The decade-long effort to build a new park on the long-vacant property at the northwest corner of 1st Street and Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles was dealt a blow earlier this year, when city officials moved to reallocate funding away from the project, citing an ever-growing budget gap. Any hopes of activating the lot as green space could be off the table for the short-term future, under a new proposal from 14th District Councilmember Kevin de Leon.

In a motion introduced on June 28, De Leon calls for a report back on the potential for using the 1st and Broadway property for temporary homeless housing, while still maintaining it as a future site for park development.

"Over the decade of City ownership of First and Broadway, the number of Angelenos experiencing homelessness has increased exponentially," reads the motion introduced by De Leon. "In Downtown Los Angeles alone, nearly 7,000 people - about one sixth of the City's unhoused population - are currently experiencing homelessness. Since October 2020, Council District 14 has added over 1,800 beds to the City's stock of temporary housing however more units are still urgently needed to bring people inside as soon as possible."

The motion, which has been referred to the Council's Housing and Homelessness Committee for consideration, argues that the ongoing homelessness crisis requires an "all hands on deck approach." De Leon has requested that the Bureau of Engineering develop a design for temporary homeless housing on the parcel at 217 W. 1st Street, and also report on the suitability of the site for that use, analyzing factors such as resident safety and quality of life, staff safety, and access to supportive services. He also instructs the City Administrative Officer to identify funding to build the project.

First and Broadway Park siteGoogle Maps

The motion also states that the City "remains firmly committed to the goal of turning this parcel into a recreational space that can be enjoyed by all Angelenos." To that end, the motion requests that the Bureau of Engineering coordinate with the Department of Recreation and Parks regarding the placement of utilities on the site to facilitate future use of First and Broadway as a park.

The First and Broadway site, once developed with a state office building, was acquired by the City of Los Angeles in 2013 to be repurposed as public open space. That was followed a public design contest, which resulted in plans to add new landscaping, seating areas, and a restaurant to the lot. However, the city repeatedly pushed back its anticipated groundbreaking date for the project in the years that followed, as the amount of funding available was quickly surpassed by estimated construction costs. That saga culminated earlier this year, when  took steps earlier this year to use money allocated to First and Broadway on park space below the Sixth Street Viaduct and on the latest Pershing Square revamp.

The motion from De Leon comes just weeks after the First and Broadway site caught the attention of reporter Saul Gonzalez, who explored the history of the inexplicably vacant site across the street from City Hall. Not long after his work was featured on KCRW, signs which had long advertised that "Good Things Are Coming!" to the property were removed.

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