- Second District
Residents of the Second District will soon be seeing green.
Nearly 3,500 trees will be planted in neighborhoods throughout the Second District as part of a $750,000-grant program sponsored by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Culver City, Mar Vista, Inglewood, Hawthorne, South Los Angeles, Lennox and Koreatown soon will have new plantations in their local parks. Residents at housing projects such as Mar Vista Gardens, Imperial Courts, Gonzaque Village, Pueblo del Rio, Avalon and Nickerson Gardens will all enjoy newly planted fruit trees as part of the program.
The grant is part of a continuing, multi-year effort by the Supervisor to substantially increase green space in the Second District as a way to spruce up communities and in general, to improve the quality of life.
The type of trees will vary but will likely be drought resistant or drought tolerant. In 2007, urban-forest researchers at the U. S. Forest Service estimated that planting one million trees would reduce storm-water runoff, decrease the city’s carbon footprint and through shading, cut the use of air conditioning (and thus of electricity). The aesthetic benefits of trees are obvious, making any community more beautiful and welcoming.
“I think this is fantastic,” said Bruce Saito, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps. “We need trees to sequester carbon and to provide beauty and shade. We don’t have enough trees in Los Angeles County and a project like this will go a long way toward getting the tree number and count up to speed.”
A little over a year ago, Monteith Park in the View Park-Windsor Hills area of Los Angeles, had inadequate lighting, frequent criminal activity and little sense of neighborhood engagement. But today, thanks to the work of three residents who decided to take back their community park, Monteith is a brand new place with movie nights, concerts and the proposed site for a temporary art installation.
The transformation was inspired by three residents, Pernell Cox, Sovonto Green and Jeff Haber. Cox, a father now in his mid 30s, grew up in Inglewood and moved to View Park in 2011. He lives just down the street from Monteith Park with his wife and one-year-old daughter and was appalled at the way the park had been neglected.
“People were using the park as a place to drink and smoke out. They would leave trash,” he said. “They would have sex in their car and leave condoms behind.”
Envisioning a park that would be safe for his growing daughter, he joined Jeff Haber and Sovonto Green at a community meeting at the park. He began showing up regularly at monthly Sheriff’s Department meetings and reached out to Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas’ office as well as the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.
“I asked questions, and I took people up on their invitations,” said Cox. “The more I showed up, the more they showed their appreciation by being more responsive.” The Sheriff’s Department responded by increasing patrols during hours of higher crime and as a result, crime in the park has decreased.
“We’re going to put some flood lighting in dark areas and additional lantern lighting,” said Joe Mendoza, Deputy Director for Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. “We’ve also purchased new benches, trash receptacles and lighting fixtures.“
Programming in the park has increased especially during summer months with movie nights and an upcoming August 25 jazz concert. Also, the Los Angles County Arts Commission has been engaged to facilitate a temporary art installation.
“The movie nights, jazz concerts, and this artwork are all products of their desire and initiative to make good things happen,” said Erin Harkey, Civic Art Project Manager for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
During community meetings with the Arts Commission, residents talked about block parties, sharing fruit with their neighbors, about their kids, their homes and about their wish to have interactive artwork at the park.
“It very positive to have this kind of participation from community members,” said Mendoza. “It’s been a real group effort.”
Indeed, Cox said he hardly recognizes his neighborhood.
“As a result of our efforts, there is more programming in the park, a stronger partnership with our law enforcement and a stronger sense of community,” he said. “People are stopping me and saying, ‘hi.’ Now we start conversations in our community. And we act more neighborly.”
More information about View Park, visit www.viewpark.org, a website powered by community members and for community members.
A trip to the movie theater on any given night can cost a family of two adults and two children anywhere from $50 to $60 before popcorn, beverages and candy. But this summer, on select nights at designated Los Angeles County parks in the Second Supervisorial District, families can enjoy a movie and popcorn for free.
From now until September 28, L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and the county Department of Parks and Recreation will host MRT’s Free Summer Movies at county parks throughout the Second Supervisorial District. A large 12 ‘ x 9” screen, projector and multiple speakers will be set-up to transform a section of the parks into an outdoor theater.
“Families can come early and fire up the grill at the park before the movie starts and make an evening out of it or just come for the movie,” said Mika Yamamoto, regional operations manager for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. “We want constituents to experience all the amenities the park has to offer.”
MRT’s Free Summer Movies is intended to be a safe and relaxing event for adults, kids and neighbors alike.
“We want everyone to come out to their local park, spend time with their family and friends and enjoy a movie under the stars,” said Chairman Ridley –Thomas.
Movies will start at dusk. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, snacks and lawn chairs. Popcorn will be provided free of charge.
For complete movie listings, dates and parks participating in MRT’s Free Summer Movies, please click here.
