Walking Home from College: Why Measure M is Critical to the Future of Los Angeles

My mom always told me she felt comfortable in her dented-but-charming 2011 black Toyota Camry. I’ve never bought into the notion that a car could be a sanctuary, but she thinks of her car as a second home. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley of the 1980s, a mall-centric autotopia, so it makes sense. But, at twenty years old, it’s not the sort of mentality that I’ve grown to share.

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World Day of Remembrance Call for Artists

Day of Remembrance Road Concert: DTLA Spring and Main Loop
Los Angeles Road Concerts is seeking artists of all kinds to install or perform site-specific works in unused public space in Downtown Los Angeles along a loop made of 1st, Spring, 9th and Main St. as part of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Sunday, November 20, 2016.

Submissions may be sent through the online form or to [email protected].

In four previous events, LA Road Concerts has shown work from over 250 Los Angeles artists in unused public outdoor space. In a “road concert” participating artists display installations, perform works, facilitate carpool happenings, host spontaneous readings, and make music in unexpected spaces, such as on the sidewalk, between dumpsters, along streetlamps, as well as inside the audience’s earbuds as they traverse the path of the road concert. Audience members can walk, bike, skateboard, carpool or take public transit. They can time it to see it all, go it unplanned, or carefully curate their day.
LA Road Concerts seeks to investigate the possibilities of LA's streets as sites for artistic exploration while offering a street-level window onto the city's diversity of people, buildings and landscapes, how the metropolis grew and cars came to dominate, and the in-between and negative spaces the city left behind as it expanded. Through a wide open call process, LA Road Concerts brings together art school graduates, working artists, local residents and other artists, writers, musicians, performers, to realize a broad array of kinds of interactions with the sites. 
This particular road concert is part of the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (http://worlddayofremembrance.org), commemorating the many millions killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families and communities. For pedestrians, DTLA is the most dangerous area of the most dangerous US city. Over 600 people on foot were hit by cars in DTLA over 12 years, averaging a person a week. This road concert asks participating artists of any medium to make works that bring awareness to traffic casualties, ponder solutions and utopias, remember the victims, investigate car culture, and explore the complexity of the problem, such as what causes people to make dangerous decisions like texting or drinking while driving, or how our transit systems reflect America's race and class inequalities and privilege the able bodied.

The Day of Remembrance Road Concert loop traverses DTLA’s Historic Core, moving southwesterly along Spring and northeasterly along Main, passing LAPD Headquarters, the LA Times Building, $9 flat rate public parking lots, the Hotel Cecil, City Hall, and other landmarks. Works can be in one location, many locations, or no location in particular. Participating artists don't need to be physically present and may choose to make downloadable work.

The preferred deadline for submissions is November 1st, though submissions will be accepted until a week before the event.
An official map of the day’s events along with project descriptions and other downloadable information will be available to the public a week before the event on the event website (www.laroadconcerts.com). Previous road concert projects can be viewed through the website. (site relaunch: TBD)
Please contact us with any proposals, questions, or suggestions at [email protected]. Or feel free to call or text Stephen van Dyck at 505-331-9588 to discuss your potential submission. 

Vision Zero LA Releases RFQ for Community-Based Organizations and Artists

Read the original City of Los Angeles Vision Zero post here.


Download a PDF of the application here. For more information on this opportunity, send questions to [email protected].

Qualifications are due by 4pm on November 4, 2016. See below for complete timeline and instructions.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has received approximately $250,000 in funding from the California Office of Transportation Safety (OTS) to work directly with community based organizations to implement innovative, creative and engaging, site-specific interventions, outreach, and education along 10 specific corridors suffering from some of the highest rates of traffic deaths and serious injuries in Los Angeles. This Vision Zero Community-Based Outreach and Education will bring awareness and advocacy to the issue of traffic safety, and aims to help eliminate traffic fatalities along 10 high-fatality corridors, or Vision Zero Impact Corridors. LADOT has contracted with Community Arts Resources (CARS) to coordinate the community-based outreach and education campaign.

