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Rosa Parks Station to get Do-Over

2015-05-21 LA Metro Vu04 Aerial comp (reduced)

The 25-year-old Rosa Parks Transit Station will soon be undergoing a major facelift. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is currently completing the environmental review for a proposed $66 million renovation to the station.

With more than 30,000 riders using the station weekly, it is one of the busiest in the system. Unfortunately, it is also one of the oldest and the least welcoming. The proposed changes will turn the station into a first-class transit hub, including moving the front door of the station farther south so that it’s not under the freeway.

As part of the master plan, new amenities such as a customer service center, a plaza for community events, a hub for bikes and car sharing programs, retail spaces and a Sheriff’s Substation are being proposed in addition to other safety and lighting upgrades.

The improvements to the station are all part of a grander vision to transform the Willowbrook Community. The station is a block away from the MLK Medical Campus.  Los Angeles County has invested more than $600 million to create a first class, preventive care medical campus that includes an Outpatient Center, Mental Health Urgent Care Center and a Center for Public Health.  The new, privately run Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, is scheduled to open this summer and will bring more health services to the campus.

A new library and senior housing will be built on the corner of 118th and Wilmington Avenue, to continue creating a walkable, livable community.

“We need to celebrate public transit and make it easier and more attractive for riders to get to the station,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “That is why we are coupling the improvements at the station with walking and biking improvements in the area. Our efforts will leave a legacy for years to come and will benefit generations of Los Angeles County residents.”

Learning to Swim

swimThousands of youngsters can learn to swim for free or reduced prices through Summer Swim program sponsored by the nonprofit, LA84 Foundation.  More than 20,000 children are expected to participate in the program, which will be available at 100 Los Angeles County and Ventura County pools beginning in June.

Leading sports retailer Big 5 Sporting Goods has agreed to co-sponsor the program by providing discounts on goggles and swim gear to participants. Over the past 30 years, more than 300,000 young people in Los Angeles County have learned to swim through the Summer Swim program.

Going to the beach or a pool in summer is a Southern California tradition. But for too many, the water is dangerous. According to USA Swimming, 70% of African American children and 60% of Latino children cannot swim. Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death among children and young adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“We are thankful to Big 5,” said Anita L. DeFrantz, president of the LA84 Foundation. “With this level of support we are literally saving lives.”

Veronica Flores, a graduate of the Summer Swim program, says she was able to attend college in part because she learned to swim and became a lifeguard—a job that helped pay her tuition.

“The swimming program and being a lifeguard helps develop character and good sportsmanship,” said Flores, a Manual Arts High School grad and the first in her family to attend college. “I am now working with kids so that they can also learn and can persevere.”

Endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Olympic Games, the LA84 Foundation is providing over $400,000 in grants for the program. This year, Big 5 is providing discounts on goggles and swim gear to participants and will provide giveaways at all major Summer Swim events.

For more information please visit: http://www.la84.org/


Board Regulates Yard Sales Countywide


Hoping to reduce blight and ensure equal footing for brick and mortar businesses, the Board of Supervisors has agreed to regulate yard sales countywide allowing property owners the flexibility to have them often but with a permit.

The new regulation, which will go into effect this fall, will allow for more yard sales annually, but also create more efficient enforcement protocols, if necessary. The proposed ordinance allows property owners to have unlimited yard sales on one designated weekend a month, and two other yard sales a year with a no-cost permit. The County’s current yard sale policy restricts residents to two yard sales in any 12-month period but has not been enforced. Residents may begin applying through Los Angeles County’s regional planning website when the program launches.

Residents will receive two warnings and the opportunity to retroactively register their yard sale on a non-designated date. Upon their third violation, residents would have to pay a $712 non-compliance fee.

“In too many of our unincorporated areas, frequent yard sales effectively function as small businesses, creating a disadvantage for regulated, law abiding businesses,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion. “Many property owners have complained that these neighborhood yard sales create blight. This initiative is a fair compromise that will allow yard sales to continue in a regulated way.”

Preparing for An Emergency


LA County Firefighters providing CPR training during America’s PrepArathon Community Day at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood on April 30. Credit: Rosemary Viviero, LACoFD

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is urging residents throughout the Second District to participate in at least one of several emergency preparedness events taking place this spring and summer to help them emerge safely from a disaster.

On May 28, the supervisor and the Empowerment Congress will host “Living on the Line: A Faultful Discussion on the Newport-Inglewood Fault” at Exposition Park, 700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles.

“It’s imperative that everyone takes precautions to keep themselves, their loved and their homes safe,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “The better prepared we are as a community for emergencies and disasters, the better we’ll be able to recover from it.”

The Newport–Inglewood Fault, near Culver City, Inglewood, Gardena, Compton, Signal Hill, Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, is said to be capable of a catastrophic magnitude 6.0-7.4 earthquake. US Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones, Ph.D., and Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) emergency program manager Mariela Balam will lead the discussion at 3pm. For further info, call (213) 741-9166.

