The Pico Great Street Collaborative won a Challenge Grant from the City of Los Angeles in January that could mean up to $500,000 in community-building improvements to Pico Blvd between Fairfax and Cochran.
Their “Destination: Pico” proposal calls for improved design to make this historic part of Pico a safer and more appealing place for people to walk and enjoy all the locally-owned shops, restaurants, galleries, salons and gyms in the area. Their goal, which has garnered tremendous support from area organizations, is to transform this busy throughway into an inviting neighborhood center where people can leave their cars behind and enjoy a stronger sense of community.
The Challenge grant for the Collaboratives “Destination Pico” project provides them with an initial grant of $13,000 for community outreach to encourage local stakeholders (residents, businesses, schools, organizations) to participate in developing projects to improve Pico. They are looking for ideas to create greater pedestrian safety, attract more businesses and patrons, beautify the boulevard and create more community gathering places. Once the collaborative has settled on the ideas, the community will be presented with maps and drawings illustrating the proposed projects. This open house with the finalized version should happen in September. The project then goes to the city for approval and then submission to the appropriate city agencies where $500,000 will become available for implementation.
Over the last year, the Collaborative has uncovered a lot of excitement and untapped volunteer energy in the area. Over the next year, their outreach efforts will focus more and more on discovering how residents and businesses want City Hall to use this grant money to transform this stretch of Pico.
They’re reaching out to business owners on Pico who will hopefully adopt dozens of new trees to be planted in May. They’ve inspired artists at local galleries Brainworks and The Party Gallery to handcraft a ‘zine with fresh, creative ideas for Pico. They are working with artist Rosanne Kleinerman on her recent Art Activation Grant for a summer project: “Pico Dogs.” What do dogs and Great Streets have in common? “Dogs bring people together,” explains Roseanne. She should know. If you live in Picfair Village, you’re destined to run into Rosanne and her friends on their regular evening strolls – which is just what the Collaborative’s efforts are all about.
Council President Herb Wesson, who selected this part of Pico Blvd. as the Great Street for CD 10, and several property owners have also approached the artists working with the Collaborative to submit unique designs for select walls and utility boxes in the area.
In a short time the Collaborative has attracted a core group of talented, civic-minded people, including creative professionals who want to put their skills to work for the good of their neighborhood.
With several new apartment complexes set to increase the density on Pico Blvd, the Collaborative has also been thinking more and more about safety. They’re now working in tandem with the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition and artist Alan Nakagawa, Creative Catalyst at the L.A. Department of Transportation, to bring safety to walking and biking in our neighborhood. One of their priorities is to make crossing Pico safer for children who attend Holy Spirit School and Saturn Street Elementary.
Local business people who have witnessed the dedication of all these volunteers have opened up their shops and restaurants on Pico Boulevard and in Little Ethiopia to host Collaborative meetings where stakeholders can discuss concerns and plan for the future. It’s obvious to everyone following the trajectory of the Pico Great Street Collaborative that it really does take a village to build such positive momentum – and that village can use your help!
To meet some of their leaders in person, stop by the Pico Great Street Collaborative’s tent on May 6th at P.I.C.O. Neighborhood Council’s Spring Fling festival on the L.A.C.E.S. campus at 5931 W. 18th St.
Established in August of 2008 by writer, artist 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.