After holding its first public meeting on November 19th, the Pershing Square Task Force led by 14th District City Councilman Jose Huizar will be holding two more public meetings to receive input on how the Pershing Square Park in Downtown Los Angeles can be improved. The next meetings will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 10:30 am at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel and on Monday, Nov. 25th at 6 am at the Pacific Room.
The Pershing Square Task Force, consisting of 21 business owners and government agencies, have met to redesign Pershing Square. The task force is partnered with Gensler, a design firm that has worked on the Ritz-Carlton and seeks to use Pershing Square to explore the idea of the “town square.” Currently, the project is funded by LA Live developer AEG, who has has agreed to provide $700,000.
Downtown Los Angeles’s Pershing Square is often criticized for its lack of accessibility and poor aesthetics. Though the park maintains a busy entertainment schedule with concerts and farmers markets. According to a report on 89.3 KPCC FM, Local residents have often complained of homeless individuals who are present in the park, and the litter that ranges from hypodermic needles to bubble gum.
Furthermore, the park suffers major design flaws. As noted by Brigham Yen of DTLA, the walls surrounding the park, meant to deter the homeless, are also uninviting to the people on the sidewalk. He also notes the lack of amenities except “dirty chairs” and the general lack of shade.
Pershing Square should be the heart of the city, not a study in bleakness covering a parking structure,” said one resident in a petition to Mayor Eric Garcetti. Another petitioner said, “I would love to see a Pershing Square that is lush with greenery.”
Darren Kim, a Loyola High School freshman, explained, “Pershing Square is kind of a ‘concrete jungle.’ I really didn’t know there was any significance about it or that it’s supposed to be an inviting public place. I just try to avoid the area when I take the Metro there.”
Up until the 1950s, Pershing Square served as a park with various fruit trees and various monuments including a statue of composer Ludwig van Beethoven and cannons from the historical warship USS Constitution. In the 1950s, the park was completely redesigned to include an underground parking structure. Since then, Pershing Square has struggled to reclaim its image as a public park, including the most recent 1992 renovation by modernist architect Ricardo Legorreta.
Concerned citizens are encouraged to attend the meetings.