- Second District
In a step meant to reduce carbon emissions and improve Los Angeles County’s air quality, on Tuesday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a contract for the International Brotherhood of 848 TCWH to receive $250,000 worth of green improvements to their Long Beach facility. The union was the first business in the county to take advantage of the Los Angeles County Energy Program, which is open to any commercial property owner. Commercial property owners save money through reductions in water and energy usage by installing solar panels, cool roofs, energy efficient lighting and water heaters through the program.
Under the program, instead of paying up front or taking out a traditional bank loan, participating property owners will be able to finance the improvements by adding it to their property tax bill. Also, owners looking to sell don’t need to worry about paying off a loan before the sale, because the assessment stays with the property. Interested property owners can learn more about the program at http://www.lapace.org/.
Over the course of time, the program is designed to reduce greenhouse emissions throughout the region. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 65 percent of electricity consumption and 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. By using viable energy efficiency measures in existing buildings, energy consumption can be reduced as much as 20 percent.
“This program is a cornerstone of Los Angeles County’s mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make our region healthier and more environmentally sound,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion to implement the financing program. “I encourage all commercial property owners and residential property owners to take advantage of the county’s programs and begin saving on their energy costs.”
Residential property owners throughout the county can also take advantage of rebates and financing opportunities to retrofit their homes through the Energy Upgrade California program. To learn more about the program, please visit www.energyupgradeca.org and www.green.lacounty.gov
On Friday, June 21, the sounds of music will echo throughout Los Angeles County in the 2nd annual Make Music LA festival. Whether it is on sidewalks, street corners, parks or schools, musicians will pick up their instruments and participate in the festivities in a celebration of music.
Los Angeles is one of 460 cities, including New York, Palo Alto, Vancouver and Chicago and 110 countries in this unique celebration of the summer solstice. The concerts are free to the public, and it’s free to sign-up to perform. Based on France’s Fête de la Musique, a national musical holiday inaugurated in 1982, the festival has become a worldwide tradition.
Last year in LA County, hundreds of musicians played in concerts, ranging from violin concertos to quartets, throughout the county including at parks, schools, restaurants and libraries. Also, a piano was donated for the day and placed outside the Central Library downtown for any musician to stop by and play. Throughout the day, it was not unusual to catch a glimpse of a chorus on a street corner or a violin player in a doctor’s office. This year, a piano will be available inside the Central Library and in Santa Monica, 100 harmonicas will be given away to anyone eager to learn how to thrum a tune. Donated by Hohner Instruments, the harmonica event will take place at Palisades Park and will be led by Tom Nolan, dean of music at Crossroads School.
“People have an opportunity to share their culture with the entire city,” said Dorsay Dujon founder and chief executive of Make Music LA, a nonprofit. “We live in the entertainment capital of the world. We have more talent per square inch than any other place on the planet. This makes it the perfect event for Los Angeles.”
Nearly 100 cities in Los Angeles County are participating in addition to 72 of Los Angeles City libraries. Participants are encouraged to register at http://makemusicla.org/
The following is a list of locations in the Second District that have registered:
Gabriel, Jose, Viola, Deandre, DeVon, Erica – children who all were abused, neglected, tortured and died while in the custody of those expected to love and care for them -- and failed miserably by their only safety net, Los Angeles County.It’s not that the county hasn’t tried to fix what is obviously a beleaguered child protection system. Over the years the Board of Supervisors has established commissions, panels, committees, an inter-agency council and retained a special investigator; we have inspected, studied, audited and reorganized the Department of Children and Family Services. Seventeen men and women have helmed the agency in the past 25 years.
Picture an earthquake-shattered home rocked loose from its foundation, roof askew, cracks in its walls and contents in such stormy disarray that they threaten injury to those the house is meant to shelter. And our well-meant, endless series of reforms efforts? They are the equivalent of addressing the disaster by spackling over the holes, applying paint, laying down new carpet.
