Pacoima is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, California. This community maintains a history tracing back more than 1,500 years, when the people indigenous to the area, known as Tataviams, meaning “People facing the Sun,” began establishing villages.
The Bradley Plaza Green Alley project is the first to be unveiled for Pacoima Beautiful’s Urban Green Vision Plan. This plan focuses on the central portion of Pacoima in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, which is largely residential with some industrial concentrations.
According to Pacoima’s Urban Green Vision Plan, Pacoima’s location at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains is crucial to the ecology of Southern California so identifying ways to improve the water quality and create more open space were part of the project’s goals.
Arup Civil and Environmental Engineer Vanessa Thompson grew up in the northeast valley and has been a resident of Pacoima since she was young. Since her days in high school and through college, Thompson has been involved with Pacoima Beautiful, which put together the Pacoima Urban Green Vision Plan in 2011. The Bradley Plaza Green Alley is part of this plan along with other potential project spaces that will target green streets, green intersections, pocket parks, plazas, green alleys and parklets.
The green alley was identified and chosen by Pacoima Beautiful because of its location between a major street and a low-income housing community. The alley itself was known for illicit and violent activity, as well as environmental degradation, said Thompson.
The closing of factories around Pacoima in the early 1990s started an economic decline, with Pacoima eventually becoming one of the most underserved communities in the Los Angeles area.
The project was led by the City of Los Angeles Sanitation & Environment, the grassroots environmental justice organization Pacoima Beautiful, and The Trust for Public Land, serving about 8,500 community members living within a 10-minute walk of the area.
The project’s engineer and consultant, Arup, provided infrastructure expertise including storm water management and sustainability consulting, utilizing Geographic Information System (GIS) consulting and community outreach support to meet the goals of the project.
From the get-go, this project was about meeting the needs of the community by directly and continuously communicating with its residents. Charrettes were at the center of the design process and fundamental to the integrity of the project.
Pacoima Beautiful’s Urban Green Vision Plan
The goal was to create a shared space that is not only ADA-accessible, but one that manages storm water and the conditions of the area efficiently. The area experiences droughts and wildfires so extreme heat days will only be exacerbated by climate change.