This editor can think of at least five individuals or groups that should have been honored by the town/community council but have not. Either they have been overlooked or people were unaware of the contributions made.
They still should be acknowledged because – they are the Best of the Best.
Lars Gustaf Soderbergh played a vital role in addressing California Coastal Commission concern about parking for Potrero. Thirty spaces would need to be constructed by the Palisades Rec Center or at the base of the canyon.
Soderberg was a talented member of the Park Advisory Committee. As early as January 2008, Los Angeles City was challenged with how to add those spaces.
Initially the City wanted to add parking and bathrooms at the base of Potrero Canyon across from the lifeguard station off Pacific Coast Highway. The Potrero committee nixed that idea.
Soderbergh, a LEED-certified architect and the founding principal of Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh, an architecture, planning and urban design company, redesigned the area in front of the Rec Center.
At a July 2014 Park Advisory Board adopted Soderbergh’s plan that would allow for the increased spaces to be constructed without sacrificing any trees or play areas.
That plan included 17 new spaces configured at the center island in front of the Rec Center building and the remaining spaces to be added by relocating the sidewalk from the library to the playground further west.
Norman Kulla, senior counsel to Councilman Mike Bonin, felt that the Soderbergh Plan satisfied those that requirement, which means construction money for the parking lot would come from Potrero Park funds.
Initially, some parking spaces were going to be cut into the round island in front of the gym, while allowing the five existing pine trees to stay in place.
Then the prolonged drought and lack of watering resulted in the stone pine trees dying in front of the Rec Center and the trees were cut down in 2016.
This enabled Soderbergh to rethink the island, turning it from more of a circle into a triangle. His updated plan provided additional parking spaces, a sidewalk (with crosswalks), a place for two mature trees, and benches that will offer a safe place for kids to wait for rides, while maintaining a way to “circle” in front of the Rec Center to pick up kids.
The plan added 28 net spaces to the parking lot and Soderbergh worked with L.A. City’s Pedro Garcia, who was overseeing Potrero Canyon construction. Ultimately, it was Soderbergh’s plan that was adopted by the City.
Soderberg found out that Potrero Canyon Park funds would only pay for part of the resurfacing of the parking lot and the addition of the spaces (in his plan) and alerted the PAB Board.
Ultimately, it was Soderbergh’s clever use of space and his plan that allowed the needed parking for the George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon. Without that additional parking, the Wolfberg would not have opened in December 2022.
Soderberg, who was a long-time resident of Pacific Palisades, passed away in November. He was 71 and never recognized for not only his vision, but also for working with the City all those years to see the plan implemented.
He is the Best of the Best.