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Kicking Off A New Era of Soccer
in Expo Park

All photos by David Franco/Board of Supervisors

With a blast of fireworks and confetti, soccer fans celebrated the grand opening of the $350-million Banc of California Stadium at Exposition Park, the new home of the Los Angeles Football Club.

L-R: Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, LAFC forward Carlos Vela, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Councilman Curren Price.

This privately financed “cathedral of soccer” is the first open-air sports arena built in LA since Dodger Stadium in 1962. A stunning piece of architecture, it stands where the now-demolished LA Memorial Sports Arena used to be, right next to the LA Memorial Coliseum.

“This magnificent Banc of California Stadium will do more than provide a new state-of-the-art place to play soccer,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a member of the Coliseum Commission. “It will bring thousands of jobs and economic opportunity to the surrounding community and beyond, furthering the transformation already taking place in this region.”

“This has exceeded expectations,” he added. “There’s no way you can come here and not marvel at what has been done in record time.”

“I think it’s the best stadium in all of Major League Soccer,” said former NBA superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson, one of the LAFC’s co-owners along with two-time Olympic gold medalist Mia Hamm Garciaparra, former Major League Baseball all-star Nomar Garciaparra, entertainment and sports leader Peter Guber, and others.

“It is an honor to unveil this world-class stadium to the Los Angeles community,” LAFC lead managing owner Larry Berg said.  “This project is not only about providing our fans and supporters a state-of-the-art venue to watch soccer in the heart of Los Angeles, but this is about our Club’s commitment to investing in and elevating our entire city.”

Also present at the ceremony were LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Herb Wesson, Councilmember and Coliseum Commission President Curren Price, MLS commissioner Don Garber, LAFCco-managing owners Bennett Rosenthal and Brandon Beck, and LAFC president Tom Penn. After the ceremony, LAFC players, including stars Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, took to the field for the first time to practice for their first home game, 10 days away.

The stadium was designed by leading architect Gensler Sports. Construction took 20 months, and produced thousands of construction and permanent jobs at the stadium, many of which went to workers from the surrounding community. The project includes a large public plaza, restaurants, an LAFC retail store, and a conference and events center.

The new stadium is the newest landmark in Exposition Park, along with the LA Memorial Coliseum, the California African American Museum, the California Science Center, and the Natural History Museum of LA County. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is currently under construction.

Exposition Park Embraces Everyone In

Hundreds of people in Exposition Park got an up-close look at solutions to homelessness during United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ first-ever Everyone In pop-up community event.

They were treated to a virtual reality experience in which formerly homeless people now leading stable lives shared their powerful stories of how supportive housing helped them. Everyone In organizers encouraged attendees to volunteer and be engaged at every turn.

On hand to talk about their work, and how volunteers can help, were more than 30 nonprofit organizations in South LA that provide transition assistance to jobs and housing, and other services.

“Homelessness is a moral crisis which will define our civic legacy in the eyes of future generations,” Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas said at the event. “There can be no conscientious objectors in this fight. With Measure H, we can scale up our compassion, our innovation,” he added. “We cannot be timid in the face of this crisis.”

Just over a year ago, voters passed Measure H and Proposition HHH, taxing themselves to fund supportive housing and other services to address the crisis of homelessness. Supportive housing — which combines apartments with on-site services — is safe and well designed, with a 90 percent success rate at keeping people from going back to living on the streets.

A recent poll commissioned by United Way found 69 percent of LA County voters said they want supportive housing for homeless people built in their own neighborhoods.

“Supportive housing is the best solution for ending homelessness and we now know that there’s a strong majority that supports building these solutions in their neighborhoods,” United Way President and CEO Elise Buik said. “We hope people will leave this event with a greater understanding of the benefits of supportive housing, and how they can take action to demand proven solutions to ending homelessness.”

Powered by United Way, Everyone In is a campaign aimed at engaging and activating people across LA County to take part in helping their most homeless neighbors obtain the services they need to build stable lives. The pop-up community event in Exposition Park is the first of many large engagement events that will take place across LA County throughout the year.

Everyone In brings together a coalition of leaders from government, business, philanthropy, faith-and community-based organizations to encourage everyone to take part in solutions to homelessness. Other leaders who participated in the activities at Exposition Park were Wells Fargo vice president for community affairs Gregg Sherkin,Natural History Museum President and Director Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, and SSG-HOPICS Director Veronica Lewis.

Everyone In brings together a coalition of leaders from government, business, philanthropy, faith-and community-based organizations to encourage everyone to take part in solutions to homelessness. United Way’s Elise Buik, Wells Fargo’s Gregg Sherkin, SSG-HOPICS’ Veronica Lewis, the Natural History Museum’s Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas attended the Exposition Park community event. All photos by Diandra Jay.

A Budget that Reflects Our Values

Los Angeles County-funded teams conducting outreach to people living on the streets, offering a range of supportive services. All photos by Mayra Vasquez/Countywide Communications

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said the $30.8-billion proposed 2018-19 budget would improve the quality of life of millions of residents, particularly the most vulnerable, while maintaining public safety, advancing economic equity, and fostering fiscal responsibility.

LA County Fire Department

“Government can’t do everything but the County of Los Angeles does a whole lot,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

“This budget reflects our determination to confront homelessness, the dearth of affordable housing, and the need for criminal justice reform,” he added. “It also expands access to health services and an equitable economy, ventures into innovations in technology and biosciences, and celebrates the arts.”

County CEO Sachi Hamai unveiling the recommended budget for FY 2018-2019

County Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai, who recommended the spending plan, said, “This budget demonstrates the County’s determination to address the region’s most difficult social issues through bold action, elevating the quality of life for all residents, no matter what their circumstances or paths.”

The budget includes the first full year of funding from Measure H, a $374 million investment to combat homelessness. It also includes $45 million for affordable housing, and creates 1,000 jobs providing services to the homeless.

LA County Department of Animal Care and Control

Since voters passed Measure H in March last year, the County has helped thousands of individuals and families through an unprecedented expansion of outreach, emergency shelter, rapid rehousing, supportive housing, and benefits advocacy. Among the early successes between July and December 2017: more than 7,000 people entered crisis, bridge and interim housing, many of whom were among the 3,000 people who secured permanent housing.

Public hearings on the budget will begin May 16. The Board of Supervisors will kick off deliberations on June 25.

LA County Department of Health Services’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center

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