Like most communities in Los Angeles, the Toluca Lake community systematically found itself reacting to development projects and their related “community beautification” overtures – yet, without a clear and unified community vision, a loose patchwork of disparate styles has been implemented in Toluca Lake.
Through the diligent efforts of the four major entities in Toluca Lake – Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council, Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce, Toluca Lake Homeowners Association, and Toluca Lake Garden Club – our community began a 10-year inclusive community process to ultimately define the Toluca Lake Village district identity.
Recognizing the City’s discretionary General Fund dollars are highly competitive, and focused on areas of great need in Los Angeles, the four community groups decided to create its own nonprofit entity – a representation of all the major stakeholder groups in Toluca Lake – to advance public realm beautification projects.
TOLUCA LAKE BEAUTIFICATION PARTNERS (TLPB) was founded in 2015 out of a desire to implement beautification and streetscape improvements in the Toluca Lake community, rather than relying upon (hoping for) discretionary city funds to do so. This nonprofit entity can now pursue grants (State, Regional, Agency, City grants), offer tax-deductible incentives for donors and sponsors, and hire contractors to implement projects in the public realm.
Simultaneously, as NBCUniversal concluded its “Evolution Plan” process, and through its myriad outreach efforts, NBCUniversal was providing beautification funds to several surrounding community organizations, including Toluca Lake. NBCUniversal’s grant provided the seed capital to launch Toluca Lake Beautification Partners. A list of beautification projects was approved unanimously by the TLBP Formation/Advisory Board and was included in a 2015 Grant Agreement between NBCUniversal and TLBP. To date, the majority of those identified projects have either been completed or are in the process of completion.
Looking forward, TLBP continues to engage with the community and its public and private partners to continue its legacy of envisioning and implementing projects that enhance the public realm, provide for an enhanced quality of life, sustain and promote our local economy, and serve as stewards of our environment.
History of Toluca Lake Community Engagement
Parking Study to determine demand and capacity of Riverside Dr (Sancola to Clybourn)
In 2012, the GTLNC commissioned a parking study with Carl Walker Parking of the Toluca Lake Village area (Sancola to Clybourn) to provide the community data on parking demand, availability and recommendations on how to enhance parking capacity.
Phase 2, Streetscape feasibility planning effort
In 2014, the GTLNC engaged WRT to expand its prior planning and visioning efforts on Riverside Dr. and Lankershim Blvd. Working alongside City departments and community groups – TL Chamber of Commerce, TL Homeowners Association, TL Garden Club and local churches - the process included:
Six public meetings
A community design charrette
Online survey, restricted to property owners – (500 property owner responses)
Multiple presentations to community groups.
The vision was refined and tested the feasibility of three design configurations of Riverside Dr. – angled parking, medians with bulb-outs, and the impact of bike lanes.
NBCUniversal Grant for community beautification projects awarded to Toluca Lake Beautification Partners
In 2015, at the conclusion of NBCUniversal’s “Evolution Plan” process, and through its myriad outreach efforts, NBCUniversal provided beautification funds to several surrounding community organizations, including Toluca Lake.
NBCUniversal’s grant provides the seed capital to launch Toluca Lake Beautification Partners. A list of beautification projects was approved unanimously by the TLBP Formation /Advisory Board, and included in a Grant Agreement between NBCUniversal and TLBP.
To date, the majority of those identified projects have either been completed or are in the process of completion.
Southeast Community Plan update for Toluca Lake begins
LA City Planning Department begins its update of the Community Plan for Toluca Lake, among others. The Planning Department, having an awareness of Toluca Lake’s efforts in streetscape planning offer to incorporate the design into the Community Plan process and approvals, thus saving a considerable amount of time/resources that would otherwise have been incurred separately to implement the project.
Community Design Overlay (“CDO") process initiated to define the character of the Toluca Lake Village
In 2010, the Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council (GTLNC) began an extensive community visioning process for “The Village” – a segment of Riverside Drive bounded by Sancola and Clybourn.
The GTLNC engaged an urban design firm called Urban Studio, and held extensive community meetings, design charrettes, worked with community groups (Chamber, HOA, Garden Club) resulting in a Community Design Overlay (CDO). The CDO regulated building forms and acknowledged future streetscape improvements. The CDO was adopted by the City in 2016 with funding assistance from NBCUniversal.
Phase 1, Streetscape planning effort
In 2012, the GTLNC engaged WRT, an urban design firm, to engage the community on streetscape improvements. Working alongside City departments (DOT, BSS, CD4) and community groups (Chamber, HOA, Garden Club, GTLNC, Neighborhood Watch, local churches), the process included:
Six public meetings
Two design charrettes
An online survey (1,000 stakeholder responses)
Stakeholder interviews – Property Owners, Business Owners, Employees, City departments
Toluca Lake Beautification Partners Forms
The mission of Toluca Lake Beautification Partners is to support a thriving residential and business community by enhancing the public realm to promote a livable, walkable, safe and healthy environment through sustainable design.
LA Planning Commission adopts Riverside Drive CDO
Planning Commission adopts the Toluca Lake Community Design Overlay, through funding set aside by NBCUniversal as part of its Evolution Plan EIR process.
The new guidelines now regulate building forms between Sancola and Clybourn
Phase 3, Streetscape planning begins
Final phase of streetscape planning – focusing on design elements of one “prototype block” – that will be used to prepare a project budget for all six (6) blocks of the Village area; the budget will make this project “eligible” for Grants.