York Boulevard parklet takes shape*

Frank Vuoso and his young crew of workers have spent the past few days building what resembles a backyard deck with planters. But in this case, the redwood deck is not a home improvement project; it’s a “parklet” being constructed between parking spaces and a crosswalk on York Boulevard in Highland Park.   The 2o-foot long by six-foot wide parklet, or street porch, on York near Avenue 50  is part of a demonstration project and partnership between the group Living Streets and city officials to create more pedestrian-friendly public gathering spaces.  While building a deck and some planters in a backyard is a relatively easy matter, building one on a city street is more complicated, requiring  a lengthy review process by city agencies, residents and business owners and finally a vote by the full City Council, which approved the pilot program sponsored by Highland Park councilman Jose Huizar.  Building the parklet, in contrast, is relatively straightforward.

Frank Vuoso, a supervisor for the  L.A. Conservation Corps,  said parts of the wood and concrete York Boulevard parklet had been built in advance, including some of the serpentine-shaped benches and wood forms used to build the concrete planters that will double as seat backs.  The entire parklet platform rests on concrete piers and is bolted into the curb (not the street) and can be easily removed, Vuoso said.

The city allocated more than $10,000 to build the York Boulevard parklet. In addition, another parklet is being constructed on Huntington Drive in El Sereno and a third in downtown.

On Thursday afternoon, Vuoso was directing 10 youths with the Conservation Corps’ Youth Build Team, which provides training in the construction trades, as they poured concrete into the form of one of the planters.  This morning, tile and mosaics  were applied to the concrete planters as a decorative touch.  The mosaics includes images and references to the neighborhood, including scenes from the film “Reservoir Dogs,” which was filmed in Highland Park, said Cathi Milligan, owner of the nearby Glass Studio.

Will the parklet be ready in time for Saturday afternoon’s grand opening? “I hope so,” he said.

Frank Vuoso supervises L.A. Conservation Corps workers as they prepare wooden mold for planter.

Wooden form for concrete planter.

* This post has been updated with new photos



  1. Why build a park”let” in the middle of the street? York is quite busy. This looks like some urban planner grad student’s half-baked idea that in reality will be incredibly unpleasant.

    I guess if you’re hanging out at the bars on that block — Johnny’s and the York — it’ll be a good spot to which to duck out for a smoke.

    • I think it’s a good idea. York is busy but there’s no reason for anyone to be driving in this part of the road, and there’s plenty of unused parking available in the nearby area.

      I’m curious how the bike lane will deal with this, but it will serve as a mental reminder to drivers on York that the road does not stop at the sidewalk, and it’s meant to be shared. And, to state the obvious, it should be a boon for Cafe De Leche.

      • “The road does not stop at the sidewalk” — what does that even mean? But maybe people will want to hang out right next to non-stop traffic. If so, more power to them, even if I don’t see it.

  2. You know Ben, I almost never see bikes locked up on all those racks they put in and I rarely see riders in the bike lane. I drive though York and Ave 51 or 50 virtually every day. This parklet is unnecessary.

    • If you build it… they will come.

      Give it time, people! It takes A LOT of infrastructure before people feel comfortable biking places. But every step is an important one.

  3. These are the same folks who have backed up traffic for a mile on Sunset with that stupid pointless waste of space on Griffith Park blvd. Then again they are the people behind CicLAvia which I love. But the “triangle” is morbid failure and has to GO. I know it feels good but its a traffic disaster for Silver Lake and anybody trying to go west on Sunset or wants to get to over Hyperion. There is a engineered reason why GPB hits sunset at that angle. Its a sunburnt failure.

    • I live about a quarter mile away from there, and I’ve yet to notice any traffic changes because of the triangle… maybe you’re forgetting that there’s always been traffic on Sunset Blvd.

    • to be honest I commute westward on Sunset every night and haven’t noticed any change.

    • I hate parklets and you are talking crazy. Anybody who would have normally turned right on Griffith Park Blvd now has to drive approximately 100 ft to the west to get to it. I think it’s ugly in its current incarnation but calling it a ‘traffic disaster’ is comical.

  4. I live in downtown and we are getting a couple of them. Thanks to many people that are working hard to make it happen. It is these small public space interventions that create a dynamic and interesting pedestrian landscape. So that when we are driving by in our car along York everyday, someone will be able to sit and spend time with others outside. Instead of negating the need for diverse experiences lets embrace the opportunity to create an interesting walking/driving city.

