Gaffey among first targets of Garcetti’s Great Streets initiative

Written by Donna Littlejohn for the Daily Breeze

Is Gaffey Street destined for greatness?

An advisory panel will work with the Los Angeles Department of Public Works over the next several months to come up with ideas following Mayor Eric Garcetti’s announcement in April that San Pedro’s main north-south thoroughfare was among the first group of city streets selected for his Great Streets Initiative.

With its jumbled streetscape of fast-food restaurants and random businesses, Gaffey has long been criticized for presenting a jarring image to motorists coming off the end of the 110 Freeway and into San Pedro.

“Gaffey needs to look a little better, it needs to be a little cleaner to be more attractive to business,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the Harbor Area.

A specific focus would be given to the section of Gaffey that stretches from the end of the 110 Freeway to 13th Street, with attention given to developing parklets and planting trees.

In his first State of the City address a month ago, Garcetti said improving and beautifying city streets is a way to improve L.A.’s quality of life.

Five other streets — Crenshaw Boulevard, Figueroa Street, Reseda Boulevard, Van Nuys Boulevard and Westwood Boulevard — were named along with Gaffey as the first group to receive attention, but eventually Garcetti will target 40 streets citywide.

“Here’s how it works,” Garcetti said in his State of the City address April 10. “We’ll saturate your street with services. We’ll make your street accessible to pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers and bicycles — not just cars.

“We’ll create an environment where new neighborhood businesses can flourish. We’ll pave the streets and make them green streets — clean and lush with plant life, local art and people-focused plazas.

“I know this works because I did it in my old council district — in Atwater Village, Echo Park, Silver Lake and Hollywood. Focused improvements attract new cafes, help local businesses expand and give people a great place to gather without getting in their car.”

Some funding for improvements already is in place following the transfer of the street (from the 110 Freeway to Ninth Street) in 2008 from the California Department of Transportation to the city of Los Angeles. The transfer brought $3 million from the state to the city for much-needed improvements, some of which already have been done.

No timetable has been set up for any specific upgrades along the corridor, but Buscaino said there will be a push with the City Council’s public works committee to develop a strategy.

Also pushed for the program were Sixth and Seventh streets running through downtown San Pedro and Avalon Boulevard in Wilmington. Buscaino said those streets likely will be wrapped into the program in later phases during the three years remaining in Garcetti’s term in office.