OEM emergency program manager and public information officer Kenneth Kondo said it’s important for everyone, but particularly seniors, persons with disabilities, and others with access and functional needs, to take part in emergency preparedness training.

“We encourage Los Angeles County residents, schools and businesses to do one actionable disaster preparedness step,” Mr. Kondo said. “This includes participating in a drop-cover-and-hold-on drill, filling out or creating a disaster preparedness plan for themselves, their families and their businesses; learning or being trained on how to be a community emergency response team volunteer; learning hands-on CPR training; and encouraging their friends, family members and work colleagues to prepare for future emergencies and disasters.”

On May 30, June 6 and June 13, the University of Southern California will teach 65 people who live in and around the campus to become members of its newest Community Emergency Response Team, ready to help their neighbors in a disaster until firefighters, paramedics and other professional first responders arrive.

“Volunteers can provide 99 percent of the initial aid in a disaster,” USC Fire Safety and Emergency Planning Director Bill Regenburger, Ph.D., said. “We’ll train them to put out a fire with an actual fire extinguisher, provide first aid, and perform basic search and rescue.”

USC Cert (1)

The University of Southern California trained people living in and around its campus to join its Community Emergency Response Team. Credit: William Regensburger, PhD., USC

To date, all 65 slots for each 9am-3pm training session at Caruso Catholic Center in USC have already been filled. For more info, contact: (213) 740-6197.

Also on May 30, the South LA Teen CERT Collaborative will provide free CPR and first aid training from 9am-3pm at the Los Angeles City Council’s 15th District field office on 10221 Compton Avenue in Watts. For more info, contact: (323) 568-8762.

On June 6, the Empowerment Congress Central Neighborhood Council will organize an Emergency Preparedness Resource Fair at the Jackie Tatum Harvard Recreation Center. Organizer Gwen Wood said, “I hope everybody is thinking about emergency preparedness because we don’t know what’s coming our way.”

“A lot of people in our community think first responders will come to their aid quickly during a disaster, but that might not be possible,” she added. “We’re encouraging people to store enough food and supplies so they can take care of themselves for at least a week, if not longer.”

The 10am-2pm event will be held at 1535 W. 62nd Street in Los Angeles. It will coincide with the recreation center opening its swimming pools for the summer season. For more information, contact 323-971-2353.

Additional emergency preparedness events and activities are planned later this year, at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the Florence-Firestone Multipurpose Center.


The LA County Office of Emergency Management participated in an Emergency Preparedness and Community Resource Fair hosted by the Del Amo Mobile Home Estates Block Captains in Rancho Domingez on April 18. Credit: Ken Kondo, LA County Office of Emergency Management.


Metro Unveils Campaign Against Human Trafficking


More than 10,000 employees of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will be trained on how to spot potential victims of sex trafficking with a newly unveiled campaign, “Don’t Be Silent.”

As part of the campaign, 3,000 ads will go up on buses and rail cars, and 85,000 brochures will be placed in Metro’s customer centers, stations, buses and trains. The campaign will have a robust social media presence, and a QR code has been created that directs users to the LA Transit Watch app.

Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas, Don Knabe and Hilda Solis joined Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and new Metro Chairman Phil Washington and Metro Board member Jackie Dupont-Walker at a press conference Friday to announce the new effort.

Sex trafficking is a $32-billion dollar business increasingly run by gangs. The average age of entry into the sex trade industry is 12 to 14 years old. Los Angeles is one of the epicenters of child trafficking.

unnamed“Every Los Angeles County resident needs to learn about this issue. It is a tragedy. It is a travesty,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “We assert in no uncertain terms that our children are not for sale.”

Encouraging the public to contact law enforcement and speak up about any suspicious activity that they may observe, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the Sheriff’s Department will “continue to crack down not only on those who make a living on sex trafficking, but also on the buyers to create the demand that perpetuates the ongoing victimization of children in our community.”

More than 7,000 Los Angeles County employees and residents have been trained to spot and prevent sex trafficking. The County has allocated nearly $7 million to go towards prevention, education and services for young victims.

In addition, training will soon begin for motel workers to ensure trafficking is not occurring on their premises. Because so many people use the metro transit system daily, there are many opportunities to help and potentially save a life, said Metro Chief Executive Washington.

“It can occur anywhere in plain sight but Metro riders collectively have millions of eyes to spot and then report suspicious activity,” said Mr. Washington. “The worst thing a person can do is to see something, and stay silent.”

Victims and witnesses of human trafficking can report incidents to the Polaris Human Trafficking hotline at 888.373.7888 and the Sheriff’s hotline at 888.950.SAFE as well as the LA Metro Transit Watch smartphone app for iPhone and Android.