Walking in South L.A.: A report from our Leimert Park community meeting

Last week we held our second community meeting in Leimert Park at the awesome Kaos Network. About 50 folks gathered at this beautiful space right on the Leimert Park square, admiring the colorful art from the community and enjoying some pretty delicious snacks.

This meeting was co-hosted by Los Angeles Walks and L.A. Commons, with help from our great partners Community Health CouncilsPrevention InstituteLos Angeles County Bicycle CoalitionMulticultural Communities for Mobility. We also had a visit from Valerie Watson, one of the city’s two new pedestrian coordinators, and Albert Lord, a deputy from city councilman Herb Wesson’s office, was also in attendance, giving out his personal cell phone number to attendees.

As people were arriving, they helped us to identify focus areas in the community by adding their thoughts on Post-its to three categories: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and the “Magic Wand”: if you could wave a magic wand and make anything appear, what would you want to make walking safe, accessible and fun for all.

Some of our best and brightest ideas for getting people out of their cars came from our six- and seven-year-old attendees.

Next, LA Walks founder Deborah Murphy walked the group through a brief primer on the concept of Living Streets—how everything from wider sidewalks to parklets to more street trees can improve the walking experience.

Afterwards, attendees divided in to groups geographically, organizing themselves around giant maps of the community according to where they lived and worked. Using stickers and markers, they identified troublesome areas for pedestrians and proposed changes for those areas.

Then each group presented their findings to the room, highlighting the five top issues. From all the groups, several themes emerged, including: the need to slow down cars, streets that are too wide, lack of greenspace and parks, more attention needs to be paid to the Crenshaw Corridor, too few street trees, and closed walk streets that should be reopened. Surprisingly, a big issue in the area are intimidating packs of stray dogs.

At the close of the meeting, several volunteers agreed to stay in touch with LA Walks to continue working on key issues in the neighborhood. We’ll be updating you on their progress. You can also read an excellent recap of the evening on Streetsblog by Sahra Sulaiman. If you couldn’t make it and want to know more about what we discussed, you can view the agenda below. Thanks to everyone who came out!

Leimert Park Community Meeting

6:30 pm Individual Exercise – Identify Priority Pedestrian Safety Problems and Issues
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and The Magic Wand

6:40 pm Welcome and introductions

  • Karen Mack, L.A. Commons
  • Deborah Murphy, Los Angeles Walks
  • Mark Glassock, Community Health Councils
  • Manal Aboelata, Prevention Institute

6:45 pm City of Los Angeles Pedestrian Program

  • Valerie Watson, City of Los Angeles Assistant Pedestrian Coordinator

6:50 pm Living Streets Presentation of best practices for making more pedestrian-friendly, complete streets. SAFE campaign: Safe, Accessible, Fun, and Equitable

  • Deborah Murphy, Los Angeles Walks

7:30 pm Breakout Group Session by Geographic Area: —identify problem areas and issues

8:00 pm Report Back from Breakout Groups

8:20 pm Summarize Findings and Define Next Steps

8:25 pm City of Los Angeles Pedestrian Advisory Committee Members needed for CD#8 and CD#10

8:30pm Adjourn to Post & Beam Restaurant
3767 Santa Rosalia Drive 90008
North on Crenshaw Blvd/West on Stocker St/West on Santa Rosalia Drive

Child Care provided by Para Los Niños
Spanish Translation provided by Mojito

Exploring Silver Lake on Two Feet

Views from the top of Silver Lake. Photo courtesy Sarah Stone

Last Sunday, Los Angeles Walks led a walking tour of Silver Lake. Part of the second annual Found LA: Festival of Neighborhoods organized by L.A. Commons, our walk was just one of many exploring neighborhoods across the City of Los Angeles this past Sunday.

As several of our steering committee members live in Silver Lake & Echo Park we chose to highlight the history, architecture, and many public stair streets in the neighborhood we live in. Roughly 25 folks from around LA County, both near & far, joined us for this walk. With Los Angeles Walks founder Deborah Murphy as our guide our tour began at the Sunset Triangle Park. Deborah shared the history of the small park, how the neighborhood worked to transform into a public green space and gave the history of the Streets for People project that transformed one block of Griffith Park Blvd into public plaza.

