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Old October 30th, 2006, 11:05 PM   #1
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Park over freeway in Hollwood!!

some of us have discussed this for the 101 and the 110 in Downtown, so i thought this would be relevent here. Fantastic news if approved, and hopefully it will be implemented in DT LA as well...

Park Proposed Atop Freeway

By DANIEL MILLER
Los Angeles Business Journal Staff

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is proposing the creation of a 24-acre park that would be built on a concrete cap atop the Hollywood Freeway – at a cost of several hundred million dollars.

The planned Hollywood Central Park, which boosters will announce this week, would be a grassy and tree-lined expanse over freeway traffic. The freeway essentially would be a tunnel for about two thirds of a mile under the park.

The chamber has worked behind the scenes for months to build support for the project, which it contends is critical for the development of Hollywood. Supporters include some local developers, neighborhood councils, elected officials and, most importantly, Caltrans – since the park would be built above state-owned land in state airspace.

“It is an easy decision. This is available air space put to good use for the public,” said Deborah Harris, spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation. “If it can be used for the betterment of the community, we are all for it. Of course there are several details that have to be worked out. We look forward to looking further into this proposal.”

The park – which would stretch from around Hollywood to Sunset boulevards between North Bronson Avenue and North Wilton Place – will face its first test on Thursday when the board of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency will decide whether to pay for a feasibility study.

If approved, the study would be done by engineering and planning firm Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. with a targeted completion date of January. In addition to CRA money, the chamber is seeking money for the study from private donations.

Chamber officials said the park is a critical element for Hollywood to continue to thrive, given a severe lack of green space that makes the neighborhood less attractive for residents and businesses.

“We wanted to make sure … that the local economy and community is sustained, so we can build the community and have sustained growth,” said Rochelle Silsbee, vice president of public policy for the chamber. “It is primarily about protecting area livability.”

It is not clear who would own the park, though backers have not ruled out joint ownership by different entities.

Park deficient

Hollywood has a real need for open space, according to a report by the chamber.

The report indicates that in Los Angeles there are about 0.012 acres of open space per resident, and in Hollywood, the figure drops to 0.005 acres.Also, a 2003 study by the Trust for Public Land found that two-thirds of Los Angeles children do not live by a park, while 91 percent of New York City children live within walking distance of one.

“We believe there is a severe park shortage here,” Silsbee said.

And that will only get worse, given that about 4,500 residential units are either approved or under construction near the park site, according to the report.

At its narrowest point, the proposed park would be as wide as a football field.

About 50 such “freeway cap parks” are in various stages of development around the country, including in Sacramento, Phoenix and Portland, Ore., according to the chamber. Locally, there is a small freeway cap park in La Caņada Flintridge above the Foothill (210) Freeway, just east of the Glendale (2) Freeway interchange.

And in Hollywood, land is more expensive than in many other cities. So while the park would be expensive, it still would be cheaper than acquiring 24 contiguous acres by traditional means, said Don Scott, a Hollywood Chamber of Commerce board member who first proposed the park.

Vacant land in Hollywood near the freeway costs between $200 and $400 per square foot, while the freeway park in Portland is being built on land that costs $200 per square foot, Scott said. Even so, the park could cost well over $200 million.

“It’s a big number, but we feel it’s achievable through federal, state, and local funds,” he said.

Local U.S. Reps. Xavier Becerra and Diane Watson have said that next year they will work to appropriate federal money for the project, according to Silsbee. The project planners are also eyeing the infrastructure bond on the Nov. 7 state ballot as a possible source of funding, should it pass.

A spokesman for Becerra said the congressman supports the project, while Watson could not be reached for comment. Still, the cost of the park could pose an impediment.

“It’s a wonderful idea. But you drive down the road and there are potholes everywhere, so I don’t know how they are going to build a cap on the 101,” said John Tronson, a principal in the Hollywood office of Ramsey-Shilling Commercial Real Estate Services. “While I think it’s a noble cause, I do have reservations about how much time people should spend on it until we can pay for it.”

Wired on coffee

Possible plans for the park include an amphitheatre, sports fields, and a European-style square. Plans for the park call for it not to eliminate on- or off-ramps to the freeway below.

