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New LASC Report by Rachel Lindt: Advancing Green Alleys for Los Angeles

LASC Report Provides Timely Recommendations to Streamline and Standardize Green Alley Implementation 

By Rachel Lindt, LASC Fellow: Alleys are untapped resources. With over 900 miles of alleyways in the city of Los Angeles, there is enormous opportunity to convert alleys to multipurpose local and regional assets. Revitalizing alleys as green alleys expands upon the single-purpose, and often underutilized, infrastructure to transform linear spaces into community assets and resources for environmental, economic and social benefits. Examples of activities that can be found in green alleys include community gathering, stormwater capture and infiltration, landscaping, and seating for adjacent cafes. There is a unique set of issues in L.A. that are encouraging a focus on green alley alleys. This includes growing awareness of the importance of stormwater conservation and quality during the current drought, recognition of the deficit of parks and open space in many urban neighborhoods, and issues with illegal dumping in alleys.

In order to address the need for innovative solutions to these and other issues, the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative (LASC) supported the report, “Los Angeles’ Untapped Resource: Recommendations to Streamline and Standardize Citywide Green Alley Implementation.” This report offers policy recommendations for the City of Los Angeles to streamline processes and standardize green alleys for citywide implementation. Recommendations are informed by what the report underscores as lessons learned and best practices from case studies of existing green alley projects and programs from L.A. and other parts of the country, as well as interviews with city personnel.

Through interviews with nine city agency personnel, themes emerged from interviewee’s responses to existing challenges and opportunities: function and use, funding and implementation, landscaping + design, green infrastructure and stormwater best management practices, and safety and maintenance.

The report builds off of a UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation report titled, “Avalon Green Alley Network Demonstration Project: Lessons Learned from Previous Projects for Green Alley Development in Los Angeles & Beyond.” The report provides a case study of the Avalon Green Alley Network Demonstration Project and the larger context of green alley efforts across the U.S. The UCLA report was commissioned by The Trust for Public Land and written by me, Rachel Lindt in early 2015. I appreciate that LASC wanted to expand upon this work and their previous research on green alleys (see LASC’s Green Alleys in South Part Visioning Report and Case Study of the East Cahuenga Revitalization Project). In addition to the support from LASC, this work was also supported by the following expert Technical Advisory Committee:

  • Mona Seymour, Loyola Marymount University
  • Jim Marchese, City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Sanitation
  • Nicholas Maricich, City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning, Policy Planning Division
  • Wing Tam, City of Los Angeles, Watershed Protection Division

The report comes at a time when the City of Los Angeles is taking steps towards green alley implementation. An example includes Councilperson Jose Huizar of Council District 14’s legislative motion to create a “Formal Green, Walkable Alleyway Program” through piloting a green alley in Downtown Los Angeles. Findings from the report can inform the legislative motion and pilot development process in an effort to use the alley project as an opportunity to establish best practices and lessons learned for citywide implementation. The challenges, opportunities, and policy recommendations presented in the report can be transferable to other communities across the U.S.