This is Part II of a two-part series. For Part 1, click here.
The Broadway corridor is an intriguing one that—like much of the main arterials throughout Long Beach—has its own distinct character and history.
When it comes to working with the community to renovate an area, designers and architects face a multitude of issues, including generational gaps (the needs of those established in the area for decades versus the younger crowd moving in and wanting to see business and cultural expansion), aesthetic challenges (maintaining the “aura” of an area while also moving it forward), and density issues (the seemingly never-ending battle that is the gritty fact that the majority of our public real estate is handed to a car).
Walkable and bikeable neighborhoods are essentially catalysts for business—and given that Millenials are the ones increasingly opening new businesses, they want those businesses to flourish.
The last meeting brought the first of RSAUD Principal Roger Sherman and Utile Principal Matthew Littell’s series of alterations that they feel would bring more comfort, safety, and access to the strip of Broadway. Their focus was mainly between Redondo and Falcon. Given that Broadway has pockets of activity rather than acting as a single corridor where people walk along a la 2nd or Pine, Sherman and Little were aiming for placemaking which brings the citizens of the nearby neighborhoods towards the nodes.
In order to do this, real estate needs to be freed at the nodes identified: Falcon, Gaviota, Junipero, Temple, and Redondo. And that would best be achieved by what is called a road diet, or the shifting of Broadway’s four-lane design into a three-lane roadway that provides additional real estate at each intersection. The center lane will act as a protected-turn lane, no longer slowing down traffic as left-turners do currently on Broadway without the protected lane.
Note should be taken: the diagonal parking spaces are supposed to be backwards, mimicking attempts in other areas–most recently Arizona–where diagonal parking is backwards. Some engineers and designers feel it is over all safer since more caution is needed when pulling in and when pulling out, the driver is facing forward.
Walking and biking were emphasized so that these nodes—some with bulb-outs that extend some 28-feet, providing a plethora of new patio and public space—would become activated with patrons.
Each node carried with it dramatic interpretations of what activated space could look like with the simple addition of furniture-as-architecture and lighting-as-architecture. Take, for example, a proposal at Junipero [regard gallery above] where fluorescent lights are interconnected to create an abstract sculpture (that I am sure will be pretty stunning at night, not to mention add much needed lighting to an otherwise dim corner). Or the one proposed for Temple: tree trunks are treated with a special, environmentally friendly treatment to create an almost surrealistic atmosphere of orange and yellows.
Beforehand, it was uncertain where a test case for this could be conducted since, obviously, doing the entire strip at once would not only be costly but interfering with the residents’ daily lives too quickly. Sherman and Littell feel that Temple provides the perfect test spot because that is where Broadway, when traveling west, becomes a full four lanes: two lanes from slightly more east of Redondo, then to three lanes slightly west of Redondo, to four lanes shortly before hitting Temple. Drivers are already used to the transition, so extending the three lane stretch further could provide data for how traffic will react to the road diet.
One idea for additional parking—since the current generation “doesn’t use parks like they used to”— suggested that portions of Bluff Park be demolished to make way for more parking.
This is when the generational divide hit with several Gen-X-ers-and-up audience members began asking about parking—without a single care for business.
One noted that since the opening of Gallagher’s, “out-of-towners” are taking up precious spots to hang out; this was said despite statistical evidence brought forth by Sherman that Broadway is not a tourist destination and brings little to no outside traffic.
Another wanted to know why money—at an overwhelming California building code-standard cost of $50K to $75K per spot—wasn’t being invested in more parking structures.
And one of the most shocking suggestions was that since the current generation “doesn’t use parks like they used to”—here’s some direct proof against that from the words of Long Beach teenager Mark Mueller—that portions of Bluff Park be demolished to make way for more parking.
Increasingly—and something mayoral candidates Doug Otto and Robert Garcia both brought up at our forum—is the fact that Millenials don’t want their neighborhoods to be inaccessible by foot or bike. And with nearly all (89.5%) of Los Angeles’s growth being low-car households and forty-one percent of them being zero car households, that is not just an assumption: it is becoming increasingly proved through numbers.
Even more, walkable/bikeable neighborhoods are essentially catalysts for business—and given that Millenials are the ones increasingly opening new businesses, they want those businesses to flourish.
Sherman made one of the most interesting points: Long Beach, contrary to some of those who live here, particularly in Alamitos Beach, is not suburbia. Unless you begin demolishing homes, street parking cannot expand nor is it conducive to an urban area (and yes, Long Beach is an urban area).
Just how the divide between those who bought their homes here in the 80s and 90s and felt no parking crunch and those who care more about people having accessibility sans vehicle is still up in the air. The only thing everyone agreed upon is that we can do better.
The next steps to be taken will be a transportation/traffic study that looks at the impacts the proposals will bring upon Broadway with Temple acting as a test case. Additionally, possible implementation strategies (a fancy word for “How do we get money?”) will be explored while visioning processes will begin for 4th Street and 7th Street.
You got that right: up next is 4th and 7th.
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