Sweeping Advances to Keep Youth
Out of the Justice System

In a historic move, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt a roadmap for diverting thousands of youth from the juvenile and criminal justice systems, and for connecting them to a comprehensive array of supportive services – education, employment, housing, healthcare and more – to help them thrive.

Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay, Board of Supervisors

“Giving youth access to supportive services as an alternative to arrest and incarceration is both morally imperative and fiscally responsible,” said Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion. “We need to manage our resources smartly, and be more humane and less militaristic in dealing with young people so they can lead better lives and be an asset to their communities.”

“The best juvenile system is one that keeps kids out of it in the first place,” added the motion’s coauthor, Supervisor Janice Hahn. “With the action we are taking today, our County departments are going to better work together to keep children out of court and in school.”

Dr. Robert Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment, a nonprofit that works extensively with youth in the juvenile justice system, expressed “enthusiastic support” for the motion. He said, “We know that punishment doesn’t work when it comes to helping young people who are struggling, as health conditions – many rooted in childhood trauma – are often at the root of the behavior that leads them to the justice system in the first place.”

The Board voted to accept the recommendations and strategies of A Roadmap for Advancing Youth Diversion in Los Angeles County developed by its Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee. It also called for creating a Youth Diversion and Development division within the Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR).

“Since its creation two years ago, the ODR has successfully diverted more than 1,300 adults from the County’s jails,” noted Judge Peter Espinoza (Ret.), director of the ODR. “What has been missing from this work has been a dedicated effort to keep young people out of the justice system. By launching this youth diversion and development work at ODR, the County is poised to offer a continuum of supportive services to the entire community and further reduce arrests and incarceration.”

Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas underscored the achievement by adding, “By launching this work, Los Angeles County can and will lead the nation in promoting youth wellbeing, addressing racial disparities, and embracing cost-effective approaches.”

L-R: Office of Child Protection Director, Judge Michael Nash (Ret.); Office of Diversion and Reentry Director, Judge Peter Espinoza (Ret.); The California Endowment President and CEO Dr. Robert Ross; and LA County Assistant CEO Fesia Davenport, testifying in support of the  motion. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

National Honor for LA County
Plan to Fight Homelessness

L-R: LA County Homeless Initiative Director Phil Ansell, CEO Sachi Hamai and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, joined by National Alliance to End Homelessness President and CEO Nan Roman and the event emcee, PBS News Hour anchor Judy Woodruff. All photos by Larry Levin.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness honored Los Angeles County at its 2017 Innovation and Excellence Awards in Washington D.C.

The Alliance praised the County’s Homeless Initiative and Measure H, which over the next five years is expected to end homelessness for about 45,000 individuals and families, and prevent homelessness for 30,000 more.

“Ending homelessness in any community demands a relentless focus on innovation and pursuit of excellence,” Alliance President and CEO Nan Roman said. “This year’s awardees demonstrate the power and potential to create lasting change and put us on the road to ending homelessness.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas accepted the award on behalf of the County, accompanied by County Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai, and Homeless Initiative Director Phil Ansell.

“The County is honored to be recognized nationally for developing the Homeless Initiative and providing an ongoing source of revenue through Measure H that will put us on a path to prevent and end homelessness,” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said. “We have much to do, but thanks to the voters and support from a broad-based coalition of community partners, we’re confident we can finally address this humanitarian crisis head on with the resources needed to effect real change.”

The Alliance said the Homeless Initiative collected broad-based community input on how to focus the County’s efforts to end homelessness. The Board, acting on motions principally authored by Chairman Ridley-Thomas, then declared a state of emergency on homelessness and adopted an ordinance to authorize a quarter-cent countywide special sales tax. The ballot measure, known as Measure H, passed with support from almost 70 percent of voters and is expected to raise $355 million in annual revenue over the next decade to combat homelessness.

During the ceremony, awards were also handed out to the Oxford Street Shelter in Portland, Maine, and to the Central City Concern in Portland, Oregon.