In a long awaited milestone, a cleanup has begun at the former Ujima Village site and Magic Johnson Park in Willowbrook. Included in the work will be the use of a technology known as soil vapor extraction to remove volatile chemical compounds from the ground, as well as the excavation of small areas of the property.
Residents are invited to an open house sponsored by state and federal public health officials, from 1 -5 pm on August 17 , at Enterprise Park , to discuss any health concerns related to the site. Spanish interpretation services will also be available.
Now that the cleanup is underway, plans to re-imagine strategic uses for the existing 104 – acre park , as well as the 16 acres that previously comprised Ujima Village , also can begin. In the fall, there will be a community-driven process to decide how it will look and what new recreational facilities should be constructed.
When the old Athens Tank Farm was removed in the 1960s, contaminants were left in the soil, a source of concern for many years. For several years now, local, state and federal agencies have been gathering and analyzing data to determine whether the contamination poses a health risk. Soil, soil gas, groundwater and air samples ordered by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board have all indicated that the present levels of chemicals in the soil are not dangerous to human health.
The Regional Board has also ordered ExxonMobil, which owned the former oil site, to conduct soil vapor investigation and air quality monitoring at four schools near the site: Centennial High School, Los Angeles Adventist Academy, New Designs Charter School and Animo Watts College Preparatory Academy. ExxonMobil will install vapor probes within school properties as well as test for the presence of methane in school buildings , using a hand-held monitoring device. Work is already in progress at Los Angeles Adventist Academy and activity at other schools is expected to begin soon. All work will be conducted on weekends and after hours to minimize disruption to school activities.
In addition, several homes east of the park have been tested for soil vapor samples, outdoor air samples and air samples taken from crawl spaces beneath for methane, benzene and other volatile organic compounds and were found to not pose a risk to health.
For more information please go to: www.EnviroStor.dtsc.ca.gov
First time angler Kiara Martinez, 8, came out to the lake at Alondra Park in Lawndale to catch fish. The problem was that she was scared to touch the wormy bait made of marshmallows, mealworms and mackerel. It smelled bad and the fish would be slimy, she was sure. But like many of the 150 other youngsters who joined her for the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools field trip, Kiara found it was actually fun.
Within an hour she caught her first fish, hollering and jumping to let everyone know.
“I caught a fish! I caught a fish!” she said as her father, Fernando Martinez looked on with pride, unhooked the fish and slipped it into a baggie with ice. “My lesson for those who haven’t caught a fish yet-just be patient,” said Kiara, with a smile.
The day of fishing offered Freedom School scholars ages 5 to 14, from the Carson and Lynwood sites, a day long summer eco-educational program. The event, called Fishing in the City, was co-sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Los Angeles County. It is an annual event that began nearly 20 years ago and has brought the pastime to thousands of children who might never have the opportunity to camp in the mountains near a secluded lake. On a bright and sunny day in July, the lake at Alondra Park was fully stocked with catfish, thanks to a donation from the L.A. County Fish and Game Commission.
In groups of 20, the young scholars simultaneously went to each of the five informational stations hosted by a Fish and Game representative set- up around the park. At the stations, scholars learned how to bait a hook, the ethics of fishing, the proper way to handle a fish and how to insert the fishing line into the lake. After visiting the fifth station, the kids were given a fishing rod to borrow, bait in mouthwash size cups and directed to their spot around the lake to take aim to nab a fish. It was a learning experience for the kids and adults alike.
Michelle Woods, 32, of Compton accompanied her 8-year-old son Jalen. “I hope that Jalen exercises patience today,” said Woods. “I hope that he learns that after waiting for a fish, he can apply that same practice of patience to his younger siblings or when learning a new concept.”
Some were eager to catch a fish but were not excited about hooking the bait.
“I don’t want mine with worms on it,” said first time angler Taylor Gonzalez. “I hate worms,” the 7-year old continued. “They look nasty.”
“It’s going to make my hand smell disgusting,” Zaria Jefferson, 7, chimed in. “I want to catch five fish but I’m not going to touch the bait.”
The California Department of Fish and Game has found that by getting residents involved in fishing, they begin to care more about pollution in lakes and streams and so part of the lesson that day will include a talk about urban runoff and how untreated toxins enter lakes and streams through storm drains.
“We want to make sure that people don’t take more than they need because that will lead to depletion,” said Brian Young, the department’s Fishing in the City coordinator for Southern California.
“We are getting kids away from the myriad of distractions indoors. We want to bring kids outside so they have that experience. The parents often catch the bug like the kids do and so it becomes a family event.”
Even though she didn’t want to touch the fish, Serenity Carmouche, 8, of Helen Keller Freedom School, caught two. The 8-year-old can’t wait to share her big catch with her parents.
“They are nasty, they smell, and they are gooey,” said Serenity. “But, I’m going to eat them for dinner.“
Soccer aficionados of all ages can now go out for quick dribble across the newly installed futsal courts at Lennox Park and Col. Leon H. Washington Park in the Florence Firestone section of Los Angeles.
