Environment, Parks, Libraries

So Much More than a Champion

Photo Credit: Michael Wa

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on the Passing of Kobe Bryant

“This is devastating news and my condolences go out to the entire Bryant family and the loved ones of all lost in this tragic and horrific accident.

“Kobe wasn’t just collectively our region’s favorite NBA player who won five NBA championships for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was so much more than that. He was a cultural ambassador, an icon even on a team and city known for its icons. He inspired the hearts and minds of millions. His legacy will be remembered not only for his pursuits on the court as one of the best, but off the court as a father, an entrepreneur, and a producer whose will to succeed symbolized the victory of the human spirit. He will be missed dearly”

“To the families of all the lives lost today, know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. May God hold you during this extremely difficult time.”

Willowbrook Goes Green with New Solar Panels

The Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus is now home to approximately 4,000 solar panels at the top of both parking structures in addition to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

These panels are expected to be operational by the end of February 2020 and are anticipated to save the County over $3 million in energy costs over the next 25 years.

Solar panel installation at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital.

The EV charging stations installed on the campus are meant to encourage both patients and employees to drive clean vehicles, which will help reduce fossil fuel use and air pollution. The parking lot solar canopies will also serve as shade structures that keep cars cooler when parked on the top floor of the parking garage.

Last year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted its first countywide sustainability plan, Ourcounty (ourcountyla.org), which is focused around the themes of resilience, sustainability, and equity.  The implementation of this green infrastructure in Willowbrook is one of many environmentally-sustainable projects happening in the Second District and across the County.

Just down the street, construction is well underway at Magic Johnson Park, where $75 million is being invested in a transformation of the park, which will include a new sustainable-designed community center as well as a water quality project where stormwater will be collected from the surrounding area, cleaned, and used to fill the lake and irrigate the park.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

As we look back on a memorable year, let’s express our deepest gratitude for our many blessings by paying it forward — with kindness, compassion and generosity towards the less fortunate.

We have so much to be thankful for in Los Angeles County and I hope the coming year will bring you and your loved ones plenty more reasons to celebrate.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year!

With hope,

Mark Ridley-Thomas

P.S. As we look forward to 2020, I hope you’ll continue to join me in working to improve the lives of the people in our communities by registering for the 28th Annual Empowerment Congress Summit next month. It’s a great way of paying it forward!

Thanksgiving and a Sense of Home

Happy Thanksgiving! As we gather with loved ones for another season of cherished family traditions, I hope we’ll all reflect on our many blessings.

Recently, my staff and I teamed up with A Sense of Home to help Ashley, a homeless former foster youth, and her four children – including twin babies – move into their first-ever apartment.

It was a joy to fill empty spaces with lovingly donated furniture and thoughtfully selected decorations, giving this deserving family a sense of home that they had never experienced before. As she watched her children squeal with delight at the sight of their new room, Ashley was moved to tears.

We all have a chance to make a difference in someone’s life, and my hope is that you will be inspired to join with me in paying it forward.

With hope,

$6M Set Aside for Prospective Florence Library

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors (Board) set aside $5.7 million for a prospective new library in Florence Firestone. They also called for securing additional funding for the project, including from the state of California, and directed Los Angeles County (County) departments to redouble efforts to identify an appropriate location.

“Literacy matters, and I am committed to finding a new and improved long-term library with enhanced features, including modern technology, a robust book collection, as well as welcoming spaces to meet the needs of the Florence Firestone community,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

He added he is collaborating with Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer to seek state funding to build the new library.

County Librarian Skye Patrick told the Board, “The Los Angeles County Public Library and County CEO have been working with the Supervisor to find a home for this library. We have committed to this library and so has the Supervisor.”

Several members of the public testified in support of the motion, including Dominique Medina, President of Florence Firestone Community Leaders. “I would like to thank Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for improving the communities within Florence Firestone,” he said.

Support also came from Edwin Hernandez, Executive Director and CEO of the Florence-Firestone/Walnut Park Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 1,500 local businesses. In a letter to the Board, he wrote, “The business community fully supports [Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ motion]… and we have no doubt that the funds being requested to secure a permanent library location will be another successful and productive project for the Florence-Firestone Community.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has long demonstrated his commitment to Florence Firestone residents. He has overseen over $106 million in investment capital and social programs for the community, including affordable housing projects, an improved senior center and constituent service center, streetscape upgrades, park renovations, art programming, and workforce and economic development opportunities.

The original Florence Library, previously located at 1610 East Florence Avenue, was first built in 1970. At 5,000 square feet, it was one of the smaller facilities within the County Public Library system and long overdue for renovation or replacement.

In 2016, a proposal was considered to rebuild the Library at its original location along with affordable housing. This, however, proved financially unfeasible. The Board moved forward with the project’s affordable housing component and added a workforce development center. Construction is now under way.

The Board then considered a new location for the Library at the Florence-Firestone Constituent Service Center, only half a mile away but with twice as much available space. However, the plan was withdrawn after some community members expressed concerns.

While the County continues to look for an alternate site, an “Express” Florence Library has been established at nearby Roosevelt Park. In addition, the community has access to four other libraries within approximately two miles from the original location of the Florence Library.

Julian Zamora, the County’s community library manager at the Florence Express Library, said a full-service library with the same staffing levels remains available at the Express location. He added it offers enhanced programs, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs for kids, and painting, yoga, and many more programs for adults in the adjacent community room. Meanwhile, a new partnership with the County’s Parks and Recreation Department has resulted in an after-school program where kids can participate in story time and crafts projects. Additional amenities at the Express location include laptops, Wi-Fi service, printing capabilities, and access to the large community room.