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Metro Construction Boom Brings Opportunities

Hundreds of jobs and scores of contracts will be available for Los Angeles business owners with the upcoming construction of the Crenshaw-to-LAX light rail line and other transit and highway projects. Hopeful consultants, contractors and people looking for employment turned out to the recent Metro sponsored business opportunities summit at the California African American Museum to show off their company resumes and get a foot in the door.

The construction of 12 rail lines, 15 highway projects and 2,000 bus lines, will hopefully ease congestion and pollution in Los Angeles County. But these projects could also be economic engines.

“Metro is revolutionizing this place,” said Metro CEO Arthur Leahy. “And a lot of jobs are being created.”

The Crenshaw-to-LAX rail line, which is scheduled to begin construction next year, will span 8.5 miles from South Los Angeles to the airport. The $2 billion project is seen as a catalyst for the Crenshaw corridor which is expected to see more investment and business development once the Crenshaw line is built.

“Metro is embarking on one of the largest public works programs the nation has seen in years,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who is also on the Metro board and was instrumental in getting a stop on the Crenshaw line at Leimert Park. “There is a lot going on and we have an agenda of economic development, small business development and a diversity of opportunity.”

Opportunity is exactly what Erika Bennett is seeking. She is hoping her company, Total Transportation Services Inc., a trucking company that transports cement and dirt to construction sites, will become one of the sub-consultants for the large firm that was awarded the Crenshaw contract, Walsh Shea Corridor Constructors.

“This is a good meet and greet,” she said, as she walked up to the Walsh Shea table and introduced herself to the executives for the company.

Other attendees, such as Matsimela McMorris, were simply looking for a job. McMorris, who has been unemployed for more than a year, applied for a position as a custodian with Metro. But at the event, McMorris saw other possibilities, including becoming a bus operator.

“It is really good to be able to come here and meet people,” he said. “Online, you can’t really tell people your story.”

For more information and job postings: www.metro.net

Board of Supervisors Approves a Balanced and Fiscally Prudent Budget

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted a final budget today that, for the first time in five years, is balanced by revenues and does not rely on borrowing from reserves or by implementing service cutbacks. Although unemployment rates remain at historically high levels, Los Angeles County is seeing improvements in revenues from property and sales taxes.

The $24.9 billion-budget, includes more funding for the Department of Animal Care and Control, the sheriff’s department overtime pay, $15 million for affordable housing and $4 million for the care of severely mentally ill patients. In addition, the Chief Executive Office will identify $1.5 million for the Museum of Natural History to expand its programs and $3.5 million for a pilot project at Camp Kilpatrick that will improve education and rehabilitation for youths in custody.

In addition, the budget calls for 10 percent of unspent money to go into a rainy day fund. Due to labor’s partnership and the board’s fiscal prudence, the county avoided the layoffs, furloughs and draconian service reductions that plagued other jurisdictions across the United States since 2008.

Not included in the budget are the unforeseen costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, which will put a great deal of financial pressure on all counties to care for the uninsured.

“As we move forward, the county continues its effort to adopt a budget that advances public safety and reinforces the social service safety net in a fiscally prudent way,” said Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Learning to Swim Saves Lives

Zaydell Cotton smiled proudly as she watched her 10-year-old daughter Mia dive in and swim freestyle across the 25-yard Alondra Park pool in Lawndale on a recent afternoon.

She was haunted by the memory of a friend drowning in a river and she was determined  that her daughter would never face that risk.  She put Mia in swim lessons when she was 6-years-old. It was brutal, with her daughter kicking and screaming the whole time and pulling her coach’s hair out. But within a week, the little girl was swimming. Today, Mia says she would like to become a lifeguard.

“Everybody needs to know how to swim,” said Cotton. “It’s should be like brushing your teeth.”

Summer in Southern California usually means cooling down at the beach or the local swimming pool. But tragically, approximately 10 people drown every day in the United States, according to a study by Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, African American and Hispanic children represent more than 65 percent of the victims.

So, swimming gold medalist Janet Evans teamed with Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and the LA 84 Foundation to kick-off the Foundation’s Summer Swim Program, which promotes organized swimming sports and the benefits of swim lessons.

“Being a kid in Southern California, we are surrounded by pools and water,” said Evans, a four time Olympic gold medalist who learned to swim at 18 months. “Drowning is swift and silent. Learning to swim is a life-saving skill.”

The LA84 Foundation, endowed by surplus funds from the 1984 Olympic Games, will distribute more than $400,000 in grants to fund swim lessons and organized sports in public pools across Southern California, which will help reach 15,000 children across the region.