The futsal courts are a popular fixture in South America and Europe where soccer is king. But in the U.S., it is a relatively new phenomenon. Thanks to changing demographics, where there were once football fields, now there are pick-up games of soccer happening.
And so, in coordination with the Department of Parks and Recreation, the LA84 Foundation and the office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a total of four enclosed turf futsal courts measuring a quarter of the size of a regular soccer field, where installed.
The courts, which are outdoors, are the first of their kind operated by the Department of Parks and Recreation. Groups will be allowed to reserve the area for tournaments, corporate events, clinics and pick-up games. The fields are open to the public and will be free, however there will be a low cost fee beginning in the fall.
“We are thrilled to provide soccer enthusiasts in our communities with modern facilities that offer yet another new way to enjoy the game they love,” said Russ Guiney, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation. “We expect these courts to be in high demand, providing enjoyment and healthy recreation for our patrons for many years to come.”
The game was developed in Brazil and Uruguay in the 1930s and 1940s as a solution to the lack of available soccer fields. It is usually played indoors on a hard surface. In the U.S., it is also called speed soccer and an official league was established in 1985. Futsal is fast and action packed, with lots of scoring and only five players on each side.
Rosie Gonzalez, a 19-year-old professional soccer player who grew up in Hawthorne and played at Lennox Park, said she wished she had these courts growing up.
“I used to play on these fields and it looks so much better now,” she said as she signed autographs for eager youngsters waiting in line on a recent weekend when the fields were inaugurated. “Futsal is faster. You work on your speed, touch and agility.”
Bryan Luna, a 10-year-old midfielder for the Blue Sharks soccer team said he was excited to try out the new turf.
“It’s shorter, so it’s cool,” he said as he scoped-out the field. His mother, Eva Luna, was also grateful for the clean and well-kept area where she could relax with her two kids.
“I think this is great,” she said. “We like to come here in the afternoons and have picnics.”
For Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the renovated parks are a welcome addition to the community but also part of a larger effort to continue improving recreational facilities and the quality of life for all residents. Just like Florence-Firestone, residents in Lennox will soon have a master parks plan, a street improvement project as well as a new and improved library and community service center, which are scheduled to open in February 2014.
“Many of our parks were built in the 1960s when baseball and basketball were the most common past-times. We need to make sure our parks also stay updated with changes in our community,” said Ridley-Thomas. “On any typical day, these parks are full of families enjoying their time outdoors and playing soccer. It is great to see youngsters running around, kicking the ball, playing in a healthy and safe environment.”
“It keeps the kids occupied and gives them something to do,” said the South LA native. “The kids that grew up around there and are in gangs know that these kids are off limits. They don’t have time to be in a gang.”
In fact, now going on three years, the extended hours have been a resounding success in decreasing violent crime and increasing community involvement. Between 2010 and 2012, there were more than 120,000 visits to the extended hour parks. Serious and violent crimes in the communities surrounding the original three parks declined 40 percent during the summer months between 2009 and 2012, compared to a 5 percent increase in serious and violent crime during this period in nearby communities with parks that did not extend their hours.
“Our department’s motto is ‘Parks Make Life Better!’ and Parks After Dark is a wonderful example of the important role that parks play as a safe, unifying hub in our communities,” said Russ Guiney, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.
By providing youth and families with positive recreational activities in their communities, the initiative plays an important part in reducing the likelihood of participation in at-risk behaviors. Initially implemented in three parks as a component of the County’s Gang Violence Reduction Initiative, the program transforms areas that have been adversely affected by gang activity into vibrant community centers that provide health and other resources in locations where residents can feel safe and secure.
“With summer here, we need to take advantage of the weather and the long days to enrich our lives outdoor,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This is a healthy and safe way to get outside and meet your neighbors.”
With support from the LA84 Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Parks and Recreation is partnering with the Department of Public Health’s Choose Health LA, an initiative prevent and control chronic disease in Los Angeles County to offer programs at these parks in the Second District.
In a step meant to reduce carbon emissions and improve Los Angeles County’s air quality, on Tuesday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a contract for the International Brotherhood of 848 TCWH to receive $250,000 worth of green improvements to their Long Beach facility. The union was the first business in the county to take advantage of the Los Angeles County Energy Program, which is open to any commercial property owner. Commercial property owners save money through reductions in water and energy usage by installing solar panels, cool roofs, energy efficient lighting and water heaters through the program.
Under the program, instead of paying up front or taking out a traditional bank loan, participating property owners will be able to finance the improvements by adding it to their property tax bill. Also, owners looking to sell don’t need to worry about paying off a loan before the sale, because the assessment stays with the property. Interested property owners can learn more about the program at http://www.lapace.org/.