  5. I was in New York City over the summer, where these “parklets” are very common. Everywhere I went there were areas carved-out of the street for people to sit, with tables and chairs, benches, often trees and other plants … it was lovely. People used them like crazy, there were always folks sitting in these areas, and traffic just went on around them. And there was plenty of traffic, you can imagine! But people still wanted to sit and relax, play chess, drink coffee, whatever. I think this is a forward-thinking, positive thing for L.A. in general and Highland Park in particular. Let’s give it a chance, see how it works, before condemning it! Here’s an interesting article about this trend: http://www.governing.com/topics/energy-env/gov-parklets-next-big-idea-in-urban-planning.html

  6. Sara, they do them all over SF too. Really improved the neighborhoods and local businesses. Anything that brings people out and together strengthens the community. Hope they continue to do these throughout LA.

  7. Sometimes, making the world more beautiful, unique, and interesting is more important than anything practical in my opinion.

    My hopeful vision of the future has less cars, smaller people movers, more bikes, and public transport.

    Baby steps are always the flicker of light that begets bigger more positive change.

  8. This is almost a no-brainer. Thank you to everyone involved!

  9. What a great asset to the corridor! Will be greatly appreciated during the art walks and when I meet friends to hang out. Also, since I love to photograph streets, it’ll be a nice spot to snap a few photos of the traffic. And to think– this was just an empty red no-parking zone before!

  10. Zmoney,
    I’m in favor of the parklets but as someone who reads SFGate every day, I do know that they have problems with some of the parklets. Homeless have taken over some of them (one in the Castro near the Market Street Streetcar tunnel) was a serious problem. Given the situation of the Veterans monument area at York and Fig, the homeless that used to congregate there might move a ways down on York to enjoy the nice environment….and better prospects for panhandling.
    There is the Ideal which is the parklet with happy constructive people enjoying it and developing more of a sense of community.
    Then there is the Reality which is much less.
    A couple good bars, some nice restaurants, coffee houses don’t create a core community that people identify with. They may say “I live in _____” or “I live on York..” and that means something to them and to the peopll they are talking to. But it’s not the same as saying I want to be a part of the community (besides shopping locally) and following local issues, the Neighborhood Countil, know who their City Council person is, and the like.
    I think a parklet should beconsidered an exploration to see how ALL the people who live in/patronize businesses in feel about it after it’s been there for a while.
    I’m also wondering what it’s going to be like to be sitting there, head slightly above car exhaust emissions….especially when the traffic is slow. (cough, cough).

  11. As someone who is considering moving to the HP neighborhood, this is a small, yet positive move that should only be applauded – if ever so lightly.

    The fact that there is funding for these tiny improvements means the neighborhood has a chance to improve. Do not detract the value of a flag in the sand b/c of potential homeless interaction or car fumes. Quick reminder: you live in the heart of a dense metropolis.

  12. I’ve been living in HLP as a homeowner for a few years now and I absolutely cannot believe the amount of change in the neighborhood that I have seen since then. I had my doubts when I first moved in but it’s been rewarding to see progress.

    I’m still not sure about this project but I welcome any move in a positive direction and I hope it helps to improve the area further.

    I would still love to see the empty lot on 50 & York turned into a park.

  13. Very cool! Love the Reservoir Dogs reference!

  14. The parklet is a great asset to the community and will be appreciated and used. The lot at Avenue 50 & York has been purchased with funds by the city via CM Huizar. There will be a park there down the road. First they are finishing the other improvements which include the street lights that I believe will be added along York from Avenue 50 to Avenue 52 and then they will start working on the park.

  15. Just because these efforts have a marginal immediate functional use they are not frivolous . Parklets are not just tiny gathering places They symbols of neighborhood of pride, little reminders and encouragements if you will. Plus this particular little monument of civic pride is adorable! Quit being such selfish a-holes haters!

  16. Good job HP, you’re doing the right thing. I’m a home owner on Mt Angelus and spend part of my time in SF, where parklets have really improved every are where they’re installed. Civic pride.

  17. I’m all for anything that makes life better in Highland Park. Sometimes all people have is what is publicly available. It’s good to have somewhere nice to just sit and relax and maybe chat with someone. I’m glad for these parklets. I even like the name “parklet”. And I like that our young people are getting work experience in construction. Good job!!!

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