CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTHRIDGE

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1 CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTHRIDGE Connecting Reseda Boulevard & CSUN: One Great Street A graduate project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements For the degree of Master of Urban Planning By Alen Estrada May 2017

2 The graduate project of Alen Estrada is approved: Dr. Zeynep Toker Date Dr. Rob Kent Date Dr. Craig Olwert, Chair Date CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTHRIDGE ii

3 California State University, Northridge Table of Contents Signature Page Abstract ii iv Chapter 1: Traffic Safety Urban Analysis Outcomes Methodology Findings 2 Chapter 2: Questionnaire Outcomes Questionnaire Questions Analysis Findings 3 Chapter 3: Design Guideline 4 Chapter 4: Crime Safety Urban Analysis Outcomes Methodology Findings Outcomes 6 Chapter 5: Questionnaire Outcome 7 Chapter 6: Design Guideline 8 Chapter 7: Public Feedback 9 Chapter 8: Action Items 10 iii

4 Abstract Connecting Reseda Boulevard & CSUN: One Great Street By Alen Estrada Master of Urban Planning Public safety is one of the most vital issues we faced as we attempted to increase mobility on Reseda Boulevard by making the street more comfortable and pedestrian friendly for the residents, students and visitors of Northridge, while enhancing the connection to the CSUN campus. The concept of safety as discussed in this section, is addressed in two primary categories, relating to the security and well being of the community. Pedestrian and bicyclist safety pertains to the ability and expectation to create an environment in which public streets, including sidewalks and roadways, can be shared by all motorists and non-motorists, in order to incorporate a multi-modal transportation system throughout the area that is both safe and secure iv

5 for all parties wishing to utilize the public space. Crime safety focuses on the need for adequate environmental design that can help reduce or prevent potential criminal activity in the neighborhood, while protecting the lives and property of the community members from physical danger. The following report has been created to help improve public safety throughout Reseda Boulevard, from Nordhoff Street to Lassen Street, in order to protect the well-being of all residents and visitors of the area from unforeseeable peril, physical risk and/or harm. The proposed tactics are supported by six hours of non-participant observations and site analysis, a total of 440 pedestrian survey responses, existing literature concerning pedestrian safety and crime prevention through environmental design, archival research and statistical data analysis of professional secondary sources, including the Los Angeles Police Department, the University of California Berkeley, the Northridge Community Vision Plan, and City Planning Departments, among others. v

6 Chapter 1. Traffic safety 1.1. Urban Analysis outcomes In a society that favors automobile-oriented transportation and development, the ability for pedestrians and cyclists to share streets with cars, is diminishing more and more as injuries and fatalities continue to increase. The inclusion of pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets is important to the urban environment because it promotes healthier lifestyles for residents, vibrant communities, alternative modes of transportation and sustainability of the natural environment and it s resources Methodology The data for this case study was collected through six hours of non participant observations along Reseda Boulevard in which areas were identified throughout the street that may be beneficial to pedestrian and bicyclist safety, protection oncoming traffic, and potential constraints that require attention in order to ensure the wellbeing of residents and students that may utilize the street, bike lane or sidewalk as their primary mode of transportation. Information from the Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) from the University of California at Berkeley identifies the specific locations of automobile related accidents within specific areas, including the type of accident occurred, the cause of the collision, parties involved, and injuries sustained, among other discoverable variables. 1

7 1.3. Findings According to the Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) of UC Berkeley, the neighborhood of Northridge experienced a total of 5562 transportation related accidents between 2006 and 2015, resulting in 8890 injuries and 47 deaths. In the same time span, Reseda Boulevard alone experienced a total of 75 transportation related accident that involved pedestrians (35) and bicyclists (40), resulting in 80 injuries and zero deaths. The intersections of Plummer Street, Nordhoff Street and Prairie Street with Reseda Boulevard were the top three most dangerous intersection for pedestrian and bicyclists, with 19, 15 and 13 automobile collisions respectively. And the data also showed that unsafe speeds are the second most common cause of accidents in Northridge and on Reseda Boulevard, with 20% of all collisions being a result of the excessive velocity and lack of caution used by drivers. 2

8 Chapter 2. Questionnaire outcomes In order to support our urban analysis, we conducted a total of 437 surveys with randomly chosen pedestrians, who were asked what their most favorite and least favorite characteristic of the neighborhood and street are Questionnaire question(s) analysis 2.2 Findings The issue of traffic turned out to be the greatest burden on residents, students and visitors of the area, as 48% of all respondents considered the congestion caused by automobiles to be the worst characteristic of the street. With 39% of the 211 respondents being students, 20% home renters, 18% renters and students, 12% visitors and 11% homeowners. Moreover 5% of the people claimed that the lack of safety for pedestrians was the least favorable aspect of our site. 3

9 Chapter 3. Design guideline(s) In order to reduce automobile speeds and traffic along Reseda Boulevard, we should consider the use of center median and pinch points, which reduce the amount of lanes at designated areas throughout the street. Center medians, remove parts of a lane from the center of the street to force drivers to be more vigilant of their surroundings, and are useful for pedestrians because it decreases the length of crosswalks in certain intersections. Furthermore, pinch points would remove sections of a lane from the outside by increasing the sidewalk for a short span. This creates a physical barrier that forces drivers to merge into other lanes in order to get through the area, while reducing the free space they have to increase their velocity and speed through the street. The new available space on the sidewalks can be used for more attractive, pedestrian friendly amenities such as parklets, bicycle racks, etc. 4

