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2011

Multimodal Urban Redevelopment Partners Hanna BAR-OR Andrew REKER Elaine YANG Ziyang Christina XU

[KOREATOWN OPPORTUNITIES FOR INNOVATION]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Executive Summary ................................................................................................ 3 Neighborhood Overview ........................................................................................ 7 Sector Evaluation: Cahuenga School Area ............................................................. 9 Andrew REKER

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

In the heart of Korea Town, we surveyed four transportation corridors centered around the budding Wilshire Boulevard-Western Avenue commercial center. These neighborhoods vary in their range of uses, types of housing, and condition of streets. What they do have in common is a history of community strife and resolution and years upon years of heavy usage by residents and visitors of the community. (Possibly elaborate on community history). Consequently, the sidewalks, bus and bicycle amenities, roadways and parking have been worn down over time and and are simply inadequate in meeting the areas transportation needs. Not only would the current users of these transportation corridors benefit from a transportation system upgrade, but by improving and facilitating the flow of people, traveling by foot, bus, bicycle, skateboard, etc., the city could upgrade its level of economic activity and healthy social interactions. These considerations to improve the transportation corridors go hand-in-hand with the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) current initiative to integrate land use and transportation planning in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to SB 375. Included among the needs for the different transportation corridors are restructured and widened sidewalks, reconfiguration of parking, and improved bus stop rest areas and bicycle facilities. We have divided up the Koreatown neighborhood into 4 areas for specific evaluation and analysis. These areas are divided into two sectors and two corridors that we consider representative of the broader area. The two sectors are: the area in and around the Wilshire/Western LA Metro Purple Line stop and the area around Cahuenga Elementary School. The two corridors are the Normandie Avenue corridor from Wilshire Avenue to 3rd Street and 4th Street from Western to Normandie Avenue. In our initial investigations into the study area, we expect that the majority of the issues with the transportation in this neighborhood would fall into the following categories: Bicycle infrastructure bicycle lanes and facilities Walkability smaller or inadequate sidewalks, problems with sidewalk maintenance, and possible conflicts with bicyclists using the sidewalk instead of on-street pavement Street reconfigurations maximizing current road infrastructure to provide for pedestrian, bicyclist, or transit user comfort and safety Public transit stop improvementsadding to transit user comfort and safety

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We also expect that given the history of automobile use in the region, any of the suggested upgrades that take place would have to have little or positive impact on current traffic congestion or intensity.
BACKGROUND

Fourth Street: This neighborhood bridges two high-traffic corridors, Normandie and Western. It has a mix of high-density, multi-level, apartments and low density, multi-level, single-family homes. Based on its heavy use as a link between the Normandie and Western corridors, its high residential density, concentration of cars parked along its streets and observed moderate pedestrian traffic; we believe the 4th Street corridor could benefit from a transportation elements upgrade and minimal reconfiguration. (The apartments have well-manicured front yards and the building facades, for the most part, appear well-maintained. The single family homes vary in outward condition and with a few exceptions, the homes and yards appear wellmaintained. Fourth Street is considerably more narrow than the streets perpendicular to it, i.e., Hobart & Serrano. Parallel parking is available along most streets, but on Serrano, there is angle parking. Sidewalks along 4th street are in walkable condition, but can only fit about two people walking side-by-side. Sidewalks along...) School-area: We chose to study this sector because it had several civic institutions most notably the two elementary schools -- and is part of a sector of lower-density residential next to higher density residential and commercial located near major thoroughfares. Wilshire and Western- The commercial intersection of Wilshire and Western is at the heart of Koreatown. Normandie: The Normandie Corridor is highly consisted of apartments and low density of single-family housing. All most every window on the 1st floor of the apartment- building is barred. Apparently, residents there protect themselves in a safer consideration.
ANALYSIS

Wishire: To create a more mixed environment amongst commercial industries. The Wilshire and Western corridor has space for pedestrian walkability, but does not invite individuals to engage with one another. The only green area found in this five block corridor is a small park in front of a large high rise that is used as a skate park by teenagers. This corridor, with its high traffic of pedestrians can use a living street with vibrant life for pedestrians that broaden their use for walking rather than a mode of transportation from point a to point b.

