Community Interview: Landscape Architect Michael Hee On Revitalizing an Empty Lot

The vacant lot on Chapman surrounded by two apartment buildings. | Photo: Sizzle Sizzle Uh Huh

Youth Voices is working with students from the Los Angeles River School to re-imagine the L.A. River and the surrounding communities as part of the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative. The student teams are exploring and investigating their communities by mapping assets, conducting outreach, and collecting stories through interviews with local residents and experts. Follow their work here and on Twitter @Burnthesnail or Instagram at #kcetyv.

Our team's community cause is to improve an empty lot located at 3324 Chapman Street, in the Fletcher Square neighborhood. This is important to our community because the lot has been empty for a very long time and we want to change it to make our neighborhood look better. To get more advice on possible next steps we interviewed community expert Michael Hee. We've selected him because of his experience with revitalization efforts.
We met Michael Hee when our group presented at the L.A. River Center open house in late January. Luckily for us, he stopped by our booth and wanted to know about our project.

What's your area of expertise?
Landscape Architecture, Urban Design, Construction.

What made you get into this area of business?
The want to create spaces/places for people.

Are you familiar with the Northeast Area specifically Glassell Park?
I am.

As a landscape architect, have you worked with the revitalization of other vacant lots?
Yes. I worked on a number of revitalization projects. Here are two...

Dominguez Engagement and Enhancement Project(DEEP): On this project, I worked with the non-profit From Lot to Spot and the Environmental Charter High School to design and plant the empty land along the Dominguez Creek in Hawthorne. We designed seating areas, interpretive signage, and then had a planting day where we planted over 20 trees and 600 plants and 6 benches.

Del Amo Landscape Restoration Project: This project took over vacant lots and created a series of vernal pools.

Landscape Architect Michael Hee

Do you have any advice you would give us?
Yes. First, what does the community want? Ask your neighbors.

•Provide a design that reflects what the community wants. The design will be used to provide a cost to build the project and will help you break down what you need to complete the project.

•Start asking local businesses if they are willing to donate.

•Is the owner of the site willing to let the community use the land?

•Who will maintain the site after it is built?

If this project does succeed to be built, how much do you think the budget will be?
It is hard to say without a plan. Maybe we could work together to get you a plan!


Community Outreach: NELA Open House and Workshops


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