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.