CicLAvia Comes to South Los Angeles

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For the first time, CicLAvia, a community event where streets are closed to everyone but bicyclists and pedestrians, is making its way to South Los Angeles. On Sunday, December 7, you are encouraged to stroll or pedal through the streets without competing for space with cars, trucks or vans. So dust off your sneakers, tune up your bike, and prepare to explore the streets South L.A. without traffic.

The route will connect the cultural hub of Leimert Park with historic Central Avenue, traveling along Martin Luther King Boulevard. Participants will experience the sights, sounds, food and culture of South Los Angeles.

“We are excited by this first for our neighborhoods,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “CicLAvia fosters healthy habits, green transportation, and community engagement all while experiencing local food and culture and helping boost local businesses.”

Local residents can download additional information about the route and its impact to your neighborhood here.

Ciclovías began more than 30 years ago in Bogotá, Colombia, in response to the congestion and pollution of city streets. Today, Ciclovias can be found throughout Latin America and the United States connecting communities and eliminating the stress of traffic. Recognized as a model for creating public space, CicLAvia is Los Angeles’ adoption of a Ciclovías.

CicLAvia will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free and open to people of all ages. No reservations required. For more information, visit www.ciclavia.org.

New Website Features 367 Miles of Trails

Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation has launched a new website showcasing 367 miles of trails throughout the county. A one-stop resource for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, trails.lacounty.gov can help with trail conditions, directions, elevation, weather and air quality.

“Nature nurtures,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “And the new site aims to make the county’s vast natural assets more accessible and user-friendly.”

Among the features on trails.lacounty.gov is a comprehensive list of trails that includes such vital information as trail length, elevation gain and permitted uses; a locator with the ability to search by city name, ZIP code or trail name (the mobile version will allow searches by current location); interactive digital maps enabling users to view the steepness or surface type on trails; and downloadable and printable QuickGuides that include trail maps, descriptions, directions, photos and elevation profiles.

“Whatever their recreational preference, trail users are among the most passionate and informed outdoor enthusiasts,” said Department of Parks and Recreation Director Russ Guiney. “The evidence is clear: Recreation in nature brings a number of wellness benefits to those who enjoy it. This website is part of our mission to encourage that type of recreation — and increase the level of participation.”

Among the trails profiled on the new site is the Second District’s planned Park to Playa Trail, which will create a network of trails that will seamlessly connect Kenneth Hahn Park to the bike trails at Playa del Rey. The project will eventually connect approximately 13 miles from Baldwin Hills along Ballona Creek to the Ballona Wetlands and the beach bicycle path. There will be entrances to the Park to Playa Trail along the Ballona Creek Bike Path, in Culver City Park, at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, and at Norman O. Houston Park. A quick guide to the Park to Playa Trail is featured here.

“Outdoor recreation helps keep our communities healthy,” the Supervisor said. “And this is simply another step to help foster healthy habits.”

A mobile version of the site is expected before the new year, with a mobile app expected in 2015.

Crenshaw Closures Continue

closuresA three-block segment of Crenshaw Boulevard is now closed until November 24.

“Be sure to plan ahead to avoid traffic delays,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Crenshaw is now closed between Exposition Boulevard and Coliseum Street and re-opening at 6am on November 24 just in time for Thanksgiving and the extended “Black Friday” shopping weekend. The Boulevard will be closed again beginning at 9 p.m. on December 1 and re-opening at 6am on December 14.

Traffic control, detour routes, and signage will be used to help with traffic flow. Detour routes have been approved by the City of Los Angeles and are as follows:

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Southbound Detour:

  • Right at Jefferson
  • Left at La Brea
  • Left at Rodeo Rd
  • Right at MLK Bl
  • Right at Crenshaw Bl

Northbound Detour:

  • Right at MLK Bl
  • Left at Western
  • Left at Jefferson
  • Right at Crenshaw Bl

Due to the temporary closure of Crenshaw Boulevard there will be no direct Metro bus service to the Expo/Crenshaw Expo Rail Station. Lines 210, 710, and 740 will be detoured via Arlington Avenue between Jefferson and MLK Boulevard.

Pedestrian access is being maintained but re-routed around the construction work zone. Bus stops are being relocated for both directions of travel along Crenshaw Boulevard. Metro has posted signs at impacted stops to advise riders of alternative boarding locations. Timeline is subject to change, but real-time information will be available at metro.net/advisories or by calling 323.GO.METRO.

Upon completion of these significant street closures, construction will continue below Crenshaw Boulevard with minimal impact to the public throughout the remainder of station construction.

In an effort to decrease the disruption to small businesses, access to local area businesses in the vicinity of construction will be maintained. Rodeo Road and Rodeo Place at the intersection of Crenshaw Blvd will be closed, however, access to businesses will be maintained on Rodeo Road, Rodeo Place, and Coliseum.

