West LA Sawtelle Neighborhood Council Considering Options
By Dolores Quintana
2023 has been a year of tragic accidents where an alarming number of pedestrians have been injured or even killed. To attempt to address dangerous driving and traffic congestion in the area, the Lamar Johnson Collaborative (LJC) has unveiled an ambitious pro-bono plan for the historic Sawtelle Corridor. Focused on enhancing pedestrian safety and preserving the neighborhood’s cultural integrity, the project is a collaborative initiative between LJC and the West Los Angeles Sawtelle Neighborhood Council.
The Sawtelle Japantown neighborhood, with a century-long history, has faced challenges, particularly along Sawtelle Boulevard, where recent pedestrian accidents have raised concerns. The LJC team, led by David Swartz FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP, NCARB, a Principal with LJC and an elected Board Member for the City of Los Angeles West LA Sawtelle Neighborhood Council, aims to transform two city blocks into a safer and pedestrian-friendly area. Sawtelle is already a burgeoning food mecca with a flourishing nightlife scene.
According to the press release, proposed improvements include expanded sidewalks between Olympic Boulevard and La Grange Avenue, adding a community garden and food truck parking, creating pedestrian seating and social activities, revitalizing Dr. Jack Fujimoto Square, and installing a new entry gate to the corridor that honors the historic nature of the neighborhood. The plan envisions something similar to Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade.
Additionally, per the press release, “the plan would address major safety issues along the corridor. Between Mississippi Avenue and Exposition Boulevard, Sawtelle Boulevard is considered part of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s “high-injury network.” Since 2010, there have been 111 traffic accidents on Sawtelle Boulevard between Olympic Boulevard and La Grange Avenue. Just this February, an automobile plowed into a group of pedestrians on the boulevard.”
LJC’s comprehensive plan addresses vehicular and pedestrian circulation, aiming to simplify traffic flow and reduce congestion. The project includes improvements to sidewalks, landscaping, lighting, and bike parking. Terraced seating and vibrant site furnishings are proposed to enhance the neighborhood’s dynamism, offering a better experience for residents and visitors.
David Swartz expressed, “By working together, and ensuring the voices of our residents are heard and that their input and feedback are taken into account, we can make a real difference in enhancing this cultural gem and essential destination for our community.”
While this proposal has not yet moved to consideration in front of the council, the November 21st public meeting of the Environmental Committee will be discussing the Superblock program from the Los Angeles City Council and the word is that this plan may come before the council “soon.”