Fast-Tracking the Permitting Process for Bioscience Research and Entrepreneurial Space

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to streamline the process for bioscience, biomedicine, and biotechnology companies to set up shop in Los Angeles County’s unincorporated communities, which span 2,600 square miles.  The motion directs the Department of Regional Planning to examine the feasibility and legality of creating an overlay zone to help fast-track the entitlement and permitting process for bioscience incubators, research facilities, and wet and dry labs.

“We need to make it easy to attract bioscience companies to the County,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We know bioscience stimulates regional job growth and can lift our residents out of poverty.”

Next month, the Supervisor will take another major step to champion the bioscience and life science industry as an economic engine in LA County. This industry currently generates more than $40 billion in economic activity annually, supports 70,000 direct jobs and 160,000 indirect jobs, and has tremendous potential for creating even more jobs – at all skill levels.

On September 20, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas will host the first Los Angeles County 2018 Bioscience LA Summit, with more than 200 bioscience entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, clinicians and students expected to attend.

The summit will present achievable solutions for fully realizing the potential of the bioscience industry, as well as highlight recent achievements and accomplishments. Panels will include LA’s Bioscience Ecosystem, Nurturing Success, Building a Trained Workforce to Support the Industry, and Bioscience Action Plan for Los Angeles. The Summit will include a keynote presentation about Synthetic Biology by Indie Bio Program Director Ryan Bethencourt.

Rendering of 350,000-sq. ft. Bioscience Tech Park envisioned on LA County’s Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has been a leader in the creation of a 15-acre biotech park on the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus, funding a bioscience incubator at LA BioMed, and seeking increased investments in bioscience startups and workforce development. Recently, the County appointed two executives to take charge of its County’s bioscience initiative to stimulate both the local and regional economy.

Additionally, as part of its economic development strategy, the County has set aside $15 million to incentivize the creation of a bioscience investment fund focused on startups. The County is also looking to create a nonprofit organization – BioLA – with a primary mission of coordinating investment and implement policies that support the growth of the bioscience industry. Building on LA County’s significant assets in research and talent development, BioLA would send a strong, highly visible signal that Los Angeles County is committed to becoming a major player in commercial life sciences.

Rendering of LA BioMed at LA County’s Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus

Taking the Lead on Bioscience

Rendering of 350,000-sq. ft. Bioscience Tech Park envisioned on LA County’s Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus.

Los Angeles County appointed two executives to jumpstart the local bioscience industry, with the ultimate goal of creating thousands of jobs and stimulating the regional economy.


Dr. Brad Spellberg

LAC+USC Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Spellberg has been named the County’s medical director for bioscience. As part of his new role, Spellberg will help establish biotech parks throughout the county, in partnership with public and private entities, the academe and nonprofits.

Douglas Baron, a senior member of the County Chief Executive Office, has been named the County’s business development director for bioscience. He will lead efforts to identify, attract, grow and retain businesses operating in the bioscience sector.

“Brad and Doug have the vision and practical know-how to advance our goal of supporting new enterprises and local job growth by tapping our region’s world-class research,” said the County’s Chief Executive Officer, Sachi Hamai, who announced the appointments.


Douglas Baron

Spellberg and Baron will work to create an organization that would serve as an entrepreneurial hub for government, research institutions and the private sector. This new organization would bring the county’s diverse bioscience resources together collaboratively to accelerate startup activity and amplify economic opportunity throughout the region.

“This approach will foster a vibrant business ecosystem that can help us realize the bioscience industry’s full potential as an economic engine,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has championed the creation of a 15-acre biotech park on the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus, funded a bioscience incubator at LA BioMed, and sought increased investments in bioscience startups and workforce development.

“In Los Angeles County, the bioscience and life science industry generates more than $40 billion in economic activity annually and supports 70,000 direct jobs as well as 160,000 indirect jobs while having the potential to create even more—at all skill levels,” he added.

