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My Final Words

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As I mark the end of my time on the Board of Supervisors, I do so with tremendous gratitude and thanksgiving. It has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime to represent the residents of the Second Supervisorial District.

I leave the County with a deep confidence that government should and must be a force for good, and can lead the way in creating more equitable and inclusive communities. The journey we have taken together has proven as much.

When I took my oath of office  in 2008, the world was a much different place.  The economy was in a deep recession. The nation’s first Black president had just been elected to office. And my own community of South Los Angeles was in turmoil after the closure of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital—an institution ravaged by years of neglect and disinvestment.

I campaigned with a mandate to reopen that hospital, and I am proud that today it stands as a monument to our collective efforts, pride of place, and fidelity to the ideals of justice, equity and progress.  We have not only established an award-winning community hospital, but transformed the entire Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus and the Willowbrook community at-large by investing over a billion dollars in state-of-the-art medical facilities, affordable housing, transportation, and in recreation and community-based amenities.

I leave here with great pride in what we have accomplished together. This year we broke ground on the SEED School of Los Angeles, the nation’s first public boarding school that will prepare at-risk youth for careers in the transportation and infrastructure industries on long-blighted land at the corner of Vermont and Manchester. We established a bioscience hub at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus that will spur medical innovations to benefit the globe. We have also fought for and secured more than $3.7 billion to improve parks, libraries and community centers, as well as a rail line that will open next year and finally connect the Metro system to the airport along the Crenshaw Corridor.

Throughout my tenure on the Board, I have been both awed and humbled by the tremendous work that can be achieved when we align our resolve and our ingenuity to improve the conditions for those that need us most. I believe we have shown, in countless moments, that the commitment of this County through its leadership and hundreds of thousands of public servants, remains unrivaled. And this service and perseverance has only been more apparent in the face of an unrelenting public health crisis.

I sincerely thank the incredible leadership among the County’s 39 distinct departments, special districts, and commissions. They have each made their respective mark in advancing an agenda that improves the public good – and this has become more challenging and critical over the past year. We owe each of them, and their teams of essential workers, a tremendous debt of gratitude.

Thanks to the efforts of our dedicated civil servants, along with countless non-profit and civic organizations, business groups and labor partners, we have made an impact. We have instituted long-awaited accountability and reform with the establishment of the Office of Inspector General, the Sheriff’s Citizens’ Oversight Commission, and the Probation Oversight Commission. We have built hundreds of units of affordable housing and passed Measure H to ensure more revenue is dedicated to transitioning thousands of Angelenos out of homelessness each year. And we have strategically promoted economic development and job creation opportunities by leveling the playing field for small businesses to participate and establishing project labor agreements with local hiring requirements that have now become the region’s gold standard.

Ours is work that we are blessed to own for a season, and then to pass on. I have no doubt that hope will endure, and that progress will continue because the pursuit of equity and justice is greater than any one of us.

As my successor is sworn into office, again in the midst of an economic recession and new national leadership, our communities are not faced with the public health consequences of a shuttered hospital, but with a global pandemic that has taken the lives of family and friends and still threatens the health and safety of our loved ones. Yet this crisis has done something more— it has shed light on the deep structural inequalities prevalent in so many of our socio-economic and governmental systems.  In light of this complex reality, I respectfully offer the following insights and hopes for the future Board of Supervisors:

  • Address Systemic Racism. Los Angeles County must continue leading the way in implementing an anti-racist framework for governance. So much of what we have done, how we have invested, the services we have provided, are a reaction to the systemic, race-based inequalities that have for far too long defined our society. The County can redefine, reinvest, and rethink its approaches – to fundamentally address race-based poverty and its devastating impacts.
  • Reimagine Law Enforcement. As the County does this difficult work, the drive for full transparency, oversight and accountability over our justice system is of paramount importance. This must begin with a sweeping reform of the Probation Department so that all youth are provided the services they need to course-correct their lives instead of being marked punitively in a manner that will haunt and stigmatize them forever. And this extends to oversight over the Sheriff’s Department and investing in alternatives to incarceration. Effective community policing, and moreover, community safety, will not come until this imbalance of power is corrected, the culture of our law enforcement department shifts in a manner that creates more community trust, and we invest in the proven solutions that help our community members rehabilitate and redefine themselves, instead of languishing in a jail cell.
  • Invest in the Built Environment. The impact of one’s physical environment on their sense of dignity and worth should not be underestimated. It is our responsibility, as custodians of public spaces, to ensure that we wield our capital to improve and upgrade these assets – ranging from administrative buildings to community centers – in a manner that improves and uplifts the quality of life for all occupants and the surrounding communities. The County must continue to re-invest its assets to ensure they meet the needs of a 21st Century constituency and think innovatively about how to redevelop and revitalize underutilized property for its highest and best use.
  • End Homelessness. Homelessness, plain and simple, is the moral crisis of our time. No man, woman, child or veteran should ever have to resort to living on the sidewalk, in a dilapidated vehicle, or in a tent. While the County redefines its most essential responsibilities, ending homelessness must be at the top of the agenda for both the County and the City. It is my intention to strengthen the collaboration between these two governmental entities for this purpose. While Measure H was a tremendous victory that created previously unimagined resources to support this effort, we know it is simply insufficient to address the pressing need. There must be a renewed commitment to prevent the persistent onslaught of Angelenos becoming homeless, and support the development of more affordable housing, including units coupled with on-site supportive services which is critical for many who are transitioning from the streets, to enable them to thrive on a long-term basis.