A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) went public on October 17, 2016 for organizations and individuals who have knowledge and deep experience with specific communities located along high-priority corridors. These organizations and individuals will work directly with CARS to develop and implement creative solutions to community engagement and education on the issue of traffic safety in their communities.

Organizations, individuals, or teams are invited to submit their qualifications to be eligible to receive a grant of approximately $25,000 per one-mile corridor (per Vision Zero Impact Corridor) to execute the scope of the Vision Zero Temporary Intervention Program. 

The community-based outreach and education program will develop on-the ground, site-specific physical intervention(s) along high-fatality corridor(s). This may be accomplished by performing one or several of the following intervention strategies in any combination:

  • Artist-led or creative interventions along the identified corridor(s) including sculpture, graphics, visuals, or time-based temporal projects
  • Community specific solutions with a specific cultural vocabulary
  • Interactive approaches that involve participation by residents of the area
  • Iterative processes that develop a project based upon continual feedback loops to inform and refine the finished program

The community-based organizations may work independently or in collaboration with other organizations within the targeted community. Arts organization as well as individual artists are also encouraged to submit their qualifications. 


Criteria for Selection

Qualifications will be reviewed based upon the following criteria.

  • Direct experience with at least one of the identified communities and its challenges
  • Proven experience executing community-based projects
  • Past work using non-traditional approaches or creative approaches to community engagement
  • Fiscally sound and responsible track records
  • Understanding of the Vision Zero program and principles


Vision Zero Community-Based Outreach and Education Project Schedule

Specific engagement activities will develop from a planning phase that will occur after the contract has been awarded.

  • RFQ Released (October 17)
  • Questions regarding the RFQ (submitted by 11:00am on October 24 to [email protected])
  • Posting of Answers (October 28 by 5pm)
  • Qualifications Due (submitted by 4:00pm on November 4 to [email protected])
  • Panel Review (late November)
  • Contracts Awarded (December 2016 – January 2017)
  • Planning Phase (January, February, March 2017)
  • Roll Out of Installations and Activities (April, May, June 2017)
  • Wrap-up and evaluation of efforts (July, August, September 2017)


Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Where the Sidewalk Ends: 4 Recommendations for a Greener, Healthier, More Walkable LA

4.5-minute read

TAKE ACTION TODAY! Contact your City Councilmember to protect city trees. 


Look around Los Angeles and you’re bound to see crowds of people — including youth, individuals with disabilities, and older adults — standing in the sun waiting for a bus. Or you might see a senior pushing a walker across craggy sidewalks, navigating around bulging tree roots. Or worse, you might see communities already disproportionately impacted by extreme heat, poor air quality, and deteriorating sidewalks with very little shade. But, it doesn't have to be this way anymore…

In Los Angeles, we have an unprecedented and extraordinary opportunity to create safe, walkable communities while investing meaningfully in street trees, all while achieving countless public health, safety, sustainability, and resilience goals already in place.

How? The sidewalk repair program spurred by the Willits settlement in the City of Los Angeles, which is addressing the urgent and long overdue need to ensure safe sidewalk and pedestrian access for all Angelenos. The program, which will invest $30 million annually and $1.3 billion over the next 30 years, represents a tremendous opportunity to strategically invest resources to achieve countless health, environment, and equity goals in our city.

The program also presents an opportunity to leverage upwards of $20+ billion from local funding sources that is expected to be invested in water supply and quality improvements, flood protection, and transportation that will take place along the very same streets, sidewalks and parkways of neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.

Where We Are Today

The City Sidewalk Repair Program, approved by the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor in March of 2016, lays out an ambitious plan for expediting sidewalk repairs while directing City departments to investigate a range of options for improving standard practices and leveraging infrastructure enhancement opportunities. This includes, but is not limited to, directives to: protect street trees and advance City urban forestry practices; explore alternative and sustainable designs, materials, and manufacturers; and investigate low-cost and ADA-compliant green infrastructure standard plans (and potential funding sources) to capture stormwater.

As of September 2016, the City is rapidly advancing deployment of sidewalk repair program components to target high-need repair areas, as it was mandated to do. However, there’s a huge problem: the City has yet to conduct an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to understand the full impacts of the sidewalk repair program, and we still don’t have critical report-backs from various City departments on what standards the City will use to protect street trees from removal whenever possible. 

