, and other alternatives to cars, but I am against intentionally throwing up roadblocks and attempting to do interfere with traffic and do anything to thwart cars in an effort to force cycling, which is what these bicycle advocates who have coalesced here keep doing. This is just the latest. Another is eliminating a traffic lane on the commercial strip of Rowen from Hyperion to Glendale Boulevard, the ONLY route tot he freeway from the Hyperion side. And various other efforts. Just wait until you see these corder “roundouts” they are planning to put in on Sunset through Sunset Junction — if you want a traffic accident, that is guaranteed to cause it, but people around here haven’t seen those thing so don’t know what they are getting into.

    To close this stretch of Santa Monica is to take a good situation and make it a horror. It would eliminate the very stretch of Santa Monica that makes the merger of the two boulevards smooth. This is one thing they did right — don’t screw it up now! Instead, the plan it to require Santa Monica traffic to first stop and then turn left on Manzanita, dodge all the buses that will be making the impossible turns into the disaster of a transit “hub” proposed for the Jiffy Lube site, stop at Sunset and make the right turn at Sunset, only to stop a short black away at the Sunset and Sanborn traffic signal anyway!

    Now, how is that more DESIRABLE than just going straight through and a smooth merger into Sunset as it is now?! This will only cause a backup of cars on Santa Monica trying to make a left hand turn that is not now needed. That short stretch of Manzanita to Sunset will most times be a backed up line of cars — and that mixed with this dumb idea of a bus “hub” for a mere three bus lines, with the buses turning into and out of the hub every time they come down the street rather than merely making a quick stop at a bus stop and ONLY when someone wants to get on or off. Then they will have to wait at the light and make the right turn onto Sunset — only to stop a short block away at the traffic signal at Sanborn anyway!

    Now how is this an “improvement” over the smooth merger into Sunset that is there now? How are all these turns and dodging of buses safer than what is there now? How is this constant backed up traffic spewing exhaust cleaner and nicer than a smooth transition through there?

    If you want more green space there, and you are planning to take over the Jiffy Lube location anyway, then dump the dumb idea for a useless transit “hub,” make that green space, and leave the transition road to Sunset as-is. As for bicycles, we’re already accommodating them with a bike lane on Sunset. If they want to make that left turn and right turn, fine, let them. Or how about a bike lane along the side of the dumb transit hub? I don’t at all mind accommodating bikes. I do mind mounting a war against people who don’t choose to or CAN’T ride a bike, especially dishonestly disguised as a benefit to drivers.

    • I think you might have the intersection confused. The drawing is not at the junction of Sunset and Santa Monica, it’s further east at the mini park (Sunset and Griffith Park) where the street is closed twice a week for the farmers market.

      • this seems fine to me.
        i avoid driving down there because of the farmers market several times a week, and its no problem.

        i jog by this every morning,
        and there are a few homeless people sleeping in that park right now.
        i have even seen them washing themselves in the fountain. they are always harmless and just minding their own business.

        i mean homeless people are going to be around, with or without this park, but at least there will be a park. the Silverlake Meadow has not become homeless central, and there is plenty of room to sleep there. but i do bet that the “moveable furniture” may not last very long.

        good point about the silly saddle thing tho.
        if we are trying to make more “streets for people”, then why build a big goofy saddle where jiffy lube is now unless we can actually spend time there?

    • Pretty sure you are confused about the location. Nice passionate War and Peace novel though…

    • Henry will be back later with a follow-up comment about the actual intersection involved once he figures out how that idea is also EXTREMELY bad and VERY ill-conceived. But all his opinions about agenda-pushing, traffic-thwarting cyclistas will remain the same.

    • Fantastic rant Sir.
      Very thorough, with passion and persistence.
      Bravo.

      But your map reading skills need a little work.