Let me be clear, this is not to denigrate either the leadership or earnest efforts of those who have brought their talents to the work of rescuing children in danger. The task of fixing the system is simply beyond the capacities and comprehension of any one person and yes even our board of five. We are neither complacent nor apathetic. These most vulnerable children, placed in our custody by crisis, are our special care and responsibility – the entire board of supervisors is united in this sentiment.
So what to do? Step back, take stock of the entire system and be open to accepting that the structure can no longer be patched and repaired. There are times when government is simply unable to transcend a stagnant, intractable status quo despite its efforts to create a better system.
That’s why both Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and I are calling for the Board to create a special blue ribbon commission to take a hard look at the county’s child protection system, and come up with either new practices to prevent child abuse, or if necessary, a new system itself. In other words, a new house.
Everything should be on the table, including, whether a new agency should be formed that melds some functions now housed in DCFS with those of other agencies. We’ve seen this work at the national level. In 2003, for example, the former federal Immigration and Naturalization Services separated into three agencies: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, all lodged within the newly created Department of Homeland Security. With separation came not only clarity of purpose, but of function, as well as renewed respect.
At the county level, an agency combining units from such departments as DCFS, the Department of Health Services and the Department of Mental Health could the remove barriers to information sharing that now hampers child welfare investigations. These types of questions would be best answered by an independent commission that includes child welfare experts, one not locked into the political and jurisdictional alliances and conflicts that naturally occur in bureaucracies and among elected officials.
The Board of Supervisors might also call on an independent organization, such as the Casey Family Programs, to suggest initial guidelines for the scope of the commission. Doing so could broaden the ambitions of the commission and help set the platform for an objective and a frank review of DCFS.
We have had some success with blue ribbon panels, such as the recently convened Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence. The commission used its independence and expertise to make some necessary tough calls and identify effective path forward to make a better system.
I am not wedded to the idea of creating a new agency; ultimately, that recommendation and others is best made by a panel of child welfare experts. I am, however, committed to seeing that a high quality commission makes a thorough assessment of DCFS. I don’t know what our new structure will look like, but I know for certain the one we have now is badly broken down. No more spackle. Our children deserve better.
What do a former YMCA, the Natural History Museum, a transit center, an elementary school and an elderly care facility have in common? They were five projects in the Second District singled out by the Los Angeles Business Council for architectural awards.
The award ceremony, which has been held for 43 years, has historically honored visionary architects and outstanding projects that enhance the complex urban landscape of Los Angeles County. The Second District, an expansive stretch of the county that reaches from Koreatown in the north to Marina del Rey to the west to East Rancho Dominguez to the east and Carson to the south, garnered significant attention for several projects that pushed the envelope on design and sustainable building innovations.
Of particular interest was the Julius Shulman Emerging Talent Award awarded to three students from Woodbury University, Michael Sotona, Gabriela Colmenares and Jennifer Pope for their design of the a Continuing Care Retirement Community at the MLK Medical Campus in Willowbrook. Their design specifically incorporated the idea of a community, of connecting a good neighborhood feel to the sense of wellness, for the care facility.
Although their winning design was mainly an academic exercise, the campus has also been a prime focus of several firms for the improvement of the Willowbrook community. The Second District recently completed two major studies outlining the potential: an Urban Land Institute design session in June 2009 and master plan completed in mid-2012 by Gensler.
“These master plans arrived at the important conclusion that land use programs for community health campuses extend far beyond hospitals and outpatient clinics alone,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who presented the award to the students. “As a result, we define “health” to include a broad range of uses including education, nutrition, fitness, employment, housing and retail. In effect, a truly healthy community keeps people out of hospitals, although good hospitals must always be available.”
The other winners also incorporated a sense of community into their designs. The 28th Street Apartments, formerly the site of a YMCA and newly designed by Koning Eizenberg Architecture Inc., received the housing multi-family award for their work. Originally designed by African-American architect Frank R. Williams as a sports and recreation venue, the 1928 Spanish Revival-style building was added to the city, state and federal historic registers several years ago and its façade remains much as it was when the building first opened. But today, the building fills a different need: affordable housing. The rehabilitation of the building created 48 studio apartments and includes supportive services for tenants, which will include youth transitioning out of foster care and special needs adults.