The Alliance is nonprofit and nonpartisan organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the U.S. It analyzes policy and develops pragmatic, cost-effective policy solutions; works collaboratively with the public, private and nonprofit sectors to build state and local capacity; and provides data and research to policymakers and elected officials to inform policy debates and educate the public and opinion leaders nationwide.

First Forum for Furthering Economic Opportunities

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ridley-Thomas convened a first-ever gathering of 171 leading economic development officials, policy makers, practitioners, and business organizations within the Second Supervisorial District. The event hosted at California State University, Dominguez Hills was initiated to discuss economic development priorities, address challenges, identify solutions, and encourage greater intra-regional collaboration by bringing together academic, business, community, and governmental leaders across a diverse district of eight cities and nearly two million residents.

“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas during his keynote address. “Today, we are looking to you to bring forward innovative and creative solutions to the challenges we face creating sustainable, well-paying jobs.”

Fostering economic prosperity has been a long standing priority for the Second District.   Evidence of the County’s commitment includes the County’s new small business assistance programs, a commitment to local hire, and facilitating transit oriented development.  Additionally, the neighboring cities of Compton and Inglewood were recently selected as finalists in the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation’s annual competition for Most Business-Friendly City.

In addition to the keynote, the forum featured an address from Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price, an overview of the regional economy by the Economics Institute of CSUDH, an informative panel discussion on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship and a presentation on the thriving sports economy that is taking hold across the Second District by SVP of the Los Angeles Football Club, Mr. Benny Tran.

A recent report by LA Biocom demonstrated the important role of bioscience in boosting the local economy, generating more than $40.3 billion in economic activity and supporting more than 69,000 direct jobs and 162,000 indirect jobs.

“Many may see bioscience as a ‘lab coat’ industry, but in reality it provides job opportunities at all levels,” the Chairman said.

The forum also addressed the important role of health services, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, and expanding sports and entertainment in strengthening the economy.

“Think outside the box and be bold in bringing forward ideas that will help our collective efforts to bring hope and opportunity to all in Los Angeles County,” the Chairman said.

A critical component of the economic forum were four working sessions focused on specific topics, including Access to Capital; Education, Training & Workforce Development; Housing; and Technology Infrastructure.  The Supervisor looks forward to receiving the recommendations from each group and working with all interested parties to implement plans that can strengthen the district’s regional economy.

LA County Seeks to Host Amazon Headquarters

Amazon corporate office building in Sunnyvale, California (credit: Getty Images)

On a motion by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board voted unanimously to partner with the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) to support a bid to host Amazon’s second corporate headquarters in Los Angeles County.  The Board also approved a motion by Supervisors Solis and Barger to report back to the Board with recommendations for potential sites for Amazon’s headquarters.

Chairman Ridley-Thomas speaks at the September 19 Board of Supervisors meeting. All Board photos by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

On September 7, Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, announced they were shopping for a home for their second $5-billion corporate headquarters with initially at least 500,000 square feet.

“This could be a game changer. Los Angeles County has already become a world-class destination for technology companies, and we expect Amazon’s presence to continue to improve economic stability and expansion throughout the region,” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said.

On September 11, 2017, Bill Allen, President of the LAEDC, and Chairman Ridley-Thomas, co-authored a letter to key stakeholders throughout Los Angeles County, in an effort to initiate collaborative support for submitting a bid to Amazon.

(Left to Right) Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation CEO Bill Allen, Chairman Ridley-Thomas, and Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design Dean Michael Woo

“This should send a message to other large employers that we are serious about doing business in Los Angeles County,” the Chairman said.

Within Southern California, Los Angeles County will be competing with the counties of Orange, San Diego, and Riverside/San Bernardino.

“At LAEDC, we believe LA County offers an extremely compelling mix for Amazon,” said LAEDC CEO Bill Allen. “We have been working with Chairman Ridley-Thomas and the Board to explore key incentives that may be needed in this competitive environment.”

Should Los Angeles be chosen, Amazon is expected to generate 50,000 full-time jobs with an average annual total compensation of over $100,000 resulting in $750 million in economic benefit to the region over the next 15 years.