"Los Angeles redevelopment commissioners agreed Thursday to spend up to $52 million to build parking and other improvements around billionaire Eli Broad's planned downtown art museum"
Community Redevelopment Agency Panel fast tracks new Broad museum parking plan
Los Angeles Times - 21 January 2011
The context here is because of California's epic budget woes, our new governor, Jerry Brown, has proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies. As a result, these agencies are busy committing as much money as possible to contracts so they'll have something to do for the next several years regardless of what Sacramento does to them.
I'm not here to talk to you about that though (although I think it's interesting). I'm here to talk to you about the i-word in the quoted paragraph above: "improvement".
"Improvement" is planner/engineer speak for any professionally desired change to a city. But whether or not adding a parking garage to a walkable downtown right next to a subway stop, and other pre-existing parking garages, actually constitutes improvement should be up for debate.
The LA Times article uncritically parrots the i-word, and it's really our loss, because we should think critically about how much parking Downtown LA really needs, especially right there. Anyway, just a reminder not the fall into the trap of automatically calling anything an "improvement" regardless of context, or effects.
Switching gears a bit I have something that I really would call an improvement: Long Beach's first bike boulevard. It's located on Vista St. between Temple and Nieto Avenues.
View Larger Map
The concept is it's one of Southern California's ubiquitous narrow residential streets (two lanes each of driving and parking). To optimize the street for bikes instead of cars, traffic circles have been installed in the intersections every two blocks or so. These intersections become four-way yields and as a driver you have to slow down and look around to avoid striking something, which makes you drive more slowly and carefully. There are also sharrow markings on the asphault to encourage cycling in the right direction and out of the door zone of parked cars. This 2.6 km street retrofit was constructed for under $1 million, or just a tiny fraction of the money the CRA wants to dump into more downtown parking.
Food for thought . . .