No matter the turn of the electoral wheel, this work remains urgent and important. I chose to pursue a position on the Los Angeles City Council for one simple reason – I am not yet done. I want to use my insight, experience, and know-how to make more meaningful progress on these critical issues and many others. In this next chapter, I recommit to shouldering my part of our collective responsibility to fight for the common good and invest in the next generation of leaders and public servants who will pursue a fairer, more equitable, and more just Los Angeles, and I ask the same of you.  We must create a better future, to forge lasting change, and push towards a brighter day. Far too much remains at stake.

With hope,


Wishing a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving

“I’d like to wish you a blessed Thanksgiving. We’ve been facing very challenging times, and yet we remain lifted in gratitude for all the gifts with which we are endowed.

“Despite these trying times, we can be thankful for the community building and the togetherness that has resulted—a concern for one another demonstrated through acts of service to protect and help each other during this pandemic as we strive to end homelessness and all manner of injustice.

“I’m thankful for your strength, your caring, and your patience that has helped us through this very challenging set of circumstances and to celebrate this holiday season with cheer.

“And to those who will not be gathering today with loved ones, I commend you for putting health and safety first.

“It is with gratitude that I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.

“Thank you and be well.” -Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

LA County Moves Forward with New Vision for Juvenile Justice System

Los Angeles County is moving to dismantle the largest youth justice system in the country and begin to transition the County’s youth justice system to a rehabilitative, care-first model by 2025. The action was taken in response to a report titled “Youth Justice Reimagined” produced by the County’s Youth Justice Work Group which called for reducing the size and scope of the juvenile probation system and reallocating resources from youth incarceration and supervision to a healing restorative model. The plan is consistent with the County’s “care first” approach and in accordance with a growing body of literature on juvenile justice. Rather than a punitive system in a prison-like setting with large institutional buildings and barbed wire distant from young people’s communities, this Youth Justice Reimagined vision proposes a home-like setting in communities with 24/7 youth centers and support teams made up of people who develop personal relationships with the young people in their care.

“Our youth simply can’t get well in a cell,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

LA County’s youth justice system is the largest in the country with approximately 500 young people in the County’s two juvenile halls and six probation camps. Research indicates that the current system often fails to help young people thrive and is characterized by stark racial inequity.  A single arrest nearly doubles the likelihood of a young person dropping out of high school, and Black youth are six times more likely to be arrested and 25 times more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, author of the motion, said, “We know now that we will have more success in helping young people to thrive, as well as improve community safety, by providing rehabilitative, health-focused, and care-first programming. We have a lot of analysis and planning still to do, but today’s motion affirms that this is our vision and this is what we plan to build.”

The action taken today mirrors similar efforts in jurisdictions around the country that are reimagining their approach to youth justice including San Francisco, Houston and St. Paul.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, co-author of the motion, said, “The County must resist the tendency towards institutionalizing youth and instead seek out trauma-informed practices that make space for hope and healing and insist on structures that promote positive youth development and rehabilitation. Punitive youth justice systems give up on youth before offering them a chance. The County must be bold in reforming its youth justice system to recognize capacities for rehabilitative change and promote the belonging, usefulness, and competencies that justice-involved youth need to empower themselves and lead healthy, responsible, and caring lives.”

The Youth Justice Work Group included more than 100 staff from County departments, community leaders, labor partners and current and former justice-involved youth, working over many months to reimagine a youth justice system that is rehabilitative, health-focused, and care-first.

Statement on Health Officer Order to Close Outdoor Dining

“Today, the Board of Supervisors reaffirmed the Health Officer’s recommendation to close outdoor dining in light of alarming new rates of new COVID-19 cases.

“These are not decisions that we have made lightly. We are acutely aware of the compromises all Angelenos have been forced to make in order to protect the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones. Unfortunately, as we seek to balance the public health and economic health of our region, there is no win-win outcome. There are downsides to every decision.

