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Play Streets

Background

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.

Context

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.

Project Activities

Play Streets is a 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). Currently in its second pilot phase, the Play Streets program enables residents to temporarily transform Los Angeles City streets into places for play, learning, and fun for all ages! In Phase 1 of the pilot, KDI hosted play streets events across the city to demonstrate how the concept could work. KDI analyzed city data to locate five neighborhoods to host pilot play streets, prioritizing neighborhoods that were park poor, had high concentrations of low-income residents, and had potential for programmatic collaborations. KDI worked with residents of the selected neighborhoods to identify appropriate streets and designed a Kit-of-Parts to deploy at each play street. Through community design workshops and consultation with City agencies, KDI co-designed a pilot program that met the needs of LA's park-poor residents and demonstrated the feasibility of future citywide implementation.

Last year, KDI planners worked with LADOT and other City agencies to understand existing regulations, form key partnerships, and create formalized processes to enable the City to launch an official Play Streets program in the future. This phase included developing a Play Streets brand identity and creating a website, which enables residents to submit online applications for play streets events.

Meanwhile, KDI’s design team used community input and leading play research to create a series of custom-built portable play elements for the new Kit-of-Parts. The “Wobbles”, as they are known, are shaped like waves and slot together in multiple ways to inspire all kinds of play among people of all ages. The Kit-of-Parts, now rechristened as the “Box-of-Play” or “BOP”, contains 40 Wobbles along with various other games and play elements. The BOP takes the form of an eye-catching trailer, bearing the KDI-designed Play Streets branding.

Phase 2 of the pilot is now underway, with a series of play streets being held throughout the summer of 2018 in the park-poor neighborhoods of Boyle Heights and Koreatown. Through this second pilot, KDI aims to test and refine the program before making final recommendations to LADOT. The Play Streets program will then be ready for rollout across the City of Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Hopscotch & Happiness