  17. First rule of map making.
    Top is north, unless otherwise mentioned.
    You are confusing everyone.

  18. This is a really poorly thought out idea. As a resident of this neighborhood it really dismays me to see such a bad idea pushed through. Unlike civic engineers, community activists prefer to ignore the negative impact of their ideas and only focus on their shortsighted agendas. Do we really need to expand a park that no one goes to? Let’s be honest, when do you ever see people regularly using that park? It is situated in an awkward space between two busy streets. Not really the most ideal place to go to relax, play, or have a picnic. Let’s examine the impact of adding this park to the neighborhood.
    Everybody likes traffic and wants more of it right? Great! Glad we all agree on that. As the planners of this park have completely overlooked, the area where they want to build the park happens to be a major traffic artery into the neighborhood. Have you ever noticed the volume of traffic that flows off of Sunset onto Griffith Park Blvd? Hundreds if not thousands of cars use this road every day as a way to access the neighborhood and to get from one side of Silver Lake to the other. Now let’s cut that access off and reroute all of that traffic back onto Sunset and side streets like Edgecliffe, Lucile, and Hyperion to name a few. All of those cars would spread and push traffic deeper into the neighborhood as they try to get back onto Griffith Park Blvd. Sounds great right?
    The plan for this park would also eliminate about a dozen parking spots from an area that already suffers from not having adequate parking for its residents and surrounding businesses. I feel bad for the businesses that are located on Griffith Park Blvd between Sunset and Edgecliffe, as this plan effectively is a death sentence for them. No parking or street access should really help business boom for those guys. Maybe clearing out the local Mom and Pop stores would clear the way for some more palatable brand name businesses that could provide a more gentle whitewashed feel to the neighborhood. Or better yet maybe they can tear down those buildings and put up some overpriced condos that will sit empty, but have a nice view of the park. Something along the lines of the Americana in Glendale would be ideal for this neighborhood wouldn’t it? Just like the Americana we could have security that made sure that no kids played in the park and that the unsightly homeless people would be kept out of view.
    Also what would happen with the Silver Lake farmer’s market? Would it remain in the park or be bumped further up Griffith Park Blvd? I can’t imagine the traffic and parking nightmare that would ensue if that happened. Again this would draw more people into the neighborhood and make a bad parking situation worse. With less and less parking over time the cries for permit parking would get louder and louder.
    Who knows, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all the increased traffic, reduced parking, and stress is what our community really wants. Why can’t the money that’s being generated for this project be redirected into making our existing underfunded parks and community programs better?

    • Well stated, Terry. I will add, unfortunately, that those negative effects really are what the promoters want — they think cars will just disappear from the Earth if they can just throw up enough barriers at every turn. They think the entire car industry is just going to vanish and everyone will ride a bicycle, even the old and infirm, even in 105 degrees or a pouring winter rain, even for a daily 15- or 20-mile commute to work. Even when they have 10 bags of groceries to carry. Even when they go to a swanky Hollywood party and wear heels. Even …

    • I sit at Mornings Nights Cafe (which sits directly across from this area) almost everyday for hours and look out at the present park. Many people do use it, although not in the traditional ‘camp-out-and-picnic’ sense;

      Its seems to presently serve as a temporary breathing space, a briefly mental exhale, from the noise and chaos that is the rest of Sunset Blvd. Expanding it will definitely amplify its use as the mini oasis that it is.

      As far as traffic.
      Well, long term studies show that more streets do not mean less traffic. Like a larger bucket placed under a leaky roof; they just eventually fill up….

    • Really? This is a major traffic artery? The main thing I always think when I pass here is that we’ve got a huge expanse of pavement that does no one any good, when we could have just had a park that goes up to Cru and that cafe. The space only has about 6 spots on the northbound side and 3 spots on the southbound, so this is really very little parking that’s being lost. And the parking was time-restricted anyway, so it was no good for residents, and not even really good enough for dinner at Cru or El Conquistador. By turning this ugly stretch of pavement into a place where people can be, I think this will attract a lot more business to the neighborhood – it’s very easy to miss Cru and that cafe because they’re tucked off the main street, but once there’s a park there people will come and notice them.

      Also, this stretch is very dangerous for bicyclists, because cars often forget to signal when they’re turning off of Sunset, and ignore the fact that they’re driving right through the bike lane when they do it. Fortunately, not many people do turn off of Sunset there, but the ones that do are always scary.

      • Silver Lake Resident

        For those of us who are residents and frequent this area daily, you know, those of us who know that “that cafe” is called Mornings Nights (you should try it sometime when you’re in the area), we may not agree with this quickly devised plan for this particular park project.

