The City of West Hollywood has been named the “Most Walkable City in California” by WalkScore.com.
WalkScore.com calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks and more. The City of West Hollywood scored an 89 out of 100 which is interpreted as “Very Walkable: Most errands can be accomplished on foot.” The City of West Hollywood ranks fourth in walkability out of 2,500 of the largest cities in the United States, beating out both New York City and San Francisco.
“I live, work and play within a few thousand feet of San Vicente Boulevard,” said West Hollywood Mayor John Duran. “My quality of life is vastly improved because I don’t have to get in a car or freeway as much as other Angelenos. West Hollywood is very European on walkability – and that’s great,” continued Mayor Duran.
“I read somewhere that every minute of walking can extend one’s life by 1.5 to 2 minutes. Our residents are going to live a very long time here in West Hollywood,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Jeffrey Prang. “So, get out of your cars. Walking is not only healthy and fun, it’s a much better way to explore our City. Not to mention a great way to meet new people,” continued Mayor Pro Tempore Prang.
“We were thrilled to see West Hollywood leading the state in walkability,” said West Hollywood Councilmember Abbe Land, a long-time advocate for creating a walkable environment and a major force behind creating fitness walking routes throughout West Hollywood. “I love to walk in all of the various neighborhoods in our City, and know that others do as well. It’s a great way to support West Hollywood businesses and not have to deal with the hassles of traffic and parking. It’s also a great way to socialize and get exercise, especially by using our Well West Hollywood walking routes,” continued Councilmember Land.
One of the urban design goals in the City’s first General Plan, which was adopted in 1988, was to incorporate extensive landscape along the sidewalks and street median, as well as lighting, attractively-designed street furniture and signage to create a pedestrian-friendly urban environment.
“The simple act of walking to the store, or to dinner or to a protest demonstration, or around the block with the dogs is how West Hollywood has earned its rightful place at the top of the list of walkable cities,” said West Hollywood Councilmember John D’Amico. “The improved health of our residents, our community and the environment is a beneficial by-product of who we are. Our residents, our urban plan and our commitment to future walkability will ensure that West Hollywood will continue to be the kind of place that people can enjoy one step at a time. Nancy Sinatra said it best, ‘Ready boots? Start walking,'” continued Councilmember D’Amico.
Throughout the years, West Hollywood’s pedestrian-friendly policies have included improving pedestrian connections to city parks, increased green-space and encouraging the location of neighborhood-serving businesses and amenities within walking distance of all residential neighborhoods in order to encourage walking as a desirable mode of transportation. Recently, the City added a Long Range Mobility Planning Division to ensure that a wide-range of mobility options including walkability are included in all long-range land-use and transportation planning projects.
“Early in the City’s history we took steps to make West Hollywood pedestrian friendly. Santa Monica Boulevard was at that time a state road,” said West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman. “We acquired the abandoned median and beautified it. We removed large wooden telephone poles and put the telephone lines underground. We fought with the state to allow outdoor dining. Eventually, we were able to take over the Boulevard. We widened the sidewalks to encourage outdoor dining and pedestrian activity. I’m glad our long-term efforts have been recognized,” continued Councilmember Heilman.
A recent example of improving the City’s pedestrian orientation include the completion of the award-winning Sunset Strip Beautification Project which included replacement of broken and damaged sidewalks; newly-landscaped medians; creation of flowering tree districts; and sidewalk widening at Sunset Plaza.
“Having a walkable community is great for business,” said Maribel Louie, the City’s Economic Development Analyst. “It is the City’s walkability that allows customers to park once and get to several businesses in one trip. Business owners are able to develop relationships with their neighbors which leads to sharing customers and cross-promotional opportunities. A walkable community also allows pedestrians to experience other City amenities such as summer concerts, public art installations and access to city parks and open spaces,” continued Louie.
As part of the City’s continuing commitment to pedestrian-friendly land use policies, the Draft General Plan (anticipated to be adopted in September) places renewed emphasis on walkability as part of a comprehensive approach to land-use and mobility. These policies include:
Prioritizing space for pedestrians and bicycles in the design and improvement of public rights of way.
Encouraging the location of neighborhood-serving businesses and amenities within walking distance of all residential neighborhoods in order to encourage walking as a desirable mode of transportation.
Encouraging the retention of existing and the incubation of new commercial establishments that serve the needs of residents.
Continuing to improve the pedestrian environment through a coordinated approach to street tree planting, sidewalk maintenance and enhancement, pedestrian amenities, and a focus on human-scale frontage design for building renovations and new development projects.
Providing wider sidewalks, street trees/landscaping, seating areas, and pedestrian-oriented lighting where feasible.
Requiring commercial development projects to provide for enhanced pedestrian activity through techniques including: minimizing vehicle intrusions across sidewalks, allowing for outdoor plazas and dining areas, locating the majority of a building’s frontage in close proximity to the sidewalk edge.
Seeking opportunities to create new public open spaces throughout the city.