This means that we are already starting to rip up LA sidewalks without any sense of how this program will impact our City’s street trees, or how we’ll mitigate for the damages. This is unacceptable, and will have long-standing consequences for Angelenos if we don’t do things right.

A protective, mature tree canopy can take decades to replace, and given the pressures already placed on our street tree population by drought and pests, unnecessary removal and/or inadequate replacement of canopy could result in permanent loss of the critical protections trees provide. Furthermore, an unintended consequence of rapid sidewalk repair program deployment is that many of the repairs, investments, and construction done in the early years of the program face a high chance of being undone, or redone, as other programs are implemented.


  1. Public Outreach and Education. Key stakeholders, including people with disabilities, low-tree canopy communities, City agencies and elected officials, neighborhood leaders and the people of Los Angeles, MUST understand the public health, environmental, equity, and fiscal impacts of the sidewalk program. We need greater transparency and appropriate communication forums to provide the public with opportunities to provide input on how the City prioritizes investments in our infrastructure.
  2. Protect against immediate threats to street trees. It’s critical to jumpstart repairs to improve accessibility for Angelenos. However, it is possible that we could see 1,000 trees removed in just the first year of the program. It is imperative that the City develops a thorough understanding of the heat and health impacts to communities if urban canopy is removed. We also need ironclad strategies for avoiding tree removals whenever possible and ensuring adequate levels of canopy are maintained. A critical first step is ensuring that the City commits to funding and caring for replacement trees that the sidewalk program removes. TAKE ACTION TODAY! Visit TreePeople's website to write to your Councilmember!
  3. Update and re-imagine urban forestry standards and practices. The sidewalk repair program provides a unique opportunity, given its impact on street trees, to re-imagine a robust, visionary urban forestry program that adequately protects LA’s urban forest for 30 years of sidewalk repairs and beyond. Key to this is updating standards around planting specifications, proper tree species selection, replacement ratios, pruning and watering cycles, and other best practices to reflect the reality of the health of our City’s current street tree population, as well as future drought and climate change scenarios. We also need a citywide framework that prioritizes a data-driven, needs-based approach for identifying high priority planting areas while providing communities in these areas with appropriate resources for maintaining healthy trees. To achieve all of this, the City’s Urban Forestry Division must be adequately resourced to maintain our current canopy levels and ensure we’re planting today for the canopy we’ll need tomorrow.
  4. Leverage multi-benefit opportunities through coordinated planning. Given the contributions trees make to public health, flood control, water quality and supply, and energy savings, the sidewalk program should be leveraged to bring together a range of City stakeholders to advance upgrades to our infrastructure. Spending time now, at the program’s inception, to collectively identify collaborative funding and planning opportunities around infrastructure investments can help ensure we avoid canopy loss and missed opportunities for enhancing public health and livability investments in public rights-of-way.

The City of LA is truly at a crossroads (streets pun=INTENDED). Are we going to join other cities around the US and the world that have recognized the critical life-saving and environmental benefits that a thriving urban forest provides its residents, and make worthy investments in trees as essential city infrastructure? Or will we fail our communities by leaving them vulnerable to heat-related health impacts because we were unable to see the value of our urban forest as we craft new sidewalk repair policies and programs? It’s up to us as a community to make sure our voices are heard loud and clear on this one. TAKE ACTION TODAY and make sure your voice is heard.

Jenny Binstock serves as Policy Coordinator at TreePeople. Contact [email protected] to get more information or to get involved.

4 ways Measure M will help create safe, walkable communities in LA County

This November, Los Angeles County voters will have an opportunity to drastically improve the way they get around the region every day, and the way people move around LA for generations to come.

The November ballot will include a measure called Measure M, also known as the “Los Angeles Country Traffic Improvement Plan.” Measure M is a half-cent sales tax increase that will generate over $850 million every year to improve mobility and transportation options throughout LA County.

