Okay, I've done my best to embrace walking in my neighborhood, to ignore the fact that while we might have any number of walkable destinations, our every step is thwarted by urban design where the automobile doesn't so much "dominate" as "crush into oblivion." Sometimes literally.
So when I learned of the supposedly mixed-use "Village" project, announced with much fanfare by Westfield a few years back, I was cautiously hopeful. Granted, the sidewalks that a mall developer would produce were hardly likely to serve the five essential purposes touted by our friends Loukaitou-Sideris and Ehrenfeucht, but maybe we could get one or two of them. Like the one about beauty. Because nothing could possibly be uglier than an empty parking lot and some vacant buildings, right?
Except maybe Costco. And a gas station.
Yes, as proclaimed in this article from the LA Times today (though, somehow never mentioned to us residents until it was a "done deal"), that pie in the sky dream of a village center was of the muddy variety.
I realize that in these tough economic times there may be good cause to replace the residential piece of a project with something else. The problem comes when that something else consists of the two least pedestrian-friendly uses possible, combined with a design that smacks of complete auto orientation. Blank facades facing the sidewalk? Surface parking? A gas station on the corner??
And honestly. I know you have to sell your project to the public, but don't you think it's laying it on a bit thick to suggest that "The [gas] station's placement at the corner of Victory Boulevard and Owensmouth Avenue will be 'something that's nice and appropriate.'" I've seen a lot of corner gas stations in my time, friends, and I have yet to run across one that's "nice" for a pedestrian.
But I'll let you judge the design for yourselves. Here's the site plan, as originally revised, followed by the most recent version.