Kevin James

Great Streets Build Strong Communities| Kevin James, former President, Board of Public Works Commission, City of Los Angeles

In a report from Main Street America, “Streets as Places,” it notes “Streets are our most fundamental public places.  They often represent the largest area of public space in a community and provide the overarching framework by which our cities physically expand and develop over time.”  In advancing the concept of “Streets as Places” everyone is challenged to view streets not just providing the function of transporting people, but to also acknowledge the “vital role they play in energizing social and economic life in communities” and “positions communities as the owners of their streets, with a right and a responsibility to directly impact how their public spaces look, function and feel.”

As the second largest city in the U.S., Los Angeles is home to nearly 4 million residents living in a land area of roughly 470 square miles with over 7,500 miles of streets!!! Join us as we discuss the importance of streets to a community; efforts by City of LA leadership to re-imagine and reclaim its streets (in a city notoriously known for its automobile culture); and lessons learned from the frontline, with Kevin James, most recently the President of the Board of Public Works Commission for the City of LA. (https://dpw.lacity.org/about-kevin-james)

For seven years, James served as President of the Board, the longest consecutively serving board president in history, overseeing the Department of Public Works, with over 5,000 employees responsible for “the design construction, renovation, and operation of public projects….and the maintenance of streets, sidewalks, sewers, streetlights and street trees.”  During that time, the City, under Mayor Eric Garcetti, launched the “Great Streets initiative” ( (https://ladot.lacity.org/sites/default/files/documents/diy-great-streets-manual-lrg-1.pdf)  aimed at targeting resources to communities to strengthen key corridors.

And, since the COVID 19 pandemic, the City has undertaken a number of initiatives – whether the LA Al Fresco Initiative (https://corona-virus.la/laalfresco) or the Slow Streets Initiative (https://ladot.lacity.org/coronavirus/apply-slow-street-your-neighborhood) – which seeks to reimage and repurpose streets in a way that prioritizes pedestrians over cars, while supporting businesses, creating more space for outdoor recreation, and providing new ways for citizens to come together.

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