Investing in Place, which tracks public investment in the built environment, recently conducted a poll of LA County voters. The poll shows broad support for a forward-thinking and world class transportation plan for Los Angeles County, with overwhelming support for fixing broken sidewalks, adding safe crosswalks, safe routes to school, and easier access to transit.

Los Angeles Walks supports Measure M because of the enormous impact it will have on the safety and walkability of communities throughout LA County.

Here are 4 ways Measure M will make Los Angeles County one of the easiest places to walk, bike, and roll in the nation:

  1. It will fund walking, biking, and complete streets projects. Over $4 billion over the next 50 years will be dedicated towards walking, biking, and complete streets projects. These projects will benefit people of all ages and abilities, like children walking to school and seniors walking to the supermarket. In fact, $900 million will be set aside to improve access to transit, allowing more of us to safely get to and from the rapidly growing Metro system.

  2. It will help cities repair local streets and sidewalks. Up to 17% of revenue generated countywide by Measure M will go back to cities to repair local infrastructure (called “local return”).  Even though fixing streets and sidewalks is the responsibility of local jurisdictions, many cities haven’t had enough funding to keep sidewalks in good condition or to make them accessible to people with disabilities. Measure M can help. For example, if approved, over $30 million per year in local return will be dedicated to the cities of the Gateway Cities subregion and over $17 million per year to the cities of the South Bay subregion.

  3. It will complete the Los Angeles River and San Gabriel Valley Greenways. Measure M includes $650 million in funding to create a more connected greenway network for people of all ages and abilities to ride, walk, run, and roll with their families and friends, whether for recreation or to get to work, school, or anywhere else.   

  4. It will fund walking and biking programs countywide. Metro has reserved $857.5 million – about $20 million per year – for programs and projects conducted throughout the county, like Safe Routes to School, bike safety classes, public education campaigns, open streets, and bike sharing. Measure M revenue would provide a stable source of funding for these ongoing and important programs, which are currently subject to the uncertainty of grant funding.

Investing in Place and Los Angeles Walks will continue to provide voters with the information they need as they head to the ballot box this November.

For more information on Measure M, please visit www.investinginplace.org

Airport 2 Park Takes a Step Forward

The following guest post was written by Michael Brodsky, of Airport2Park, and reflects the views and opinions of that organization, and not necessarily those of Los Angeles Walks.

Earlier this summer Airport2Park and Los Angeles Walks co-hosted a walk around the entire perimeter of the Santa Monica Airport. The walk examined the environmental impacts of the airport, looked at pedestrian infrastructure there, and explored the movement to replace the airport with a grand park. Soon after, on August 24, 2016, the Santa Monica City Council passed a unanimous resolution “to close Santa Monica Airport as soon as legally possible and begin planning for a park.”

Coincidence? We think not!

This is an historic announcement that sets Santa Monica on a clear path to eventually remove the barbed wire fences and de-pave the airport tarmac of the Santa Monica Airport, opening up 180 acres to walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and everyone in between.


A rendering of the future former-Santa Monica Airport.

The momentum to turn Santa Monica Airport into a park is propelled by the need to address important quality of life and public access issues. For the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Venice, Mar Vista, and Westdale, the need to reduce the harmful health impacts of noise, ultrafine particulate pollution, and toxic lead pollution caused by airport activity is immediate.

We also need to increase public access to parks and open space in Santa Monica. Surprisingly, the city currently has only 1.39 acres of parkland per 1000 residents. This is just half the average of L.A. County and a quarter of that of the City of Los Angeles. It is the absolute lowest per comparable cities in California. While only about 350 people actually fly out of the Santa Monica Airport every day, there are more than 2,000 daily visitors to the adjacent Clover Park, where we kicked off our walk in August. 


We met on a beautiful overcast morning in the southwest corner of Clover Park, where only a chain link fence separates the airport runway and the park. Our first stop was at the children’s playground that backs up to the fence. Only 25 feet away, the private planes at Santa Monica Airport fill up with toxic lead aviation fuel. About 50 yards away is an active jet runway and a holding area, where aircraft idle and spew jet fumes and ultrafine particulate matter into the air that people in the park and families in nearby homes breathe every day. Later we would see a pre-school located in a similarly precarious spot, and houses dangerously close to the end of the airport runway.

