Pacoima Street Values: Supporting Vending, Arts and Public Space through Informal Use
Our proposal is inspired by the informal vibrancy of Van Nuys Boulevard and how existing businesses are currently activating public space. Building off of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s People St. program, we propose creating a kit of parts that pays homage to local ‘DIY’ placemaking efforts and the existing street activity along the corridor. By piloting this unique kit of parts, we will be able to test how these interventions increase foot traffic and support existing businesses. Through this, we hope to establish an overall identity for the Van Nuys Great Street.
Our outreach efforts will begin by targeting specific business owners who are able to support and help shape the piloted design scheme for the kit of parts. To do this we will first visit each business along the corridor and have informal conversations with local business owners to seek out and identify any previously unidentified community anchors or long-term, high street-impact tenants. Then, focusing on those whom are currently activating space adjacent to the public realm, we will ask each to participate in an in-depth survey regarding the needs of their business, their customers, and ultimately if they would be interested in participating and maintaining a pilot for the kit of parts. We will then select those ‘anchor tenants’ to be one of the select businesses with which we pilot various aspects of the kit of parts.
To reach the community at large, we will hold five small focus groups with various organizations along the corridor including but not limited to: the neighborhood council, parent centers at local elementary schools, and neighborhood watch programs. At these focus groups, participants will engage in community mapping where they will write, draw, or place icons to show what they value along the corridor, what the issues along the corridor are, and how they feel the street could be enhanced. They will then be invited to a larger community workshop where the community will be presented with various design schemes forming the basis for the kit of parts. They will also be asked to provide feedback on what design iterations they would most like to see along Van Nuys.
Also present at these community meetings will be locally identified ‘anchor tenants’ or long-term business owners who are willing to support future pilots of the developed kit of parts. Each will be present and available at the meetings to have informal discussions with community members, sharing their dreams for their business’ and their visions for the future of Van Nuys Boulevard.
To celebrate the unveiling of the pilot of the kit of parts, we will hold a community block party that will coincide with the currently scheduled Spring 2016 CicLAvia, whose route will go through the corridor. This CicLAvia will take on a more pedestrian character for this stretch through a mandatory dismount zone. Residents will be invited to walk along the street and frequent the businesses that will be offering various promotions, Great Streets themed goods and CicLAvia focused activities. The CicLAvia event also offers the opportunity to test various ways of reconfiguring the street to enhance pedestrian activity and promote economic development. Stations will be set up at each pilot to engage event participants for feedback on the kit of parts to inform the final kit of parts document.
why we’re doing it
In the coming decade Van Nuys Boulevard, as well as much of Los Angeles will undergone a massive transformation. A new transit line will run down the street and government agencies are planning to introduce green and complete streets infrastructure. Our proposal seeks to ensure that these projects do not eradicate the character and vitality along the corridor that give it a sense of place. Our kit of parts are designed to integrate the informal placemaking already occurring along the street into these larger infrastructure investments. This will ensure that current residents and business are able to partake and enjoy the investments coming to the street.