Here's What Hollywood Boulevard Could Look Like With Less Space For Cars And More Space For Humans
If you've ever taken a visiting friend or family member to the Hollywood Walk of Fame at their behest (and against your advice), you know the pure ecstasy of seeing the glimmer fade from their eyes when expectation meets reality. *chef's kiss*
Welcome to Hollywood Boulevard, where dirty sidewalks overflow with tourists, brawling pop culture characters, street performers, and vendors as tour buses and endless cars lumber along the street. It's not the glamourous space depicted in post cards -- and it's not a safe space either.
The streets that encompass the Walk of Fame (Hollywood Boulevard from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue; Vine Street between Yucca Street and Sunset Boulevard) are part of Los Angeles' High-Injury Network -- the 6% of city streets where 70% of pedestrian deaths and severe injuries occur.
But L.A. City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell wants to flip the script on Hollywood Boulevard with a master plan that aims to reduce car lanes -- and in some places possibly eliminate them -- to increase space for people taking in the sights and sounds on foot.
O'Farrell said the master plan for his Heart of Hollywood project stems from his desire to create a space for residents, tourists and business owners alike that's "worthy of a world class city."
"I've always felt very strongly that the boulevard could be so much more than it is now," O'Farrell told LAist Thursday. "We haven't really focused on helping Hollywood Boulevard and the surrounding streets and neighborhood reach their full potential in terms of the design of the public rights of way."
According to the concept plan, reimagining the Walk of Fame comes down to one key idea: that the streets are for everyone. The city's key goal is to transform Hollywood Boulevard "from a traffic artery to a place for people," the plan's authors wrote.
Currently, 70% of the existing space on Hollywood Boulevard is used by cars, trucks and other motor vehicles, while 30% is dedicated to people, city officials said. The plan, as it exists now, "flips that ratio," officials said, to more than double the amount of space for pedestrians, cyclists and everyone else trying to get around without a car.
The plan calls for expanding sidewalks by removing on-street parking and car lanes. The current concept is to take out one vehicle lane in each direction, officials from Councilman O'Farrell's office told LAist.
Sections of Hollywood Boulevard could also be configured into "Flexible Event Plazas," which would allow select blocks along the roadway to become car-free pedestrian promenades, according to the plan. The concept also proposes ways to play up the Art Deco themes in the new designs to bring a more cohesive vibe to the boulevard and using the added pedestrian space for more sidewalk dining.
Other safety improvements in the plan include raised intersections, scramble crosswalks and mid-block pedestrian crossings. The concept also calls for improved bus stops, dedicated lanes for bikes, scooters, skateboards, etc., and more trees.
The parking impact of a redesigned street would be minimal, officials from O'Farrell's office said. Only about 2% of the public parking spots within a block are actually located on Hollywood Boulevard.
And what about the impact to traffic? According to a traffic and circulation assessment conducted as part of the master plan study, drivers should have little issue moving south to fill space on Sunset Boulevard, which was deemed to have "excess capacity."
Alissa Walker, urbanism editor for Curbed LA, has long been a proponent for banning cars on some of L.A.'s most popular corridors, including Hollywood Boulevard. She told LAist the city's plan is "a good first step" but she'd like to see the entire roadway go car-free.
"This should be especially easy for city leaders to do on a street that's already closed several times per month to everyone except celebrities without any community engagement whatsoever," Walker said, referring to routine street closures along the boulevard for movie premieres and award shows.
Asked about the potential for an 100% car-free Hollywood Boulevard, O'Farrell asserted that "that is not the direction we're heading with this Walk of Fame."
L.A.'s Bureau of Engineering, which is leading the project, contracted the architecture firm Gensler to help put together the master plan, which you can explore here to learn more.
The next step in the process is to refine and finalize the design of the project as city staff works to secure more funding and conduct an environmental review. The eventual construction would be done in phases, which gives the city time to secure more funds, O'Farrell explained.
About $4.1 million has been appropriated for the project so far, according to Dan Halden, the director of O'Farrell's Heart of Hollywood initiative, but staff will be working "to cobble together as much as we possibly can" as the concept continues to evolve, he said.
O'Farrell said he hopes to break ground on the first phase of the reconfiguration "within two years."