The City of West Hollywood is moving forward with exploring the development of a streetscape plaza public gathering space on San Vicente Boulevard north of Melrose Avenue and south of Santa Monica Boulevard.
The city council voted unanimously to pass item 5.C. on Monday’s regular city council meeting directing the Urban Design & Architecture Studio to collaborate with the Public Safety, Public Works, and Economic Development Departments and the Event Services, Facilities & Field Services, and Arts Divisions and proceed with the following:
1) Work with professional Landscape Architecture and Civil Engineering consultants to develop the design for a transformable urban streetscape plaza to support city programs and goals.
2) Develop a cost analysis and timeline for implementation.
3) Pursue project support grants from outside agencies.
4) Reach out to community stakeholders, first responders, and affected transportation agencies for feedback and input.
5) Return to the City Council with a final design and implementation plan that includes an analysis of impacts as well as recommendations on timing, construction staging, funding requirements, and operational suggestions for desired uses or programs, and number of street closures per year.
A city staff report states that city-sponsored programming and other approved events account for approximately 20 to 30 days of partial or full street closures per year. The stretch of San Vicente Boulevard is completely exposed to the elements with little shade trees or respite within or alongside it. That stretch has also become a higher speed vehicular shortcut. Beyond traffic safety issues, serious public health concerns, particularly during the summer, arise when individuals spend significant time in direct sun exposure and are subjected.
With creative visioning, this portion of the boulevard has the potential to evolve and augment current temporary road closure practices (and staging costs each time) and to function as a thoughtfully designed “shared street”. If conceived as a space for both people and cars, this stretch can also serve as a forward thinking, transformable, pedestrian-oriented experience that can also bridge between the Pacific Design Center to the east and West Hollywood Park and Library to the west.
Adjacent to STORIES: The AIDS Monument, conceptually this new shared street gathering space would be created through temporary, partial, or full closures and designed as a micro-climate inspired ecosystem emphasizing shading, resource management, and pedestrian-oriented wayfinding in support of city-sponsored or otherwise approved programs and events, permitted activities, and organized or impromptu gatherings.
The intent is to have a space that is temporary yet flexible and transformable seasonally and situationally. If carefully crafted as a “streetscape plaza”, this bookended and protected area could operate as a programmatic extension of West Hollywood Park, as a useful companion to the STORIES: The AIDS Monument, or as an independent civic or public event space itself. Centrally located within the city’s west side, San Vicente Streetscape Plaza would be well buffered from a sound standpoint from residentially zoned areas nearby yet still very walkable and in close enough proximity from the diversely scaled neighborhoods that surround it.
Council member John Erickson motioned to move item 5.C. forward with additional direction to keep the Transportation Commission in the loop. His motion was seconded by Mayor Pro-Tem Shyne and the motion passed unanimously.