Environment, Parks, Libraries

Los Angeles County Boosts Investment in Sativa Water District

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas joins state lawmakers at Sativa headquarters. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

The Board of Supervisors voted to pour more resources into Sativa Water District after Los Angeles County Public Works identified the extent of challenges facing Sativa and the level of support required to stabilize the water system and begin providing a more reliable source of clean and clear water to its customers in Willowbrook and Compton until a long-term service provider can take over.

Public Works is also determined to repair Sativa’s relationship with its 6,800 customers, and will host an open house at Sativa headquarters tomorrow, the latest in a series of events to keep the community up-to-date on the progress of their work.

The open house follows a visit today by several state lawmakers looking to Sativa as a model for how to address problems with small and mismanaged water systems across California that may pose a threat to public health.

“Having access to clean and clear water is a basic human right, and one that we are committed to providing Sativa’s customers,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who pushed for state officials to appoint Public Works as Sativa’s interim administrator in October after decades of mismanagement by the water district’s previous leadership caused episodes of brown water flowing from taps. “No one said this would be easy. But we are committed to course-correcting and making sure Sativa customers are in good hands for the long-term.”

“LA County has officially taken over the troubled Sativa Water District and is starting the hard work of fixing the broken infrastructure and finances that were left behind,” added Supervisor Janice Hahn. “As the interim administrator, we are committed to making every investment necessary to ensure the water coming out of residents’ taps is clean, clear, and safe to drink.”

Speaker Anthony Rendon and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at Sativa headquarters. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

“This has truly been a community effort and I want to recognize the Board of Supervisors for standing with me from the very beginning of this journey,” said Assemblymember Mike Gipson, who championed the legislation required to transfer control of Sativa to the Los Angeles County. He and Assemblymembers Richard Bloom, Wendy Carrillo, Laura Friedman, Eduardo Garcia and Sydney Kamlager-Dove all participated in the tour of Sativa headquarters, which Speaker Anthony Rendon helped facilitate.

The Board approved a motion by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Hahn to establish a fund for continuing to operate Sativa, potentially through mid-2021. After conducting a comprehensive assessment of Sativa’s 70-year-old water system, Public Works estimated the cost of serving the water district until a permanent operator is in place could reach $13.8 million, of which $5.7 million will be offset by Sativa’s revenue and state grants.

Public Works expects to identify a long-term service provider early next year, but state regulators could take as long as two years to approve the transition. In the meantime, Public Works Director Mark Pestrella said, “LA County is committed to supplying safe, clean and reliable water to the residents of Willowbrook and Compton.”

Sativa customer Elizabeth Hicks is grateful, saying, “Sativa is improving under the supervision of the County’s Public Works agency. They accomplished within six months a major task that the previous administration couldn’t accomplish in 30 years – we are seeing clear water coming out of our faucets.”

Obama Boulevard Unveiled

City Council President Herb Wesson, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Urban League President Michael A. Lawson. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

In a ceremony that took place in South Los Angeles, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas joined by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, Los Angeles Urban League President and CEO Michael Lawson, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and State Senator Maria Elena Durazo officially unveiled Obama Boulevard in honor of the 44th President of the United States of America. The ceremony, held where Obama Boulevard intersects with Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, was the highlight of a day long music and street festival that featured food trucks, an array of local vendors, and performers.

Thousands gathered at the unveiling. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

“In this moment of political tumult on the national level, it’s important to take stock of the tremendous accomplishment that was Barack Obama’s presidency,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “His ascent to our nation’s highest office represents, in some ways, the fulfillment of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream.”

The newly named Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Boulevard, a 3.5-mile street that runs from Culver City to Mid-City Los Angeles. The boulevard is home to Rancho Cienega Park — the venue where Obama held his first campaign rally more than 12 years ago shortly after announcing his candidacy in February 2007.

Young community member at the Obama Street Festival. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

“Those eight years in the white house — It was never about me. It was always about you. It was always about us and what we could do together to bring this county more in line with our founders’ ideals. We knew our work wouldn’t be finished in one presidency. But we believed that our efforts would make America more equal, more just, and a more hopeful place,” said Urban League President Michael A. Lawson reading a letter from Obama.

“The renaming of Rodeo Blvd. to Obama Blvd. represents a truly historic day for our city and country,” said Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson. “With this change, we are publicly documenting what Obama’s legacy as our nation’s first black President means to our city and our South Los Angeles community. For every child who will drive down this street and see the President’s name, this will serve as a physical reminder that no goal is out of reach and that no dream is too big.”

This is the first time a name change has been made to a street in Los Angeles to honor former President Barack Obama. The addition of Obama Boulevard will add to an area of the city known as President’s Row. Other presidential boulevards that run parallel to Barack Obama’s include George Washington Boulevard, John Adams Boulevard and Thomas Jefferson Boulevard.

Mayor Bradley Plaque Unveiled at Coliseum

Mayor Tom Bradley’s plaque at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

In front of family, friends, and former staff, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission inducted Mayor Tom Bradley into the Memorial Coliseum Court of Honor. Located within the iconic Peristyle arches, Mayor Bradley’s plaque joins an illustrious cadre of 61 individuals who have had a definite impact upon the history, glory and growth of the Coliseum. Previous inductees include Jesse Owens, John Garland, John F. Kennedy, and others.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at the unveiling.  Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who championed this honor noted, “Mayor Bradley’s plaque is right at home in this Court of Honor alongside some of the greatest athletes and individuals who contributed to the success of this historic venue. Los Angeles owes a debt of gratitude to Mayor Bradley for his enduring legacy of not only what he accomplished here, but for the entire City of Los Angeles during his two-decade run as Mayor.”

