PACOIMA ( — Pacoima residents on Thursday celebrated the opening of a “people street” – a pedestrian-friendly, car-free plaza.

The project began last year after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti created the “Streets for People” program to redevelop parking lots and underused streets into community spaces. The Pacoima plaza, at the corner of at Van Nuys Boulevard and Bradley Avenue, was one of the program’s seven initial projects. The idea is to beautify blighted areas and create more livable communities.

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Los Angeles City Councilman Felipe Fuentes worked on the plaza design with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, non-profit group Pacoima Beautiful and a team of local volunteers. He said he was satisfied to contribute to the transformation of what has been known as a dangerous street corner.

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“I grew up in the community and know the infamy of the challenges that Pacoima has had,” he told CBS2/KCAL9’s Amy Johnson. “I’ve always thought we could do more with little streets that dead-end like this, where we had graffiti, where we had gangs.”

In October, the city of Los Angeles will begin taking more applications from communities interested in creating “people streets” of their own.

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