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The second recommendation is to create bicycle boulevards west of Western that run north and south. Since it would be impossible to create bicycle lanes in the highly congested Western and Wilshire ave, a bicycle boulevard could ensure bicyclist rideability in Koreatown. School area: Overall, there is high quality network for automobiles and relatively frequent public transit in the rapid and local service in the sector. Areas that need significant improvement are the walkability and bicyclist rideability of the sector and the broader neighborhood. There are 3 recommendations made within this section. First is the conversion of 3rd Street into living street. This would keep the number of lanes for traffic and parking but at reduced widths, install a center median, and provides creations for better pedestrian crossings and spaces for local transit amenities such as bus bulbs. By minimizing lane widths but not removing through lanes for traffic, it would allow for pedestrian, bicyclist, and transit improvements while not increasing congestion intensity. The second recommendation is to install bicycle boulevards on 2nd Street (east-west) and on either Hobart or Harvard Boulevards. In the sector under study and the broader neighborhood, there is almost no bicycling infrastructure. Bicycle boulevards on local or collector streets and priority intersections would facilitate bicyclist comfort possibly providing a recreational and health benefit in a neighborhood with both few and small public parks. The final recommendation is to engage in transit stop upgrades especially bus bulbs at bus stops. With a frequent transit service with frequent local bus and bus rapid transit, this is definitely a plus for the study sector and the broader neighborhood. However, streetscape elements and bus stop amenities like bus benches, bus shelters, or more descriptive signage that would encourage passenger comfort and information are limited by the street widths. In constructing bus bulbs in this neighborhood and study area, a pair of parking spaces may be removed, but passengers waiting for the bus service would be greatly improved. The sector under study is also an area with a large draw factor for public transit riders with several primary schools and churches and other public institutions. In addition, the sector under study is also over a mile from the nearest junior high school and well over a mile-and-a-half from the nearest high school, providing more comfortable transit service may help with parking or dropoff concerns at those facilities that are outside the study sector. Normandie:Throughout the Normandie sector, it is a culturally vibrant neighborhood in the Koreatown. This corridor is one of the most diverse and densely populated neighborhoods which is home to concentrations of Hispanics. There are several Metro bus stops along the Normandie Ave, so it is quite convenient for residents utilize public transportation. And there is also a Metro Station of Normandie/ Wilshire which is located on the Wilshire Blvd. Page | 5

Considering of increasing the walkability and safety for residents, there are still recommendations. First, public utilities, poles, signs and street furniture along the Normandie Ave should be placed within the planting strip and should not obstruct or overhang into the pedestrian sidewalk area. Second, pedestrian level lighting on the Normandie Ave should be placed on poles or attached to buildings at a height of 12 feet.
CONCLUSION

Koreatown, a center of fused cultures and budding commercial locations, is in need of modifications that can bridge major corridors, bring people together and preserve years of history. Koreatown is comprised of multi-family, single-family and commercial locations in this area of greater Los Angeles. Two of the largest and most congested streets run through Koreatown connecting various cities. Wilshire and Western span over fifteen miles in length and are congested on a daily basis. These arterial streets in Los Angeles need a bridge in between to ease congestion and promote bicyclist rideability. Bicycle boulevards on side streets that are parallel to main streets can bring people together through a more sustainable means. Koreatown has a strong identity embedded in its transit accessibility, but has room for improvements. A modification of its living streets, bicycle boulevards, and creation of bus bulbs will enhance the life of Koreatown as well as the life of its citizens.