Bioscience creates jobs for scientists and entrepreneurs, as well as young and mid-skilled workers. The industry has proven resilient even in the face of economic downturns and was the only sector that continued to grow during the Great Recession.

With a $7.6-billion budget dedicated to health services, the County is uniquely positioned to help startups that are developing new devices, processes and therapies to improve health and quality of life. The County will draw on extensive research it has commissioned to identify where investments will make the greatest impact, including:

  • Providing capital funding for local bioscience incubators;
  • Developing a biotech park on the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Campus;
  • Establishing a bioscience investment fund for early-stage startups in Los Angeles County; and
  • Partnering with community colleges and industry leaders to implement life sciences apprenticeship programs.

“Like many growing fields in which Los Angeles County is at the forefront, bioscience creates jobs and saves lives,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “With bioscience a cornerstone of the LAC+USC ‘Healthy Village,’ we are providing our communities with access to world-class integrated health delivery. Brad and Doug’s efforts will support and expand our work to provide jobs and health care to all, and I am excited to celebrate their future successes.”

“With world-renowned tech giants including Caltech, pioneering biotech companies and visionary start-ups, Los Angeles County is leading the nation in innovation, research and development,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger.  “The county’s efforts to partner with research institutions and the private sector will result in greater economic growth, job creation and collateral success.”

Rendering of LA BioMed at LA County’s Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus

Vermont/Manchester Hosts First Neighborhood Event

Participant reviewing development plan for Vermont Manchester. All photos by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

More than 200 people braved the heat wave over the weekend and ventured to the corner of Vermont and Manchester for an afternoon of family-friendly fun and refreshments, as well as a chance to share their vision for a multimillion-dollar development at the site, which had been vacant for more than a quarter century.

Members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority team and Vermont Manchester stakeholders.

Sponsored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the neighborhood event was facilitated in partnership with the Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and the Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN). Having worked together to take control of the long-vacant property, the Supervisor, Councilman and Metro joined forces to meet residents, hear their ideas for the upcoming development, and celebrate what has been lightning-fast progress for the long-empty corner.

At the end of April, the courts granted the County control of the site. Soon after, the Supervisor had the burned-out building, left there since 1992, demolished. Weed abatement and removal came next, and Saturday’s community event was only the first of several planned in coming months to engage the neighborhood on immediate opportunities to activate the site, and their feedback on the ultimate design and amenities for the development.

Malcolm Harris greets interested stakeholder.

“This project is about economic development — the kind of sustainable, ongoing investment this community has long deserved,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “We want to make sure that residents and other stakeholders have a chance to be a part of history in the making. We want to collectively design and construct a project that uplifts this community.”

“The fact that more than 200 people braved 100-degree heat to tell us their aspirations for the Vermont and Manchester site shows the depth of the community’s commitment to this project,” KDI Project Manager Naria Kiani said. “Going forward, we will host a series of engagement activities and events to provide additional opportunities for residents to be heard.”

Slated for the 4.2-acre site are: 180 affordable apartments, California’s first urban public boarding school, a transit careers training center, open space and 50,000 square foot of retail space. The housing will significantly bolster the area’s supply of available units, and the school already is poised to become a one-of-a-kind pipeline for graduates seeking lucrative careers in the transportation field. Many other elements, however, remain to be decided.

Throughout the four-hour event, everyone was invited to stop by a stand with colored blocks — green for restaurants, yellow for grocery stories, red for job training — to provide feedback on their priority for retail shops in the development. Most people chose a small grocery store and a job training center.

Visitors were also asked to weigh on the proposed name and design of the development, as well as provide general feedback regarding what features were priorities for them to have as part of the project.

Despite the brilliant summer sun, there was a festive mood under the shaded canopies that protected people from the sun’s glare. People cooled off with copious amounts of ice water and cups of free ice cream, and enjoyed hot dogs and french fries provided by Earle’s (formerly Earlez Grille).

