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‘Take Back the Boulevard’ Celebrates PARKing Day (VIDEO)

For eight hours on Friday, two metered parking spaces on Colorado Boulevard were turned into Eagle Rock’s first parklet.

Members of the Take Back the Boulevard steering committee celebrated PARK(ing) Day on Friday by taking over two metered parking spaces on the southeast corner of Colorado Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard and converting the space into a temporary parklet from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Eagle Rock residents and TBTB members Allen Compton and Chloé Renée Ziegler, accompanied by Occidental College Adjunct Professor and Policy Director of Urban & Environmental Policy Institute Mark Vallianatos, camped out in chairs and sipped coffee under the shade of umbrellas in the first two parking spaces roughly opposite Dave’s Chillin-n-Grillin.

The spaces were paved with Astroturf and several planters loaned by Swork owner Patricia Neale Vuagniaux served as an aesthetic barrier from the traffic whizzing past. A similar celebration was underway on York Boulevard in Highland Park.

Except for the business owner of Michele’s, a hair salon next to Dave’s deli, nobody appeared to be ticked off by the makeshift parklet, which not only happened to be the first of its kind in Eagle Rock but coincided with the historic flight of the Endeavour space shuttle overhead. “Why don’t you do this in the back?” the irate entrepreneur complained, evidently objecting to the loss of two parking spaces that might have been occupied by potential customers.

Just what kind of impact, whether positive or negative, the parklet had on local business is hard to say. But this much was clear: The city didn’t lose any parking revenues. The PARK(ing) Day activists dutifully fed the parking meters for the entire eight hours they were camped.

Click here to read more about PARK(ing) Day and Take Back the Boulevard.