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NEIGHBORHOOD OVERVIEW NEIGHBORHOOD MAP

4th Street Corridor

Cahuenga School Sector Wilshire/Western Sector

Normandie Ave Corridor


GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The borders of Koreatown are roughly between Beverly Avenue on the north, Vermont Avenue on the east, Olympic Boulevard on the south, and Western Avenue on the west. Our group chose to examine the area between Beverly and Fourth Street and Wilshire and Western. Koreatown is known for having the highest density in Los Angeles: Currently, Koreatown has a population of 120,000. Although known as Koreatown, Latinos comprise the majority of the area with 53 percent of the population, while Asians comprise 32 percent of the population. The difference in the population has created a culture infused with Korean and Latin influences, which makes Koreatown vibrant and interesting. Page | 7

FIT & FUNCTION IN LARGER CITY CONTEXT

Koreatown is a neighborhood in the district of Mid-Wilshire in the Los Angeles, California. Due to the construction boom in the late 1950s, Koreatown received new residents fro m Los Feliz and West Hollywood. Koreatown is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the United States. Korean-Americans are the largest national ethic demographic (23%) followed by Mexicans (22%). The neighborhood is famous for its economic business, including, 24-hour businesses, various shopping centers, and the highest concentration of nightclubs and restaurants in Southern California. Since 1960s, investment from South Korea has been a large contributor to the economy. Since 2000, business investments have rapidly increased. Korean airlines companies, such as Asian Airlines, operate sales in Koreatown.
HOW KOREATOWN HOLDS TOGETHER AS A NEIGHBORHOOD

Two major events that have affected the Koreatown area as a neighborhood is decentralization in Los Angeles during the late 1950s and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The decentralization and development boost in the Koreatown area led to a decline of property value and an influx of Korean immigrants. The Los Angeles riots spilled into the Koreatown area and was an explosion of tension between ethnic groups and frustration with the city government. In spite of these fairly negative events, Koreatown has thriving commercial businesses and has one of the highest residential densities in all of Los Angeles. Although relationships between the ethnic groups have cooled down and include many successful business related relationships, there is still some contention between ethnic groups. One item of contention is whether the area should be known as Koreatown when the demographics show that 54% of the population is Latino and 23% of the population is Korean. One non-ethnic related issue that the Koreatown residents grapple with is that despite having one of the highest residential densities in Los Angeles and an estimated great amount of property tax, there is still a great lack in physical neighborhood maintenance for the area.

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SECTOR EVALUATION: CAHUENGA SCHOOL AREA

Union Office IBEW Local No. 18 Kim Elementary School

Cahuenga Elementary School First Presbyterian Church

Figure 1 - Sector under study with Civic buildings highlighted

SECTOR SELECTION

This area was chosen as it was an area with several civic institutions. The boundaries are shown in the diagram above with the significant civic institutions listed. The boundaries are: on the Page | 9

north, 1st Street; on the east, Harvard Blvd; on the south, 3rd Street; and on the west, Western Avenue. This area is about 8 blocks and a fairly regular street grid pattern, but has a housing parcel that cuts off Harvard Boulevard on the northeast portion of the area.

Figure 2 Photos of representative neighborhood land uses (l-r: elementary school entrance, LA First Presbyterian, IBEW Local No. 18, and lower density and higher density multi-family residential units)

The majority land use found in this sector is residential, with slightly more land area dedicated to single-family residential than multi-family residential. The secondary land-use is civic use with two elementary schools, several churches and a union local office. There is also lower density commercial on the frontages of Western Avenue and Third Street. As far as social or economic factors in this neighborhood, there seemed to be a general mix of incomes within the sector. The locations farther from the major thoroughfares of the area Western Avenue and Third Street, in general, seemed to be better maintained which would lead to the assumption that the residents and other owners of property farther from these thoroughfares were higher income. For our study, we arrived in the study area around 2PM on a Sunday and stayed until around 5PM. This would create a certain bias in terms of activities we saw. The afternoon and evening hours of Sunday had many closed shops and is also a time where residents were primarily at home. Furthermore, earlier that Sunday there were rain storms in the area, as well as lower temperatures when the study group was there. Therefore, we might have not seen a normal level of activity for a Sunday afternoon and evening.
OVERALL MOBILITY AND EASE OF TRAVEL

Overall mobility within the study sector is highly dependent on the automobile. The major thoroughfares for the area are Western Avenue for north-south automobile and bus traffic. Page | 10

