The Pros and Cons of People Streets

Sunset Triangle deserves its hype. North Hollywood Plaza not so much

While walking along Lankershim this week, I happened across what I thought was a movie premiere happening around a green patch of pavement. I was mistaken: It was actually the unveiling of a street that had been converted to a park under an LADOT program called People Street. People Street is also responsible for Silver Lake’s super clever Sunset Triangle.

These new spaces (and way of thinking) are nice, but the North Hollywood park leaves me feeling conflicted. Here’s why:

PRO: We’re reclaiming streets!
As obvious as this sounds, the initiative converts streets that are useless for cars into spaces that are useful for pedestrians. The Silver Lake Triangle proves that repurposing streets can workit’s a wonderful place to hang thanks to nearby shops, the occasional farmers market, and the fact that it’s close to a majorly cool crossroads (Sunset Junction).

CON: The second location could be better.
North Hollywood Plaza is a converted alleyway that looks into a workout studio. (Awkward!) A better street might be closer to the Metro or behind the Starbucks at Lankershim and Magnolia. With so many places nearby already having sprawling patios, an untravelled, overlooked alleyway doesn’t do much to transform the area.

PRO: People Streets are gateways to more plazas, parklets, and bike parks.
The success of Sunset Triangle has allowed People Streets to tackle this new NoHo park and parklets on Spring Street, York Blvd, and Huntington Dr. Better yet, you—yes, YOU—can push the city to make a new park.

CON: There isn’t much art to speak of.
The design element that ties these reclaimed streets together is fake grass. I get it: Real grass is both expensive and susceptible to drought, but I wonder why planners didn’t hire local artists to spruce up the spaces instead? Art would be much more inviting (or at least intriguing) than a giant swath of hard green paint. The same can be (and has been) said of the streets’ signage.

PRO: The City of Los Angeles is behind the project!
Just sayin’, that’s nice.

CON: We’re not dreaming big enough.
Following up the lauded, very visible Sunset Triangle with what amounts to an outdoor hallway that’s hard to spot doesn’t feel as momentous as we can get. Why not attack Hollywood and Highland? Weighborn and Broxton? Washington and Culver? All of Abbot Kinney? The potential of People Street is great; let’s hope it takes a greater step forward with project number three.