10 Chapter 4. Crime safety 4.1. Urban Analysis In a neighborhood as active and fast-paced as Northridge, one of the most crucial matters that community members have to face everyday is the overall concern for the well-being of their families, loved ones and themselves. Residents and visitors can feel the issue over safety concerns in urban areas such as these, not only in a physical sense, but also through a feeling of comfort that is ultimately lost when they are no longer secured or protected in the confines of their own neighborhoods, streets or homes Methodology The purpose of this section is to understand ways in which urban surroundings can help protect the wellbeing of all community members from unforeseeable danger, physical risk and/or injury. Through the application of Crime Prime Through Environmental Design (CPTED), this section sought to identify methods in which the built environment could aid in the prevention of criminal activity in order to protect the residents, students and visitors of Northridge, with a systematic integration of design, technology, and operation for the defense of three critical assets: people, information and property. The research for my case study was conducted through six hours of non-participant observations along Reseda Boulevard, between Nordhoff Street and Lassen Street. Surveyed aspects of the neighborhood throughout the street included adjacent homes and businesses, in order to identify aspects of the area that do and do not meet the CPTED principles of safety. Archival data from sources including the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department was analyzed and existing literature concerning CPTED standards and implementation practices were reviewed. 5

11 4.3 Findings According to the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Police Department, the neighborhood of Northridge is the 27 th most dangerous, out of 272 total neighborhoods in Los Angeles County. The area experiences 187 violent and property crimes per capita annually. And according to a six month summary of the department statistics, there have been a total of 160 violent crimes in Northridge between March and September, 2016, including: 4 homicides, 18 rapes, 76 aggravated assaults, and 62 robberies. In the same 6-month time span, the area experienced 1,159 property crimes, including: 177 burglaries, 574 thefts, 130 grand theft autos, and 278 thefts from vehicles Outcomes The use of CPTED concepts such as Natural Surveillance can be seen in various areas throughout the streets from the large storefront windows of businesses that faces the street, to wide open parking lots that help increase pedestrian visibility by allowing the general public to be more vigilant of their surroundings. Defensible spaces are areas in which crime targets are denied to intruders and criminals through the use of increased visibility in dark or shaded areas that are highly illuminated by street or storefront lighting, or protected by physical or symbolic barriers that define public and private space and property. 6

12 Chapter 5. Questionnaire: Analysis & Findings In order to support our urban analysis, we conducted a total of 440 surveys with randomly chosen pedestrians, who were asked how safe they feel walking on Reseda Boulevard at night. Nearly 39% of pedestrians stated that they felt unsafe, and 15% of people claimed that they preferred to not walk along Reseda Boulevard at night. This may be due to lack of lighting throughout the streets and sidewalks, or visibility concerns that people feel may feel in dark or shaded areas of the neighborhood. 22%, of the respondents stated that they felt moderately safe walking at night in the area, possibly meaning that although there is room for improvement, there are aspects of the street that provide a sense of security and comfort to the public. 25% of the people felt completely safe walking down Reseda Boulevard, which may be due to the various CPTED attributes that can be seen along Reseda Boulevard, such as the use of natural surveillance with large storefront windows and proper street side lighting from nearby business and apartment buildings that increase visibility and reduce the person s risk of being attacked or harmed as they travel throughout the street, and defensible spaces as well as territorial reinforcement through the use of landscaping, walls and barriers do identify public and private spaces. 7

13 Chapter 6. Design Guideline(s) As an approach to increasing security and safety throughout Reseda Boulevard we should consider increasing the use of available resources such as technology and manpower in areas that would be susceptible to crime. Through mechanical surveillance, the use of CCTV cameras and motion detector lighting could help keep intruders away from people and property, or force them to reconsider their actions with the risk of being seen or identified by the public. And organization/formal surveillance refers the increase of personnel used to protect an area, through the use of security guards, shopkeepers, parking lot attendants and even the increase of the local police fleet that can survey the area on a daily basis. 8

14 Chapter 7. Public Feedback Public feedback for a neighborhood revitalization project such as our own is crucial because of the various economic, environmental and social impacts that will ultimately affect the neighborhood of Northridge and its residents. In order to obtain the opinion and sentiments of the stakeholders we held a public meeting at a local restaurant as well as two, where we took the opportunity to speak face to face with residents from the area, and demonstrate to them the vision we have for Reseda Boulevard and the steps we are taking to create a successful plan that will increase pedestrian mobility along the busy street and improve the connectivity that the area has to the campus of California State University Northridge. Safety was discussed in the public meetings in terms of public visibility and increased surveillance through the use of pedestrian scaled lighting and embedded sidewalks lights that would help pedestrians navigate through the streets and neighborhood, and provide proper illumination to dark sidewalks in order to create a greater sense of safety for both pedestrians and cyclists. The use of new lighting along Reseda Boulevard would increase the opportunities for natural surveillance along the street and defensible space from unforeseen intruders or criminals. This helped design guideline of mechanical and organized surveillance by reinforcing the need for technological surveillance methods such as cameras and motion censored lighting, that will be operational twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week in order to assure that all residents are protected from potential harm as they enjoy a walk throughout the streets of their neighborhood. 9

15 Chapter 8. Action Items The necessary implementations that will be to increase pedestrian visibility throughout Reseda Boulevard will be the addition of embedded LED lighting along the sidewalks. At $400 per unit, this type of technology is much cheaper that the $5,000 thirteen-foot lampposts that were original recommended, before obtaining the suggestions and opinions of the neighborhood s stakeholders, due to its smaller sized, space requirement and infinite energy from solar power. These embedded lights will help navigate pedestrians throughout the streets of Northridge and help create a path along the streets leading to the CSUN campus, including Dearborn, Prairie and Vincennes. 10

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