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South Park BID & LASC’s Road Map For Green Alleys in DTLA

In an effort to redefine and activate public space, the South Park Business Improvement District (BID) and the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative (LASC) partnered to create a robust “green alley initiative” for the South Park area in Downtown Los Angeles. The final product is a detailed report on the potential for green alleys in South Park, with the goal of providing a roadmap for local developers, city departments, and third party groups to work together on cultivating this new form of open space.

“A top priority of the South Park BID is identifying ways to creatively infuse more green space into the urban environment,” says Jessica Lall, Executive Director of the South Park BID. “The more paths and partnerships we can develop to enhance the built environment, the more we can promote livability, connectivity, and economic vitality in South Park.”

The report addresses a concept relatively new to Los Angeles: the notion that alleyways can be more than just the space behind buildings. Green alleys are utilized around the world as activated, sustainable places where vehicles and people can share the space. The action-plan looks at design concepts, location criteria, implementation strategies, and potential partners that the South Park BID might use in order to cultivate green alleys in the local community. In suggesting a tiered approach, the report recognizes that different circumstances call for different interventions, such as: sustainability measures like rainwater paver infiltration systems, planted walls, public art, and even outdoor café seating for restaurants and bars. Additionally, the report recognizes that many of the alleys will need to retain access for vehicle ingress and egress.

“LASC welcomed the opportunity to partner with the South Park BID on this project given the unique position the neighborhood is in with respect to new development,” said LASC Board President, Daniel Freedman. “Our two Fellows were able to strategically look at both design and implementation, ensuring that the ideas presented were both innovative, yet feasible within the current City structure.”

The report, “Green Alleys in South Park-Visioning Report,” is a follow-up study to both the Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) Study of South Park, which was completed in Fall 2013, and the Urban Alleys report on the EaCa Alley project in Hollywood. In the TAP Study, the establishment of green alleys was suggested as a way to better connect people across South Park’s long urban blocks, as well as a way to create more flexible-use space in a park and public-space poor area. Taking these initial studies into consideration, the creation of the Green Alleys Report was initiated this year by LASC and the South Park BID, and was written by graduate student Fellows Alexander Jung of UCLA and Clare Eberle of USC. The Fellows were assisted by the following expert Technical Assistance Committee:

  • Tanner Blackman, Council District 14
  • Sarah MacPherson Beasley, Hollywood Property Owners Alliance
  • Mark Wareham, Mack Urban
  • Elizabeth Wendall, Gensler Architects

As a myriad of development projects are currently scheduled for the South Park area, the opportunity to create better alley environments is coming at a perfect time.

The report was presented this week by the Fellows at the South Park BID Urban Design Task Force, a group consisting of local developers, city departments, and design firms interested in the future and success of South Park. Well received by the group, the South Park BID plans to facilitate a green alley program beginning in January 2015.