The Supervisor added, “As (Mayor Bradley) liked to say: ‘Los Angeles is the city of hope and opportunity. I am a living example of that.’ I appreciate his faith, his dedication and his vision. And now, all who enter the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will also remember and recognize Mayor Bradley for all his stellar achievements.”

Mayor Tom Bradley was elected as the first – and only – black mayor of Los Angeles and served for an unprecedented five terms, from 1973 to 1993. He fought to bring the 1984 Summer Olympic Games to Los Angeles and forged an agreement with the International Olympic Committee. The Los Angeles games were the first privately financed Olympics and turned a huge profit. Debra Duncan, the chair of the LA84 Foundation, an organization formed to manage Southern California’s endowment from the 1984 Olympic Games, noted “[Mayor Bradley] helped ignite a flame that has lasted 30 years later.”

In honor of Mayor Bradley’s legacy as a tremendous booster of the small business and the Angeleno entrepreneurial spirit, Pink’s Hot Dogs, the famed Los Angeles hot dog stand, were served to attendees of the induction into the Court of Honor.

Our Athens

Kristin Sakoda dances with Vanessa’s Positive Energy Dance Troupe at the Book Launch Party.  Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas celebrated the launch of Our Athens, the latest in a series of books documenting and celebrating unincorporated communities in Los Angeles County’s Second District.

Creative Core LA, with guidance from the County’s Arts Commission, photographed more than 65 community leaders and members for the book, which will be distributed at various events and community centers in Athens.

Representatives of the West Athens / Westmont Task Force at the Book Launch Party. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

“Let it be known near and far that Athens has a rich history and an even more dynamic present, and our mission was to have the book capture as much of that as we could,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said during the book launch, attended by more than 100 people including several who were featured in the book.

Members of the West Athens Taskforce, Vermont Manchester Collaborative andSouthwest Community Association also celebrated the launch of the book, together with representatives of local schools, youth centers, churches, businesses, senior centers, and others.

Athens has 40,000 residents spanning an area of 3.2 square miles. Among the neighborhood’s landmarks are Chester Washington Golf Course, where the book launch was held, and which was the home course for the great African American pro golfer Charlie Sifford. Other local destinations are Jesse Owens Park and Washington Prep High School, which had a movie made about its transformation in the late 70s, starring Denzel Washington.

Athens has seen more than $400 million in investments since Supervisor Ridley-Thomas was elected in 2008. This includes new affordable apartments; a renovated library; façade improvements for small businesses; transportation and street improvements; new and improved parks, walking paths, and a community garden.

“We are not done yet,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Our goal is to continue to ensure that there are high-quality assets in Athens, worthy of the civic vitality that is ingrained in this community.”

Our Athens is the latest in a series of books highlighting the Second District communities of Florence-Firestone, Lennox, Willowbrook and East Rancho Dominguez.

Left to Right: (Top) 88th Street Temple Church Pastor Anthony Williams, Southwest Community Association Director Henry Porter, West Athens Westmont Taskforce Founder Bruce McCall (Bottom) Washington Prep High School Principal Dr. Dechele Byrd, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Create Core LA Co-Founder Gennia Cuo, LA County Arts Commission Director Kristin Sakoda. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

Undesign the Redline

Undesign the Redline, an interactive exhibition that traces the history and legacy of housing discrimination and segregation across Los Angeles and the United States, will be on display in April at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration to commemorate Fair Housing Month.

Created by the social impact firm Designing the We, the interactive exhibition traces how government policy going back to the 1930s, known as “redlining,” created racial segregation and disinvestment that, in some communities, persist to this day. The exhibition uses powerful narratives of people and communities, maps, historical artifacts, storytelling, photographs and activities to illustrate redlining’s roots and lasting repercussions.

Enterprise Community Partners and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas partnered with Designing the We to bring the interactive exhibition to the seat of Los Angeles County government.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “I encourage all to come and experience the exhibit, as we must know our history in order to avoid repeating it. It was not until 1968, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, that the right to equal housing opportunities was guaranteed. As we grapple with this region’s housing crisis, this exhibition informs us of the historical impact of housing discrimination, especially redlining, that took place in all corners of our nation, including Los Angeles.”

Undesign the Redline puts into perspective the local community landscape and the history of Los Angeles, including the stories of:

  • The history of Watts as a visionary plan as a “free city” of blacks and other disenfranchised groups
  • Loren Miller & the fight against deed discrimination
  • The Federation of the High Cost of Living, which was formed to explore how rental costs could be lowered
  • The mothers of East Los Angeles
  • Bunker Hill redevelopment and urban renewal

“Undesign the Redline sheds light on how the explicitly discriminatory housing practices of redlining continues to influence the design and growth patterns of Los Angeles today. The relics of these practices are present in the form of displacement, gentrification and a vast homelessness crisis. Learning this history inspires us to change that legacy and advance a path forward that will transform our communities,” said Jacqueline Waggoner, VP and Southern California market leader, Enterprise.

The Los Angeles County Hall of Administration is located at  500 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. The exhibit is located in the Second Floor Atrium, Grand Park Entrance, and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.