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Plan for New Park Over Downtown L.A. Freeway

The Los Angeles City Council on Aug 30 unanimously agreed to work with a nonprofit group to seek funding for a project that would cover a portion of the Hollywood (101) Freeway in downtown Los Angeles with a neighborhood park.

The motion, approved 14-0, calls for the city to join nonprofit Friends of Park 101 District in applying for funding for the “freeway cap park,” which would essentially construct a large bridge atop the 101 freeway that would include walkable green space and other park amenities.

The park would connect Chinatown, Olvera Street and Union Station to the Civic Center.

At a meeting earlier this summer where members of the city commission that oversees El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, which includes Olvera Street, some merchants expressed concern that the plan, still in the preliminary planning stage, calls for converting city-owned parking lots used by visitors to the monument, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes and other city and county facilities into park space. They also said any effort would have to include a comprehensive plan to deal with the area’s problem with the growing number of homeless in the area, including within the park area at the monument itself.

The commission did not vote on whether to support the initiative.

However, Tsilah Burman, a spokeswoman for the Friends of Park 101 District, said the collaboration with the city was “another critical step that’s needed to move this project forward.”

“Without this step, it’s still pie-in-the-sky,” she said.

Funding sources for the initiative have not yet been secured by the nonprofit volunteer group, but the motion, introduced by Eastside/downtown area Councilman Jose Huizar who represents the area, directs city staff to work with the group to apply for local, state and federal grants and seek other types of funding for the project.

Another freeway cap park, called the Hollywood Central Park, has been proposed for the Hollywood portion of the freeway. It was mentioned by Mayor Eric Garcetti, who represented the Hollywood area when he was a councilman, during an election debate as one of a few “dream” projects he would pursue as mayor.

Similar parks are already in place in Dallas and Phoenix, while local cities such as Santa Monica, Glendale and Ventura are considering plans as park space in urban areas becomes scarcer.