Revision Date January 18, 2023

What if Central Los Angeles could have a new park, 3.2 miles long?  That’s the vision for San Vicente Park, a replacement for much of the significant public land currently devoted to San Vicente Boulevard.  With the upcoming proposed Metro Crenshaw Line Northern Extension, a re-imagining of mobility and recreation will become available to consider public space for healthier communities.

Project Vision Summary

  • Convert approximately 3.2 miles of San Vicente Boulevard to public parks, plazas, and recreation facilities
  • Extend from Mid City (Lowe’s) to the West Hollywood Boundary (The Beverly Center and Cedars Sinai)
  • Maintain local access roads for homes and businesses
  • Encourage ridership in Metro Crenshaw Northern Extension
  • Provide alternative mobility routes for bicycles and scooters
  • Provide attractive first/last mile approaches and space devoted to new Metro stations

Before and After @ the “Fairfax Asterisk,” where San Vicente, Fairfax, and Olympic Meet

From Vehicles to Parks

The citizens of Central Los Angeles have a provable lack of access to quality public park and recreation spaces.  The upcoming proposed light rail project will connect this large swath of Los Angeles by light rail.  When overlaid onto the city’s street configuration, it becomes evident that the proposed mass transit line generally follows San Vicente Boulevard between Mid City and West Hollywood.  Historically, the boulevard was a major connector within the Pacific Electric Railway system (aka Redcars), and when the lines were removed, the street was widened for vehicular traffic, typically 3 travel lanes in each direction.

With the construction of the Metro, Los Angeles and its citizens have an opportunity to reengage with our public space and encourage the replacement of San Vicente Boulevard with a grand park, linking communities by providing alternative mobility options including pedestrian connections, dedicated scooter/bicycle lanes, and encouragement of mass transit ridership.

Without a transfer, the Metro line will link dozens of major LA highlights, including LAX, Inglewood, Crenshaw District, Mid City, LACMA/Academy Museum, The Grove/Farmers Market, Cedars Sinai, The Beverly Center, West Hollywood, Hollywood/Highland, and potentially the Hollywood Bowl.  Returning public space to citizens, away from vehicle use, is a gift to some of the most dense portions of the city.

Eliminate Confusing Intersections

As a diagonal street, San Vicente provides many instances of complicated intersections as it meanders against the general grid of Los Angeles.  Any frequent driver in Central LA will probably relate to how much emptier San Vicente is for traffic, but how it provides intersections too wide for pedestrians and too unsafe for alternative mobility options.

The project is conceived to have a northern terminus around Beverly Boulevard, as San Vicente Boulevard becomes a major thoroughfare for the City of West Hollywood.  Beginning at Cedars Sinai and The Beverly Center, the street links to the Melrose Design District, Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood Park, West Hollywood “Boystown,” and Sunset Boulevard hotels and attractions.

Before and After @ San Vicente, La Cienega, Burton Way, and W 3rd Street

History of Linear Parks

Many cities, including Los Angeles, have been re-imagining the public realm to be oriented away from dedicated vehicular use.  San Vicente Park would become a sister vision to ongoing efforts listed below within LA County.  An advantage of San Vicente Boulevard conversion is that it is a surface road, and won’t require any bridges or significant infrastructure beyond the already voter approved Crenshaw Northern Extension.

Around the world cities are enhancing their densest areas by providing an improved quality of life. The most famous is probably the High Line on Manhattan’s west side.  A coalition of community groups, developers, property owners, elected officials, and municipalities have coalesced around a common goal of improving the daily experience of urbanites.

Before and After @ Curson/Masselin Avenues, a somewhat typical stretch of San Vicente Boulevard where the median provides greenery but no amenities or access

Isolated Medians and Old Growth Trees

One of the most appetizing features of the existing San Vicente Boulevard is it’s generous landscaped median.  For decades, this marooned park-like feature has nurtured old growth tree, sitting idle of human use due to lack of programmed space, crosswalks, and zooming cars.  Transforming the boulevard into a park would incorporate the old trees and expand the existing medians to become the primary use of this urban space.

Recent Updates and Road Diet

In 2022, DOT implemented part of their intent to convert a lane of traffic along San Vicente from Olympic to La Brea to become a protected bicycle lane.  Their traffic study showed little difference in travel times for the area, as the travel lanes in each direction decreased from 3 to 2.  Already, the slower traffic and more narrow road have improved the visual quality of the street, and impressed upon stakeholders the value of alternate public uses of urban space.

In addition, the City of Beverly Hills has committed to improving San Vicente Boulevard within its jurisdiction to be “Complete Streets.”  New bicycle lanes are proposed between La Cienega and Wilshire.

