Downtown is the historic heart of Monterey Park. Downtown is centered on the intersection of Garvey and Garfield Avenues. Downtown is characterized by its 1950s era commercial and retail architecture, with parking on the street or at the rear of the businesses. The scale of downtown is primarily one to two story retail establishments, and the architecture and scale contributes to the "small town" character. A landscaped median on Garvey Avenue provides a welcoming green space through downtown.

Adjacent to stable residential neighborhoods and close to City Hall and other community facilities, downtown has the potential to be a high quality "pedestrian friendly" environment. To create this type of environment and present opportunities to strengthen downtown's attractiveness and competitive position, the following were implemented:

  • Public streetscape improvements
  • Building and shop front rehabilitation
  • High quality new infill development
  • Improved parking and access
  • Improved connections to public transportation

Downtown Pedestrian Enhancements

To enhance the concept of a pedestrian friendly downtown, key elements are recommended to be visually and functionally linked to foster pedestrian activity within the commercial core and between City Hall, Barnes Memorial Park, and adjacent residential areas. These elements can be part of the improvement plan for the Downtown Focus Area. The pedestrian improvements include the following:

  • Widen and improve sidewalks
  • Downtown entry markers
  • Crosswalk paving enhancements
  • Linkages
  • Street trees
  • Street furniture
  • Distinctive lighting
  • Widen and Improve Sidewalks

As Figure LU-8 (PDF) shows, widening and improving the existing sidewalks, where possible, will encourage outdoor cafe areas, provide more room for pedestrian strolling, and realize traffic calming benefits. During off peak traffic periods, one travel lane in each direction with parallel parking can be achieved.

Downtown Entry Markers and Graphics

Downtown entry markers welcome shoppers, visitors, and citizens to a unique area in Monterey Park. Entry markers will reflect the scale and character of downtown. The location of the markers will be located on the medians on Garvey Avenue or parkways on Garfield Avenue. Figure LU-9 (PDF) illustrates possible entryway markers for downtown.

  • Improved graphics and directional signage will enhance downtown's image. A consistent graphic style for all public signage, including size, lettering, colors, symbols, and logos, should be developed. Banners can reinforce the sense of "entry" into the area.
  • Billboards in downtown detract from the pedestrian scale environment and should be discouraged, while existing billboards should be phased out.

Crosswalk Paving Enhancements

Crosswalk paving enhancements provide aesthetic and visual benefits and also have a traffic calming effect with its decorative and textured paving. The Garvey / Garfield enhanced paving crosswalk physically links the north, south, east, and west sides of downtown.


Linkages provide a pleasant landscaped walking environment and offer connections to key attractions between the downtown commercial, residential neighborhood, City Hall, library, and other community facilities.

Street Trees

Figure LU-10 (PDF) illustrates an example of how Downtown may be improved with new landscaping on Garvey Avenue. The palm trees create a merchant friendly streetscape by providing visual access to signs and storefronts, while the flowering accent trees provide color and scale to Downtown.

Street Furniture

A preferred style of street furniture and fixtures, bus shelters, benches, bollards, news racks, planters, and tree grates, should be selected to enhance the 1950s design theme.

Distinctive Lighting

Distinctive nighttime illumination along Garvey and Garfield Avenues planned include accent lighting for landscaping and key landmark buildings, decorative pedestrian lighting fixtures, and the use of high pressure sodium bulbs to create warm illumination tones. Use of neon and other 1950s design motifs should be encouraged.

Commercial Improvements

The commercial opportunities of the urban design plan are focused upon the OII site, the largest undeveloped parcel in the city, and rehabilitation of key commercial districts.

OII Site

The Pomona Freeway, traversing the city along its southern edge, offers a "regional window" to the community at the OII site. The commercial development of this site offers a unique opportunity to enhance Monterey Park's image by improving the Caltrans right-of-way with a landscape palette that relates to the new development, provides denser plantings, and incorporates more mature plant material.

Key Commercial Districts

Design guidelines have been developed for several commercial districts, including the following areas: Mid-Atlantic Commercial District, Monterey Pass Commercial District, Downtown Commercial District, West Garvey Commercial District, East Garvey Commercial District, and the South Garfield/Pomona Commercial District.

Goals and Policies

  • Goal 14.0
    Create a sense of community and identity for the residents and businesses of Monterey Park.
  • Policy 14.1
    Implement the design improvements and changes outlined in the Urban Design Plan. Policy 14.2 Continue to apply design guidelines for new construction and redevelopment within the city's commercial areas.
  • Policy 14.2
    Continue to apply design guidelines for new construction and redevelopment within the city's commercial areas.