“Building a state of the art transportation line is no small or easy feat. This work will allow for the excavation of Crenshaw Boulevard into what will become the northern-most underground station on the line. We know we are asking a lot of residents, businesses and commuters, and we appreciate everyone’s patience throughout this process,” the Supervisor said.

Surrounding neighbors are still encouraged to support the campaign to Eat, Shop, and Play Crenshaw. So far more than 1,000 people have pledged to buy local and visit area businesses. Check out deals to gain access to discounts or freebies.

“We can’t forget about our local businesses when they most need us. Throughout construction, we encourage you to eat in our local restaurants, shop in our local stores, and play in our local entertainment venues along the corridor,” the Supervisor said.

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Metro Moves Forward to Help Small Businesses During Crenshaw Construction

In an unprecedented move forward, the Metro Board of Directors recently awarded a two year contract to help small businesses impacted by Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project construction.

“Rail construction is always challenging and it’s particularly difficult for nearby businesses,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “That’s why we are committed to standing with these merchants during the whole construction process.”

The Metro pilot Business Solution Center will provide hands-on case management services for small businesses along the Crenshaw corridor between 48th and 60th streets and other areas impacted by construction activities. Services will include marketing help, business plan development, financial planning, small business operations advice and legal assistance counseling. In addition, the center will help small businesses apply for capital via existing loan programs. It also will help them gain certification as small, disadvantaged, disabled, veteran-owned, minority-owned and/or woman-owned businesses.

This contract is the newest addition to a comprehensive initiative to support small businesses along the Crenshaw Line. Under the newly established $10 million business interruption fund, some businesses will be eligible to receive a maximum of $50,000 annually, not to exceed 60 percent of their business revenue loss. To qualify, owners must have no more than 25 employees; have been in operation for two years, are in good standing with local, state and federal tax requirements and are able to produce financial record demonstrating the loss of business revenue directly related to the construction are eligible for assistance. Also, at the 9th Annual Taste of Soul festival Metro kicked off its Eat, Shop, Play Crenshaw campaign. So far more than 1,000 people have pledged to buy local and visit area businesses.

“This Business Solution Center – while not solving all problems – is an important first step toward helping the local business community survive and thrive during the difficult days. We are happy that we could make this happen,” said the Supervisor.

The Business Solution Center is expected to open in late November, 2014 and will be located at the Los Angeles Urban League, 3450 Mount Vernon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90008.

From Plan to Project: Rail to River Moves Forward

After heartfelt testimony from residents and environmental advocates calling for the revitalization of an 8-mile stretch of blighted abandoned railway in South Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted to allocate $2.8 million for pre-construction activities including architectural design work and environmental studies.

By acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has championed the project for more than two years, Metro catapulted Rail to River, a plan to convert the stretch of unused and railway into a greenbelt with a recreational walking and bike path, from a cherished and long-held idea into an actual project.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas & Rail to River supporters at the October 23, 2014 Metro board meeting.

“Today we set the foundation for what I know will become a wonderful asset to the community,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “It is simply unacceptable that we have allowed blight to not only remain, but flourish along this property, and I am gratified that my colleagues on the Metro Board were supportive of this game-changing project.”

As envisioned, Rail to River will revitalize the abandoned rail road track connecting the Los Angeles River to the Fair View Heights Station of the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail; the right of way runs through Huntington Park, South Los Angeles and the City of Inglewood.

Over the past two years, community members have come together to envision a walking path and bike trail that will connect this section of Los Angeles—which includes some of the densest and impoverished communities—to the transit system and the L.A. River.

Before the vote Thursday, advocates called on the Board to approve the project, noting that the responsibility for addressing the blight rests with Metro, which owns the property, and positing that investment by the agency would inspire other funders to follow suit.

The California Black Women’s Health Project (CBWHP) also noted that the site of the project is located in an area of Los Angeles with a meagre amount of green space.

“South L.A. residents face high rates of obesity, high blood pressure and other chronic health concerns, and Rail to River will create a vital recreation facility in the most park-poor are of the City, where there are only 1.7 acres of open space for every 1,000 residents,” wrote CEO Gloria Morrow.

Pacoima Beautiful, an environmental education and advocacy group, T.R.U.S.T. South LA and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust also threw their support behind the project.

“There is much work to be done to provide the amount of green space South LA needs and deserves,” wrote Alma Bokde, executive director of the Trust. “…a truly transformative, game changing project like the Rail to River Active Transportation Corridor project is needed to [catalyze the creation] a green backbone for South Los Angeles.

Across the country, abandoned rail right-of-ways have been turned into pedestrian access and bicycle routes — perhaps most notably on the “High Line” in New York City, which has catalyzed over $2 Billion in private investment around the park.

The Whittier Greenway Trails, and on other Metro funded projects such as the Metro Orange Line, the Bellflower Bike Trail, and the Chandler Bikeway in Burbank are local examples.