The possibility of hiking or biking from Baldwin Hills to the beach via the Park to Playa Trail is closer to becoming a reality. First, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the construction of a pedestrian bridge across La Cienega Boulevard from Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and Stoneview Nature Center in Culver City in July. This week, city officials in Culver City agreed to provide additional funding for the project, among other moves for the bridge’s construction and upkeep.

By 2020, the 13-mile Park to Playa Trail, which crosses multiple jurisdictions including Culver City and Los Angeles, will be completed. The bridge is the final link in the trail, which has been under construction for several years.

Once completed, the regional trail would provide access to people from the neighborhoods on the east side of La Cienega to walk, bike or hike from the paths near Stocker Street, across Kenneth Hahn Park, into Culver City and then to the beach. Or vice versa. And all without a car.

“I think in terms of its significance, a lot of the trails we have around Los Angeles County are more or less very far from a lot of lower-income people, so there's a little bit of an equity issue,” Culver City Councilmember Daniel Lee said. “Culver City is obviously an affluent area; the trail slices through the middle of Los Angeles County and a very broad range of income levels.”

Mark Ridley-Thomas of the Second District of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who also is chairman of the Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority, one of the project partners, praised the construction of a pedestrian bridge.

“What we are doing here is trailblazing,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement this summer. “With the Park to Playa Trail, South Los Angeles residents finally have a direct route for walking, running or biking through the Baldwin Hills and all the way to the beach. It will be good for their minds, bodies and souls.”

The Park to Playa network of trails, parks and open spaces begins along Stocker Street, west of Crenshaw Boulevard, and proceeds west through the Baldwin Hills and on to Ballona Creek to the Ballona Wetlands in Culver City, eventually connecting with the Marvin Braude bike path on the beach in Playa del Rey, the statement said.

The Culver City City Council agreed on Sept. 24 to allocate an additional $50,000 to the project, to vacate air rights over a portion of La Cienega for the pedestrian bridge, with a public hearing scheduled for Nov. 12. The council also agreed to enter into an agreement, or Memorandum of Understanding, with the county of Los Angeles and Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority regarding the construction and maintenance of the trail and pedestrian bridge.

“It’s the most fantastic thing,” Culver City Mayor Thomas Small said. “In Los Angeles, so much is designed for the car. To have this connection that you can [travel] on foot, walk your dog, bike, and you don’t have to fight traffic across La Cienega … it’s a tremendous amenity. It’s a huge thing for us [in Culver City] and will be for everyone in the region.”

When asked how the pedestrian bridge would improve walking and hiking opportunities for residents on both sides of La Cienega, Councilmember Lee pointed to safety and accessibility.

“Basically, it makes it less dangerous and more accessible,” Lee said. “A lot of people who live in Culver City and in Blair Hills, a number used to live in Inglewood and Mid-City. The connection will make it easier to get to Kenneth Hahn [Park] without driving.”

Lee said the major complaints from residents on both sides of La Cienega is the high amount of traffic in the area, and it usually makes them think twice about visiting Kenneth Hahn Park.

“This gives people another way to experience the park and be healthy in general,” Lee said. “It will add a lot of value to people on both sides and visitors who may want to explore both sides and not want to drive.”

Lee added that Culver City in general is being more intentional about mobility, and while the city government will be watching the Park to Playa Trail, it also is examining pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and parks to ensure the connections are cohesive.

It’s not just about encouraging people to drive to the trail, Lee said, “but how we to get to the trail — walking, biking or via bus.”

LA Weekly