Update: Crenshaw/LAX Line

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Construction work at the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Vernon Ave. Credit: Metro

Under construction now for 2019, a great deal of activity is happening with the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Work on the $2-billion light-rail system intended to serve neighborhoods in and around Crenshaw, Inglewood and  LAX will reach a milestone at the end of the month.

Workers are poised to begin excavating the third and last of its underground stations near Leimert Park, prompting a 14-day closure of Crenshaw Boulevard between Vernon Avenue and 43rd Street/Homeland Drive. Click here for detours.

In the meantime, workers are building the structure that would allow the tracks to rise from ground level to a junction with the Green Line near Aviation Boulevard and Imperial Highway.

In June, they will begin digging an underground tunnel in Park Mesa Heights, and installing perimeter walls along the tracks between Crenshaw Boulevard and Brynhurst Avenue.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, vice chairman of Metro’s Board of Directors, said the importance of the Crenshaw/LAX rail line can not be understated.

“This rail line will transform neighborhoods by allowing people to get where they need to be, and quickly,” he said. “It will also cut air pollution and traffic congestion, and boost businesses along the route by carrying customers almost to their doorstep. It will change the landscape of Los Angeles for the better.”

Aside from ratcheting up construction, Metro is continuing efforts to help local businesses.

This month, the agency held a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) outreach event at Inglewood City Hall to teach local businesses owned by women and minorities how to secure contracts with Metro to help build the Crenshaw/LAX Line.

Chris Chance attended a similar seminar years ago; now, her company, The Brass Star Group produces public service announcements, promotional videos, training videos, and documentaries for Metro.

“After they were able to see our talent, they would give us more work over the years, and as we grew, we were able to hire more people,” said Chance, who grew up in Compton. “This income helps other businesses in the area, like the places where we shop. It really helps the local economy.”

Metro is also commissioning artists to create murals and art for the Crenshaw/LAX Line. One of the artists, Kenturah Davis, will hold a May 23 photo shoot in Inglewood for members of the public interested in becoming part of her artwork. She is planning a series of portraits for the Florence/La Brea Station inspired by the random and serendipitous observations that can happen in a crowd riding public transportation. Those who live, work or maintain a significant connection with Inglewood are invited to be her subjects, but space is limited.

Once completed, the Crenshaw/LAX rail line would be the first to serve the Crenshaw District and Inglewood since street cars – dubbed “Yellow Cars” – stopped running in the 1950’s. The line will have eight stations, the northernmost connecting to the Expo Line, and southernmost to the Green Line. Funded through Measure R, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008, it is projected to have a daily ridership of 13,000 to 16,000.

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Past artwork by Kenturah Davis, one of fourteen artists selected to create artworks for Crenshaw/LAX line.

Willowbrook to Get New Library and Senior Housing

Wilmington renderingMore than 100 units of affordable housing for seniors, an 8,000 square foot library, and an employment center will soon replace a blighted lot on the corner of 118th Street and Wilmington Avenue in Willowbrook.

More than $9 million in county funds have been allocated to the project, which will be developed by Thomas Safran and Associates and the Community Development Commission. Since the property is located one block from the new Martin Luther King Medical Campus, 22 units will be reserved for residents with medical needs.

“This development is the first of its kind in Los Angeles County,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who initiated the project. “We have never built senior housing above a county library and it will serve as an educational anchor and gathering place for the community.”

Willowbrook, a farming area settled in the 1800s, derived its name from the willow trees and rambling brook that decorated its landscape. As its population grew, the neighborhood became known for its homes with deep lots and a community of residents determined to protect it from the encroaching development.

This development is part of a broader, $1 billion investment in the area that includes the MLK Medical Campus, redevelopment of the Rosa Parks Metro station, improved streetscapes, lighting, landscaping, a community garden and other community improvements.

The MLK Medical Campus, which includes a new Outpatient Center, a Psychiatric Urgent Care Center and a Center for Public Health, will be inaugurating a brand new hospital in August.

“With the expansion and development of the new MLK Medical Campus, the tightknit community of Willowbrook will have yet another asset,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “This is a legacy that will live on for generations to come.”

Save the Date: Dedication Ceremony on August 7

The hospital is part of the MLK Medical Campus, which includes a new Outpatient Center, a Mental Health Urgent Care Center and the Center for Public Health. Soon, the campus will also have a community garden, recuperative care center, a new child medical hub and many more services. The Medical Campus delivers on a promise to bring quality, preventive health care delivery to South Los Angeles residents.

Below is a timeline marking important events for the medical campus from 1965 to the present.

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A Crisis of Homelessness

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Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas called for intensifying efforts to build affordable housing and permanent supportive housing after the 2015 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found one out of every three homeless people in the county lives in the Second District.

The biennial survey found 14,116 men, women and children in the Second District live on the streets, in vehicles or in shelters, accounting for 34 percent of the county’s homeless population.

“Homelessness is a problem that the entire county of Los Angeles struggles with,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “However, it’s particularly acute in the Second District, and that’s a tragedy.”

“I have made an effort to address this issue by supporting and helping to fund more than 1,500 affordable housing units in the Second District since 2009, but homelessness and the housing crisis are regional issues that require regional responses,” he added. “We all need to work together – city, county, state and federal governments – to build permanent supportive housing in areas that need them most.”

The Homeless Count, conducted in January by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), found 41,174 homeless people throughout Los Angeles County, a 12 percent increase from 2013. About two-thirds of them are considered “unsheltered” or living in places not meant for human habitation, such as vehicles, parks, sidewalks and abandoned buildings. Many are living with mental and physical disabilities or have co-occurring disorders.

“It is imperative that local efforts are redoubled to secure more affordable housing and permanent supportive housing for our residents, to bring about a living wage for households struggling to make ends meet, and to put in place crisis response systems that prevent and end homelessness in a coordinated manner,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

In the Second District, several projects are under way to provide the homeless permanent supportive housing, rental subsidies, and supportive services.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas was an early proponent and funder of the Homeless Family Solutions System, a partnership between LAHSA, the city and county of Los Angeles, and community-based organizations, which has placed over 700 families into permanent housing since July 2014.

He also set aside $250,000 for a one-year pilot program focusing on families living in mobile homes at an RV Park in Rancho Dominguez.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas co-sponsored a motion with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl for Los Angeles County to support AB 1335, the Building Homes and Jobs Act. Authored by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, it would establish a permanent source of funding for affordable housing throughout California.

In the months to come, the supervisor also plans to look into “boomerang” redevelopment funds to make sure it’s being used effectively to increase the stock of affordable and permanent supportive housing in the county.

Also under way is the Coordinated Entry System, which prioritizes the most vulnerable among the homeless population – those who rely heavily on the county’s healthcare, social services and criminal justice systems – for permanent supportive housing.