Living Streets Tenets

30 September 2009

by Jen Petersen

In July, a GLATWG Complete Streets subgroup met to discuss how to move towards Los Angeles-specific implementation of the State of California’s Complete Streets Act of 2007/8. We decided that the first and most crucial step in this direction would be to define what we wanted ‘Complete Streets’ to mean, and to look like, given the contemporary state of streets in LA. And so we fashioned a list of tenets for what we dubbed Living Streets –because we wanted to specify that we don’t aim to complete our streets, which would imply that an objective completeness is possible–but to bring them alive, and invite them to a dynamic role in the life of our city.

The key proposition behind our tenets for Living Streets, is that by focusing on the basic mobility needs of people, rather than cars, we can make more efficient use of our City, retraining our streets as a healthy circulatory system for us, and begin to remedy some of the uninviting characteristics of life in Los Angeles. In other words, if we reapportion our abundant street space for people-scaled urban needs for closeness, beauty, and safety, we will pave the way for better residential and business development patterns that support high quality residential and commercial life.

Our ’10 Tenets for Living Streets’ follow.

10 Tenets for Living Streets Los Angeles

Overarching, supra-tenet:

**Our streets prioritize people, not automobiles**

1.) Living streets integrate income equity into their design and function.

2.) Living Streets are designed for people of all ages and physical abilities whether they walk, bicycle, ride transit, or drive.

3.) Living Streets integrate connectivity and traffic calming with pedestrian-oriented site and building design to create safe and inviting places.

4.) Living Streets connect people through:
* everyday interaction
* shared responsibility to street design and planning.

5.) Living Streets strengthen and enhance neighborhoods.

6.) Living Streets encourage active and healthy lifestyles.

7.) Living Streets integrate green management and conservation of water, energy, and plant life.

8.) Living Streets are inviting places–with engaging architecture, street furniture, landscaping, and public art.

9.) Living Streets foster healthy commerce.

10.) Living streets vary in character by neighborhood, density and function.

(Created by Aurisha, Deborah, Dorothy, Jen, Ryan on August 5, 2009)

Wilshire Bus-Only Lane Project Map - from Metro Website - Click for 2-page Metro Fact Sheet with Detailed Map

Wilshire Bus-Only Lane Project Map - from Metro Website - Click for 2-page Metro Fact Sheet with Detailed Map

Since the Fall of 2006, before I got involved with the Green L.A. Transportation Working Group, GLATWG has had among its top three goals the following: (from our 2006 publication A Green Los Angeles)

Reccomendation: Increase bus-only lanes
Immediately begin planning implementation of more peak-hour bus-only lanes.

The Bus Riders Union has lead the campaign for the city of Los Angeles’ Wilshire Boulevard bus-0nly lanes, and many GLATWG members have testified in favor of these lanes at public hearing. The Wilshire project is funded, and currently undergoing environmental review. Readers can find out more about the project at Metro’s website and at this recent article at L.A. StreetsBlog.

The project as currently planned and funded will run on Wilshire Boulevard from Valencia Street (in Pico Union) to Centinela (the L.A. – Santa Monica border), though does not include the stretch of Wilshire through the city of Beverly Hills. The neighborhoods traversed are represented by Los Angeles City Councilmembers (from East to West)  Ed Reyes, Herb Wesson, Tom LaBonge, Paul Koretz, and Bill Rosendahl.

Green L.A. Transportation Work Group recently generated the following sign-on letter in which our participants expressed our bus-only lane project support to newly-elected Councilmember Paul Koretz:

8 September 2009

Honorable Councilmember Paul Koretz
200 North Spring Street, Room 440
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Re: Wilshire Boulevard Bus-Only Lane Project

Dear Councilmember Koretz:

Thank you for your strong record of environmental leadership at the city of West Hollywood, and in the State Legislature. We look forward to working with you to make progress on environmental issues in the city of Los Angeles.

The undersigned Green Los Angeles Coalition members listed below wish to express our support for the implementation of the city’s planned and funded bus only lanes for Wilshire Boulevard. The Green L.A. Coalition is a broad coalition of environmental justice and environmental groups working to make Los Angeles more equitable and more sustainable for all its residents.