Deborah leading the tour. Photo courtesy Sarah Stone

We learned how L.A.’s trolley lines shaped the neighborhood and gave Silver Lake the famous Sunset Junction intersection, previously known as Sanborn junction back when the trolley lines still ran along Santa Monica and Sunset Blvds. We stopped by the Black Cat Tavern on Sunset Blvd, where a raid & resulting riots drew attention to gay rights in the 1960s two years before before Stonewall in New York and touched on the importance of Silver Lake residents in the history of gay civil rights movement in Los Angeles & beyond.

Along our walk Deborah shared her passion for architecture and highlighted many of the modernist apartments and houses scattered throughout Silver Lake including the several homes and apartments designed for RM Schindler, John Lautner, and Richard Neutra.

Outside of the Salk Apts designed by Schindler. Photo courtesy Alissa Walker

No Silver Lake tour would be complete without exploring some of the many stair streets that connected people living up in the hills down to the main boulevards to catch the trolley to downtown jobs.

photo courtesy Sarah Stone

Sign up for our newsletter to learn about future Los Angeles Walks neighborhood walks. We’ll likely host another Silver Lake tour as a fundraiser in the near future and we hope to do more of these free walks in partnership with L.A. Commons and other non-profit organizations around Los Angeles.

Found LA Walking Tour of Silver Lake this Sunday

We look forward to seeing many of you on our free “Found LA” walking tour of Silver Lake this Sunday, October 21 from 1-3pm! As a reminder, the walking tour will begin at El Conquistador, located at 3701 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026 [map].

Tickets are sold out for this weekend’s tour but join our mailing list and “like” us on Facebook to learn about our other upcoming events throughout Los Angeles!

—Rachel Bennett

Free Walking Tour of Silver Lake on Sunday October 21

Join Los Angeles Walks and LA Commons for a FREE “Found LA” walking tour of Silver Lake on Sunday October 21 from 1:00 – 3:00pm. The walking tour will begin at El Conquistador, located at 3701 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026 [map]. Tickets are free but reservations are highly recommended. Click here to reserve your spot and learn more! 

Silver Lake is a hilly neighborhood about five miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, south of the Los Angeles River and east of Hollywood. The community was served by the Pacific Electric Railroad Glendale Trolley Line until the 1950s, when the trolley lines were dismantled and replaced with modern freeways.

Silver Lake has always been one of the most ethnically and socioeconomically diverse in the city of Los Angeles. It was one of the few communities before WWII that did not have restrictive covenants against ethnic and religious minorities. Silver Lake was the heart of the early film industry with the studies of Max Sennett, Charlie Chaplin, Tom Mix, and Walt Disney.

Silver Lake is also known worldwide for its celebrated modernist architecture from renowned architects including Richard Neutra, R. M. Schindler, A.E. Morris, J.R. Davidson, John Lautner, Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris, and William Kesling. Continuing in that tradition are many current architects including Barbara Bestor, M2A Architects, Michael Lehrer and many others creating 21st century masterpieces.

Silver Lake has a strong base of locally-owned and operated shops, bars, coffeehouses, restaurants, and nightclubs in its varied commercial districts. The residents have been and are varied with many artists, designers, writers, musicians, film editors, and actors including Anaïs Nin, Raymond Chandler, Woody Guthrie.

The Found LA walking tour will explore important historic locations in the community as well as significant residential and commercial architecture, parks, and open space resources. We will discover and enjoy the benefits of locally-owned shops and restaurants, and uncover the secrets of hidden stairways that connect neighborhoods in this hillside community and linked residents to the Red Car Trolley in the early 1900s. Walkers will have the opportunity to see for themselves why Silver Lake is one of the rare gems of Los Angeles and a truly diverse and multicultural community.

Reserve your spot on the Silver Lake walking tour today!

Learn about other upcoming LA Commons walking tours throughout Los Angeles.

—Rachel Bennett