Friday was Park(ing) Day LA, an event that the Militant is very familiar with. So he decided to look up the map and roam around town on bike and on rail on Friday afternoon to tour some of the temporary parks being set up on street parking spaces to call attention to the need for people-oriented public spaces. Pretty much the majority of the proposed parks were situated in the Central Los Angeles area, with a few in the Westside (Santa Monica to be specific), a couple in the South Bay, and a handful in the SFV and SGV combined. It seemed as if Park(ing) Day LA was less of a deal this year than last, and it did seem that there were less points on the map. Of course, the Militant still couldn't see 'em all, so here's the somewhat limited tour...
The Militant headed to one of the nearest parks to his compound (pictured right), in East Hollywood's "Hel-Mel Bicycle District" where a park set up by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and the local neighborhood council yielded an inflatable swimming pool, a BBQ grill and some potted plants for decoration. A few people took a dip in the 80-plus degree heat, and others had their Scoops ice cream while chilling out at this location.
The Militant then headed to the nearest Metro station and took the12-minute ride Downtown where he disembarked at Pershing Square and..had to carry his ride up the northeast station portal (escalator was not in service, d'oh) to 4th street, where he headed due east. Near 4th and Spring, he saw a park ready to be taken down, with just a patch of astroturf marking the spot. Hmm. The Militant headed further and made his way to Main and Winston, where a rather large park installation was taking place.
Well, this was kind of cheating, as it wasn't the takeover of parking space but rather a (the Militant assumes, permitted) street closure. Winston, as some of you may or may not recall, is the tiny sidestreet upon where Blossom Vietnamese restaurant is situated, which the Militant covered in his long-dormant spinoff food blog, the Militant Angeleno's Mess Hall (wonder when he'll start that thing up again...).
This particular park (pictured left) was also organized by the local neighborhood council, this time the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (which was cool since the Militant always thought that neighborhood councils were just comprised of a bunch of cranky-ass, quasi-racist rich white old farts with no lives who like to shout at each other, wank off to Planning and Land Use Management issues and cling to their little fiefdoms. Oh yeah, did the Militant mention they're OLD? We're talking Pre-Cambrian, stop-driving-your-car-or-you'll-crash-into-a-farmer's-market fogeyness here. But the Militant digresses...good to know there's some NCs who aren't as fogey-ized and dig the Park(ing) Day thang) . This park had the requisite astroturf foundation, but also bore an entertainment stage, a basketball court and a display of James Rojas' infamous "Lego Downtown." The Militant also may or may not have spotted another local blogger there, who apparently had no idea the Militant was in his midst. Muhahaha. The main theme though at this park was the $196 monthly cost of a parking lot space, and various posterboards gave a quantitiative indication of what can be purchased for that price (i.e. one park bench, seven basketballs, 174 tennis balls, etc.).
The Militant continued on to the Financial District where he was promised a bunch of parks. Unfortunately he wasn't able to see squat. One site (Melendrez) was supposed to be near Pershing Square (which is an actual, permanent park - aren't we supposed to be putting these things up where there is no park space?) but apparently they decided to shut down early, and no trace of it was found.
The Militant did get to see the Torti Gallas and Partners Park, on 6th and Grand, who cordoned off their area with a picket fencing and adorned the space with a realtor's sign. Their theme was a similar cost-analysis of space, this time treating the parking space as though it were real estate property (valued at $77,000) and "selling" a parking space-sized residential structure for that price.
The rest of the Militant's search wasn't very fruitful. Either these sites never sprang up or they shut down early, mostly due to parking lane traffic flow restrictions inherent in Downtown (booo...). The one park by the Central Library was gone, for example.
The Militant also made his was a little west to Pico-Union where a park site was to go up on Hoover and Alvarado, but the Militant found no trace of it whatsoever.
So that was one complaint of the day, either many sites only set up for a short amount of time, or not at all. That was pretty much it for the Militant's tour, though Damien Newton from Streetsblog seemed to have more luck than the Militant in his report.
At one of the sites the Militant visited, he did run into a couple ladies who told him they set up their own site in Little Tokyo, which subsequently got shut down at around 2:30 p.m. by the cops. BREAKIN' DA LAW! They also explained that earlier in the day, other officers would drive past and even wave, though they theorized one of the businesses in the area called to complain. But they shrugged it off as no big deal, as 2:30 was past their original time limit anyway.
Still, Park(ing) Day 2008 didn't seem to have the splash it had last year, when it generated some mainstream media attention. This time, it was strictly a blogging event, it seems.
The Militant also didn't go to the Miracle Mile afterparty, though it probably had better music than the parking garage festivities of last year.
Oh well, maybe we'll have a better impact next year.