For generations, residential streets served as informal play spaces for children. In recent decades, streets have become increasingly dominated by automobiles with little accommodation for other needs, even though many neighborhoods continue to lack safe, accessible spaces to play. More recently, research has revealed the key role of play in physical health and intellectual and social development. In the City of Los Angeles, our largest available public space is the 7,500-mile street network that serves to connect our communities. Over the last couple of years, the City has recognized the value of re-purposing these streets into multimodal spaces through efforts like the Mayor’s Great Streets Initiative, LADOT’s People St program, and CicLAvia. Through their participation in these programs and other informal street-based activities, Los Angeles residents have demonstrated that they are ready, willing, and desiring to engage with their streets in unconventional ways.
A Play Street event closes a portion of a neighborhood street to vehicular traffic allowing residents to host a variety of fun and engaging activities.
Play Streets is a new pilot program created by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), in partnership with Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), a local, non-profit community development and design office. The Play Streets program will help residents temporarily transform Los Angeles City streets into places for play, learning, and fun for all ages! KDI will host Play Streets pilot events across the city to demonstrate how the concept could work. Through community design workshops and consultation with City agencies, KDI will co-design a pilot program that meets the needs of LA's residents and is feasible for future City implementation.
KDI will analyze city data to locate five neighborhoods to host pilot play streets, prioritizing neighborhoods that are park poor, have high concentrations of low-income residents, and have potential for programmatic collaborations. KDI will work with residents of the selected neighborhoods to identify appropriate streets and design a Kit-of-Parts to deploy at each play street. KDI will simultaneously work with LADOT and other City agencies to understand existing regulations, form partnerships, and compile recommendations to enable the City to launch an official Play Streets program in the future.
Play Streets is a year-long pilot program, implemented from 2015-2016.