“In the last month, I’ve seen more action on this site than I have since I was a child,” said Moises Rosales, president of the Southeast Neighborhood Association. “It’s progress for the community and powerful for our children to see this. I’m hoping it’s going to be a catalyst for all of Vermont,” he added, waving a hand toward the avenue.

Richard Benbow, retired chief operating officer of the Los Angeles City Community Redevelopment Agency, said, “We are celebrating this tremendous project – it’s very much needed and represents an amazing step in the recovery of this community. This has been a long time coming.”

(Left to Right) Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Larry Broussard, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Time and again, community members returned to the themes of economic recovery, job training and community rebirth.

“What I see here is hope. It will be a godsend,” said Pastor Anthony Williams, of the 88th Street Temple Church of God in Christ located a few blocks south of the site. In particular, the presence of a school oriented toward transportation careers will, he believes, catalyze job training and economic investment for the community.

Harris-Dawson, former executive director of the nearby Community Coalition, spoke to both the past and the future, noting the new project ends more than two decades of “nullification, excuses and disappointments” — something that gives everyone reason to celebrate.

Rendering of proposed Vermont Manchester project.

Building Metro’s Future Workforce at Vermont & Manchester

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, behind the podium at center, celebrates with Metro’s Transportation Career Academy Program interns after a press conference announcing the creation of a Transportation School at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Manchester Boulevard in South LA. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors

The Board of Supervisors authorized negotiating with the SEED Foundation to operate a one-of-a-kind charter boarding school focused on preparing youth for careers in the transportation industry in partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The Transportation School will be the centerpiece of a mixed-use development envisioned on 4.2 acres at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Manchester Boulevard in South Los Angeles. The project will also include retail, affordable housing, a workforce training center, and other amenities.

Metro CEO Phillip Washington and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with renderings of the Vermont Manchester project. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the Transportation School will prepare local youth, particularly those within Los Angeles County’s safety net, to join the workforce of the future. It will not only provide a college preparatory education but also wraparound services, particularly for students involved with the County’s Departments of Children and Family Services and Probation, and students who have experienced homelessness.

“SEED has an impressive track record operating several successful public boarding schools,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Their high-quality curricula will prepare students not just for college, but for life.”

L-R: Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, LA County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Duardo, and Metro Transportation Career Academy Program Student Sumaiya Sabnam. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors.

Established 20 years ago, the SEED Foundation is the nation’s first and only network of public, college-preparatory boarding schools designed for students who need — and deserve — a 24-hour learning environment to achieve their full potential.

“We are deeply committed to working with the neighborhood and to making sure that this school is a tremendous community asset,” said Anita Landecker, president & CEO of ExED, one of the SEED Foundation’s proposed partners for the Transportation School.

Noelle, an 18-year-old foster youth, told the Supervisors that a boarding school would have been a tremendous benefit to someone like her. Since entering the foster care system at age 11, she has had to attend 18 different schools and stay in 10 foster homes, nine group homes and three shelters. Noelle currently has a three-hour commute between her current group home and school.

L-R: Pastor Anthony Williams, Anita Landecker and Noelle testify before the Board of Supervisors. Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors.

“I never had the option of going to a boarding school. I never had the option of making stable relationships with my teachers and peers at school, because of all the moving,” Noelle told the Board. “When you move a lot, you begin to just shut out people because you know you’re going to leave and you know you won’t be able to keep these connections. It was hard.”

With Measure M expected to generate enough funds to support 778,000 new transportation jobs over the next 40 years, and almost 40 percent of its employees eligible for retirement over the next two and a half years, Metro is sorely in need of well-trained workers. The Transportation School, serving youth from 9th through 12th grade, will be an entry point into Metro’s career Workforce Development Initiative.

Supporters of the Transportation Project. Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors.

Metro CEO Phillip Washington stressed, however, that students will have a wide range of career opportunities upon graduation. “What we’re talking about here is a Transportation School, not just a transit school,” he testified before the Board. “We’re talking about ports and aviation, and getting young people in Los Angeles County ready for careers in the global transportation industry.”