Western Avenue has 4-lanes for through traffic, 1 lane for left turns at intersections and one lane in each direction for parking with alternate-side parking restrictions for rush hours. For east-west traffic, Third Street is the major thoroughfare. It is configured nearly the same as Western Avenue. The remainder of the streets in the sector are side streets. For public transit, there are two 2 major north-south bus routes LA Metros 207 and 757 on Western Avenue. Route 207 connects Los Feliz to Athens. Route 757 runs the same route but is a Rapid service of route 207 stopping only at major cross streets. There is one major east west bus route LA Metros 16/316 connecting Downtown LA to Century City. There were no facilities for bicycles and in this area there are basic facilities for pedestrians. As far as public facilities or areas for socialization, there were limited areas for socialization. Most of this socialization seemed to happen outside of public areas; largely in any commercial locations involved. There were a handful of ethnic restaurants and convenience stores on Third Street.

The school areas provided some areas for socializing; however it seemed to be limited to larger sidewalks as well as some courtyards within the school properties.
IDENTIFY PROBLEM AREAS

There are several problem areas within this sector that should be addressed. Upgraded transit service exists on Western Avenue; however, the transit user bus stop experience on the regular and Rapid service seems to be of the same minimal quality with a little space for bus riders waiting for either of the services with a few or no bus benches. Further, the school catchment areas for both elementary schools as well as the private Christian school in the neighborhood had little investment in non-automobile transportation. Bicycling routes to and from school were not clear as well as some areas that had deleted crosswalks, albeit at a major thouroughfare. Minimal considerations for pedestrian movement within the sector and into the broader neighborhood seemed to have been made. The major pedestrian Page | 11

improvement in the areas around the schools seemed to be larger sidewalks for bus alighting and disembarking. Futhermore, there is little provision of public space devoted to socialization or social aspects. There are no areas for community members to gather.
STREETSCAPE & LANDSCAPING

Additional consideration should be made of the lack of streetscape and landscaping with in the neighborhood. One thing to note is that the local area had little in terms of streetscaping and minimal landscaping. The majority of the landscaping was in the single-family residential area. There is also no parkland within the sector understudy and a small park about a half-mile outside the sector.
AUTOMOBILE TRAVEL

Study Area

The street pattern in this sector of the neighborhood is pretty regular and well connected to the other areas of the neighborhood; however the area immediately surrounding the study area is less regular. To the north, east, and west of the study area there are irregular street patterns. However, primary streets major thoroughfares (marked with red bidirectional arrows in the figure below) are regular and on a grid-iron layout. The study area is actually quite regular and well connected compared to the immediately surrounding neighborhoods.

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The major concerns automobile concerns would be traffic intensity on the major thoroughfares of Beverly Boulevard (the top most bi-directional arrow); Third Street; Western Avenue (the left-most bi-directional arrow); and Normandie. Other concerns after traffic intensity and congestion at intersections would also be crossing times for automobile traffic crossing the thoroughfares or wait times to find safe gaps to enter traffic from local/side streets.
CYCLING ENVIRONMENTS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Within the study area, there is no bicycling infrastructure on the roadways nor were there any bicycling amenities such as publically provided bicycle racks. The photos below are representative of the cyclists on the road that we observed as well as the bicycling amenities provided to lock or store bicycles Furthermore, there were no visible bicycle storage areas at neither of the two elementary schools within the study area, nor at the other civic institutions the union office or the church. Significantly, as shown in the above figure, bicycle parking was publically provided, albeit using the parking meters on the street.

There are significant opportunities for cycling infrastructure located within and connecting outside of the study area. Additionally, reviewing the LAUSD schools map (below), the catchment areas for both of the schools would seem to cross some of the surrounding thoroughfares, especially 3rd Street just to the south of both schools.

