Summer is off to a good start in Council District 9 with the re-opening of Vermont Square Park and Central Park Pool in South Los Angeles. On June 9 and 10, I was joined by hundreds of enthusiastic parents and bright-eyed, smiling children to welcome the latest upgrades to both parks.
Community members came out in droves on June 9 to check out the improvements at Vermont Square Park, which include the installation of new playground equipment, barbeque pits, benches, trash receptacles, drinking fountain, new fitness equipment and refurbished basketball court.
The newly renovated park serves an estimated 11,031 residents within a one-half mile walking distance. This open green space is situated directly across the street from Vermont Square Public Library.
On June 10, residents took a dip in the newly renovated, neighborhood pool at Central Park, which had been closed for 12 years. The Central Recreation Center Pool—at 1357 E. 22nd St., between Washington and Adams—was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and closed its doors in 2004. Two years ago, Central pool began a multi-million dollar renovation to the 63-hundred square foot pool that now includes a children’s splash area.
To mark the festive occasion, nearly 100 residents attended an end-of-school-year pool party at Central Park—organized by my office. With the re-opening of Central Pool, the approximately 11,474 residents the facility serves in this South Los Angeles community now have a beautiful neighborhood pool for youth and adults to enjoy.
The pool is open all summer long and kids get in for free, adults can join for $3.50, and seniors only have to pay $1. In addition, Kaiser Permanente’s Operation Splash is offering free swim lessons for children and adults, and the LA84 Foundation is funding youth summer aquatics programs, including synchronized swim all summer long.
Since taking office in 2013, I have committed more than $36 million in improvements and upgrades across 16 of the District’s local parks, and there are many future projects in the pipeline.
The Toyota dealership of Downtown Los Angeles is undergoing an expansion just north of its existing site to accommodate growth. The four-tier, 290,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility will feature a 22,600 foot two-story showroom with vehicle display along Figueroa and Washington, a 40-car bay below grade service department and a wholesale and retail parts boutique.
The Shammas Group, which acquired the dealership in 2012, broke ground on the expansion project on June 10. The new facility is expected to be complete in late 2017.
As the Chair of the Economic Development Committee, I’m excited for the future of our local businesses and the role they play in job creation and stimulating the region’s economy.
Since Toyota of Downtown LA was established in 2012, they have grown by nearly 70 percent, while increasing sales tax revenue to the City by an additional $23 million over the past three years.
The Los Angeles City Council declared June as “Immigrant Heritage Month” to highlight the impact foreign-born individuals have on society. To commemorate the occasion, I had the pleasure of honoring Alfonso Martinez—the owner of the local restaurant Poncho's Tlayudas.
It was my privilege and honor to share Alfonso’s moving story with my colleagues, and now with you—our friends and neighbors. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Alfonso has been in inspiration to the South Los Angeles Community. Just a few years ago, he arrived in America with very little, and now, he has a successful business selling his famous mole and award-winning Tlayudas.
Today, Alfonso’s establishment serves as a popular gathering place for our beloved community. It’s where families come to have Sunday dinner and relax after church, and new customers feel like they are sitting at their kitchen table.
Please don’t forget to continue supporting our local, small businesses. Poncho's Tlayudas is located at 4318 S. Main St., Los Angeles 90037.
On June 15, I had the privilege to recognize Consejo Romerista Intersectiorial El Salvador (CRIES) in Council Chambers. For the past couple of weeks, members of CRIES took part in “Monsignor Romero Pilgrimage, the Passage of the Migrant” to raise awareness of immigrant rights.
The pilgrimage began in El Salvador, passed through Guatemala, made its way to Mexico, and is now here in Southern California. Their journey was a visual for people to reflect and better understand the plight of immigrants.
Throughout their trek, our friends carried a 5’7, life-size image of Monsignor Oscar Romero, a Catholic Archbishop whose teachings focused on the humane treatment of all people. Until this day, Monsignor Romero’s legacy remains strong in both El Salvador and the United States as a symbol of hope, compassion and kindness.
Romero’s sculpture will continue visiting churches of different denominations in California, spreading the message of justice embodied by the beloved Salvadoran Archbishop.
I commend this organization for creating consciousness on this very important issue and reminding us to do our part in protecting the lives and human dignity of migrants worldwide. This is a message that hits very close to home in my District, which has a predominantly Latino community, including many Salvadorans.
This is a defining time for South Los Angeles. This week, I joined U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti, along with other elected officials from the federal and local level, to announce that South LA had received a federal Promise Zone designation.
As the representative of Council District 9, I’m thrilled that our community was awarded a Promise Zone not only because I have spent the past two years fighting for this designation, but more importantly, because our neighborhoods will finally receive priority access to federal money needed to properly address the region’s 46 percent poverty rate.
