The Los Angeles basin is working hard to pedestrianize and bikeify and densify, and now the sprawling, boulevarded hellscape to the north wants in on that. A people-friendly San Fernando Valley? What a world! And when else to look to for progressive urban planning policies than the 1970s? The whole region is re-embracing the old “centers concept,”which sought to disperse little downtowns throughout our giant city: “the latest plans focus on creating town centers in each community — areas that will be pedestrian friendly and serve as a meeting place for residents,” says the Daily News. The idea lets the Valley hold onto its precious single-family neighborhoods while still creating denser, more walkable areas. Here are some of the hotspots:
- Northridge: The newly-proposed Northridge Vision 2012 plan looks to reinvent the area around CSUN, particularly around Reseda Boulevard, in a Westwood Village-type image. Ideas include moving the Metrolink station closer to the commercial zone and road diets to “encourage motorists to slow down and stop at local businesses.” Northridgers want to capitalize on both the school and its fancy, newish Performing Arts Center.
- Warner Center: The Warner Center 2035 Plan goes before the City Council today; it aims to make the streets smaller and less car-centric, with a mix of uses that’ll make driving less necessary. It also includes plans for a streetcar system and connections to the LA River. City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield says the planned Village at Westfield Topanga will serve as an anchor.
- North Hollywood: The neighborhood “is seeing results from years of efforts to remake the NoHo Arts District into a regional draw with a concentration of live theater and restaurants and other transit-friendly development near the Red Line.” The city’s recently approved a plan for a remade Valley Plaza shopping center, which City Councilmember Paul Krekorian says “will include neighborhood-serving businesses, restaurants and community amenities.”
- Sherman Oaks: “The Sherman Oaks area has also been working for years to create a sense of community,” mostly by focusing on Ventura Boulevard as a destination for locals.
So one crazy day we just might stop calling it a “sprawling, boulevarded hellscape,” and stop saying “the Valley” when we mean “Northridge” or “Sylmar” or “Panorama City” or “Valley Village.” One day!