Parking spaces get green light

Chalk, brightly colored backpacks and neon cones caught the eyes of pedestrians and bicyclists Friday afternoon along Brand Boulevard as participants in a global event celebrating urban greenery took over parking spots.

Part of the fourth annual national Park(ing) Day L.A. event, businesses and community members decorated and then relaxed in metered parking spaces on the 100 block of Brand Boulevard in Glendale.

The annual one-day, global event aims to transform parking spaces into temporary public parks. The Los Angeles region iteration highlights the lack of green and open space throughout the city.

Glendale residents Lameese Elqura and Cindy Coan were set up for the day and enjoying a picnic lunch in their parking space.

"We're surprised how many people have stopped by and asked us what this was about," Coan said. "One woman actually gave us money to feed the meter."

As word of mouth spreads with each year, the event has the potential to become a major draw, said principal urban city planner Alan Loomis.

"If there are more of these, it's not just a one-off; it becomes an event and will attract people to the downtown area," he said. "It has a lot of potential to energize the area and encourage community interaction."

Elqura, an urban planner at a firm in Long Beach, decided to stay home to participate in Park(ing) Day.

"It's great because it's interactive, and we did this with no budget, just things we found out at home," Elqura said.

Farther south on the block, Glendale-based Osborn Architects had a shade structure composed of reused, brightly colored backpacks.

"The response has been pretty positive and we've talked to a lot of people since we're right by the bus top," said Sandeesh Sidhu, marketing writer for the firm. "A lot of people have written messages or done drawings in chalk under the shade."

A three-time participant, the firm collaborates on the design of its Park(ing) Day space, and this year's was designed by younger architects in the firm.

"When you remove a car and create a space like this, it really shows how much room the car takes up," Sidhu said. "People don't realize that."

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