“Our interest is in maintaining the lanes as they exist today as well as available space for future use,” said Harris, Caltrans spokesperson for District 7, which covers Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Area schools and children would stand to benefit greatly from the park. At least three schools are in close proximity to the park, including Central Los Angeles High School, which is under construction. The proposed park also would be near two Metropolitan Transit Authority subway stations.

The park is the brainchild of Scott, who conceived it while driving on the Hollywood Freeway.

“I tell everyone I drank too much coffee that day,” said Scott, senior vice president at First Financial Bancorp. “But I was driving over the freeway and I heard something on the radio about the Big Dig in Boston. A light bulb went off.”

Scott concedes that the Big Dig – which involved sinking a 3.5 mile stretch of Interstate 93 in central Boston at a cost of nearly $15 billion – may be a controversial analogy. The East Coast project includes park land over the sunken highway, but has taken decades to build, experienced large cost overruns and recently a portion of the tunnel’s ceiling fell, killing a motorist.

By contrast the Hollywood park project involves building a concrete cap over an existing freeway, not sinking what was an elevated highway into a newly dug tunnel.

And what about calling it the Hollywood Central Park?

While the name may hark to the prominent park in New York, it also has some local meaning. The chamber says that the park is located at the nexus of central and east Hollywood.

For now the Hollywood Central Park is only an interim name, but supporters say they think it could stick – provided it is built in the first place.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 12:09 AM   #2
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“We believe there is a severe park shortage here,” Silsbee said.
As the leader of the neighborhood council in East Hollywood, I can't agree more.
None of this projected density can be justified without the proper infrastructure (transit, utilities, etc) and recreation space. Plus, I'm sick of the city adding these lame-ass "pcoket parks" just so they can tally up the acres and claim they've given us a lot of park space.

Bring on the park!
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Old October 31st, 2006, 02:11 AM   #3
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this is a good idea. but i think its a little less then grand. that park would not be very large at all.

and the guy who wrote it made a shity comparisson using 2/3rds comparied to 91%. im no writer but even i know that is shitty english.

and the only thing i dont like about this. is it mentions nothing of ventilation. as most of us here know car fires [or accedents that cause fires] are very common here
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Old October 31st, 2006, 02:28 AM   #4
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Good idea but I would have to disagree with "el". Pocket parks are much needed in LA, I think that's what the city lacks, in fact it makes a city like New York much more liveable. Pocket parks give your hood a sense of "hoodness", a sense of togetherness that feels like your park. On another note, doesn't Griffith Park border much of Hollywood?
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Old October 31st, 2006, 02:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Good idea but I would have to disagree with "el". Pocket parks are much needed in LA, I think that's what the city lacks, in fact it makes a city like New York much more liveable. Pocket parks give your hood a sense of "hoodness", a sense of togetherness that feels like your park. On another note, doesn't Griffith Park border much of Hollywood?
Pocket parks don't give places for the kids to play and especially in Hollywood, are known to attract drug dealers. No one else I know, at least on this side of the law, utilizes pocket parks here because of their reputation as a farmer's market for narcotics..

Yes Griffith Park does border much of Hollywood, but for a kids, it's not like they can just hop into their car and drive there. A lot of kids in Hollywood play in the streets, which is dangerous. And although Griffith Park dwarfs NY's Central Park in acreage, the majority of it is mountainous.

As someone who was once a kid who actually grew up in Hollywood, I know this are on a different level than most people do.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 02:55 AM   #6
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and the only thing i dont like about this. is it mentions nothing of ventilation. as most of us here know car fires [or accedents that cause fires] are very common here
Have you seen the overpass park in LaCanada-Flintridge? It's just like a very long overpass, but not long enough to be a tunnel. And unlike a tunnel there is lots of overhead clearance. Even still, we don't have any tunnels here in Los Angeles that warrant ventilation systems, save for Sepulveda under LAX. The Pasadena Freeway tunnels come to mind.