“I have always been guided by one fundamental question: How do we do act in a manner that is likely to cause the least amount of permanent, irreversible harm to our residents?
Despite what some naysayers may say, it has not been for naught. Compared to many other cities and regions of our size and density, we’ve avoided overwhelming our healthcare systems and prevented many deaths.

“As we move forward – I hope this Board will continue to prioritize strategies that are designed to get our metrics low enough so that we can reopen schools and get our children back to optimal learning as quickly as possible. Their future is on the line. And frankly, I think incremental efforts to re-open the economy have made it more difficult for us to leave the most restrictive tier and safely move in this direction.

“If this is our objective, we must be consistent. If we are asking that everyone stay home and limit physical interactions with people outside of their homes, our policies align with this message. The public is being bombarded with confusing and incomplete information, much of which is contradictory. Allowing outdoor dining, where people of mixed households gather to dine and mingle without face masks is inconsistent to our request for people to stay home.

“Accordingly, I support the Health Officer’s recommendations and ask that we all do our part to help push through these challenging times.” -Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

A New Future for Victoria Golf Course

A rendering of the sports plaza that will be a part of “The Creek at Dominguez Hills.”


After years of financial, environmental, and operational challenges, the Victoria Golf Course in the City of Carson is on track to be transformed into a state-of-the-art community hub for recreation, community gathering, and economic development.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a lease with Plenitude Holdings, LLC for “The Creek at Dominguez Hills” on the southern 94 acres of the site. The Creek at Dominguez Hills includes over half a million square feet of commercial and privately-operated recreational uses, including an enhanced driving range, a seven-acre traditional golf practice facility, a multi-use sports facility, a sky diving facility, an outdoor adventure park, and a 6.6-acre public park. These facilities, which will be complimented with a club house, retail stores, restaurants, and a sports health and wellness building, will bring a plethora of recreational amenities suitable for all ages and interests.

“The redevelopment of Victoria Golf Course will be transformative for the City of Carson, the South Bay, and the region at-large,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion to authorize a lease with Plenitude to redevelop the site. “The Creek at Dominguez Hills will exponentially increase and diversify opportunities for recreation and community gatherings and have the companion benefit of creating well-paying jobs. Authorizing a lease for this development paves the way for realizing the highest and best use of this property in a manner that will benefit hundreds of thousands of Angelenos annually.”

In summary, the Creek at Dominguez Hills will:

  • Exponentially increase recreational opportunities in Carson;
  • Generate additional revenue for the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation that can be reinvested in park programs in underserved areas;
  • Create hundreds of construction and permanent jobs; and
  • Support economic development in the South Bay region at large.


The proposed redevelopment of the site was first contemplated in November 2017, following direction from the Board to the Department of Parks and Recreation to explore expanded uses of County golf courses, including developing more community-based programs to ensure properties were better utilized to serve a broader section of the population. A 2016 Countywide Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment identified the City as an area with high park need. As compared to the County average of 3.3 park acres per 1,000 residents, the City currently has only 1.5 park acres per 1,000 residents.

In 2019, the Board approved a  lease for the Carol Kimmelman Athletic and Academic Campus on the northern portion of the golf course, which will include a tennis center to be operated by the United States Tennis Association Foundation, sports fields, and a youth-focused learning center operated by the Tiger Woods Foundation.

The Kimmelman Campus is anticipated to attract between 75,000-100,000 visitors in its first year, and the Creek at Dominguez Hill’s recreational amenities are anticipated to attract an additional 600,000 visitors a year. In comparison, the Victoria Golf Course has attracted an average of 43,000 annual users over the past three years.

The Creek at Dominguez Hills will be constructed by workers from the local community. Over 300 construction and 750 permanent jobs will be created, which is a stark difference from the 11 jobs that support current golf course operations on the site.

In its first ten years, including while the project is in its construction phase, the County anticipates generating more than double the rent revenue compared to the current golf concession. This revenue will be used by the Department of Parks and Recreation to support its general operating costs and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in new annual revenue that can be invested in park programming in underserved areas across the County.

“We recognize Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for leading the way to provide diverse recreational opportunities at the future ‘The Creek at Dominguez Hills’,” said the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation Director, Norma E. García-González. “We look forward to working with Plenitude Holdings, LLC, to develop the Project and the community benefit which include a public park and a golf component for Los Angeles County residents to enjoy.”

“We’re pleased that we have been able to work so closely and successfully with the County of Los Angeles to move this project to the next stage and to secure approval of the Environmental Impact Report. This development will be a tremendous asset for the greater LA region, providing jobs as well as much needed community space for residents. In addition to the multi-use indoor sports complex, the project will also combine a traditional and modern take on the golf experience with FlyingTEE, along with other sports-oriented offerings,” explained Bill Shopoff and Randy Blanchard, Principals of Plenitude Holdings LLC.

A rendering of the FlyingTEE sports complex.