        Nobody wants to admit that this is a bad idea because they want to prove to the world that they believe in parks. The fact of the matter is that it IS very heavily trafficked and I challenge people who are disregarding that to dig deeper. In fact, perhaps the Eastsider can do some research to clarify this. I love parks but I also love being able to critically assess things that affect me. This plan is terribly flawed, maybe the planners can think of something that is a bit more practical instead of going with the “feel good” park.

      • You’ve got to be naive if you don’t notice the volume of traffic that enters onto Griffith Park Blvd from Sunset. It’s mind blowing that an idea like this has made it this far and has garnered any serious consideration from the city. Then again the city won’t say no to any money thrown at it. I love parks and would love to see more of them, but not here. The negative impact far outweighs the positives here. How can you overlook the consequences of it? Sunset through this area is choked enough with traffic, and by diverting the drivers that use Griffith Park Blvd back onto Sunset and through the side streets is a problem that over the years will only go from bad to worse. You need to think of not only the short term but the long term implications of this. Do you honestly think there will be less cars on these streets in ten years? If Garcetti helps push this through I’d hate to see what he would do as mayor of this city. Speaking of the G-man, his push for a higher density city only supports this argument. Maybe this is part of his “elegant density” plan. We’ll certainly see traffic density.
        I can’t see how “Yay! I like parks!” is a strong enough argument and makes this a practical enough idea to outweigh all of these other factors. If that’s the case then, let’s make Hyperion more pedestrian friendly between Trader Joe’s and Gelson’s and shut it down to cars. There are other streets people can use to get through that area just fine. Maybe then we could put a park in at Glendale and Fletcher in front of Astro because I know people over there that would love a park too. We could make it really pretty. Yaaay!
        Adding an attraction to the area sure will draw in people. It will also increase the demands for parking. Expanding the park will decrease the amount of available parking and put this burden on the surrounding neighborhood. The residents will ultimately suffer. It goes beyond just nine or twelve parking spaces simply being removed.
        I enjoy living in Silver Lake because it’s not as cramped and congested as places like K-Town or areas on the Westside. I actually stay away from those places because of the hassle that comes with traveling through those areas and dealing with really bad parking around there. I don’t want to see conditions that will facilitate those things into happening in our area.
        I should also note that I don’t own a car and that I ride my bicycle every day. I would love to see more pedestrian and bicycle friendly areas throughout our city, but not at the cost of our quality of life and congestion of our neighborhoods. It’s just not realistic to imagine that Silver Lake will ever become the quaint European style village community that people think it should be. We can’t afford to be removing roads, narrowing streets, and taking away parking. It’s just not practical.
        The bottom line is that keeping Griffith Park Blvd open to cars is far more important to the neighborhood than an expanded park is. Subtracting streets and access points through the area will only hurt the neighborhood. Maybe if they build the park with a cinder block wall in it, people will notice how bad of an idea this is for the neighborhood.

        • @ Terry W W. Stop being a petty sycophant to the automotive industry, and learn to appreciate your car as a privilege and not a right. We non-car users pay a huge percentage of our own tax money to subsidize and destroy our environment thanks to your gluttony and obsession with owning a car. Buy a bike and use mass public transit like a regular world citizen you complainer. Go to any other metropolitan city in the world and you’ll notice thriving plazas that make due with a homeless here and there, but prosper with citizens young and old in a people oriented community. Exercise and evolve like the rest of us. And please save your excuses. pax.

    • Are you Henry again?

  19. I’ll make sure to avoid this intersection in the future. It will be a traffic mess. I know that the plan intends to increase pedestrian traffic and bike use and not auto traffic, but you have to be realistic. This plan does nothing to address the unrelenting traffic on Sunset — in fact, it will exacerbate it. So, in fact, you will have a nice park that nobody will use because there is no parking! “Not so”, the planners will say. Silver Laker-ers can walk or bike there. Really? All the parents with their little kids and the elderly will bike there? Or walk there? Are you sure they will make it up and down the hills of Silver Lake and then brave the traffic on Sunset? Good luck with that. I really wish that LA was more pedestrian and bike friendly, but we are not that — yet. Making it so will take a lot more thought and planning that the conception of this patch-park seemed to get.

  20. I will use it! and Yes I live within a few blocks. I think the park is a great idea. The businesses on the block will benefit, and the farmers market will thrive. Some of the issues raised above are valid though.
    What will happen to the dumpy apartments right there on Griffith and the one on Edgecliff/Griffith? How WILL people get from Sunset over to Hyperion/Rowena? Will everyone go on Hyperion via the Fountain/Hyperion intersection (aka the corner of Death) ?