In addition to safety, ventilation is usually placed in tunnels to regulate air pressure. The Metro Red Line tunnel under the Santa Monica Mountains has a very deep ventilation shaft which comes out on top of one of the mountains.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 03:09 AM   #7
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...so are you saying it does or does not need ventilation?
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Old October 31st, 2006, 04:14 AM   #8
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...so are you saying it does or does not need ventilation?
Depends on how big it is and what the clearance is. If it's as small as you think it might be, no it does not need ventilation, but if the coverage is massive, they would have to ventilate.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 06:26 AM   #9
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I would have to once again disagree with you "el". Pocket parks can be a wonderful place to setup a slide, a jungle gym, a merry go round and some benches so that parents can monitor their children. They are usually close enough to home so that they are in walking distance. As far as drug dealers in pocket parks, I don't think we should use the logic of throwing out the baby with the bath water.
I wasn't suggesting that Griffith Park was a place for children to rome unattended, I mean with rattlesnakes and coyotes on the loose, adults need parks as well.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 06:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
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I would have to once again disagree with you "el". Pocket parks can be a wonderful place to setup a slide, a jungle gym, a merry go round and some benches so that parents can monitor their children. They are usually close enough to home so that they are in walking distance. As far as drug dealers in pocket parks, I don't think we should use the logic of throwing out the baby with the bath water.
I wasn't suggesting that Griffith Park was a place for children to rome unattended, I mean with rattlesnakes and coyotes on the loose, adults need parks as well.

Um, not all kids are toddlers who play jungle gyms, some kids are older and want to play soccer, football, baseball, etc.
And even the little jungle gym toddlers themselves grow up and want to play "older kid" sports. A pocket park cannot provide this play space. These kids play out in the street in Hollywood and can get hit by traffic. Don't believe me? I can see them outside my window on any given day. I got neighborhood kids playing football on my lawn. Sometimes I feel like shouting at them, but it's not their fault that we lack a recreational park space in our neighborhood.

The whole drug dealer issue has basically ruined the reputation of pocket parks in the Hollywood area. Normally the community lobbies for parks, but now only councilmembers put pocket parks just to tack on to their acres-of-parkspace tally. Residents hardly lobby for them, unlike recreational parks, where everyone wants one. Normally parks have staff, but in the City of Los Angeles, only parks with recreational facilities have staff. Pocket parks are not staffed and it would take a sizeable city budget to staff them all, which is the basic problem of pocket parks.

I believe Hollywood deserves better than mere pocket parks. Even South Central Los Angeles has more recreational park space than Hollywood. I have lived here for over 30 years. WE NEED MORE RECREATIONAL PARK SPACE IN HOLLYWOOD.

The only way pocket parks could work is if they are developed right next to high pedestrian retail areas, in close proximity to establishments like coffeeshops, restaurants, etc. That way they are out in the open, discourage clandestine activity and people would actually want to hang out there. The city of Alhambra has some of these by their Main Street. But the current format of buying a postage stamp-sized lot in a residential area and sticking in a couple trees does not work.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 06:56 AM   #11
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[QUOTE=Elsongs;10300697]These kids play out in the street in Hollywood and can get hit by traffic. Don't believe me? I can see them outside my window on any given day. I got neighborhood kids playing football on my lawn. Sometimes I feel like shouting at them,



Amen..... Damn Kidz in my hood are always playing street Hockey. I will kick butt if they play on beautiful St Augustine weed-free lawn.


Sooooooo a park over the Fwy, Hmmmmm I don't know!
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Old October 31st, 2006, 10:54 AM   #12
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[QUOTE=Ferneynism;10300765]
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Sooooooo a park over the Fwy, Hmmmmm I don't know!
I think it's a just investment - People forget that when the freeways were built, they displaced houses, businesses and recreational spaces. Worst of all they divided communities. This is one way to claim it back.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 02:19 PM   #13
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Great idea, the more of these we get in the U.S. and around the world for that matter the better. I've come to realize that the horizontal area that freeways take up are wasted space, especially inside dense metro areas, and the time is definitely ripe to start reclaiming those air rights. Urban interstates are starting to have fiduciary obligations, to not ONLY provide accessible and convenient transportation for locals and passerbys, but NOW they are important growth areas. Begin to build parks and new developments atop freeways, and some of that suburban sprawl is kept at bay. Great idea for L.A.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 10:30 PM   #14
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its always cheaper to buldoze a swamp or two then to bulldoze a building. tearing up the freeways [a terrible idea] to make room for more construction will not stop it.