The Wilshire Bus-Only Lane project is important as a visible example of the city’s commitment to green transportation. This project will help the city to expand mobility options, to set precedent for more complete living streets, to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollution, and to improve public health.  The Wilshire Bus-Only Lanes broaden the range of transportation options, including supporting multimodal trips combining walking and bicycling with transit.

Please exercise your environmental leadership to ensure that this project continues to make progress, and to see that it is implemented in a timely manner.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Joe Linton
Green L.A. Transportation Working Group Co-Chair
Urban and Environmental Policy Institute

Colleen Callahan
Manager of Air Quality Policy and Advocacy
American Lung Association in California

Jennifer Klausner
Executive Director
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition

Deborah Murphy
Los Angeles Walks, Founder
City of Los Angeles Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Chair

Francisca Porchas
Lead Organizer Clean Air Campaign
Bus Riders Union

Bart Reed
Executive Director
Transit Coalition

Martin Schlageter
Campaign Director
Coalition for Clean Air

Sentayehu G Silassie
Board President
Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance

Ryan Snyder
RSA Associates

Erin Steva
Transportation Advocate

Denny Zane
Executive Director
Move L.A.*

*title/organization is for identification purposes only

 cc: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson, Los Angeles City Councilmembers LaBonge, Reyes, Rosendahl, and Wesson

Green LA Transportation Work Group (GLATWG) meets the second Tuesday of each month from 2pm-4pm. The next meeting will be Tuesday September 8th at the offices of the Coalition for Clean Air at 811 W. 7th Street, Suite 1100, LA 90017. Located above the Metro Red/Blue Line 7th Street Station.

Draft Agenda:

1. Report-Back Jaime de la Vega Meeting
2. Wilshire Bus-Ony Lanes
3. Living Streets Next Steps
4. Metro Long Range Transportation Plan, including issues with Measure R Local Return funding for ped/bike/bus
5. Taxicab update (To be confirmed)
6. Parking report
7. Check-in on GLATWG workplan (To be confirmed)

At the August 2009 Green L.A. Transportation Work Group meeting, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition‘s Alexis Lantz announced Park(ing) Day Los Angeles will take place on Friday September 18th. Park(ing) Day is an annual event spectacle where dozens of teams build temporary mini-parks in parking spaces all over the world. It’s a fun event, and also a good way to advance local dialogs on the lack of open space, the use of public space, the need for living streets, and the myriad of issues related to parking.


The above flier is available here, and lots more information at the Park(ing) Day L.A. website.

At the August meeting of the Green L.A. Transportation Work Group, Move L.A.‘s Denny Zane presented briefly about a proposed 2010 ballot measure that would make it easier for voters to approve transit funding. Move L.A. is part of a fledgling effort so-far called the Coalition to Protect Local Vital Services. It’s a statewide effort to initiate and pass a ballot proposition that would lower the percentage of votes needed to pass local funding initiatives.

Since the passage of California’s Proposition 13 in 1978,  a two-thirds supermajority is required to pass ballot propositions that raise taxes. This 2/3rds requirement applies to statewide and local ballot measures. For example, Measure R, last year’s county-wide sales tax for transportation funding, barely passed with  67.9% of the vote. The 2/3rds requirement has caused govermental funding for… well… vital local services to dwindle over time. It impacts not only transportation funding, but also education, healthcare, and many many other governmental programs. It also contributes to volatility in govermental budgets which swing from surpluses in boom years to deficits today. 

In 2000, California voters passed Prop 39 which lowered the threshold to 55% for passage of school bond funding. The new proposed not-yet-named not-yet-finalized ballot proposition, targeted for fall 2010, would lower the threshold to 55% for other local ballot funding measures. This would include transportation initiatives (like Measure R), as well as school operations and maintenance, libraries, stormwater, police, parks, etc.

So far, the Coalition to Protect Vital Local Services has been energized  by polling that shows that Californians are frustrated with the difficulties of funding services via a gridlocked dysfunctional state government, hence there is support for allowing local municipalities to more easily raise their own funds. The polling, conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin and Associates,  is summarized in this memo and this presentation. If you’re interested in getting involved in this 55% initiative, contact Move L.A. locally. GLATWG will try to make more information available as we find it.

There’s also a broader multi-year effort to organize and mobilize to undo even more provisions of Prop 13. It’s part of a statewide effort called the California Alliance, which includes the Los Angeles organization SCOPE, whose organizer I heard about it from. I expect to share more on this campaign, too, as it emerges.