By EGP Staff Report
Boyle Heights celebrated the completion of the first phase of its Living Streets initiative earlier this month with folkloric dances, live music, and more. The first phase of the four-part initiative involved installing benches, tables, planters, and community bulletin boards at the corner of Fickette and Bouler Streets creating community living rooms for public use.
The initiative started last year as a collaboration between the Green LA Coalition and the Boyle Heights community and others in an effort to improve the city’s streets. The goal was to first target the residential neighborhood streets of Fickett, Wabash, Whittier, and St. Louis. These streets were discussed among community members at workshops, planning sessions, and street walk audits, as the ones that needed the most attention due to their lack of resources and support as opposed to more commercial streets.
According to Green LA Executive Director Stephanie Taylor in an LA Streets Blog article, the organization received a $240,000 grant from the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department’s RENEW Program to draft up case studies and projects for the area’s improvement. However, Elizabeth Blaney, co-director of the Boyle Heights based Union de Vecinos, in the same article said that the initiative has been developed and controlled by Boyle Heights residents, which is rare in community focused projects.
For example, it was Boyle Heights residents who drafted the plans on where to plant trees and who designed and built many of the benches installed in phase one.
Two blocks of Fickett Street were closed off for the celebration, which Councilman Jose Huizar attended and spoke at the opening ceremony that led into the official installations.
Other parts of the Living Streets initiative call for curb extensions, crosswalks, trashcans, bike racks, bike lanes, and more. The projected process is estimated to take 3-5 years to complete.
“We want to keep working to see this plan through to have safe streets,” Maria Lopez, a community resident said. “We hope for the support of the community to do more work and move this forward.