Sophia September 22, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Nice video. I think parklets make a huge difference in shifting neighborhood dynamics. I have seen as much in a few places I have visited. In San Francisco's Noe Valley, the recently added parklets have slowed street traffic to a human speed, and created more of a village feel for the neighborhood. Atwater village has a lovely parklet in front of Kaldi's coffee, and it has become a community hub. Hope this happens for Eagle Rock.
John Goldfarb September 22, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Appropriating two parking spaces for a mini-parklet at a busy, loud intersection may sound like a great idea, but thanks for noting that the owner of Michele's hair salon was ticked off. Two parking spaces in front of that and other nearby shops X 8 hours might have represented a lot of lost business for that day. Not true for Swork, which benefited from extra, albeit temporary, outdoor seating. If we want parklets, let's go through a process that invites public comment and get them.
Tim Tritch September 22, 2012 at 06:25 PM
These types of community prjects are great, but we all know of the parking problems in ER. Certainly the directly affected business owners should have been consulted. You might have been able to find a spot where the business owners ould have been delighted to have this in front of their stores. Just to be fair, and because I dont know, I ask if any of the businesses that rely on those parking spaces were consulted beforehand?
Tim Tritch September 22, 2012 at 06:28 PM
As a side note, because Swork was mentioned here: I love Swork. I will go there instead of the 'other' coffe shops whenever I am in ER. I see that Swork has tables out on the sidewalk. Do they have some kind of permit for those tables and chairs on the sidewalk?
Dianne Ennis September 22, 2012 at 06:45 PM
When I was a kid, I was taught that the streets were a dangerous place to stand let alone sit. Now they are asking people to sit, relax and eat, at the busiest street corner in ER. Streets are made for cars, trucks of all sizes, and bikes. I can remember in schoo,l kids playing pranks. They would make little sticker notes that said "hit me" and then stick it on someone's back. Well here it is kids. Take back the bouleard, but be smart about it. A family sitting down to enjoy a few minutes, a child gets loose from the mother/father and runs into the..oh wait, they're already in the street. (has anyone considered child endagerment or are children not allowed and parents have to sign a weaver)? A driver loses control, plows into the planter protection barriers and we lose another family in Eagle Rock and a hugh lawsuit. Will Sworks be the one sued or the city of ER? Safety first people! People are complaining about the lack of parking spaces up and down Colorado Blvd. How inconsiderate & disrespectful to other businesses on the block. Are people going to feed the meter while they sit and relax? That brings up another thought, these people sitting on the blvd., park their cars and then sit themselves down on a sofa or chair where other parking spaces use to be for other people to use! This is not Paris people. If you want to sit on the streets to relax and drink expresso, you need a better plan. I like the idea folks, but Colorado Blvd. is not the perfect place for this.
EagleRockMom September 22, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Several issues come to mind with this parklet idea. It is an interesting way to use parking spaces but aren't there city restrictions on converting spaces? If vehicles have a limit on how long they can occupy a space, wouldn't the same be true for a parklet? Feeding the meter doesn't circumvent this. Also, I can honestly say I wouldn't find sitting in the street all that appetizing. Perhaps the point of the experiement is lost on me, but did anyone contact the city to get permission to do this?
Tim Tritch September 22, 2012 at 09:03 PM
I have to agree with EagleRockMom on this one. Can you really sit and enjoy your coffee while cars are passing by literally two feet away, on the busiest corner in town. At the 1:13 point in the video, a car coming northbound on ER Bl. makes a right trun on the red light just as a pickup truck heading east on Colorado is coming through the inntersection. The car making the right swings into the second lane, not really tooo close, but definately a recipe for disaster. Dont we teach our children "Dont Play in the street!" I wonder if this gentleman has a business in ER. I would like to set up a "park" right in front of HIS business for a day, and have his customers park farther down the street, or just keep right on going. Then at the 1:30 mark the gentelmen talks about "Taking over parking spaces" For some reason I doubt if they consulted the businesses that already have very limited parking in that area if they would mind that those spaces were 'taken over' for the day. And then he actually says someithing about improvinng safety along the boulevard. Did this guy realize that he was sitting about two feet away from moving vehicles. I wonder if this guy would let his children sit in those chairs and drink their root beer floats. Is this what is meant by "Taking Back the Boulevard?" Great ideas, bad execution.
Tim Tritch September 22, 2012 at 09:21 PM
OOPS, At the 1:13 mark it is the pickup making the right, with another vehicle coming eastbound.
Tim Tritch September 22, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Severin, I in no way intended to imply that the use of public parking spaces are for the express use of the businesses located next to them. But they were surely never intened to be occupied by people drinking coffee. And regarding the success of a business depending on one or two parking spaces, for the most part that is true, but in an area where parking is at a premium, and multiple businesses rely on the limited available parking, yes, taking these two spaces could easily impact the revenues of the nearby businesses on that day. I like that you agree that some sort of discussion with the affected businesses shoudl have taken place, people representing organizations like TBTB garner no favor with the community when making a unilateral decision to 'occupy' public places to make a case for their own agenda. Does anybody know what the parking restrictions are for that particular block. Even with metered spaces I beleive there is still a time limit. If you're going to do any kind of demonstration,or communtiy education program, directly in front of somebody's business, at least show the common courtesy and ask for their input. As I stated before, its a great idea, executed very poorly. Not ot mention a little unsafe. And Sev is right, using the existing parking lots, and maybe even encouraging some 'lot sharing' among local businesses could also help.
Kathy September 22, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Why don't you 'sitters' get a real job and do something worthwhile?? The businesses you block off from potential customers don't appreciate you hogging the spaces.
