Environment, Parks, Libraries

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Placing a Water Quality Funding Measure on the Ballot

“Clean water is critical. Let the voters decide if they want to pay for it or not.”

The Final Step to Constructing the Park to Playa Trail

Rendering of Park to Playa pedestrian bridge over La Cienega Boulevard courtesy of Los Angeles County Public Works.

The Board of Supervisors approved building a pedestrian bridge over La Cienega Boulevard to create the final link in the 13-mile Park to Playa trail that would stretch from the Baldwin Hills to the Pacific Ocean once completed in 2020.

Stoneview Nature Center Ribbon Cutting on April 8, 2017.

The bridge will link the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and Stoneview Nature Center to the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation area. Aside from the bridge, the Board also approved new trails, landscaping, security fencing and wayfinding signage on both sides of the bridge.

“What we are doing here is trailblazing,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “With the Park to Playa trail, South Los Angeles residents finally have a direct route for walking, running or biking through the Baldwin Hills all the way to the beach. It will be good for their minds, bodies and souls.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at Stocker Corridor Trail Dedication on March 4, 2016.

“This bridge will be a dream come true for hundreds of daily trail users in the Baldwin Hills Parklands,” added David McNeill, Executive Officer of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy. “The Conservancy is grateful the final piece of the Park to Playa vision is fully funded and ready to be built for people and wildlife to safely cross La Cienega.” 

The Park to Playa network of trails, parks and open spaces begins along Stocker Street just west of Crenshaw Boulevard, proceeds west through the Baldwin Hills and onto the Ballona Creek to the Ballona Wetlands in Culver City, eventually connecting to the Marvin Braude bicycle path on the beach in Playa del Rey.

The eastern half of the Park to Playa trail is a 6.5-mile system of walking, hiking and biking trails through the Baldwin Hills Parklands. The segment of the trail that connects the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook to the Stoneview Nature Center was completed this summer.

Couple walks a trail at Stoneview Nature Center.

The County Departments of Parks and Recreation and Public Works, the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority have been working together to complete the trail, which spans multiple jurisdictions, including the cities of Culver City and Los Angeles, and State Parks property.

Stoneview Nature Center Grand Opening on April 8, 2017.

Modernizing Los Angeles County’s Voting Infrastructure

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas issued the following statement on June 12, 2018 after the Board of Supervisors authorized contracts advancing the Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) project. Launched in 2009, VSAP’s goal is to modernize Los Angeles County’s aging voting system by creating an improved hand-marked vote-by-mail ballot, an innovative interactive sample ballot, a robust tally system based on modern scalable technologies, and a new ballot marking device.

“The challenges we experienced during the Statewide Direct Primary Election are symptomatic of an aging voting infrastructure that I believe can and will be corrected.

“On June 5, errors in the voter roster caused the County to activate the fail-safe mechanism that is known as the provisional ballot. While this guarantees every eligible voter their constitutional right to cast a ballot that will, in fact, be counted, it is well understood that people generally do not like how it feels to deal with a provisional ballot. It makes one feel as though voting is provisional rather than constitutional, and the experience raises a degree of angst that is certainly understandable.

“It is fair to say that the current voting infrastructure is ill-equipped to provide the kind of voting experience that inspires the level of confidence that we know is necessary. This Board and the staff at the County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk want every single eligible voter – some 5 million in the County of Los Angeles – to know that we mean business in securing and protecting the constitutional right to vote. Many people fought, bled and died so that we can enjoy this right, and the County of Los Angeles has an obligation to ensure it is fully appreciated.

“Since 2009, the County has invested significant efforts to dissect and redesign a voting experience sensitive to and, you might even say, hyper-focused on, the voter’s needs and requirements in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. This is not a negotiable set of circumstances. It is what we can and must do.

“I think it is appropriate that we continue the effort to create voting infrastructure that lets people vote on more than one day and at any voting center, vote on fully accessible voting equipment, vote on the same day they register, and vote on better vote-by-mail ballots.

“Part of that work is what’s being advanced today. The culmination of these efforts should raise the level of confidence in our voting infrastructure and ensure that the experience we had this past week won’t repeat itself.”

39 Bells: Los Angeles Remembers
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

From Pasadena to Pomona and Leimert Park to San Pedro, bells rang in communities across Los Angeles County to solemnly commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The MLK 50 Bell Toll, part of a nationwide observance, inspired strong emotions that spanned generations.

Conceived by the National Civil Rights Museum, the MLK 50 Bell Toll inspired places of worship, college campuses, and institutions around the world to have their bells toll 39 times to mark the number of years that the civil rights leader lived. The simultaneous ringing began at the moment of Dr. King’s death, which was 4:01 PST.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas worked with the Board of Supervisors to coordinate the local tributes, saying, “In just 39 years, Dr. King accomplished more than most accomplish in a lifetime.”

Among those who participated in the MLK 50 Bell Toll are:

  • All Saints Church in Pasadena;
  • African American Museum of Beginnings in Pomona;
  • Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles;
  • Hollywood United Methodist Church in Hollywood;
  • Holy Assembly Church of God in Christ in Pasadena;
  • Korean Bell of Friendship in San Pedro;
  • Loyola Marymount University; and
  • Transfiguration Catholic Church in Leimert Park.

A Mountaintop Monument for Peace and Justice

Fifty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., hundreds of community members dedicated a Memorial Tree Grove in his honor at the highest point of the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Baldwin Hills, overlooking downtown Los Angeles.

Rev. James Lawson and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, with Shine Mawusi Drummers, lead a processional toward the dedication ceremony. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors.

“Today, we meet Dr. King at the mountaintop,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “I believe once you experience the Memorial Tree Grove here at the very top of Hahn Park, you will find few other spaces that so peacefully and so exquisitely facilitate reflection in his honor.”

He added, “There is no other individual who  has inspired us, challenged us, and motivated us to create a world filled with more civility, equality and dignity.”

Rev. James Lawson, who was with Dr. King on the day of his death, delivered the keynote speech at the dedication ceremony. Noting the lofty perch of the memorial for the civil rights icon, he said, “We’re trying to set a high mark, and our standards ought to be high, because to become a people of self governance, where the dignity of every human being is recognized, is a lofty and noble vision that requires our finest minds, our finest spirits, if it is to be accomplished.”

Rev. James Lawson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 15,000-sq. ft. tree grove features an obelisk that evokes memories of the site where Dr. King delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The obelisk and the path leading up to it are inscribed with some of the civil rights icon’s most inspiring words.

With sweeping vistas of downtown Los Angeles, the tree grove will be a highlight of the 13-mile Park to Playa trail now under construction, slated to connect the beach to the Baldwin Hills by 2020.

Several of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most inspiring quotes are displayed in the tree grove named after him in the Baldwin Hills. Photo by Mayra /Countywide Communications.

The dedication ceremony, held to culminate the Season for Nonviolence, featured the Xipe Totec Aztec Dancers, World Stage Executive Director Dwight Trible, Shine Mawusi Drummers, and Now Art LA Flag Troupe.

Community leaders included City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and leaders of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy and Mujeres de la Tierra; LA County Departments of Public Works, and Parks and Recreation; LA City Department of Water and Power; and the Empowerment Congress.

“Our department is honored that our urban jewel, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, was chosen to showcase a beautiful memorial overlooking the city of Los Angeles that commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” LA Department of Parks and Recreation Director John Wicker said.

Mujeres de la Tierra founder Irma Munoz added, “This magnificent memorial reflects the spirit and inspiration of the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Tree Grove at the highest point of the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. Photo by Mayra Vasquez/Countywide Communications