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Community Living Rooms – An Effort to Make LA’s Bus Stops A Little Nicer

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Photo by Monica Almeida from The New York Times.

This weekend the New York Times had an article about a neat initiative to transform bus stops in Los Angeles into something called “community living rooms” – that’s a pleasant and clean space to sit down while waiting for the bus. According to the Times, LA’s bus stops are in chronic disrepair even though 1.2 million passengers use the buses every week. Jennifer Steinhaur reports that,

…Scores of bus stops around town, especially in the areas south of Interstate 10 and close to downtown, not only are trash-strewn and barren but also offer no place to sit. Old women press heavily against their walkers, peering down the street to see if the bus is coming, and children cling to the bus stop sign, often perilously close to the street, as their mothers beckon them sharply to stand back.

But things are starting to change, at least at around 15 spots in the city. Here’s how it works:

Community leaders and residents are asked to help plan a site. Landscape architects do the drawings, and community groups get permits from the Office of Community Beautification within the city’s Department of Public Works. Experts help to cut wood and give other technical assistance to the residents, who build and finish the furniture.

The new spaces are designed to look like living rooms, creating an aesthetic that is as cool as it is kitsch.