“Narrow Streets” Narrows Van Nuys Blvd.


David Yoon is a Los Angeles based writer, designer, photographer and blogger who has undertaken a unique and visionary idea: What would Los Angeles look like if its streets were narrowed?

For years I, like Mr. Yoon, have walked around LA and observed the quite destructive effect of too wide streets.  Enormous lanes of asphalt discourage walking. It encourages speeding.  The sense of enclosure, community and safety that is found along narrower roads is one reason why Los Angeles, with its gigantic streets, is so hated by so many who move here looking for some connection to this monstrously impersonal,ugly, and billboard-deformed city.

The legion of failed places and depressed areas in the San Fernando Valley is really a list of wide streets: Sherman Way, Van Nuys Blvd., Reseda Bl.  Areas where the streets are narrower and planted with trees include the revitalized Studio City.

Mr. Yoon has come up to Van Nuys and given us his version of how Van Nuys Boulevard would look, from the vantage point of Oxnard and VNB, if its asphalt were torn up and the buildings on either side moved closer together.

It is still ugly, but it is an ugliness that can be improved upon with trees, cafes and pedestrians.  Rip down the cobra lamps, install benches, plant trees and mandate architectural codes that regulate billboards and signs, and this street might become a reasonably cool area to hang out in.

8 thoughts on ““Narrow Streets” Narrows Van Nuys Blvd.

  1. It seems like you want to sacrifice the way things function in favor of the way things look with subjective ideas like ‘enclosure, a sense of safety’ etc.
    Its a different world than it used to be, with many more people. If the roads were narrowed now, they would only need to be widened at some future point. Traffic is also already bad enough, narrowing the road would make it way worse..
    Is there no way to work with the streets in their current dimensions and somehow add a sense of safety, enclosure, and community? Perhaps these lacking qualities could be counterbalanced by sources other than the actual streets themselves..

  2. I heard from my neighbor that Victory Blvd used to be narrower and be shaded by trees like Chandler Blvd but it was widened in the 60’s. Sadly they also tore out all of the trees that were originally planted to provide shade to horses before cars were common.

    All in the name of “progress” I guess.

  3. Did anyone notice that Keyes Motors is now the Chevrolet dealer at the NW corner of Van Nuys & Oxnard, replacing Rydell. Rydell could not hack the market here, and tucked tail back to North Carolina where it belonged?
    Takeover was last Monday, January 11, 2010.

    1. Too bad that corner could not be developed more imaginatively. Another car dealer is not what we need.
      I’d like to see a residential/commercial/car combination building on that lot.

  4. Van Nuys Blvd. needs to be wide enough to off-load car carriers in the center divider, and thus the width must remain much wider than this post envisions. Likewise, with the traffic on the street heading from the 101 to Civic Center, it needs 3 lanes in each direction. Traffic is bad enough with 3 lanes these days, depending on the hour, so narrowing it would just be counterproductive.
    Other streets, maybe….
    ps – don’t forget when the sherman oaks designation was recently extended north of Burbank, it did not include Van Nuys Blvd. as the dealers still wanted the Van Nuys designation as well as control of the street’s future.

    1. “Van Nuys Blvd needs to be wide enough
      to off-load car carriers in the center divider,
      and thus the width must remain much wider…”
      Hmmm…is off-loading car carriers in the middle
      of the roadway legal ?
      “…dealers still wanted the Van Nuys designation
      as well as control of the street’s future.”
      Well, that explains it.
      Not legal in Sherman Oaks. Acceptable in Van Nuys

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