Thankfully, the August 24 City Council resolution addresses these conditions, directing the Santa Monica City Manager to immediately minimize the current harmful impacts of aviation use. The City would do this by taking over the “Fixed Base Services” and evict private Fixed Base Operator jet companies, removing the “Western Parcel” to shorten the runway to create a safety zone that would remove larger jets, and ending the sale of toxic lead fuel at the airport. City Council member Gleam Davis also gave direction to airport staff to start the Environmental Impact Report and National Environmental Policy Act planning as soon as possible, so when the airport is finally closed, the project to create a new park would be “shovel ready.” 


The view from the Santa Monica Airport Administration Building observation deck. 

Given all of this great news, the process to close the airport and build a park 1/3 the size of New York City’s Central Park will not happen overnight. There are two important court cases that must be heard in Federal Court that will clarify the rights of the City regarding this land. But we now have a clear roadmap of civic steps that will eventually lead to a greener future for Santa Monica.

For more information on Airport2Park, please visit airport2park.org

Case Study: Creating a Safer Sunset Blvd.

On city streets, change can be quick in life and death. But making changes to city streets in sprawling, complex, car-centric Los Angeles can be painfully slow. It shouldn’t take the loss of life to incite a change, but in Los Angeles and many other places in this country, this is often the case.

So it was on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, where I live.  

Over the course of two years, two people were killed while crossing the street at Maltman Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. A driver struck and killed Danny while he walked in the crosswalk after leaving the 99 Cents store. A year before that, a driver struck and killed Alberto in the same crosswalk. Two lives in two years may seem small, but it’s two lives too many.

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10 Wild Miles in Los Angeles

On July 30th, 2016, Los Angeles walks held its first ‘Wild Walk.’

Will Wright, who came up with the idea for a ‘wild walk’ and who is Director of Government and Public Affairs for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Los Angeles Chapter, wanted to do something new. Unlike other group walks with Los Angeles Walks, this one had no route and no theme. Instead, we would allow our interests to lead us where we desire. In the end, we walked 9.6 miles and trekked over some public stairs, dirt roads and alleyways, and through a few parks. (Check out our entire route here.)

About 15 of us gathered at the Indiana Street station on the Metro Gold Line is East Los Angeles where Will shared the plan (or lack thereof) for the walk. Each person would lead the way as naturally flowed; we were encouraged to stop and point out any interesting architecture, public art, or other point of interest we saw. Will explained that the Wild Walk would only be successful if we got lost at least once (spoiler alert: we did). We also set a goal to use maps or phones as little as possible, which we mostly abided by.  

To begin the Wild Walk, we oriented the group in the general direction of travel towards our intended ending point - South Pasadena, which was about 6 miles as the crow flies and a little over 7 miles using the most direct walking route.

Our first stop was the Pan American Bank on First Street, where we admired murals adorning the New Formalist building. We headed north and found ourselves back on Indiana, taking the newly built steps, connecting the street between Floral Drive and Folsom Street. At the top of the stairs, we stopped to admire Mr. Okuno’s El Pino, a living monument to East Los Angeles’ multicultural populations of the past, present, and future. 

El Pino by Eric Brightwell

El Pino, left, and the Indiana Street steps. Photo credit: Eric Brightwell 

We continued north on Indiana Street’s alleyways, skirting the dividing line between the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles. At Fairmount Street we faced our first hurdle: a public stairway that had been illegally locked by residents. After the minor detour, we continued north where we saw a house on stilts, hovering high above City Terrace. The group was drawn to the precarious impossibility of the architecture, which led to our first real setback. We discovered Stone Street was a loop, forcing us to backtrack (mission accomplished).

After finding the pedestrian crossing for the I-10 along North Evergreen Avenue (not very pleasant), we took a pause for water and to play on the playgrounds at Henry Alvarez Memorial Park in Ramona Park. I led the group toward the corner of Indiana Street and Medford Street in the noontime sun, where we happened upon a gentleman selling Aguas Frescas. Sixteen thirsty walkers were happy to support a hardworking street vendor! 

Street Vendor Aguas frescas break! 

