Environment, Parks, Libraries

Crenshaw/LAX Line Crosses the 405

For the first time, a train has crossed the 405 between Hindry near LAX and IVY Street in Inglewood. The Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line will extend from the existing Metro Exposition Line at Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards. The Line will travel 8.5 miles to the Metro Green Line and will serve the cities of Los Angeles, Inglewood and El Segundo as well as portions of unincorporated Los Angeles County. The new Metro Rail extension will offer an alternative transportation option to congested roadways and provide significant environmental benefits, economic development and employment opportunities throughout Los Angeles County. Riders will be able to make easy connections within the entire Metro Rail system, municipal bus lines and other regional transportation services.

The Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project will serve the Crenshaw District, Inglewood, Westchester and surrounding area with eight stations, at:

1. Expo/Crenshaw
2. Martin Luther King Jr.
3. Leimert Park
4. Hyde Park
5. Fairview Heights
6. Downtown Inglewood
7. Westchester/Veterans
8. Aviation/Century

In addition to the alternative transportation option to congested roadways, the project will also provide significant environmental benefits, economic development and employment opportunities throughout Los Angeles County. The project began construction in 2014 and anticipates completion in 2020.

The Crenshaw/LAX Project is one of 12 transit projects funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

Board Strengthens Regulations on Oil and Gas Facilities: Drilling No Longer Authorized Without A Permit

Acting on a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis, a “Strike Team” has inventoried an estimated 800 oil and gas facilities in Los Angeles County’s unincorporated areas. The Board unanimously called for being proactive in ensuring that existing oil and gas facilities operate safely, as well as for enhancing the regulatory process for future well sites.

When first assembling the team in 2016, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “The objective here is to ensure that these facilities are appropriately and proactively monitored to ensure they are operating in a manner that protects the health and safety of surrounding communities.”

Strike teams assess oil drilling facilities. Photo by Tim Stapleton / LA County Department of Regional Planning Land Use Regulation Division

The 800 oil and gas facilities have been operating with a lack of consistency in permit conditions, and under regulations that vary from project to project.

The first phase of the Strike Team’s work included a site visit and assessment of all facilities within the unincorporated areas. That work is now complete, and the team is now focusing on the second phase of work, which consists of researching and investigating abandoned and orphaned wells, storage facilities, pipelines, and hazardous chemicals with the objective of providing a recommendation to the Board later next year on how to improve regulations over these facilities.

The Strike Team is comprised of representatives from the County Department of Regional Planning, the Department of Public Health, the Fire Department and Department of Public Works.

The Department of Regional Planning was also directed to update the Zoning Code to require a Conditional Use Permit be obtained before drilling new wells in any land use zone across the unincorporated portions of County. This means that the oil and gas facilities will no longer be able to drill “by right”, or without County discretionary approval. The new ordinance is expected to go to the Regional Planning Commission in June 2020, and thereafter to the Board for final approval.

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.

More Magic on Its Way to Willowbrook’s Magic Johnson Park

Renderings courtesy of AHBE

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with the next phase of a master plan that will offer additional new amenities to Magic Johnson Park, a 126-acre park that is on the verge of becoming a community oasis in Willowbrook.

“More magic is on its way to Willowbrook’s Magic Johnson Park,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.  “Our next phase of improvements will focus on outdoor amenities that create inviting gathering space for a host of activities…ranging from a dog park to a place for a community concert. At Magic Johnson Park, our goal is to make sure there is an amenity for everyone. ”

In addition to a dog park, the $7 million being invested in the second phase of improvements will predominantly be used to transform the former Ujima Village housing site, 16 acres of land adjacent to the Park, which has sat vacant since the housing development was demolished in 2013. The investment will be used to incorporate the land into the park with the construction of open green spaces that can be used for concerts and other programming. There will also be new walking paths, landscaping and seating areas.

The LA County Department of Parks and Recreation developed the 2019 Revised Master Plan, which amends the original Master Plan adopted in 2016 by incorporating the dog park, adding two recreational fields, and expanding the size of a future nature lab into the Master Plan. The 2019 Master Plan also shifts a proposed future cultural complex to the western side of the park, as an alternative to the previously proposed equestrian center.

(left to right) Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, and CBS’ Jim Hill at Magic Johnson Park Renovation Groundbreaking. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

“For almost 25 years, the Magic Johnson Park has been used for daily exercise, family outings, and celebrations,” said Johnson, after whom the park was named in 1994 following his retirement from the NBA. “I’m excited about this significant investment by Los Angeles County which provides a safe, scenic space for Willowbrook residents and increases the community’s engagement with the park.”

The initial improvements at the park, which are slated for completion in Fall 2020, include a 20,000-square foot state-of-the-art community events center for holding weddings, conferences and other large gatherings; an outdoor wedding pavilion; a splash pad and children’s play areas; improved walking paths with security lighting; and acres upon acres of new landscaping that will give the park an entirely fresh look.

The lake that is currently the centerpiece of the park will be getting an innovative feature that will help address both water conservation and water quality goals. It will divert storm runoff from surrounding neighborhoods and the nearby Compton Creek, clean it and then use it to fill the lower lake and irrigate 30 acres of the park, creating a wetland experience for park goers.

County Parks and Recreation Director John Wicker ensured that there was a comprehensive and community-driven process to prioritize new amenities for Magic Johnson Park. “We are grateful to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and partners that are committed to developing and investing in this new, state-of-the-art and LEED Gold facility,” he said. “As a collective, we will build a park for the Willowbrook community to be active and participate in the year-round programs, as well as come together to make memories that will last a lifetime.”

The Magic Johnson Park renovation is only the latest of many investments that have transformed the community of Willowbrook. Over the last several years, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has championed a building boom that included the Martin Luther King Medical Campus, Willowbrook Library and Senior Center, AC Bilbrew Library, the development of hundreds of units of affordable housing, and upgrades to Metro’s Rosa Parks Station.