Making the Case for ‘Living Streets’ in Los Angeles

March 8, 2015 — Heal the Bay has spent the past 18 months working with a coalition of local environmental groups building a case for the implementation of so-called “Living Streets” in the city of L.A. In a nutshell, we need to a better job of building streets that are green, cool and complete. James Alamillo, our urban programs manager, took the lead on creating an economic analysis that demonstrates that building environmentally friendly streets that do such things as capture and infiltrate stormwater provides 75% more benefits to society than usual street projects.

The purpose of this document is to provide elected leaders, city staff, advocates and community members with information and resources to accelerate development of “Living Streets” in Los Angeles as a strategy to adapt to a changing climate and make the city more livable and resilient.

Our streets are arterials that touch and connect every neighborhood in Los Angeles. They span the length of the city and are utilized by everyone. Because of this, there are arguably no other infrastructure projects that can have a greater impact on the health and environment of an urban area like L.A. For most of the city’s history our streets have been built largely with the sole purpose of servicing the automobile. It’s time for a new perspective. It’s no longer acceptable to build roads the way we did in 1950; we must start building the streets of 2050 and beyond. Those new streets should be Living Streets.

Below are links to PDFs of the just-completed work Heal the Bay has been conducting with the city of L.A. to make our region more resilient and livable:

Living Streets Guide

Living Streets Executive Summary

Policy Recommendations for Implementing Living Streets

Living Streets Economic Feasibility Study 

Heal the Bay Partners

Green L.A. Coaltion is a volunteer-run network of organizations and advocates working on local water issues facing the City of Los Angeles and our region. Stephanie Taylor and Holly Harper, formerly staff of Green LA Coalition, worked on this Living Streets project.

Climate Resolve is a Los Angeles based climate change advocacy organization dedicated to creating real, practical solutions to meet the climate challenge while creating a better Southern California today and in the future.


The authors of the report would like to thank the numerous people who assisted in this endeavor by contributing their time and energy reviewing the docment and providing insightful feedback to make it a stronger document.

Grant Team

James Alamillo, Heal the Bay; David Fink, Climate Resolve; Holly Harper, North East Trees; Meredith McCarthy, Heal the Bay; Stephanie Taylor, Green LA Coalition; Evyan Borgnis, California Coastal Conservancy

Peer Review Team

Mark Gold, UCLA; Madeline Brozen, UCLA; Monobina Mukherjee, UCLA; Rebecca Drayse, LASAN/One Water LA Team; Rita Kampalath, Heal the Bay; Mike Antos, CSUN; Carolyn Casavan, Casavan Consulting; Jessica Meany, Investing in Place; Wing K. Tam P.E., City of Los Angeles

Supporting Individuals

Melanie Winter, The River Project; Johnathan Perisho, The River Project; Jeff Newman, CalTrans; Richard Watson, Richard Watson & Associates, Inc.; Andy Lipkis, Tree People; Mike Sullivan, Los Angeles County Sanitation District; Dave Snider, Los Angeles County Sanitation District; Paul Herzog, Surfrider; Derek Wieske, City of Long Beach; Anthony Arevalo, City of Long Beach; Taejin Moon, Los Angeles County; Bruce Hamamoto, Los Angeles County; Allen Sheth, City of Santa Monica