The night’s other winners were singled out for their environmentally conscious designs. Playa Vista Elementary School, designed by Osborn Architects, won an award for green building.
The East Rancho Dominguez library, which holds a LEED Platinum designation and is the work of Carde Ten Architects, received the L.A. County Sustainability Award for its eco-friendly construction including the use of solar panels, installation of water efficient facilities, drought resistant landscaping and its pedestrian friendly setting. Continuing the “green” momentum, the Museum of Natural History won best landscape architecture for its use of native and drought tolerant vegetation to beautify the pathways leading in north campus gardens. The firm, Mia Lehrer + Associates, known for their work on other public sites like the Annenberg Community Beach House, designed the meandering decomposed granite pathways in a park-like setting that is visitor friendly.
And then there is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Transit Center in Compton, designed by BASE Architecture. The transit center serves more than 4,000 commuters every day. The architects were able to co-locate several transit spaces together to free up city-owned property for mixed use development.
“These awards represent the very best in design,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “But they exemplify something bigger. Memorable architecture is not just about creating buildings, but about creating destinations and identities for communities. And that is what is happening in the Second District.”
For more architectural sites that define the Second District community, click here.
Berli Degado felt adrift when her father was killed by gang members in her neighborhood seven years ago. She was in high school and she says she struggled with guidance. Many, she said, expected her to fail. But she was motivated to prove them wrong.
Her fate changed when she was selected to participate in a summer-long paid internship called the “Earn and Learn” Summer Youth Employment Program where she learned to use computer programs like Excel and Word. She was taught tricks to filing paperwork and dealing with demanding customers on the phone. Most importantly, she found a mentor to guide her through the labyrinth of college applications and loans.
Due in part to her internship experience, she was accepted into UC Santa Cruz, becoming the first person in her family to attend college.
“I was so stressed because I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “People always say reach higher, but they don’t tell you how. But my mentor guided me through the process and I learned so much.”
This year’s “Earn and Learn” Summer Youth Employment Program will be open to more than 3,100 young people, ages 14-21. Made possible by a $5 million investment by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, $2 million by the City of Los Angeles and the participation of more than 100 private businesses and public organizations, the program is the largest of its kind in the nation.
The program also includes “personal growth” and financial literacy training that is necessary to succeed in today’s competitive economy. A special emphasis will be placed on finding jobs for foster youth, many of whom struggle to find a path after they graduate. According to the bureau of Labor Statistics, the teen unemployment rate is 24.5 percent—three times the national average. Experience and skills gained from internships is an increasingly important asset to land a job. Because so many internships are unpaid, many young people without economic means are at a disadvantage. The Earn and Learn Summer Youth Employment Program are at no cost to the employers.
When 19-year-old Daniel Padron landed an internship with a local Police Activities League two years ago, he didn’t think he would like teaching. But there, he learned how to engage children in learning. He got his current job tutoring at South East High School because of the letters of recommendation he received and the experience he gained working at his summer internship.
“I had to really work hard with them and push education on them,” he said. “I showed them that it could be fun to learn.”
He used those contacts and his experience to continue his own education and is now expecting to transfer from Cerritos College to UC Berkeley in the fall.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who led the county’s efforts to get funding for the program, says investing in youth is a worthwhile endeavor and the program is a great example of public/private partnerships.
“These programs take these young people and say, ‘we have high expectations,’” he told a crowd at the press conference unveiling of the program this week. “The experience these young people will receive is invaluable. We are putting them on a path to successful careers.”
At the press conference, Chairman Ridley-Thomas was joined by Cynthia Banks director of the county’s Community and Senior Services and Dr. Gerald T. Kozai, chief executive of St. Francis Medical Center. The Medical Center will be hiring several youth from throughout the county.
“This program gives life skills to young people that are so necessary in today’s world but it also starts a mentorship,” said Kozai. “As we talk about our commitment to youth, this program is an example of what we want other members of the business community to do.”