Westwood officials postponed plans to create a community plaza on Broxton Avenue and created a committee to address the proposal’s logistical and funding problems.
The Westwood Village Improvement Association, also known as the BID, will research funding sources and budget details before agreeing next year to pursue a plaza that would create more walking and outdoor dining space.
The BID’s Clean, Safe and Beautiful Committee voted 3-1 on Friday to not apply for the plaza this year because its members thought funding sources were inadequate. Instead, they decided to create a temporary committee to continue the planning process.
The BID announced in October it will apply for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s People St program at the end of the year. In its October meeting, the BID’s board agreed it would not apply to the program unless an explicit budget outlined what the plaza would cost the BID, but staff members began to gather support for the plaza before the board approved it.
Through the People St program, city officials would help pay to convert the stretch of Broxton Avenue between Weyburn and Le Conte avenues into a plaza. The proposed plaza would have added dining tables and an outdoor platform in the space between Diddy Riese and the Regency Bruin theatre.
Andrew Thomas, executive director of the BID, said LADOT would pay for eight planters, paint and street closure, but the BID or other sponsors would have to pay for all other costs, including maintenance, furniture and landscaping.
Thomas added the committee will evaluate whether Broxton Avenue is still the best location for the plaza. It will also design the plaza’s appearance, fund and organize the budget and decide whether the plaza should be staffed.
In the preliminary budget, the BID estimated one staffer would cost about $1,680 per week, and 12 to 15 sets of tables, chairs and umbrellas would cost about $12,000, Thomas said. He added he thinks the BID needs to take more time to plan the project and find sponsors to pay for the costs.
“It would be positive to turn (the space) into a people’s place where they could walk, sit and program activities,” Thomas said. “But if the plaza does not look good and isn’t staffed properly, then it’s just a loss.”
Officials also questioned whether the plaza should be staffed all day, because similar plazas only have part-time workers.
Jim Brooks, president of Topa Management Company, said he thinks the plaza would require a large staff because its 10,000-square-foot size would be larger than any other People St plaza.
“North Hollywood’s plaza is in an alley, and is (about one third) the size of our space,” said Brooks, who serves on the BID’s board of directors. “The one on Sunset Boulevard is on a street that doesn’t have traffic like ours would.”
Diddy Riese owner Mark Perry said many businesses near the proposed plaza opposed the project because it did not have obvious benefits. He added the project would only add about one table per restaurant, and closing the street to traffic might disrupt business.
He added he thinks the plaza’s current design is unattractive, and its design should be improved. He said he thinks a well-designed plaza could improve the ambiance of the north side of Westwood Village.