Over the course of time, the program is designed to reduce greenhouse emissions throughout the region. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 65 percent of electricity consumption and 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. By using viable energy efficiency measures in existing buildings, energy consumption can be reduced as much as 20 percent.
“This program is a cornerstone of Los Angeles County’s mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make our region healthier and more environmentally sound,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion to implement the financing program. “I encourage all commercial property owners and residential property owners to take advantage of the county’s programs and begin saving on their energy costs.”
Residential property owners throughout the county can also take advantage of rebates and financing opportunities to retrofit their homes through the Energy Upgrade California program. To learn more about the program, please visit www.energyupgradeca.org and www.green.lacounty.gov
The inauguration of the Natural History Museum’s Erika J. Glazer Family Edible Garden brimmed with life, as both children and the garden’s denizens relished their time in the sun exploring the new space. Dozens of youngsters wandered around the garden, sampling the ripened fruits and vegetables growing out of raised cedar wood beds, insects danced on lavender buds, worms dug into the earth and rolly-pollies climbed on tomato vines.
As an educational and interactive park where visitors of all ages can watch birds, search for bugs, stroll along a creek, ramble through a grove of trees, the habitat is a perfect fit for the Natural History Museum, demonstrating how urban gardens thrive through the seasons.
In part the garden’s creation is due to the museum ‘s desire to join the growing chorus of advocates for home-grown vegetables, composting and working with the environment to create a habitate for beneficial garden bugs. Located next to the Butterfly and Spider Pavilions, the garden allows visitors to have a truly hands-on experience.
It all began in early 2010, when the museum was approached by Los Angeles County Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener, Florence Nishida, with a plan to build a teaching garden for the Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative. That initiative, which harkens back to the days of World War II when thousands of Americans grew “Victory Gardens” in their homes to sustain the home front. Through the initiative, new gardeners learn about gardening in hands-on workshops and ultimately creation of their own home gardens.
Ultimately, the garden is not only a beautiful sight, but it will also serve to educate all visitors on seasonal eating, sustainability and healthy food habits.
“This garden is a living, breathing example that should inspire all of our residents to grow their own gardens and to celebrate our good fortune to live in California’s temperate climate,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This garden effort goes hand in hand with what we are doing in the Second District to “green” and enhance open spaces in every corner.”
Zaydell Cotton smiled proudly as she watched her 10-year-old daughter Mia dive in and swim freestyle across the 25-yard Alondra Park pool in Lawndale on a recent afternoon.
She was haunted by the memory of a friend drowning in a river and she was determined that her daughter would never face that risk. She put Mia in swim lessons when she was 6-years-old. It was brutal, with her daughter kicking and screaming the whole time and pulling her coach’s hair out. But within a week, the little girl was swimming. Today, Mia says she would like to become a lifeguard.
“Everybody needs to know how to swim,” said Cotton. “It’s should be like brushing your teeth.”
Summer in Southern California usually means cooling down at the beach or the local swimming pool. But tragically, approximately 10 people drown every day in the United States, according to a study by Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, African American and Hispanic children represent more than 65 percent of the victims.
So, swimming gold medalist Janet Evans teamed with Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and the LA 84 Foundation to kick-off the Foundation’s Summer Swim Program, which promotes organized swimming sports and the benefits of swim lessons.
“Being a kid in Southern California, we are surrounded by pools and water,” said Evans, a four time Olympic gold medalist who learned to swim at 18 months. “Drowning is swift and silent. Learning to swim is a life-saving skill.”
The LA84 Foundation, endowed by surplus funds from the 1984 Olympic Games, will distribute more than $400,000 in grants to fund swim lessons and organized sports in public pools across Southern California, which will help reach 15,000 children across the region.
“We want kids of all ages to have fun in the summertime but it needs to be safe,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas.
“Now that school is out, it is important to take advantage of all the low cost classes that are available in our community pools. Learning to swim is a life skill.”
But the push to improve swimming skills is not just local. LA84 recently partnered with the USA Swimming Foundation, the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming, to help spread the message about water safety and the importance of swim lessons to an even broader audience. The organization’s Make a Splash initiative spreads the word about the need for swim lessons across the country, with the help of U.S. Olympian Cullen Jones. Next year, the foundation will launch its Make a Splash tour in Los Angeles in coordination with LA84.
At Alondra Park’s recently renovated pool, swimmers from the local teams, the Pirates and Titans, showed their swimming prowess by competing in relays, gliding across the deep pool in backstroke, butterfly and freestyle.
Tanya Jenkins marveled at how her 6-year-old son Aiden had gone from learning to swim in June of last year, to joining the Pirates swim team by September.
“At first, I just wanted him to get to the water’s edge and look at him now,” she beamed as Aiden swam across the pool. “I did not want him to become a statistic.”
For the complete schedule of summer pool programs in the second district, click here.