“We want kids of all ages to have fun in the summertime but it needs to be safe,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas.

“Now that school is out, it is important to take advantage of all the low cost classes that are available in our community pools. Learning to swim is a life skill.”

But the push to improve swimming skills is not just local. LA84 recently partnered with the USA Swimming Foundation, the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming, to help spread the message about water safety and the importance of swim lessons to an even broader  audience.  The organization’s Make a Splash initiative spreads the word about the need for swim lessons across the country, with the help of U.S. Olympian Cullen Jones. Next year, the foundation will launch its Make a Splash tour in Los Angeles in coordination with LA84.

At Alondra Park’s recently renovated pool, swimmers from the local teams, the Pirates and Titans, showed their swimming prowess by competing in relays, gliding across the deep pool in backstroke, butterfly and freestyle.

Tanya Jenkins marveled at how her 6-year-old son Aiden had gone from learning to swim in June of last year, to joining the Pirates swim team by September.

“At first, I just wanted him to get to the water’s edge and look at him now,” she beamed as Aiden swam across the pool. “I did not want him to become a statistic.”

For the complete schedule of summer pool programs in the second district, click here.

Park to Playa Project Moving Forward

The Park to Playa project, which will eventually create a network of trails that will seamlessly connect Kenneth Hahn Park to the bike trails at Playa del Rey, continues to move forward.

On Tuesday, May 28th a regional board that oversees open space within the Baldwin Hills and Ballona Creek area  approved funding to enhance existing trails at Kenneth Hahn Regional Park. The Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority set aside $1.4 million to make needed connections between the trails to allow for a continuous link from La Cienega Boulevard  to the five points intersection at Overhill Drive, La Brea Avenue and Stocker Street.

In order to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, the board will also likely approve an environmental report that requires that the habitat be restored along the trail during the construction as well as a plan that will reduce emissions, noise and to ensure the protection of nesting birds.

[raw]The Park to Playa project will connect approximately 13 miles from the Baldwin Hills along Ballona Creek to the Ballona Wetlands and the beach bicycle path.  The western portion of the Park to Playa Trail consists of the Ballona Creek Bike Path in Culver City and the Marvin Braude Bike Path in Playa del Rey, which are complete and are not part of the current project.

The eastern portion of the Park to Playa Trail would be an approximate 7-mile system of walking, hiking and bicycle trails running east and southeasterly through parks and open space areas in the Baldwin Hills.

In addition, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, a partner on the Park to Playa project, has already received a $1.03 million grant from the Baldwin Hills Conservancy to begin construction on the Stocker Corridor segment of the trail. Work on that segment is expected to begin this fall as well.

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For more info – http://smmc.ca.gov/BHRCA.asp

 

Give Your Input on Baldwin Hills Oil Field

This month, the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning will begin the first periodic review of the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District, which regulates drilling and operations of the oil field.  As a property owner, resident, and/or community stakeholder, your input provides a very important role in this process.  The Department of Regional Planning has made a survey available to collect the community’s input.  Please click on the following link to read the introduction to the periodic review process, and to be taken to the survey:   http://planning.lacounty.gov/baldwinhills/csd.

Much has happened since the County,  the City of Culver City, community advocates and Plains Exploration & Production Company entered into a  settlement agreement in June 2011. An inventory of emissions around the perimeter of the Inglewood Oil Field is currently underway.   Also, the first phases of landscaping improvements, along La Brea and below Ladera Crest, are visible, and PXP is expected to begin construction on La Cienega Blvd early next year.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health  has completed a two-part community health assessment . The first part analyzed mortality and morbidity data for the population surrounding the oil field; the second part synthesized interviews with 1,000 residents regarding their health conditions and concerns. Also, a study looking at hydraulic fracking at the oil field has also been completed.

One conclusion, however, can be drawn from the entire settlement process: community involvement makes a difference. Together the community advanced a conversation the rest of the nation is only beginning to have.  Community involvement is key to promote environmental stewardship and accountability around the Inglewood Oil Field and throughout the Second District.

Lastly, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the information contained within the attachments to this e-mail, which include the upcoming Community Advisory Panel meeting notice and agenda for the meeting this Thursday, May 23rd  at 7pm at the Kenneth Hahn Recreation Center, as well as the periodic review process flowchart (as discussed during the April CAP meeting).  In addition to collecting input from the electronic survey above, the Department of Regional Planning will also be collecting public comments during the May 23rd CAP meeting.

This information is also provided on the Baldwin Hills CSD’s website at http://planning.lacounty.gov/baldwinhills

Please contact Rena Kambara via email at rkambara@planning.lacounty.gov should you have any questions.