Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
FZG3mkG-show-poster2x3-nOossfs.png

SoCal Update

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
MZihTLV-show-poster2x3-5CKaGu8.jpg

Independent Lens

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
HvlSxHY-show-poster2x3-4ik43uV.png

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Rethinking L.A.'s Streets: Fountains, Art, Potholes, Possibilities?

Support Provided By

Mayor Garcetti may have found his "brand" on the streets of Los Angeles. Last Thursday, the mayor issued an executive directive to key city departments to begin what the mayor hopes to become a citywide Great Streets program.

At this stage, the great ideas are many and a bit vague. Fountains? Murals? Sculptures? The emphasis seems to be on the look of things, although potholes, parking, and bicycles were mentioned. "We've ignored the aesthetics of our city too long," Garcetti said in announcing his streets initiative. "The way that neighborhoods look has a lot to do with its livability."

The mayor announced his plans before a conference convened at the Urban Land Institute by Gail Goldberg, ULI's executive director. (Goldberg is a former city planning director.)

Garcetti offered up some odd metaphors in describing improvements in the past decade to the streetscape of hipsterized Hollywood, Silver Lake, and Echo Park (Garcetti's former city council district). The streets, he said, had "lost their swagger" in the 1990s, but "acts of urban acupuncture" since 2000 have pumped in private investment.

The mayor also thought swagger had returned to Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, 6th Street in San Pedro, 1st Street in Boyle Heights, and Robertson Boulevard in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood.

Critics of gentrification in those neighborhoods question who got poked by "urban acupuncture" -- streets or former residents priced out their neighborhoods and storefronts by rising rents. Los Angeles residents might prefer flatter sidewalks, smoother streets, clean and lighted bus stops, and an equitable sharing of the public right-of-way among pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers before laddish swagger and dubious street art.

For now, the mayor's Great Streets are in a "visioning" phase. Looking ahead, city planners might wonder who will finance more "urban acupuncture," now that the Community Redevelopment Agency and its funding are gone. Bean counters at City Hall could point to chronically out-of-balance budgets. And those with any memory at all can count the several "better streets" bandwagons launched over the past 20 years, all of which broke down somewhere along the way.

Weren't residents supposed have the welcome shade of a million new street trees by now?

Finally, those who know politics will remind the naïve that the mayor can't spend the city's council's money. The council is like a kindergarten classroom; any treat -- sidewalk repair, for example -- has to be carefully divided so that nearly every district gets a share.

The political stagnation is part of the reason why Los Angeles has put off infrastructure maintenance for decades, leaving the city with an estimated 60-year-long backlog of repairs at current funding levels.

Meanwhile, the mayor will play close attention to aesthetics. "I believe that design matters," he said.

Support Provided By
Read More
Black Lives Matter supporters march through downtown Los Angeles on the first anniversary of George Floyd's death on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

Los Angeles, Sacramento Announce Reparations Coalition on Juneteenth

Mayors, including Los Angeles and Sacramento, form reparations and equity coalition on new federal holiday to push for national reparations. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti also announces the formation of an advisory committee, paving the way for a local reparations pilot project.
An asphalt surface is covered in various encampments. A boy is walking across the frame.

'It's a Mission': Volunteers Treat Migrants Massing at Border

A growing number of Mexican and Central American migrants are trying to cross into the U.S. at the southern border. Volunteers at one free clinic in Tijuana tend to the health needs of migrants waiting for their immigration cases to come up — and simply trying to survive in packed and dangerous encampments.
An older Vietnamese American woman practices self-defense moves on a volunteer.

How the #ProtectOurElders Movement Helped Create a Wave of First-Time Asian American Activists

A rise in attacks on Asian Americans has led to a burst of new groups. But what is their staying power?