On Wednesday August 25, 2010 a group of 24 TEDxers enjoyed an evening of discussion and debate around the ideas of good Urban Design.

Following the TED Talks we broke into six groups that discussed urban design that they liked and disliked.

Here is the summary of the points discussed.

Good Existing Urban Design

Walk Streets – Strong communities emerge from the close proximity and the car free streets.

Strand – A great place to walk or run and watch the world.

Wood Chip Walkway – Another great place to walk, meet people and exercise dogs.

Sepulveda Median – Replanting has improved the visual appearance of the street.

Bad Existing Urban Design

Downtown Manhattan Beach – Could be improved by removing the cars and turning the section from the ocean to the Valley / Ardmore area into a pedestrian street

Rosecrans / Highland Intersection – The area is congested, confusing and the parking structure dominates the corner.

Manhattan Village Mall – Needs a retrofit with the parking placed under the ground and mixed use buildings added. Westfield has created various malls that are great places to be.

Big Box Retail – Many stores are ugly and negatively impact the local environment.

Sepulveda Boulevard – Perhaps the ugliest street in town. If the road was buried the space on top could be turned into the heart of the city.

Lack of Street Cafes – Creating social spaces that allow and encourage people to meet to talk, drink and eat.

Lack of Bike Lanes – To improve life the city needs to have a network of safe bike paths and sidewalks. If it is attractive to walk or bike more people will do it. If it is dangerous they will stay in their cars.

No Community Gardens – Some of the under used parking lots should be turned into community gardens.

Big Unknowns

Hearing the Voice of Non-Motorists – Planning decisions should consider the needs of all stakeholders and that includes walkers and cyclists.

Downtown Manhattan Beach Vons – The redevelopment of this property could improve or ruin the down town area. Little is known about the plans for the property.

Big Questions

Without public transportation it is hard to redesign the city to be less orientated about the car. Public transportation removes the need for large amounts of parking and reduces congestion. Without addressing transportation it is hard to decide how best to redesign the city.

Could the congestion be reduced by adjusting peoples work schedules so that we do not have two distinct rush hours.

Changes may impact city and business revenue for the better or the worse.

Can visitors be attracted to downtown for reasons other than retail, perhaps education and performing arts.


Many items were discussed and the above is based on the notes I have. I probably missed about half of the good ideas. Sorry. Email me or comment if I missed something.


  • August 26, 2010, 7:19 pm  Reply

    Great ideas. Very thoughtful. Will there be a discussion on implementation to follow?

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