• PARKing Day 2013, Pasadena (Photo - Staff)

      PARKing Day 2013, Pasadena (Photo – Staff)

      A working partnership between residents, the Playhouse District Association (PDA), and the City of Pasadena is on its way to pay off.

      By Wafic Khalil

      After four years of study, the Playhouse District is nearing a decision to narrow portions of Colorado Boulevard, known as “road diet,” in order to add Parklets (think mini-parks or tiny parks) between Los Robles and Hudson avenues and make it more pedestrian-friendly.

      The initial proposal has garnered support among some city leaders and has already gone before the Pasadena City Council in the past (March 24, 2014 and January 25, 2016).

      Nearby movements

      Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock (Photo - Staff).

      Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock (Photo – Staff).

      Two years ago, Eagle Rock officials removed two lanes of traffic on Colorado Street and used the space for three miles of bicycle lanes and new crosswalks. There are also discussions on adding Parklets, landscaped traffic medians and sidewalk extensions as well.

      The Spring Street Parklet in Los Angeles (opened in Feb 2013) got a rave review by the neighborhood, according to a study by UCLA – Luskin School of Public Affairs.  Pedestrians, Parklet users, and local business operators think the Parklets are a great local asset, and that the Historic Downtown BID is taking great care of them.

      Change is underway

      Playhouse Plaza (Photo - Emmanuel Krauletz, Staff)

      Playhouse Plaza (Photo – Emmanuel Krauletz, Staff)

      Colorado Boulevard’s function as a retail strip in past years has been replaced by a different vibe these days. The famous Boulevard in Pasadena has seen an influx of apartments and condominiums with thousands of residential units added along the boulevard and around it.

      Some changes have already been implemented and more will be coming with planned residential complexes and several hotels added to the mix:

      • A 175-room hotel for the site of the empty Macy’s is underway at the Paseo Colorado.
      • A 500- room hotel is proposed at Colorado and Hill Avenue (the two sites were previously used as a Ford dealership).
      • A 155-room Constance Hotel renovation that was estimated to cost close to $100-million sits on the corner of Colorado and Mentor Avenue.

      With these developments, the famous Colorado Boulevard needs to be able to better balance cars and pedestrians.

      Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek in a KABC interview said:

      We’re beginning to look at streets in a different way, and recognize that streets are not just for moving cars but they’re for moving people [as well]…there will be fewer traffic lanes, and so the traffic would slow down. There will be less traffic because it will be diverted to other streets.

      With this, a new thinking is emerging in the city that matches a national trend of cities moving toward more pedestrian and bike-friendly implementations.

      Urban planners say that people are encouraged to walk the streets more when sidewalks are widened and access to public transport is increased by slowing down car traffic.

      The latest thinking calls for cities to be remade not from the top down, but from the bottom up.

      Playhouse District

      Crosswalk art on Madison and Green (Photo - Staff).

      Playhouse District Crosswalk art on Madison and Green (Photo – Staff).

      A few decades ago, the Playhouse District was dotted by empty storefronts. Today, the area is seeing a development boom. New residents are bringing new life to the district which translates to addition of new businesses.

      A mixed-use building with a medical office and apartment complexes in the district is already under construction.

      The Playhouse District Association (PDA), along with residents of Pasadena have proposed the following:

      • Privately funded Parklets to provide a pedestrian respite (additional “People Space”) in the heart of the Playhouse District.
      • The Parklets will be removable for special events (like the Rose Parade) but permanent for the remainder of the year.
      • In addition, a proposed “road diet” on Colorado will reduce the street configuration from five (5) lanes to three (3) serving to calm traffic and enhance the neighborhood.
      • Lastly, angled parking will increase the number of available parking spaces by an estimated 30 spaces across the District.

      The proposed project will not affect the flow of traffic as the current road use is well under-capacity; Colorado Boulevard was designed to carry more cars than it actually does while Green & Union Streets are almost empty.

      An improved Boulevard

      Colorado Boulevard was a primary highway at one time, but now it is being recognized as a walkable venue. The famous Boulevard is heading toward a promising future that is more pedestrian and family-friendly, with accommodations for people using strollers and wheelchairs, and hopefully with an added, and much needed, quality bicycle infrastructure.

      >  Celebrate International PARK(ing) Day by attending Parklets on PARKing Day Community Open House, where you can view the designs, speak with staff and designers, and provide your comments! More details here.

      PARK(ing) Day takes place on the third Friday in September. This year it falls on Friday, Sept. 15, 2016. It is an annual event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places.

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        • Wafic Khalil

          Wafic Khalil is the Editor in Chief of Colorado Boulevard. He leads content development and design for our newspaper, e-newsletters, website, and live events, as well as the overall direction of the paper. An accomplished artist in film and music, he has a Bachelor’s in film and video from MassArt and a Master’s in Fine Arts from CalArts.

          Colorado Boulevard is your place for enlightening events, informative news and social living for the greater Pasadena area.
          We strive to inform, educate, and work together to make a better world for all of us, locally and globally.

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