LONG BEACH, CALIF. — Each year the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) gives its residents, businesses and community organizations a chance for up to $10,000 in placemaking grants.
By offering people public spaces where they feel comfortable, they are more likely to want to spend time, spend money, come back and do it again, and tell their friends about their experience,” wrote Sean Warner, DLBA placemaking manager, in the Long Beach Business Journal.
Warner said placemaking is when a community takes a direct role in designing public places so that they reflect its “needs and ideals.” In short, to help a downtown grow and flourish, livability must be a priority.
Each year, DLBA reviews numerous applications and awards these small grants based on the ability a project has to impose a lasting impact on the neighborhood, according to the placemaking grant program rules. While style can vary, projects enhance public safety, beautification or space activation.
One example is the work that has been done to upgrade Cesar Chavez Park since 2014.
Last year, the Willmore City Heritage Association used its third placemaking grant of $8,000 to add shaded seating areas, new benches and Americans with Disability Act (ADA)-compliant areas. Previously, the association reconfigured the amphitheater to accommodate in-demand community events, like theater productions, concerts, exercise and art. DLBA placemaking grants expanded and shaded the stage area and updated its electricity. The completed amphiteather features a leveled incline with a simple design that is about accessibility, maintenance and utility.
The association also worked with other community groups to leverage placemaking grants to establish a children’s garden of nine raised vegetable beds, including three that are ADA-accessible and added fruit trees to the park. Lime, grapefruit, orange and tangerine trees, along with roses, festoon and nourish residents and visitors.
DLBA is funded by a variety of local sources, including the city of Long Beach.
This year’s applicants presented their proposals on August 18th.