It's Official! Pico is a GREAT Street.

Aug14PicoWhen Mayor Eric Garcetti was campaigning in 2013, he pledged a “back-to-basics” approach, prioritizing job creation and improving city services, safety, and sustainability if elected. One program he created to reach toward those goals is the Great Streets Initiative, which aims to enhance 15 significant corridors in each of L.A.’s city council districts

“The Great Streets Initiative is about strengthening neighborhoods one ‘main street’ at a time,”  Mayor Garcetti said. “Angelenos are looking for dynamic and safe places to meet, to shop, and to spend time with their families. This is what the Great Streets Initiative is all about.”

Great Streets launched in October of 2013, and a significant number of city players were brought together to form the Great Streets Working Group, an advisory team that would select participating corridors. The Department of Transportation, Department of City Planning, Department of Cultural Affairs, Bureau of Street Services, Bureau of Sanitation, Bureau of Engineering, Bureau of Street Lighting, Department of Water & 

Power and Economic & Workforce Development Department are all integral members of the group, as are City Council members. While practical considerations such as sidewalks and transportation options helped determine the group’s choices, community activity and support, cultural identity and future potential also factored into the the equation. 

aug15pico3The stretch of Pico Boulevard between Fairfax and Burnside just east of Hauser was named Council District 10’s GREAT STREET. Paper or Plastik, Cordially Invited, Bloom Cafe,  Pico Deli, Pinky Rose, My 2 Cents, Cultural Interiors, Brainworks, Hound Dog&Cat, CJ's, Casa Chocolate Cafe, Power Plant and a host of other shops,  including bicycle repair, one of the oldest men's spas in L.A. and Olsen's a Swedish deli, are among the host of businesses along that stretch of the Pico corridor. According to Vicki Curry, associate director of communications for the Mayor’s office, the already-present energy along this road made it a good fit for the initiative, with its continuous single-story retail and mixture of restaurants and services.

“Pico Boulevard was also designated in the City's Draft Mobility Plan as a targetaugpico3 area for pedestrian enhancements and increased transit amenities,” Curry said. “The Great Streets Working Group identified that as an opportunity to align citywide policy goals with those outlined in the Great Streets Initiative.” 

Once the first 15 Great Streets were selected, Mayor Garcetti set up Great Streets Studio, an evolution of the Working Group, which has an office in City Hall and is charged with helping develop the designated corridors. With support from Great Streets Studio, some of the Great Streets have already seen significant improvements. In Council District 12, for example, the chosen stretch of Reseda Boulevard now offers a new protected bike lane, new mid-century modern street furniture, and freshly painted sidewalks. 

aug15pico5According to Curry, members of Great Street Studio spent the better part May 28 on a maintenance walk along Pico. Participants, including the local Council Office [requests for information from the Council Office were left unanswered], highlighted maintenance improvements on the walk. Curry says that the event resulted in 20 replaced signs, seven repainted sidewalks, multiple curb enhancements, six new parking meters and more than 100 temporary asphalt repairs.

“There are millions of dollars in the budgets of the different city departments that can be accessed for Great Streets,” said Curry. “Some of the streets already have existing or pending funding, either through grants or current city work plans. Once a Great Street is designated, the Great Streets Studio, respective Council Office, and community stakeholders can leverage these existing investments for additional grant funding and an implementation timeline can be mapped out. Great Streets will partner with communities to ensure that those investments are layered, targeted, and strategic.”

Stakeholders on each Great Street stand to benefit in ways that go beyond improved sidewalks, too. 

Yvette McNally, owner of Cordially Invited, has shared her own vision for Pico in think tank-like workshops led by the Mayor’s office. She has also seen Pico’s monthly Third Thursday event get additional press via Great Streets email blasts. Recently, she worked with other business owners to apply for the $20,000 Great Street Challenge Grant; they proposed to close a portion of Pico for one day in order to recreate the idea of a “town square,” where businesses could showcase their services or wares and a children’s section might encourage local families to walk over and mingle with neighbors. 

As McNally awaits news on the grant, other community members are watching to see what else comes from Garcetti’s program.

“I think it’s all been a build-as-you-go, learn-as-you-go process — and that makes sense, as it’s an initiative and hasn’t been done before,” McNally said. “They’re working with stakeholders to determine where it goes, and I think that’s great.”

For more information about the Great Streets Initiative, visit or follow @LAGreatStreets on social media. 


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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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