Statement on the Passing of John Singleton

John Singleton & Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“I send my condolences to John Singleton’s family in this difficult time. I had the pleasure of knowing John for many years and most recently contributed to a project that he was working on. Like so many who crossed his path, and the millions who watched his unflinchingly honest films, his talent was palpable and you felt how much he cared for his community. He told stories with a cultural specificity that not only had an impact on society at-large, with its systems and structures, but inspired a whole generation of artist like him who were given the courage to chase the dreams that were in their hearts. In all his goodness John will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace.”

Supervisor’s Statement on the County Budget

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on the Los Angeles County Budget for Fiscal Year 2019/2020

“Los Angeles County’s sound fiscal management has afforded us the ability to address a number of quality of life issues for our residents.

“The fact that we have unprecedented resources at our disposal to tackle homelessness is due to voters placing their trust in the County’s action plan for addressing this crisis. With this budget, we will not only uphold that pledge but double down and invest more than ever in solutions such as affordable housing – the twin issue to homelessness. We will also put more resources into supportive services, including expanding street outreach teams. The increased investment means, in no uncertain terms, that we recognize the intractable nature of the homelessness crisis but remain undeterred.

“In the area of public safety, we are working closely with the Inspector General and the Civilian Oversight Commission. We are also investing in body-worn cameras, a fundamental feature of 21st century constitutional policing, and putting more resources into diversion programs to give more people a second chance.

“Recognizing the role that the arts can play in healing and overcoming trauma, in addition to fostering creativity and inspiration, we are establishing the County’s first Department of Arts and Culture.

“I also want to underscore the creation of the County’s Office of Violence Prevention, which will help create conditions that promote peace in communities. We’ve seen the effectiveness of this work at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center, and are convinced of the need to make such services more widely available.

“Finally, we are creating partnerships and building a investment fund for the bioscience sector, which is booming and creating jobs in Los Angeles – which is just how we like it.

“I thank CEO Sachi Hamai for preparing a budget that reflects the focused multi-year effort needed to elevate our residents’ quality of life, while also directing resources to advance this Board of Supervisors’ ambitious policy agenda.”

New Apartments and YMCA in Koreatown

Vermont Corridor Apartments. Courtesy of Meta Housing Corp.

A 72-unit affordable apartment complex is now under construction in Koreatown with a feature that local residents have long been clamoring for – a community center and YMCA.

The $51.4 million Vermont Corridor Apartments will provide affordable apartments for seniors and other vulnerable members of the community, as well as a 12,500 square-foot YMCA. Several of the units will come with supportive services and subsidized rents for residents who had experienced homelessness.

Slated to open in March 2021, the project is being developed by Meta Housing Corporation in a joint venture partnership with Western Community Housing. The County of Los Angeles’ Measure H will pay for supportive services at the site, while the City of Los Angeles’ Proposition HHH will account for a significant portion of the construction cost. Other funding sources include the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID), the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (CDC/HACoLA).

“The Vermont Corridor Apartments project is a promise fulfilled,”  Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “For Koreatown residents, it provides not only affordable homes to seniors who need it most, but also a long-awaited community center with a Wellness Center to be operated by the YMCA. Working with Meta housing and Western Community Housing, as well as the City of Los Angeles and other partners, we have repurposed an aging Los Angeles County facility and transformed it into a beautiful new asset for the community to enjoy. That’s public private partnership at its best.”

“Affordable senior housing is extremely difficult to find in Los Angeles,” says Kasey Burke, President of Meta Housing. “Los Angeles needs more affordable alternatives for older residents, and we are delivering that alternative in this project.  This is a great example of public private partnership working together to improve the community and the lives of our future residents.”

Aaron Mandel, Executive Vice President of Meta Housing, said the new development repurposes an underutilized County property to provide a high quality and safe environment for residents at an affordable cost while reducing blight in the area. The development will also generate an estimated 321 construction jobs and seven permanent jobs.

Monique King-Viehland, Executive Director of the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles, said, “We look forward to the future of the Vermont Corridor Apartments and its position in the community – a hub that will provide affordable homes for seniors and special needs residents. The addition of the YMCA on the first floor will help to enhance the neighborhood through their commitment to meeting community needs through a strong range of programs.

The 113,061 square-foot apartment community will be constructed to LEED Gold standards and is located 3 blocks from the Metro Purple Line’s Wilshire/Vermont station with many other amenities including a grocery store, a pharmacy and medical clinic, public schools, stores and restaurants, and a library in close proximity. The development is also less than a quarter mile from Shatto Recreation Center, which comprises sports fields, facilities for community events.

The apartment community is one of three projects planned for the Vermont Corridor in Koreatown, specifically on Vermont Avenue, between 4th and 6th Streets. Also under construction is the 21-story Vermont Corridor Administration Building, which will be the new headquarters of the County Department of Mental Health, as well as Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services. Another project will feature market-rate housing.

LACMA’s Monumental Transformation

The Board of Supervisors approved a new permanent collection building for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art or LACMA. Designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, the building will be the final component of a decade-long transformation and expansion of the campus.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with LACMA CEO Michael Govan after the Board voted to approve LACMA’s new building. Photo by Diandra Jay.

LACMA has already raised 85 percent of the $650 million price tag for the building, primarily from private donors, including philanthropist and entertainment executive David Geffen. The County’s contribution is $125 million.

“We are tremendously grateful to the County for its consistent support of our project, as well as to the generous leaders of the campaign, who have made significant pledges to make this building a reality,” said LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan. “And thanks to the thoughtful comments by members of the community, the design of the building has become simpler, more beautiful, more transparent, with enhanced access to the park.”