Tim Tritch September 22, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Another thing that video shows, even though it is just a brief snapshot in time, is that every other street parking space on that block is taken, and I would venteure to guess that those two spots would have been occupied by customers of the nearby businesses had they been available. As far as how this affects nearby businesses, it was great for Swork, free additional seating, and you can even see the Swork cups on the tables. Was there ever a time when customers of other businesses besides Swork used the parklet. Again, great idea, bad execution
Tim Tritch September 22, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Severin, It is the little things like this that turn a town into a community. But doing it without consulting the affected businesses, on the busiest intersection in town, in an area where all the community residents know their is not ample parking, is just bad execution. I also get a sense of arrogance from anyone who would take it upon themselves to make a decision to do this, put pamphlets for their organization in what is supposed to be a place for everyone, and not consult the people most directly affected. And thank god it didnt happen, but exactly who would be held responsible if a terrible accident were to occcur and someone who was sitting in the street drinking coffee was injured, or worse. This is another reason why someone taking these things inoto their own hands is not always a great idea. @Kathy, I cant disagree with what you say, but Ican disagree with the way you say it. I am pretty sure that most of the people who might have enjoyed that little spot for the day were working class people, like most Eagle Rockers, and I do disagree with using the limited parking and not consulting with the nearby businesses. There is a time and place for everything, and this was neither
John Goldfarb September 23, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Tim, I appreciate your taking the time to give an even-handed response to the situation, considering the safety of whoever was occupying the parking spaces and their impact on surrounding businesses. It appears to have been a mild form of civil disobedience--an Eagle Rock iteration of the Occupy movement to call attention to the need for more public open spaces in the city. Maybe it's done its job as a means of calling people's attention to that issue. But again, if we want to re-appropriate public space permanently, there's no way around the bureaucracy other than to declare the 20 square feet of space around the parking meters in front of Dave's "People's Parklet," if anyone's old enough to remember Berkeley in the 60's.
Ajay Singh (Editor) September 23, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Severin—Dave's Chillin-n-Grillin was closed at the time that particular segment of the video was shot, which was around 9 a.m. It opened—or at least Dave himself came around and welcomed the TBTB team—shortly thereafter.
Michael Turmon September 23, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Tim, it sounds like you are making a big deal out of a minor event that didn't really inconvenience anyone in any noticeable way. It was a one day event to raise awareness and make people think about an issue. In this, it showed some value. If we start airing all our collective grievances about parking, it will be a long, not very interesting conversation. The TBTB concept is really not about parking grievances, it is about making the streets safer. It's kind of a pity that we got diverted in this way.
rebecca niederlander September 23, 2012 at 06:57 AM
http://la.curbed.com/archives/2012/09/visiting_4_of_parking_days_temporary_parklets_across_la.php There were PARKing Day experiments ALL OVER TOWN. How cool that a few Eagle Rock folks cared enough to get our community into this huge Los Angeles project. Kudos to TBTB, any staff, the businesses that helped out, and the teams all around for getting folks talking and thinking about how we experience the major thoroughfares...and how these community destinations can be more pedestrian friendly, and safer for a wider range of our town's inhabitants. As the projects move forward, I expect everyone will continue to have the sort of differences of opinion and strong feelings that we are so known for. It could even be that the businesses directly near the parklet may have had MORE business either that day, or may have new clientele coming in in the following few weeks, based on being seen by people rubbernecking to get a better look at the parklet.
EagleRockMom September 23, 2012 at 12:43 PM
@Rebecca and Severin I am all for making Colorado and Eagle Rock Boulevards more pedestrian friendly. I often walk with my family to patronize local businesses and I do experience a bit of stress every time we must cross the street at this intersection. And even if I come off as being critical of PARKing Day, I do appreciate those of you who are working to make Eagle Rock a safer place.
Bob Arranaga September 23, 2012 at 03:41 PM
As a member of TBTB, there are some facts that need to be known. This one day example of what a Parklet could look like was discussed ahead of time and the direclty affected businesses were alerted. There was one parking space taken, not two. The corner was picked due to its visibility to create a community awareness and it did create it. The committee checked with the City for any issues or concerns. Parklets are only one component of the TBTB, and it came to fruition because of the success of a parklet in Silver Lake. As a committee, we took a chance to create conversation with the local community. The idea of a parklet at this location in the future is not a good idea and there are other, less traveled areas that could be considered. Your comments all admit to the traffic being a factor and another component is to reduce speed on Colorado. Along with Swork, Dave's also did business as we bought our lunches from him. TBTB is working towards solutions from your input and you have spoken....and may continue to speak on this thread. Our intent was to educate and not to offend.
Bob G September 23, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Well said Bob Arranaga. One more point - all of the merchants potentially impacted - Swork, Beautiful Flowers, Michele's Salon and Dave's Chillin and Grillin were all totally supportive of the demo parklet. An additional plus was a visit from Jacob who owns the building where Dave's place is located. Jacob is very enthusiastic and supportive of the goals of TBTB. Finally, a big thanks to Swork, Sir Michaels and Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful for all pitching in to help TBTB stage this demo parklet for one day.
Ajay Singh (Editor) September 23, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Thanks for correcting my error, Bob—the parklet occupied one parking space, not two—although the entire spread did somehow give the fitting illusion that two spaces were used.
Rebecca October 03, 2012 at 06:14 AM
This is so cool! Wow Eagle Rock definitely rocks! Thinking outside of the box is what makes the city great. We're in escrow on a house in the neighborhood and look forward to moving to the greatest partk of L.A. very soon. THANK YOU TAKE BACK THE BOULEVARD! I love parks and I love this idea. It looks like you thought about the businesses and are really putting a lot of effort into making a better place for everyone.

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