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TRANSIT SYSTEMS

The level of transit service within the sector is quite high. There are 4 services on two routes that create connectivity within the broader neighborhood and the metropolitan area. The primary north-south service are the 207 Local and 757 Rapid services running the same route but providing a local and express service, respectively. These two services connect the study area to the Hollywood/Western LA Metro Red Line station to the north and to Athens in South LA to the south. The primary east-west services are the 16 Local and 316 Rush-hour Limited Stop service. These two services run the same route, but provide a local and rush-hour limitedstop service, respectively. These services connect the study area to Downtown LA in the east and to the Beverly Center/Cedars-Sinai Hospital area and/or Century City in the West. The weekday level of service is pretty frequent for the north-south routes 207 and 757 which have 24-hour service and minimum 10-minute service from 6AM to 8PM. It is also a relatively consistent service, with alternating Local and Rapid service at major intersections. Weekend service is also relatively consistent; however, there is only Local service. In our study area, for weekday service, the peak northbound/Hollywood-bound service is 12 services within the 7AM hour, for an average of 5-minute headways. For the peak southbound/Athens-bound is 15 services within the 3PM hour, for an average of 4-minute headways. The weekday level of service is also frequent for the east-west routes 16 and 316. Service is available from 4AM to 1AM with minmum 10-minute service from 6AM to 8PM. It is not as regular or consistent of a service as the 207/757 routes as there is significant peak-hour service with route 316. Weekend service as consistent as the 207 Local weekend service. In our study area, for weekday service, the peak eastbound/Downtown LA-bound service is 20 services in Page | 14

the 7AM hour with an average 2-minute head way. For westbound/Century City or CedarsSinai service it s 18 services in the 6PM hour with average 3 minute-20 second headways. Weekend services average or best 10- to 15-minute headways (4-6 services per hour) on both north-south and east-west routes. Bus stops in the study area all seemed to be very minimal: a simple stop with a sign designating routes that halt at each stop, a basic description of end points for the bus route, and also a bus stop code. No benches or shelters were found. Bus stop-specific lighting was also not present in any of the bus stops examined. In addition to the lack of benches or shelters, there was not much space for bus riders to wait in. In one case, we found bus riders standing on a private parking area waiting for the 16 Local bus. Transit riders seemed to be mostly minority riders with a few middle-income riders in the busses that we could peer into.
WALKABILITY

The connectivity of the pedestrian network within the local area is pretty good though the quality of some of the individual sidewalks is low and could use some repairs or upgrades. Connectivity to the larger neighborhood is also the problem in this area. Both Western Avenue and 3rd Street are thoroughfares which are hard to cross. In the figure below, the sign from the Use Crosswalk is from the 3rd Street crossing at Harvard Boulevard. Additionally, in several cases the sidewalk was used for bicycle transportation on the major thoroughfares as the lanes of traffic were not very conducive to safe or comfortable bicycle riding.

In addition, the sidewalks in the study area are not very good at connections to other modes of transportation. In the above figure the middle photo shows the basic bus stop as well as the Page | 15

pedestrian amenities that were provided. There is definitely not enough space for pedestrians, waiting bus passengers, and any wayward bicyclists. Essentially, the bus waiting area is a private parking lot. This was seen in other parts of the study area as well as other parts of the neighborhood. Further the intersection design for sidewalk users was inconsistent as well as some intersections that were non-conforming to ADA regulations. In the case that universal pedestrian access was considered, it was the minimum regulations that were most often implemented. The right-most image in the figure above shows a far-side parallel curb cut. This type of curb cut is less attractive for universal pedestrian access as it requires any pedestrians in wheelchairs to divert from the most direct path adding to crossing times as well as leading to a decreased sense of comfort in crossing.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR INNOVATION AND CHANGE AN OPPORTUNITY EXISTS ON 3RD STREET FOR A LIVING STREET MODIFICATION

To utilize the LA County Model Guide for Living Streets on 3 rd Street would provide a better streetscape for the users in the immediate area as well as pull things together in this neighborhood and create a focus for the restaurants and retail located on 3 rd Street. Using the principles in the LA County Model Guide for Living Streets would also provide for safer and more comfortable connectivity between the areas to the north and south of 3 rd Street. Third Street in the study area and also throughout the Koreatown neighborhood has a width of at least 62 feet. Using an example of a model living street from the model street guide, we can see that 3rd Street for at least some portion within Koreatown could be converted to a street that would achieve several things: 1. Slower traffic 2. Pedestrians crossing comfort with two separate crossings separated by a short time in a median 3. Creation of space for transit stops with bus bulbs added (not included in figure) 4. Allows for some sort of lower quality bicycle infrastructure (sharrows)