We walked along Soto Street, the western edge of Ascot Hills Park. The sidewalks were narrow; it was not the most pleasant to walk, but we continued northward. After joining Huntington Drive, we turned left onto Tourmaline, drawn to a very tall public stairway. At the top of the stairway, we happened upon a local resident, Javier, who some walk participants knew! We filled up our water bottles and took a bathroom break. Javier directed us to the overlook of Downtown Los Angeles on Rose Hill – a great view for sure.

At this point, most of us were losing steam, so we decided to head to the closest Gold Line Station, the Southwest Museum.  We walked along Amethyst Street to Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, where we walked up and over hills, stopping by Peanut Hill Lake, where we took a well-deserved break in the cool shade. We descended into the Arroyo Seco, crossing at the Bridge at Sycamore Park, where half of the group headed home from the Southwest Museum station, while the other half sought lunch,beer, and iced coffee along Figueroa Street.

In the end, we walked nearly 10 miles as a group, visiting over a dozen neighborhoods, with lots of great views and exciting locations along the way. There’s nothing better than walking - aimlessly - in Los Angeles!

Marc Caswell is a supporter of Los Angeles Walks and a Senior Planner at Alta Planning + Design.

Footnotes Feature: Latinos Reinvigorating Walking at Cesar Chavez and Soto St.

With the 2016 edition of Footnotes coming soon, we're revisiting articles that appeared in our 2015 issue. The following piece was written by James Rojas, an urban planner, community activist, and artist. 

By James Rojas

The Cesar Chavez and Soto St. intersection swarms daily with pedestrians, transit riders, cyclists, and street vendors. It exemplifies how Latinos are transforming LA’s auto-designed streets to promote walking.

Decades earlier Cesar Chavez (Brooklyn Avenue in those days) and Soto was the historic heart of the city’s Jewish community. Today it is one of the busiest Eastside shopping areas. The ubiquitous gas station lies on the southeast corner, and zero-lot-line buildings are on the other three. Latinos have retrofitted these buildings and their façades, and activate the public space to fit their social, cultural, economic, and mobility needs. Every change Latinos make to their streets, no matter how small, has meaning and purpose, representing the struggles, triumphs, everyday habits, and beliefs of LA’s new pedestrians.


Many of Los Angeles’s pedestrian-oriented streets and districts—Old Town Pasadena, Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, and Olvera Street—are predicated on the transportation pattern of people driving there, parking, and then walking. By and large these areas contain particularly expensive commercial space; their retail establishments tend to consist of national or regional chains. Parking is expensive and is most often housed in massive structures scattered throughout the district.

Cesar Chavez and Soto provides a different model of a walkable place. The businesses tend to be small and local, with a large part of their clientele consisting of everyday residents coming on foot from the adjacent residential neighborhoods. There isn’t much parking, and the merchandise shop owners stock tends to be small or in small quantities (e.g., a four-pack of toilet paper as opposed to a 36-pack) so that people can carry these items home.


Another difference between this intersection and more conventional pedestrian districts lies in the physical design of the environment. Cesar Chavez’s urban design is do-it-yourself (DIY) in look and feel. The gas station has been turned into a King Taco. The “El Corrido de Boyle Heights” mural by East Los Streetscapers livens up the southwest corner facing Soto. Trees have been planted by residents or business owners themselves. Signs are hand-painted or crafted and exude individuality rather than consistency. Merchandise is frequently placed out on the sidewalk to entice buyers. Building setbacks are inconsistent; some storefronts are simply built-out extensions of people's homes. The result is an environment that is tactile, full of a particular visual and sensual energy, containing a sort of hodgepodge messiness not often found in the more pre-planned pedestrian districts of LA. Somewhat ironically, it is this vibrancy that these other districts try so hard to create via a top-down control of scale, use, tree canopy, sidewalk width, and fountain and public art placement.

James Rojas is an urban planner, community activist, and artist.

Action Alert: Keep Mobility Plan 2035 Intact

Two corridors are at risk of being eliminated from the Plan's Bicycle Enhanced Network: Westwood Blvd. near UCLA and Central Avenue in South LA.

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