By Lauren Gold, September 20, 2013
PASADENA>> The normally dull concrete curb outside of Vroman’s Bookstore got a temporary facelift Friday, sprouting some grass, plants and even a public art installment.
The so-called “parklet” was one of two erected in parking spaces along Colorado Boulevard in the Playhouse District as part of international PARK(ing) Day, in which cities across the globe transform asphalt into green space for one day. Pasadena is the first city in the San Gabriel Valley to participate in the annual event, according to Playhouse District officials.
Playhouse District Association Executive Director Erlinda Romo said the parklets provide an oasis in the concrete jungle for shoppers, diners and business people to have a moment to relax.
“It’s a place for people to stop, slow down, take a breath,” Romo said. “In the Playhouse District we have 10,000 residents and 35,000 employees and there are is no park space.”
The event was also designed to raise awareness about the Playhouse District Association’s ongoing bid to build six permanent parklets along Colorado Boulevard between Hudson and Oakland Avenues.
“We’re just trying to figure out how to have parklets here in Pasadena,” Parklets Committee member Matt Randolph said. “This is a huge street and it could be more people friendly.”
The association created a special committee last year to study the issue and Romo said the prospect could become a reality in the next year or two. Department of Transportation Director Fred Dock said the city has begun the process of studying feasibility and traffic effects of the proposed parklets, which would reduce Colorado Boulevard to one lane in each direction and change current parallel parking spaces to diagonal face-in parking spots.
Dock said a similar initiative has worked well in the city of Livermore in northern California, which also reduced its main street to two lanes.
“It’s getting closer, it’s moving along,” Dock said. “It still has to be completely worked out but I think from the experience in a place like Livermore I would say Pasadena has a reasonable chance of making it work.”
Passersby enjoying the temporary parklets Friday said they would love to see more green space along Colorado Boulevard.
“Our city needs more green space,” said Pasadena resident Therese Brummel, 61. “If you look around right now, people are sitting on the sidewalk. How much better would it be to be sitting in a green space?”
But others, including the owner of Valia’s Jewelers next to one of the parklets, said they thought the proposed changes to the street and parking would be a problem.
“They say they are going to bring more people into the area, but I really think it’s the opposite,” Valia’s owner Michael Azabache said. “We are having a big problem with parking in Pasadena and I think taking parking away is just going to be bad for business. Already so many customers come and tell me they passed by here several times and couldn’t find a parking spot so they kept going.”
Mayor Bill Bogaard said he would be open to a pilot program for the parklets to give people a sense of the true impact and benefit.
“I would like to try the parklet idea and see if it isn’t an amenity that people enjoy,” Bogaard said.