“LACMA is a cornerstone of the arts and culture in Los Angeles, and the County is proud to be part of the effort to ensure its vitality as an important civic institution for many more decades,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes a portion of LACMA’s sprawling campus on Wilshire Boulevard.

Actors Diane Keaton and Bratt Pitt testify before the Board of Supervisors in support of the LACMA’s new building. Photo by Diandra Jay.

The Supervisor added, “The new building is a true embodiment of public-private partnership, made possible through both the County’s commitment and the profound generosity of our community,” the Supervisor added.

LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection of nearly 140,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of artistic expression across the globe. Construction of the new building is scheduled to begin in early 2020 and conclude in late 2023. By the time it opens, LACMA will have grownits indoor exhibition space from 130,000 to 220,000 square feet – a 70 percent increase over 15 years – and added 3.5 acres of park and open outdoor space to offer visitors new and innovative ways to experience LACMA’s vast encyclopedic collection.

The new building, to be called the David Geffen Galleries, will replace four aging structures, namely the Ahmanson, Art of the Americas, Hammer and Bing. It will cover the footprint of the demolished buildings, and then span across Wilshire Boulevard to the Spaulding parking lot. It will be composed of seven semi-transparent pavilions that support a single elevated exhibition level with a floor-to-ceiling glass perimeter.

The horizontal design will place art from all areas of LACMA’s encyclopedic collection on the same level, with no obvious facade or front or back, offering a non-hierarchical display of art.

“The County museum hosts over a million visitors each year, and this design — transparent, open, and unilevel — will enhance their enjoyment and experience of our culturally diverse art and create a welcoming space for all ages and backgrounds,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “The design and ambitions reflect the L.A. County of today and L.A. County’s cultural leadership in the 21st century.”

The single-level gallery floor will be more intuitive to navigate and easier to access, especially for wheelchairs and strollers, and its perimeter of transparent glass will provide energizing natural light and views to the park and urban environment, with views from outside into the galleries. The display of all art on one level avoids giving more prominence to any specific culture, tradition, or era, offering visitors a multitude of perspectives on art and art history in a more accessible and inclusive way.

The building also includes a new theater, education spaces, three restaurant/cafes, a museum shop, and covered multipurpose event spaces.

Elaine Wynn and Tony Ressler, co-chairs of LACMA’s Board of Trustees, said, “The Board of Trustees is thrilled that the County of Los Angeles has approved the building project to go forward and approved funding for their generous contribution. The County’s contribution is the backbone of this entire project, helping propel this plan forward. This building marks the culmination of a decade of transformation at LACMA, and we can’t wait to see how Peter Zumthor’s building will redefine the experience of art.”

All renderings from Atelier Peter Zumthor

A Breakthrough for LA County’s Bioscience Industry

A state-of-the-art medical research building with a bioscience incubator recently opened at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, marking a significant breakthrough in Los Angeles County’s bioscience initiative.

Owned and operated by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, also known as LA BioMed, the $63-million, 78,000-sq. ft. facility is one of the most advanced medical research buildings in the nation. It contains both wet and dry labs, freezer farms and an auditorium.

One of its key features is an 18,000-sq. ft. bioscience incubator operated by BioLabs, called BioLabs LA BioMed, that can host up to 30 bioscience startups and offers $1 million in shared equipment, private offices and meeting space.

“LA BioMed’s new research facility, with its state-of-the art bioscience incubator, holds the promise of medical advances and discoveries that can transform the way we diagnose and treat diseases, potentially saving lives,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “And it is only one of many initiatives currently under way to make Los Angeles County a world leader in bioscience.”

“The opening of our new medical research building is a milestone for LA BioMed,” said David Meyer, PhD, President and CEO, LA BioMed. “It will allow us to recruit and retain the best investigators, giving them world-class labs and work spaces where they can develop new treatments and therapeutics for years to come.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas facilitated the medical research building’s construction on County-owned land. He also invested $3 million in County funds to build the bioscience incubator, and $1 million for operating expenses, demonstrating his commitment to turning Los Angeles County into a top-tier bioscience cluster.

Philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist matched the Supervisor’s $3 million to build the bioscience incubator, while the Economic Development Administration provided $800,000 to equip it.

LA Biomed CEO David Meyer is presented a scroll by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

“When I first visited LA BioMed, I was amazed by the lifesaving innovations taking place, despite extremely modest facilities,” said Richard Lundquist, CEO and owner of Continental Development Corporation. “I am proud to have taken an active role in the construction of this new building, and nobody deserves a state of the art new home more than Dr. Meyer and LA BioMed’s investigators.”

The Lundquists previously announced a $70- million gift to LA BioMed that will help the institute undertake more discoveries and launch many more companies that will meaningfully boost Southern California as a biotech center. As a result of the gift, LA BioMed will be renamed the Lundquist Institute in the near future.

LA BioMed has a track record of successfully commercializing discoveries, having spun off 13 startups in the last 12 years. Those include Emmaus Medical, which has developed a treatment for sickle cell disease that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and NovaDigm Therapeutics, which is developing vaccines for fungal and bacterial infections commonly contracted at hospitals. The institute has also licensed products to two publicly-traded companies, including Kybella, a popular injectable treatment that removes fat from under the chin.

LA Biomed’s state-of-the-art new medical research facility with a bioscience incubator at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus in Torrance. Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors