L.A. alley project moves forward

Gold is a Times staff writer.

The city of Los Angeles is moving forward with an innovative proposal to transform some of its alleys, long used for dumping, crime and not much good.

The City Council this week approved a package of 10 recommendations advancing the proposal. It included provisions for developing design guidelines, determining cost, building a detailed map of alleys and identifying pilot project sites.

“This whole package is part of the city’s effort to build ‘green’ infrastructure,” said Jennifer Wolch, a USC professor of geography and urban planning and the director of the USC Center for Sustainable Cities. The center is one of the groups spearheading the proposal, which was the subject of an Out There installment in September.


The first alley project could be complete next year, Wolch said.

Wolch’s team determined recently that there are 12,309 blocks of alleys in the city. All told, it is three square miles of underused land, much of it in poor communities that have little open space.

A coalition of researchers, planners and public land advocates wants to transform some of the alleys. Some would have concrete replaced with modern, permeable material that would reduce runoff. Others could see more substantial changes -- native grasses, planters, trees, outdoor furniture, lights and even swing sets.