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The southern California organization Streets For All released a proposal for reclaiming public space in Koreatown. Dedicated to “building a transportation revolution in Los Angeles,” Streets For All recognizes that many of Koreatown’s streets are part of the high injury network, including 6th St. and calls for its reimagination.
As explained under the organization’s initiatives page, Koreatown is described as: “one of the densest parts of Los Angeles [and] also one of the most park poor parts of [the city}.” This is why Streets For all is pushing for an effort to pedestrianize 6th St. between Normandie and Vermont.
It’s no secret that traffic violence is out of control in Los Angeles. And as mentioned earlier, K-town is one of the most impacted neighborhoods in the city. The high injury network consists of a collection of streets with a high concentration of severe injuries and deaths, with an emphasis on those involving pedestrians and bicyclists. Also aforementioned is the fact that most streets in Koreatown are part of this deadly network. And given that K-town is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in L.A., it is particularly concerning that people walking and biking are at higher risk of injury than those in a car. Moreover, Black, Brown, elderly, disabled, and unhoused people are more likely to be victims of traffic violence.
On their proposal, Streets For All dropped major intel on how community resources are inequitably distributed in Koreatown compared to Los Angeles as a whole. Koreatown reportedly has 12.7 acres of park space, 86.4 acres of sidewalks, and 451.9 acres of roadway. It also only has .5 acres of park space for every 1,000 people, compared to 9.2 acres of park space for every 1,000 throughout the city. On average, the City of Los Angeles has enough park space to serve 82 residents per every acre of parks. But inh K-town, each acre of park space serves 12,554 residents.
By closing streets to cars, Streets For All says it will result in a nearly a 10% increase in retail spending on those corridors — which have been heavily hit by the pandemic. They also note that road reconfigurations that move away from prioritizing cars are proven to turn that corridor into a vibrant destination.
In a 2019 interview with StreetsBlog LA, Streets For All founder Michael Schneider provided an example of an LA street that was pedestrianized successfully: “Think about Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. That used to be filled with cars. Today, if you tried to put cars back, people would be out with their pitchforks.” The organization also cites that cities like New York, Milan, San Francisco, Mexico City, Paris, and Bogota have seen increased commerce in areas where cars are banned.
On the proposed vision for 6th St. from Normandie to Vermont, they list public amenities like street furniture including tables, chairs, benches, and shade umbrellas, pocket parks, public restrooms and wash stations, charging stations, pet areas, more trees and other green space, dining areas, Wifi, community fridges or food distribution centers, among others.
Streets For All is currently holding a survey — offered in Korean and Spanish— in order to get support from residents, businesses, and community organizations. The survey will also be available by phone soon.