The first step in the Pacific Coast Highway and Aviation Boulevard improvement and beautification conceptual plan was unanimously approved by the Hermosa Beach City Council at Tuesday’s special city council study session.
“We need to do something about PCH-Aviation – it’s a mess up there, and they feel disconnected,” resident Sheryl Main said. “While everybody feels great pride in Pier Avenue, once you cross the street there’s not much to be proud of.”
Sharn Stinson-Ure, a landscape architect from Katherine Spitz Associates. walked the council through a conceptual plan that featured a more pedestrian friendly corridor and design elements that are intended to create a more of sense of identity along the now non-descript road.
“PCH is a very vehicular oriented highway,” Stinson-Ure said. “There’s a lack of pedestrian safety and accessibility… also a lack of green open space, lack of trees and very little sense of identity.”
Stinson-Ure and her team at Katherine Spitz Associates were awarded a $125,558 contract in July, 2012 to provide architectural consulting services for the beautification project. They began work in early August and worked with the PCH-Aviation Improvement Committee as well as the aesthetics sub-committee to form a vision for the project.
“Sharn’s effort represents several years of collaborative efforts between different city departments and different subcommittees and the full Aviation-PCH improvement committee,” resident Geoff Hirsch said. “Kuddos to all of them.”
The project spans from PCH from Herondo Street to Artesia Blvd and from Aviation Blvd from PCH to Prospect and Harper Ave and included a possible roundabout at Aviation Blvd and Prospect Ave.
The project currently has a budget of $1,067,281, but is subject to change depending on potential grants.
Some of the proposed design elements included a new color pallet of blues and greens that complements the city’s biggest neighbor, the ocean. New banners and lights as well as street furnishings like chairs and trashcans were also suggested. Signage and gateway monuments focusing on Hermosa Beach as well as more pedestrian directional signs were also part of the design plans.
“I think we should envision doing the same or a better version of what we did on Pier Avenue,” said councilmember Michael DiVirgilio, who was concerned about harmonizing the new project’s blue-hued color scheme with the city’s current brown and yellow signs.
“The little street signs are small, and… very hard to see,” said Stinson-Ure. “Also because of the brown and yellow its kind of diversion on the eyes, and we didn’t want to follow the same route, and the aesthetic committee was fully behind us in changing the direction of the color pallet… It would be wonderful if in years to come if there is a signage committee that they take over the same direction that we’re going in.”
“I don’t disagree, but don’t want to force a change on the brown,” said DiVirgilio. “I worry that if we don’t create something on Pier and Aviation that’s complimentary to brown… then after there will be a contradiction we’ll have to deal with… I don’t think I’m ready to get rid of the brown. I think it’s an iconic look for our town.”
Another suggestion from Stinson-Ure was to improve the look of the streets and sidewalk with vegetation as well as periodic parklets. Accessibility for pedestrians was also an important aspect of the plan and included adding at least four new crosswalks and enhancing the existing 15.
“I will caution you that you will be amazed how the smallest details will become the biggest issues for some people and for people who just don’t like change,” Mayor Kit Bobko told Stinson-Ure towards the end of the meeting. ER