Feeling sorry for Westwood Village

streetsc-lindbrook+westwood.jpgJosh Stephens, the editor of the California Planning and Development Report, set up a recent event to brainstorm solutions to the decline of Westwood Village with a revealing passage on how much they are needed. Here's how he began:

The first article I ever wrote for CP&DR concerned the generationally decrepit state of Los Angeles' Westwood Village (see CP&DR Vol. 23, No. 6 June 2008). In the three years that have passed since then--despite my blistering expose (of one of the city's most open secrets)--it's only gotten worse. Storefronts are vacant. Bars are sad. Only the Trader Joe's seems to be making any money, and that's because, well, it's Trader Joe's. I saw Moneyball the other night at the cavernous, turreted Village Theater with maybe 20 other people in its 1,000 seats.

For the uninitiated, Westwood is no inner-city slum. It's next door to UCLA and, beyond that, Bel Air. Yes, that Bel Air. Of the Fresh Prince, gated estates, and obscene amounts of money fame.

But, for the most part, the city has treated Westwood Village about as well as it has treated its homeless population: with more resignation than hope. It remains grungy and avoided even though it has, arguably, the best, most pedestrian-friendly streetscape in the entire city. No wonder Angelenos think it's cursed.

Ouch. The event itself was more optimistic, a public forum co-hosted by the Hammer Museum, Westside Urban Forum and CityLAB tied to a CityLAB research initiative based on this assumption: "With the imminent arrival of the subway, the new mayor of Los Angeles in 2013, and current economic slow-down, this is an important time to examine the historical accounts of the village and determine current solutions for the revitalization of this area." Coverage: The Source, Daily Bruin

LA Observed photo of Westwood Boulevard and Lindbrook Avenue

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