A resident in Los Feliz muses on the meaning of yard space in Los Angeles.
I was walking my dog around our neighborhood last night passing one tiny bungalow after another. I thought about how this neighborhood was developed. The developers/city planners sure did a good job packing the homes close together. They were accommodating the herds of people moving to Los Angeles in the 1900’s, seeking fame and Southern California sunlight. They were probably more concerned about where these people would sleep than where they would play.
It is true that land is hard to come by in this town. It is challenging to find a decent apartment or home and locating one with a yard is a difficult feat. So as I am walking my dog down a Los Feliz Village street I am thinking about how many renters I meet looking for “some kind of outdoor space” and how little space there is in this town to go around— there is truly not enough space for us all — and that is when I spotted a group of guys playing a make-shift ball game in the Enterprise parking lot. It was after hours, the agency was closed, the rental cars had all been rented for the day and the lot was empty. Flat, empty space, well-lit outdoor area. “Hmm,” I think, “these guys are on to something.”
I round my way up to Hollywood Boulevard. Heading East a few blocks, passing the Goodwill parking lot… There were another group of guys on bikes doing bunny hops, wheelies and bar spins in the half empty parking lot. A cluster of people are having dinner on the corner, laughing, and relaxing after a presumably hard day of work. I am starting to see a pattern here. I continue down Hollywood Boulevard. My dog does her routine jump up to the planter, bouncing up and down the architectural ramp covered in vines. We turn into the Barnsdall Art Park, climbing up to the top Great Lawn area. There is a couple working on Tai Chi at one end, another couple sitting, staring West into the sunset, a single male reading a book on a blanket, and my dog running circles around me — she knows just how long the leash extends.
Time to head back. Back down Hollywood Boulevard we pass Rite Aid — another parking lot. This time a larger group is converging — a mob of hipsters on bikes. ‘Critical Mass’ is forming. Now here is a group that appreciates public property and knows how to claim its piece of the pie. Once a month they take over the streets of LA, clogging major throughways – their procession stakes claim to their right to the road, it is their land.
We head back towards home. I spot a mother and her toddler — neighbors, I see them almost everyday on their daily walk around the neighborhood. The toddler is sitting up in a tree, the mother encouraging him to climb higher. We finally get home. Our duplex nearly hugs the sidewalk. There’s hardly a front stoop before you reach the front door. The small common patio space in the back is rarely used. The sparse furniture is covered in cobwebs and dirt. It is a pathway to the laundry area, our neighbors’ homes, and the occasional barbecue (I think we had 2 last year). I enter my apartment, a small space for two adults and a dog.
I enter my house thinking how I consider myself a homebody, but I am rarely here. I am a city girl, an L.A. native, my home is L.A. My land is all around me. The recreational resources are available for us here, they are abundant, they are free.
A little bit of creativity and one step out your front door – it’s L.A. It’s your yard. Enjoy.