Supervisor Shows Support for New Federal Sex Trafficking Bill

Girl Traff

I would like to commend Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for authoring the Combat Human Trafficking Act, which was introduced this week in the United States Senate. The bill seeks to penalize adults who buy sex from trafficking victims and strengthen victim’s rights. While many federal, state and local efforts have focused mainly on prosecuting the traffickers, it is time we start looking at the buyers who fuel this crime. After all, sex trafficking is a demand-driven industry.

The Combat Human Trafficking Act would ensure that federal law enforcement officials are properly trained to investigate and then prosecute these buyers. It also views those who are being trafficked for what they are: exploited women and children-not criminals.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that up to 83 percent of sex trafficking victims are American citizens, and the average victim is first trafficked between ages 12 and 14.There are few topics more disturbing than the buying and selling of children for sex. Unfortunately, our society is still misinformed about this issue. Many still refer to it as prostitution. But, this is modern day slavery and a multi-billion dollar industry driven by unscrupulous adults.

We must put an end to this notion that people—mostly women, girls and boys—are commodities to be bought and sold. This bill will help protect victims while punishing the adults who profit and derive enjoyment from this despicable trade.

Helping Former Inmates Re-Enter Society Successfully

Life Skills

Helping former inmates re-enter society and avoid going back to jail can be challenging unless they receive support and services from agencies with proven track records.

And so, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe authored a plan to identify multi-year funding and develop a competitive bidding process for agencies that work with this population and have demonstrated success in keeping them from re-offending.

“Our county needs proven service providers to continue doing the work they do,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “The county benefits from their work and so we need to support them in a consistent and equitable way that takes into account the successful models they use. Reducing recidivism is important for public safety, it is cost effective and it is humane.”

Many individuals who have been incarcerated for violent, gang related crime are more likely to go back to jail upon their release because many have themselves been victims of violence in their communities and within their own families; most have spent time in the County’s foster care system and juvenile detention facilities; and they have significant substance abuse and mental health issues that make it difficult to transition well into a productive life.

However, there are promising service models out there that have had success in preventing recidivism. For example, a report from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) that studied the non-profit, gang intervention organization, Homeboy Industries, noted that Homeboy’s holistic approach to helping ex-offenders with job referrals, mental health counseling, housing options and skills training in an easy one-stop shop, has been largely successful. However, that model does not neatly fit into the requirements for government funding.

The Board of Supervisors has asked the Chief Executive’s office to work with the Department of Probation and County Counsel report back early next year with the best method to continually fund organizations that have proven to be successful.

CicLAvia Comes to South Los Angeles

ciclavia3
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 www.ciclavia.org.

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, trails.lacounty.gov 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 trails.lacounty.gov 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.

Metro Board Hopes to Expand Affordable Housing Near Transit Stations

Aff Housing

Knowing that affordable housing is one of the most urgent needs in Los Angeles County, the Metro Board of Directors moved forward with an initiative to partner with local communities to build more affordable housing near transit stations.

The plan, recently approved by the board, and authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Director Mike Bonin and Director Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, includes taking an inventory of current and future affordable housing joint development opportunities resulting from the Gold Line and Expo Extensions and the Crenshaw/LAX, Regional Connector, and Purple Line Extension Projects.

To date, nearly 550 units, or 25 percent of all units, developed through MTA’s Joint Development Program are affordable units. Last year, MTA joined with the California Community Foundation and the California Endowment to study the status of affordable housing financing resources in Los Angeles County and the role that other major transit agencies nationwide have played in affordable housing.

“Providing affordable housing to low income residents is one of my top priorities,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Decent, stable housing is one of the most essential elements for any human being to thrive. These developments are conveniently located and allow for easy access to transit in a low cost and environmentally friendly way.”

In addition, the motion seeks to promote co-investment along transit corridors with cities, such as using municipal funds for affordable housing, establishing a policy that 30 percent of all residential units developed on MTA-owned property be affordable housing and establishing a TAP purchase program for future commuters and affordable housing tenants.