North Long Beach Is Talking to Its Residents (Rather than Experts) on How to Better Create Open Spaces

Graphics by Baktaash Sorkhabi

Let’s have a frank discussion about North Long Beach—and it begins with the fact that there’s no discussion about North Long Beach.

Whether that is a conscious choice among news outlets aiming for the purely pejorative, a knowingly biased City Hall that wants a sole focus on hipster-inclined real estate, or a plague of stereotypes still thrown at North LB’s way despite being myths, there is no real promotion of one of our most wonderful neighborhoods.

Even the brilliant Coolidge Down Under project being named a finalist for the Knight grants didn’t garner attention outside of the little I provided on my own. (And that, I admit, is partly my fault because, well, it deserves more attention whether or not it scores the grant.)

This intangible lack of attention toward North Long Beach has a very tangible metaphor attached to its environment: it remains one of the most park poor neighborhoods in the city, largely due to a combination of massive build-out and a lack of City-owned property being turned into public space.

And rather than turning toward the way of experts into how to fix this problem, the leaders representing Norfside—led by Vice Mayor Rex Richardson alongside City Fabrick and the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Marine—turned to the folks invested in the 9th District the most: its residents. And they did not disappoint, providing one-hundred-and-fifty open space possibilities.

Asked what single space was most ignored and misused, well, they overwhelming identified one particular space: the 91 Freeway Embankment Loop (the same area for the aforementioned Coolidge Down Under project). So the crew has decided to do a Color Walk Block, a half-walk of sidewalks covered in washable chalk art to showcase the ability with which we can create (and might even dismiss possible) open space.

It all goes down Saturday, May 6 at 10AM at 67th St. and Myrtle Ave.

“The Color Block Walk was actually inspired by a project we saw in Berlin’s Rosenthaler Platz where a group of unknown bicyclists spilled about 500 liters of water-based, environmentally-friendly paint on the asphalt of a busy intersection,” said Christina Valdez, Coolidge Triangle community leader. “As cars drove over the paint, a beautiful and colorful pattern started to appear, showing the typical driving patterns of these vehicles so that bicyclists would be able to better maneuver through the intersection. We thought that this guerilla-urbanist art piece, as well as events such as Holi and Color Run, were a perfect way to symbolize the community’s desire for new open space.”

What can you expect? Well, for your feet to trample through chalk and show just exactly where you explored and why it is important to create open space. Or, in the words of City Fabrick’s Brian Ulaszewski: “The temporary color powder that we are using will symbolize the community’s desire to see this project come to life.”

The event is free and open to the public. Dogs are welcome and limited parking is available along 67th and Penfold Street so attendees are encouraged to use alternative forms of transportation. There will be a live DJ, light refreshments, and prizesn throughout the day and opportunities to learn more about some of the new open space ideas as well as the process it took to get there.


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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.