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SECOND STREET BICYCLE BOULEVARD

Specifically for the area in and around the two schools, the establishment of safe bicycling routes for students going to and from the elementary school, much like the safe routes to school for students walking to school could be an intermediate step. Additionally, the installation of bicycle infrastructure could be in the form of sharrow lanes, dedicated bicycle lanes, or a bike boulevard in the neighborhood streets. In particular, 2nd Street seems to be an ideal location for a bicycle boulevard for the neighborhood. All of the civic institutions in the study area front to 2nd Street. The recommended length of this bicycle infrastructure would be on 2 nd Street extending beyond Western Avenue to the west and beyond Normandie on the east. Extending the bicycle infrastructure beyond Western would also facilitate bicyclists connecting to the commercial corridor of Western Avenue while connecting to beyond Normandie Avenue would allow other students beyond Normandie to arrive to school by bicycle. This would also be a possible neighborhood amenity that could be extended into other areas to the east and to the west in addition to adding to the bicycle infrastructure of the immediate neighborhood. One limitation to the choice of 2nd Street would be that 2nd Street is connects only the local area. Connections beyond Hancock Park to the west and toward downtown in the east are not possible due to the roads dead end. Page | 17

SOUTH HOBART/HARVARD BOULEVARD BICYCLE BOULEVARD

An additional bicycling facility along either Hobart or Harvard Boulevard of dedicated bike lanes or a bicycle boulevard would also add to neighborhood cohesion, connectivity, and provide added transportation options for students studying at the elementary schools and other civic institutions in the study area. Since South Harvard Boulevard dead-ends just north of the school, Hobart Boulevard might be preferred street for maximum connectivity to the Hollywood area to the north. With installation of a bicycle boulevard on Hobart or Harvard Boulevards, considerations should be made for additional bicycle upgradesespecially bicycle parking. Upgrades could be focused on the area in and around the two elementary schools as they would be the most probably draw for significant bicycle traffic. Additional bicycle racks both on campus but as well as bicycle racks on the exterior of the property for parents or others who may ride to the elementary campuses would be possible.
TRANSIT STOP UPGRADES

Transit stops should be upgraded in both transit corridors in the study area. The lack of waiting amenities especially for the lower service hours in the early morning or late evening such as safety/security lighting or benches should be considered as there is significant scheduled service after dark and before dawn. This is especially true on Western Avenue as there is 24hour service. Further, transit stop upgrades, such as bus bulbs for stops located farther from major intersections would be a way to create space for these amenities. Both the Western Avenue and 3rd Street corridors seem to be limited in pedestrian space, thus, taking some of the space currently allocated to parking for additional pedestrian and transit user amenities would be the most feasible option.

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REFERENCES

City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning. (2008). [Maps of Community General Plans] Retrieved from http://cityplanning.lacity.org/complan/central/wilpage.htm LADOT (2011). [Bicycle map outlining established routes and evaluations on comfortable routes for bicyclists as well as demarcations of intersections that are difficult to cross for bicyclists] Central City & Westside Bicycle Map. Retrieved from http://www.bicyclela.org/maps_main.htm#lamaps ----- (2010). LA County Traffic Count Book 2009-10 [Data File]. Retrieved from http://ladot.lacity.org/tf_hist_auto_counts.htm. Los Angeles Longest Streets (1988, May 12). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/1988-05-12/local/me-4227_1_los-angeles. Koreatown, Los Angeles. (2011, November 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:13, November 17, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Koreatown,_Los_Angeles&oldid=458576343 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transporation Authority (2011). [Photographs from LA Metros Public Art Projects]. Wilshire/Western Slideshow. Retrieved from http://www.metro.net/about/art/locations/wilshirewestern-station/. ----- (2011). [Map of LA County Established and Proposed bicycle routes]. Metro Bike Map. Retrieved from http://www.metro.net/riding_metro/bikes/images/la_bike_map.pdf.

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