  21. Yes, let’s look at this in a vacuum. Let’s not consider all the negative impacts. And certainly let us not mention that they are trying to close down streets all around Silver Lake, not just this one.

    They also are pushing hard to turn the commercial area of Rowena into single-lane traffic, also to close the stretch where Santa Monica merges into Sunset. How about the plan to take out several parking spaces along Sunset just a few blocks East of this location and turn it into bicycle parking, to handle something like 40 bicycles (Do you ever see 40 bicyclists all converge on a single block of Silver Lake at the same time, so we better provide on-street parking for them?) So, now will will have empty bicycle parking and cars driving all around the local streets looking for parking.

    To handle this as an isolated case in a vacuum is dangerous and very poor planning.

    This is not some isolated, minor action. This is part of a broadbased campaign that is so narrowly focused that it can’t see the forest because the trees are in the way.

    • It sounds like they’ve studied the traffic impacts and they specifically chose this intersection because commuter impact will be very marginal (cars can easily just turn on Edgecliffe, seems to work perfectly fine during the Farmers Market).

      Just think of it as “low hanging fruit” for a city notoriously lacking in assessable parks and public spaces.

      • Silver Lake Resident

        The above “low hanging fruit” comment is utterly ridiculous. Have you studied the traffic patterns in this intersection? I don’t think so.

        I know the proprietor of one of the local businesses directly at this intersection and they comment about the traffic and how horrendous it is here (mainly because cars refuse to stop at the 4-way stop). This will certainly change things. I guess the rights of the residents and business owners in this area aren’t important at all – death to cars, more parks, blah blah. Very impractical thinking here.

        • "We need to look at big picture"

          Have you or anyone you know truly studied the traffic conditions and how to reduce congestion? Or is this merely anecdotal observations you are referring to?

        • “I know the proprietor of one of the local businesses directly at this intersection and they comment about the traffic and how horrendous it is here (mainly because cars refuse to stop at the 4-way stop).”

          Sounds to me like those businesses would welcome a bit of traffic calming in front of their shops.

          “Have you studied the traffic patterns in this intersection?”

          No, like I said it sounds like *the organization* involved and *the city* have (and really it wouldn’t be terribly difficult, since the closure is simulated twice a week for the farmers market).

          I’m a resident too, I walk by there frequently, have had coffee at that shop several times, eaten at Cru, shop at the farmers market on Saturdays… I think the traffic flow ain’t half bad on Sunset, have you driven in other major cities at rush hour?

        • BTW, looks like there’s an opening party March 4th… maybe you should give this the benefit of the doubt and check it out, ask questions, etc.: http://www.livingstreetsla.org/?page_id=1130

  22. "We need to look at big picture"

    Everyone here is a traffic expert it seems! Good to hear! Anyway, driving can only be made so pleasant. Lets look at big picture: Do we expect the population in this area to increase? If yes, we should use space efficiently to accommodate efficient travel. Additionally, if population increases we may need more public spaces so people have space to relax in an increasingly crowded neighborhood. IF there is an increase in people, how do we expect them to get around? Drive? Then we have to create more parking (out of nowhere or at the expense of historic buildings, and landscaping. If parking sucks now, how will car centric thinking make it any better? Well it will have to be at the expense of air quality, land-use, and visual aesthetics. If we encourage driving we need to plan for increased motor vehicle parking, and need for increased capacity on the street. There’s only so much space to work with. Do we expect gas prices to increase? How will this affect the way people want to travel? How will this affect people’s pocket books? Will they still have money to space to patronize their favorite businesses or will they be forced to spend it all on gas because their city provides them no viable option to private motor vehicle travel? Will more cars lead to more car crashes and more congestion? LA’s car centric planning cannot continue. This isn’t going to make LA a utopian city over night but it is a commitment to a better planned future and uses space more efficiently and makes the street safer for all.

  23. actually live on that street

    just adding another datapoint of an actual resident – all for parks and fancy things like this, if and only if the traffic and parking issues are taken care of as well. clearly that’s not going to happen, and this is going to make matters even worse. looking to move out of this area ASAP.

  24. is the farmer’s market still there? i didn’t see it on tuesday… where did it go???

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