LA Pulls Up A Parking Lot To Restore Paradise

“They paved paradise to put up a parking lot.” That’s how the song goes, and sadly, it’s a fictional tale that plays out in real cities around the world every day. Continuous urban development, and our attachment to personal vehicles, demands that the number of parking lots be directly proportional to population growth.

This philosophy leads to cities severely lacking in green space, which can exacerbate a number of environmental issues. In Los Angeles, however, the trend seems to be working in reverse. Mayor Villaraigosa and Councilmember Huizar recently attended the opening of Spring Street Park in Downtown Los Angeles–a vibrant public space that used to be a parking lot.

Although designed by Lehrer Architects, the park’s planning, design, and implementation involved a collaboration among the Mayor’s Office, various Council Districts, Recreation and Parks, Engineering, and local stakeholders, including ‘Friends of Spring Street Park’, a non-profit organisation established to assist the park.

The Spring Street Park is a marvelous example of how much good you can do with a tiny bit of land. Situated on 0.7 acres of land the former parking lot now includes walking paths, an open lawn, seating, children’s play elements, native landscaping, and a smart irrigation system.

Spring Street is the 16th park to be opened through the 50 Parks Initiative, which launched in August of 2012. The initiative takes makes parks out of abandoned or unsightly properties, many left behind by the housing crisis.

“By creating these 50 parks in the least-served neighborhoods of Los Angeles, we are permanently transforming our City,” said Barry A. Sanders, Commission President, Recreation and Parks, in a news release. “With the addition of the 50 Parks Initiative, about 20% of the parks established during this Department’s long history will be the work of the last seven years.”

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog