A makeover that’s one for the books

Study for success

A C Bilbrew Library is poised to undergo a long-overdue $4.4-million makeover starting July 13.

Artistic renderings showing the new Living Wall, set to revitalize the outdoor space at AC Bilbrew Library.

“The AC Bilbrew library has long been an important community asset and these changes will make it even better,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “A community library is a central place for children and families to gather and learn in a safe environment and we are eager to see the library open its new doors soon. When these renovations are complete, everyone – from very young children to the elderly – will benefit.”

During the yearlong renovation, patrons will be able to borrow books at the Express Library in Athens Park, or at the Willowbrook, Compton, and Gardena Mayme Dear Libraries.

On a motion by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, the county Board of Supervisors approved in January a plan  to refurbish the 21,000-sq. ft.  facility at 150 East El Segundo Boulevard that first opened in 1974.

MAIN IMAGE_Bilbrew LibraryThe project calls for updating much of the interior and exterior of the library using environmentally friendly materials and sustainable design techniques. Workers will use recycled materials, incorporate energy-efficient lighting, cooling and heating systems and other consumption-reducing measures. They will also install new walls and custom cabinetryreplace the carpet and ceiling, and update the data systems and public restrooms. By the time the library reopens, it should be as close to a “net zero energy” facility as possible.

Even the façade, landscaping and pathways to the library will be improved. A wheelchair-accessible ramp will be built at the main entrance to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The library was named after Madame A C Bilbrew, a community leader, poet, musician and deputy to the late Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. She was also a radio pioneer, becoming the first black person in the country to have her own radio show.

A C Bilbrew Library houses the Black Resource Center, which supports research and study on social, historical, musical and cultural aspects unique to the black experience. It has hosted the Los Angeles County Public Library system’s African American History Month Celebration since 1980.

The original library was located in a shopping center from 1964-1974. With the help of architect Vincent J. Proby, the county built the current facility and transferred services on Nov. 2, 1974.

AC Bil Fly_Page_1

Rosa Parks Station to get Do-Over

2015-05-21 LA Metro Vu04 Aerial comp (reduced)

The 25-year-old Rosa Parks Transit Station is in need of major upgrades. To move forward with the proposed $66 million renovation, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is nearly done with the environmental review process. Metro is now seeking two state grants to fully fund the project.

With more than 30,000 riders using the station weekly, it is one of the busiest in the system. Unfortunately, it is also one of the oldest and the least welcoming. The proposed changes will turn the station into a first-class transit hub, including moving the front door of the station farther south so that it’s not under the freeway.

As part of the master plan, new amenities such as a customer service center, a plaza for community events, a hub for bikes and car sharing programs, retail spaces and a Sheriff’s Substation are being proposed in addition to other safety and lighting upgrades.

The improvements to the station are all part of a grander vision to transform the Willowbrook Community. The station is a block away from the MLK Medical Campus.  Los Angeles County has invested more than $600 million to create a first class, preventive care medical campus that includes an Outpatient Center, Mental Health Urgent Care Center and a Center for Public Health.  The new, privately run Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, is scheduled to open this summer and will bring more health services to the campus.

A new library and senior housing will be built on the corner of 118th and Wilmington Avenue, to continue creating a walkable, livable community.

“We need to celebrate public transit and make it easier and more attractive for riders to get to the station,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “That is why we are coupling the improvements at the station with walking and biking improvements in the area. Our efforts will leave a legacy for years to come and will benefit generations of Los Angeles County residents.”

Ramping Up Healthcare in South LA

Lynwood Clinic Dedication Ceremony

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas meets one of the youngest patients at Eisner Pediatric & Family Medical Center in Lynwood

Thousands of families across South Los Angeles now have better access to healthcare, thanks to the new Eisner Pediatric and Family Medical Center that recently opened in Lynwood.


Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with Eisner President and CEO Herb Schultz

“We don’t turn people away, whether or not they have the ability to pay,” Eisner President and CEO Herb Schultz said during the clinic’s recent dedication ceremony. “We want to help individuals from birth until their later years with their healthcare needs.”

Located at 3660 E. Imperial Highway, the clinic offers comprehensive medical, dental, mental health and case management services in a new 7,200 sq. ft. building that previously housed only a small private practice. It currently has nine examination rooms, two procedure rooms and two dental suites, but is adding more.

With the expansion, the number of patients will grow in number from 1,000 to 4,000 – but that’s just the beginning. The location has the physical capacity to eventually serve as many as 13,000 patients.

The clinic will also provide case management services, linking patients with county departments and community providers who can help them secure food, housing, transportation, legal aid, and other necessities.

“This clinic brings healthcare and other services where they’re most needed, ” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said, noting this part of Los Angeles County has a high concentration of health concerns – from asthma to diabetes to heart disease – and a low concentration of health providers.

HS5_4934That scenario, however, is about to change, and not just because of the new clinic. This summer, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital is poised to open in Willowbrook, replacing King/Drew Medical Center which has been closed for the last eight years.

Eisner will have a role at MLK, providing labor and delivery doctors and nurses for the new hospital, which is part of a sprawling campus that includes an outpatient center, public health clinic, psychiatric urgent care center and recuperative care center, among other facilities.

“Preventive healthcare is coming to this part of the county in a significant way,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “This clinic and the MLK Medical Campus are poised to bring our residents first-rate health care and services that are needed.”


County Data At Your Fingertips


Ushering in a new era of transparency and accountability, Los Angeles County launched an Open Data website Thursday that will serve as a user-friendly one-stop shop for the public to access vast troves of data – from neighborhood crime statistics to restaurant inspection grades, and many more.

“We are now offering more information in an accessible and unprecedented way to our county residents,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion creating the county’s Open Data Initiative. “We will continue to ask for transparency and to encourage innovation with the information that our county collects.”

Click on the image to access

Previously, the public had to sift through hundreds of pages of files on different county websites to obtain information.

With the new website, they simply click an icon on the their computer screen to look at the county budget, expenditures, employee salaries, election results, and the largest online collection of property assessment records in the U.S.

The data is also in a form that entrepreneurs can use to develop mobile apps, potentially leading to further innovations. The county has created a task force to identify even more datasets that can be added to the website after the initial launch.

Los Angeles County is the largest municipal government in the nation to make data easily accessible. It follows a 2013 executive order by President Barack Obama declaring that information is a valuable national asset whose worth can be multiplied when made accessible to the public.

Creating Automatic Voter Registration at the DMV

voteActing on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors directed Los Angeles County’s advocates in the state Capitol to support AB 1461, which calls for automatically registering eligible voters when they get or renew their driver license at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“By streamlining voter registration, AB 1461 – the California New Motor Voter Act – has the potential to reverse the alarming decline in voter turnout in Los Angeles County and beyond,” the supervisor said. “As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, it is imperative that we clear away any barriers that prevent eligible voters from participating in the democratic process.”

The federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires each state to register a person to vote simultaneously with an application for a new or renewed driver license. Currently, California is not in compliance with that provision because the DMV has separate forms for driver license and voter registration, according to a memo from the county’s chief executive office.

Sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla and modeled on a recently enacted law in Oregon, AB 1461 would create the California New Motor Voter Program requiring that eligible voters who obtain or renew a driver license be placed on the state’s active voter roll automatically, with an opportunity to opt out.

It would require that data already being collected by the DMV be transmitted electronically to the Secretary of State (SOS), who serves as California’s chief elections officer.

Currently, both the DMV and SOS rely on a manual voter registration system that is more than 20 years old. Being paper-based, it is prone to problems caused by illegible handwriting, inaccurate information, data duplication and operator error.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas noted California’s voter turnout in the 2014 elections was the lowest since World War II. An estimated 7 million Californians, including 1.2 million in Los Angeles County, were eligible to vote but did not register.

With AB 1461, those meeting the minimum qualifications to register would automatically be added to the state’s active voter rolls once they obtain or renew their driver license. They can then either choose a political party affiliation, or opt out of registration by submitting a request to their county elections official. To address privacy concerns, AB 1461 prohibits the transfer of non-citizen information to the Secretary of State.