Crenshaw Businesses Get Support


While construction along the Crenshaw corridor has created challenging circumstances for some small business owners, many also are taking advantage of the opportunities the new Crenshaw-to-LAX rail line will bring. More than 40 businesses currently impacted by the construction learned this week how to tap into novel programs that will support and promote them during this challenging time.

“Since construction began on the Crenshaw/LAX Line, local businesses and patrons have been asked to endure a lot,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who advocated for the programs and coordinated the gathering, said to the group assembled at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall Community Room. “These programs will be critical elements to help businesses thrive.  I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to make sure that the Crenshaw Line construction moves forward safely and in a productive manner that puts community first.”

The programs include the Eat Shop Play Crenshaw marketing and publicity campaign, which encourages community members to “pledge” to eat, shop and play locally and provides routine raffles for people who can demonstrate they have done so on the corridor. Metro will also use social media to encourage people to tell their stories about the Corridor.

Another new program is the Business Solutions Center, which is slated to open December 19, and which will be a dedicated office where business owners can receive advice, technical assistance, case management and resource referral services to address their needs.

One of the key objectives of the Business Solutions Center will be to help businesses apply for the grants that will be made available through an innovative new program, the Business Interruption Fund. In October, the Metro Board unanimously agreed to establish a $10 million annual fund for businesses impacted by construction of the various lines under construction.

“It is an extreme priority to make sure these small businesses can make it through the construction process,” said Mark Robertson, Jr., chief executive of Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Corporation, which is helping businesses access the fund. “Everybody understands that the construction of this rail line ultimately means success for the businesses adjacent to them. The challenge is getting to the point where the line is complete and the businesses can reap the benefits.”


Light LA Against Gun Violence

In honor of more than 30,000 people killed by guns each year, including the children who were slain at Sandy Hook Elementary two years ago, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl joined gun violence survivors to promote the first ever “Light L.A. Day.”

Speakers at the event included Sarah Wirtz and Rhonda Foster, whose niece and son respectively, were lost to gun violence. Wirtz, whose niece was one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre, told the audience, “You don’t think it can happen to you, until it does.” Foster, whose son was killed at the age of seven, said, “We have lost too many loved ones to gun violence.”

Light LA Day, sponsored by the advocacy groups, Women Against Gun Violence, Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, local Brady Campaign chapters, and the network of gun violence prevention organizations throughout the county, is part of a national remembrance coordinated by the Newtown Foundation in partnership with the Washington National Cathedral and other anti-violence groups.

To help shine a light on the devastating toll that gun violence takes on society, faith organizations and gun violence prevention groups held vigils in each of the 50 states. According to the Newtown Action Alliance, there have been 91 school shootings nationwide since the tragic assault in Newtown.

“Enough is enough,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “For the sake of our children, it is time to take a stand and work toward a more peaceful and better future for all.”

Helen Keller Park Gets New Community Center

photo 4 photo 2Mike Ealey, Helen Keller Park Supervisor, remembers throwing his first pitch at the West Athens neighborhood park in 1966. And this week, Ealey got a chance to inaugurate a brand new community center that will ensure Helen Keller Park will continue to serve as an anchor for the community.

“Today is a blessed day,” he said to the crowd of several dozen people gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony. The new Helen Keller Community Park Community Building is a 4,000 foot LEED Gold certified facility featuring a new computer lab, arts-and-crafts room, outdoor patio, reception area, full kitchen and new parking lot.

photo 1“It takes a village to make all of this happen,” noted Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who helped fund the nearly $7 million investment in the center. “Today is a good day at Helen Keller Park.”

Proving that it takes a village to make something great, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles Chapter and Warner Bros. Entertainment donated $10,000 for a screening room that features a 5×9-foot screen, projector, and surround sound equipment. It will be one of the featured attractions as programming for the park begins in January. There will be movie nights, job training and an after school program and teen club just to name a few of the activities.

Nigel Daly, chairman of BAFTA, who was recently invited into the Order of the British Empire for his contribution to film, said he was honored to be welcomed into the community and told the crowd that he was “One proud Brit.” BAFTA has partnered with the county for nine years on programs teaching children Shakespeare and other arts related programs.

And more is to come at Helen Keller. Just over a year ago, it was discovered that the park was contaminated by construction waste and it was closed. And so, clean up crews have been hired to clean the top layer of soil from the entire park and replace it by the fall of 2015 with drought tolerant plants and a carpet of green grass.

“Our hope is that Helen Keller Community Center will quickly become a hub of activity in this wonderful community,” said Russ Guinea, director of LA County Parks and Recreation. “This is a place where people of all ages can feel welcome.”

It’s yours! Cutting the ribbon on Helen Keller Community Center! @mridleythomas

A video posted by Los Angeles County Parks & Rec (@lacountyparks) on

CicLAvia Comes to South Los Angeles

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

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, 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 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.