Los Angeles County took possession of the Vermont and Manchester lot in May after a judge approved its use of eminent domain. By then, the lot had been vacant for much of the last 26 years, since sustaining damage in the 1992 Civil Unrest.

Rendering of proposed Vermont Manchester project by Killefer Flammang Architects.

Several members of the community blessed the vision for the Transportation School. Pastor Anthony Williams of the 88th Street Temple Church of God in Christ said, “We need hope, we need opportunity, we need jobs, and this school is going to uplift the community.”

Robert Rubin, executive director of the Vermont Village Community Development Corporation, said that while he found it “surreal” to finally see activity on a lot that had been vacant for a quarter century, “it’s very refreshing to know that we have a great opportunity to succeed this time around.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Metro CEO Phillip Washington with Metro’s Transportation Career Academy Program interns participating in a “visioning exercise” at the future site of a Transportation School in South LA. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors.

County’s Multi-Pronged Affordable Housing Strategy Yields 3,300 New Affordable Apartments

By putting in a down payment of $182 million, Los Angeles County has leveraged $1.7 billion in public and private funds towards the construction of 3,362 affordable apartments over the last five years, two-thirds of which were reserved for people struggling with homelessness, mental illness and physical disabilities.

According to a report by the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (CDC/HACoLA), every dollar put in by the County over the last five years has been matched sixfold by public and private funders. Encouraged by this success, the County is ramping up its investment in building and preserving affordable apartments.

Tiki Apartments. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

“Since last year, Los Angeles County has tripled its investment in affordable apartments to $90 million, providing desperately needed help to many of our neighbors struggling with homelessness,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Given the magnitude of the crisis, we must continue to scale up our response and use every tool at our disposal, from financial incentives and streamlined entitlements to creative policymaking.”

“As The Bible says, ‘where there is no vision the people perish,’ and I am very proud that the Board of Supervisors has had the vision to make a significant new investment in affordable housing and are beginning to see the results,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, chair of the Board. “Our homeless crisis is fed by our affordable housing crisis, and so the County has embarked on addressing the homeless/affordable housing crisis in many ways. We have not solved the problem yet, but every time we house 1,000 people, that’s 1,000 more people who are stably housed and not on the street or at risk of falling into homelessness. Today’s report reflects visionary and innovative work and we will continue this work until we solve our housing problems.”

Athens Vistas Groundbreaking Ceremony. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

As one of the largest public housing authorities in the country, CDC/HACoLA also helped house 21,000 low-income households through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program; 1,418 special needs households through the Continuum of Care Program, which primarily serves people who are homeless, or struggling with mental health issues and/or physical disabilities; and 1,754 veterans in households through Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers. From program inception to date, through Measure H, the County’s Homeless Incentive Program has helped 850 formerly homeless individuals, families and veterans find housing by providing incentives to landlords.

Architectural model of Skid Row Housing Trust development. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors.

“Through initiatives both large and small, we are helping to close the 568,000-unit gap in affordable housing and bring people home through preservation and development,” Monique King-Viehland, Executive Director of CDC/HACoLA, shared. “And as a County of our size, we need big initiatives so that people go home.”

Additionally, homeowner programs, administered by the CDC/HACoLA, have assisted 171 homeowners throughout the County and provided more than $41 million in funding to facilitate homeownership countywide, with an emphasis on low- to moderate-income households, in Fiscal Year 2017-18. In the same time frame, the County has provided $4.6 million in preservation services to more than 200 low- to moderate-income households, primarily seniors, through a variety of homeownership improvement strategies.

CDC/HACoLA, in coordination with the County Chief Executive Office, reported on the status of affordable housing preservation and development at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

GETTING EVERYONE IN_A Snapshort of Supportive Housing_June 2018(2)

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas poses with residents of LINC Housing’s Mosaic Gardens at Willowbrook. Photo by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors