Visitors in Westwood Village will soon have new places to sit outdoors in a small park that will replace several parking spots.
The Glendon Avenue Parklet project received support from the North Westwood Neighborhood Council on Jan. 9. The proposed parklet would expand the sidewalk and extend into Glendon Avenue, removing four parking meters outside of the Ministry of Coffee, a local coffee shop.
The Westwood Village Improvement Association, a nonprofit organization tasked with improving the state of Westwood, has partnered with Los Angeles Department of Transportation People St program to plan the project. People St is a program dedicated to transforming underused city streets into public spaces through community plaza and parklet projects. The program helps initiate projects by providing preapproved designs so that applicants will not have the hassle of working with multiple city departments, said LADOT planning assistant Kevin Ocubillo.
The association began the proposal process in September, making it the newest addition to People St’s six parklets across Los Angeles, Ocubillo said. There are currently two parklets in West Los Angeles, he added.
If approved by People St, the association would have a one-year contract with Los Angeles to maintain and operate the parklet, Ocubillo said. After one year, People St would assess the condition of the parklet, and the association can consider reconfiguring aspects of the space before renewing their agreement for another two to three years, he added.
“Really they’re meant to be a catalyst for larger investment in the neighborhood,” Ocubillo said. “For the space that holds two or four cars, we’ve made it a space for people.”
The project was inspired by the 2018 PARK(ing) Day, a worldwide annual event, in which the association set up a pop-up park in front of Ministry of Coffee similar to the proposed parklet. The temporary installation converted the outdoor space to include seating and lounge areas for pedestrians in place of the four parking meters, said Megan Furey, marketing and communications manager of the association.
During the event, Furey received over 45 signatures for a petition in support of creating a more permanent parklet in the area. The association and Ministry of Coffee then teamed up to apply for a longer-lasting parklet, Furey said.
The association has not chosen a layout for the parklet yet and plans to get public input on design elements, Furey added. Through People St, applicants can choose from preapproved designs or combine elements from various designs of other parklets. While Furey said she plans to focus on seating and pedestrian-friendly additions, the final design depends on community feedback.
“The design depends on funding and what the community wants,” Furey said.
The association is currently surveying the community to assess support for the parklet.
Furey said funding for the project will be crowdsourced from businesses, partners and Westwood stakeholders. They are aiming to raise $40,000 to install the parklet, and hope to have the parklet installed within six months to a year from now, she said.
Although the project would remove four parking spots, Furey said she does not believe the parklet would impact parking because the location is close to a parking structure already.
Ryan Snyder, chair of the NWWNC transportation and safety committee, said the loss of parking and meter revenue would be negligible. Snyder said he thinks the businesses surrounding the parklet cared about having seating areas more than the loss of parking. He also said the parklet would increase street safety.
“There will be more eyes on the street and there won’t be people pulling in and out of parking spaces, which will calm the traffic on the street,” Snyder said.
LADOT People St and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs conducted a study on parklets along Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles in 2012 and 2013, with findings consistent with Snyder’s statements. The study found 74 percent more pedestrians walked on the street in the evenings after the parklet was installed. It also found that respondents felt safer in the park than in the street.
Ocubillo said the study did not find any conclusive impact on economic activity. Regardless, business owners said they were open to renewing the parklets.
Nicole Rodrigues, manager of Ministry of Coffee, said outdoor seating would benefit all the businesses in the area.
“As a business owner, we don’t make any money when people come and sit down in our establishment, so we feel it would be best if there was a community area so people can eat food from all establishments in one area outside,” Rodrigues said.
Snyder said he thinks the parklet would benefit both nearby businesses and the Village community.
“This is an initial step to liven up the community,” Snyder said. “Many of us got elected with the idea that we wanted to get this type of life into the village, and this is consistent with this line of thinking.”