The planted medians along San Vicente Boulevard in the Carthay Circle Neighborhood are inaccessible (left).  Recent improvements to San Vicente Boulevard in Mid City in 2022 included converting a lane of vehicular traffic to a protected bicycle lane (right).

Interested to learn more or become involved?  We are actively seeking community and professional partners to generate grassroots, corporate, and political support to make San Vicente Park a reality.

Email us at info@sanvicentepark.org

LA City and County Links

City of West Hollywood Improvements

Just to the north of the proposed San Vicente Park, the City of West Hollywood is working on their own pedestrian-oriented improvements to the area of San Vicente Boulevard between West Hollywood Park and the Pacific Design Center.

The historic Red Car line travelled up through San Vicente.  The proposed Metro Crenshaw Northern Extension will follow roughly the same path, allowing a possible conversion of public space from vehicles to people.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of amenities and landscaping would be included in the design?

With 3.2 miles of length, San Vicente Park will channel through many distinct communities.  A robust community engagement process would help determine what types of functions each neighborhood may wish to see constructed.  Options would include recreational components, passive park use, athletic facilities, community buildings, public vendor spaces such as cafes or stores, or specific vegetation selection areas.  All of these types of uses would be built with experts to ensure a balanced ecosystem and natural biodiversity encouragement where possible.

Can this construction be paired with the proposed Metro Crenshaw Northern Extension?

Potentially, Metro can utilize a method of construction called “cut and cover” where it is advantageous for portions of the new underground line.  This method is substantially less expensive than the other method for underground tunnels, which is machine boring.  Since the ground surface would be removed for “cut and cover,” it could be replaced with park space for similar overall costs.

When can San Vicente Park be completed?

There are many variables which will influence the schedule for the vision.  Many of the variables include: political will, community support, traffic studies, design processes, metro coordination, environmental impact reports, and stakeholder outreach.  As a public space proposed at grade, the construction itself is relatively simple in nature and would take approximately 2-5 years, dependent on how the project is phased.

What about emergency response time? 

In its current configuration, San Vicente Boulevard provides a direct route to Cedars Sinai Medical Center for many area residents.  The Park conversion proposes a minimum of one lane in each direction to be maintained for vehicular access.  During the design of the Park, engineers will have to determine if there would be any changes to response times, what is an acceptable change in response time, and if the vehicular access could be designed to preserve or improve current emergency response times.

What about bus service interruptions?

The only operating bus within the vision area is at the top edge, from West Hollywood southward to W 3rd Street at the Beverly Center.  Metro’s 30/330 bus line service in the vision area was discontinued on June 27, 2021.  The 30/330 line continues to operate between downtown and the Pico Rimpau Transit Center (adjacent to Lowes/Midtown Crossing) where the San Vicente Park vision has its eastern terminus.   Link to Metro’s 2021 Schedule Changes

What about the zoning code in relation to the park space?

The proposed park lies almost entirely within the City of Los Angeles Wilshire Community Plan, except for the western side of the boulevard between Wilshire and La Cienega which lies within the City of Beverly Hills.  Current Los Angeles zoning code would require new buildings adjacent to the park to have specific stepbacks, typically called “transitional height” requirements.  The Wilshire Community Plan is specified to be updated by City Planning in sequence with other plans as part of the new code

LA is a car city, what about the traffic?

Optimistically, the San Vicente Park will encourage ridership and density to develop along the Metro Crenshaw Northern Extension.  As a vision, there is the reality that vehicular travel times would be impacted by the park conversion.  Such changes to travel times within Central LA would have to be studied to determine the impact on traffic. Ultimately, it is up to community stakeholders and elected officials how to balance potential traffic conditions with public amenities.

What about cross streets?

The vision for San Vicente Park does not propose to change any of the existing crossings of San Vicente Boulevard.  Where the existing medians prevent cross traffic, park space will be expanded.  Where existing cross streets traverse the medians, such cross streets would remain.  There may be instances where communities advocate for further closures or additional crossings based upon outreach.

What are some other benefits of San Vicente Park?

Though much of the other community benefits can only be speculative, there are other examples of urban road infrastructure being converted to public space for comparison.  The closure of Broadway in New York’s Times Square, for example, resulted in many other types of benefits.  The creation of public space resulted in a safer environment for everyone, with a 40% reduction in pedestrian injuries and a 15% reduction in vehicular accidents.  In addition the pollution levels in the immediate area dropped precipitously, with a 63% reduction in Nitrogen Oxide and a 41% reduction in Nitrogen Dioxide, two pollutants closely associated with traffic.