Councilmember José Huizar is leading the way for City officials and a large coalition of pedestrian, bike, greenway and DTLA advocates to officially launch his DTLA Forward initiative, which is focused on improving traffic flow, pedestrian and bicyclists’ access, as well as increased green and public space in Downtown Los Angeles.
In May, Huizar issued a series of DTLA Forward motions that came out of an inter-departmental planning workshop sponsored by Huizar and included the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), and a host of other city departments. The workshop was hosted by Gensler, a Pershing Square Renew partner.
On Wednesday April 17th, Huizar joined Seleta Reynolds, GM for LADOT, to announce one of those motions will lead to a reconfiguration of Main and Spring Streets, from Cesar Chavez Avenue to the north and Olympic Boulevard to the South, with those streets’ current bike lanes slated to be upgraded to protected bike lanes, bringing added safety for bicyclists and motorists in Downtown Los Angeles. While the details of that plan will be finalized soon, protected bike lanes often involve shifting bike lanes to the curbside of streets where automobile parking normally is, with street parking moved to the traffic side, creating a “parked car” wall of protection for bicyclists between them and moving traffic.
And earlier in April, Huizar and Reynolds joined Metro officials to announce that 16 Pedestrian Headstart signals had been installed in Downtown as part of DTLA Forward, after Huizar made the request of Metro as mitigation for the 2nd and Broadway Regional Connector construction and closures. LADOT installed the crosswalks, which have proved popular with Downtown stakeholders, giving pedestrians a four-second head start when walking in the crosswalks, increasing visibility and lessoning chances for auto/pedestrian collisions. The City’s first two Pedestrian Headstart crosswalks were installed in 2014 as part of Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway’s Master Streetscape Plan and the expansion was laid out in one of the DTLA Forward 2015 motions. Community building is also a key point of DTLA Forward and through the efforts of Downtown residents, Joe’s Parking and Huizar’s office, a new community garden will soon be opening on Spring Street.
“Every great city needs a great Downtown and ‘DTLA Forward’ aims to bring smart, innovative public space policy and programs to a rapidly growing Downtown Los Angeles that will not only make DTLA more functional, accessible and safer, but greater,” said Councilmember Huizar.
Huizar announced Wednesday that another DTLA Forward motion will be voted on in City Council, directing City departments to create a “Green Alleyway” program, using three current DTLA green alley proposals as pilots to gather feedback on which models are the best moving forward. Green Alley programs have been successfully adopted in other cities and offer opportunities to turn often blighted alleys into pedestrian destinations. The three programs to be studied include:
South Park – pilot from the South Park BID
Arts District – pilot from a community organization, Industrial District Green
Harlem Alley – pilot from a private property owner, Tom Gilmore
The City Council also votes to approve a fourth DTLA Forward motion, instructing City staff to adopt the South Park Tree Guidelines and incorporate those guidelines into an updated Downtown Design Guide as the standard for any tree planting within the public right of way in South Park. Additionally, a Master Tree List will be created specifically for Downtown and is scheduled for consideration by the Citywide Planning Commission this summer.
DTLA is one of the fastest growing downtowns in the U.S. and growth is expected to continue with over 80,000 residents expected to call Downtown Los Angeles home in the next five years and $11 billion worth of development currently underway. As a major economic engine for the Southern California area, DTLA is also home to more than 500,000 workers, with an additional 10 million people visiting the Downtown area each year.
Councilmember Huizar is leading other initiatives throughout his district, including Bringing Back Broadway and Pershing Square Renew in Downtown Los Angeles, with an upcoming public presentation for the four design finalists set for April 28, 2016 at the Palace Theatre on Broadway.