im all for covering them. making parks on them. puting them deep under gound so you can build over them. but removing them will cause huge problums to commuting, shipping, economy and just cruzing along in this city.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 10:39 PM   #15
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i believe this park will bring angelinos closer together and give us more of a sense of center. though i highly dislike keeping it named central park. c'mon, has los angeles lost it's originality altogether?!

we angelinos are used to playing on blacktop, pavement and cement (it's been that way longer than i can remember). i would prefer it if my kids in the future will have grass to play on.

pocket parks aren't ALL that bad, but we have plenty of them for one city... we have nearly NO large recreational parks besides Griffith. and even that park has a lot of unexplorable land givin the steep hills within it.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 10:47 PM   #16
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im all for covering them. making parks on them. puting them deep under gound so you can build over them. but removing them will cause huge problums to commuting, shipping, economy and just cruzing along in this city.
i agree... and a big reason that freeways and interstates and whatever were built was to give military easy access to ports and other vital geographical locations (though not the only reason).

just think how much longer it would have taken the national guard to get into los angeles during the 1992 riots... and what if a crisis of any kind were to happen today where such a transit system would be vital to possibly save lives?

though i hardly drive, i would prefer the freeways stay where they are for other reasons. and you can put a park above them or do whatever
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Old October 31st, 2006, 11:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elsongs
I think it's a just investment - People forget that when the freeways were built, they displaced houses, businesses and recreational spaces. Worst of all they divided communities. This is one way to claim it back.
The division of communities was a clear desire of most of the freeway construction in L.A. In South LA they were intended to be racial boundaries.

Quote:
Um, not all kids are toddlers who play jungle gyms, some kids are older and want to play soccer, football, baseball, etc.
And even the little jungle gym toddlers themselves grow up and want to play "older kid" sports. A pocket park cannot provide this play space.
Really, in many communities all that is needed is to open up the recreational grounds on schools to the public an hour or two after school lets out and on the weekends, and turning a lot of blacktop into grass.

Incidentally, park space isn't the only thing freeway caps can be used for. When researching this issue a month or two ago I found that they can be constructed strong enough to hold 8 story buildings. As land becomes more valuable in this city, using freeway caps for public services will become more common in our public discussions. We've got a lot of depressed freeways in the city and areas in need of not just parks, but schools, fire stations and police stations.

I came across one commentator who suggested the caps be used to provide affordable housing for cops, teachers and fire fighters and be partially financed by their pension funds. Not a bad idea if you ask me.
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Old November 1st, 2006, 12:05 AM   #18
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indeed those are good ideas. but an 8 story building? there are problums just keeping bridges to hold them selves up in an earthquake. ley alone one with a building on top of it
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Old November 1st, 2006, 01:22 AM   #19
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Great idea whose time has come....why is LA the last one to know? Seattle's had theirs for decades, but it fell into ruins and was recently redeveloped. We can probably do better than this.....Also, why not have a freeway park from Barham to Highland--so people from Universal City can walk to the Hollywood Bowl and Grand Avenue to Spring or Main.





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Old November 1st, 2006, 03:01 AM   #20
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Quote:
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i believe this park will bring angelinos closer together and give us more of a sense of center. though i highly dislike keeping it named central park. c'mon, has los angeles lost it's originality altogether?!

pocket parks aren't ALL that bad, but we have plenty of them for one city... we have nearly NO large recreational parks besides Griffith. and even that park has a lot of unexplorable land givin the steep hills within it.
There are lots of recrerational parks in Los Angeles, but most of them are either in the Valley or in South L.A. Balboa Park in the Valley is a huge recreational park with a lake, picnic grounds, a sports center, a golf course, a pike path, even a place to fly model airplanes. There is also a recreation center in Hollywood (on Santa Monica and Caheunga) which has a baseball field and I believe a swimming pool, but it's still inadequate due to the large population of the area.

The whole "Hollywood Central Park" name is just a working title. I will bet my life savings they'll name it after some person.
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