Through the Promise Zone Initiative, the federal government will work strategically with local leaders to spur economic activity and job growth, improve educational opportunities, reduce crime and leverage private investment to improve the quality of life for residents of underserved communities like South LA.
The new South LA Promise Zone is home to nearly 198,000 residents and includes portions of neighborhoods of Vernon-Central, South Park, Florence, Exposition Park, Vermont Square, Leimert Park, and Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw.
The winning application was submitted by a diverse collaborative made up of local institutions and non-profits committed to reducing the rates of poverty for several of the most economically depressed communities within the city. The coalition became known as South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z) to capitalize on compelling opportunities that new light rail lines bring for neighborhood revitalization, as well as connecting residents to education and economic opportunities.
“The Obama Administration believes in your vision. We believe in your potential. We believe in your community, and we are here to help. SLATE-Z has been selected to be part of the President's Promise Zone Initiative, and we will help bring your plans to life,” the Deputy Secretary said during the official announcement on June 6, 2016 in front of throngs of community partners, residents and students at Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC).
Why is this designation so important? Because all Promise Zones receive priority access to federal investments that further their strategic plans to help residents in a targeted area thrive and prosper. Promise Zones have an advantage in applying for grants, as well as special access to federal employees who act as liaisons, helping to navigate through federal bureaucracy.
As a result, we can expect greater resources to serve this ethnically diverse population. For example, students at the 11 comprehensive high schools in SLATE-Z, including five in the Ninth District, will receive increased support to prepare for colleges and careers. The SLATE-Z coalition also plans to tackle the 12 percent unemployment rate and under-employment to move more residents into living-wage jobs and career pathways.
The victory was especially sweet because South LA had been twice denied the opportunity to benefit from this anti-poverty program. The first time, in 2014, I was furious. But rather than throw my hands in the air and say, “Oh, well. Too bad.” I decided to bring together dozens of key leaders across sectors to turn our shared frustration into collective action.
One of my first phone calls was to Larry Frank, President of LATTC, which became the lead agency. We subsequently convened a series of meetings with community leaders and advocates. Before we knew it, we were making history. Forming a collaborative structure unlike anything before— groups who typically compete for funding suddenly started working side by side, tackling the root causes of inequality and poverty in South LA.
In 2015, we received more bad news and learned that we were excluded from a second round of designations. Still, we did not let this deter us. We continued to work together over the last year to leverage the strengths and resources of our partners, and we refined our application. And as they say, the third time is the charm.
I want to personally thank all of the community partners who joined me at the table two years ago. We went in with a clear mission to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in need.
Thanks to our partners’ efforts, we now have another powerful tool to rewrite the South LA story. To create the future we want for our children and their children. The kind where one’s zip code or skin color, does not determine the benefits or burden we bear.
I am proud to celebrate this day with our partners, including: (partial list) Brotherhood Crusade, City of Los Angeles, Coalition for Responsible Community Development, Community Coalition, CD Tech, LA Chamber of Commerce, LA Urban League, LA’s Promise, Los Angeles Unified School District, Move LA, Cal State Dominguez Hills, UCLA, and University of Southern California – among others. The collaborative work of the partnership was made possible with funding support from (listed alphabetically) the California Endowment, LA n Sync, Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation, and Weingart Foundation.
I’m honored our partners and allies had so much faith in what we were trying and still are trying to accomplish, because the work is far from over.
Thank you, President Obama, for awarding SLATE-Z a Promise Zone. Yes, progress will happen here. Creation of living-wage jobs, quality education and career training, improved public safety, greater resources, and increased support. The time for South LA is now.
Curren D. Price, Jr.
Los Angeles City Council, Ninth District
Photos courtesy of Gus Ruelas/USC
Please join Council District 9 on June 4 for a tree planting celebration in partnership with Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, City Plants, Los Angeles Sanitation, and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.
We’re calling on volunteers of all ages to help us plant 170 trees along a 2-mile stretch of Vermont Avenue in South Los Angeles. This is the final of four tree-planting events that have transformed 6 miles of the Vermont Avenue corridor in South L.A.
These trees will help save energy, combat the urban heat island effect, clean polluted city air, and reduce greenhouse gases along one of the busiest business and residential corridors in Council Districts 8 and 9.
In all, the project—titled “South LA Carbon into Canopy: Vermont Corridor”—has allowed us to plant more than 600 trees this past spring thanks to a collaborative effort with the different offices and a $750,000 grant from CAL FIRE and a $257,000 match from LADWP’s energy efficiency program through City Plants.
If you’re interested in participating, we will be meeting at 8:30 a.m. at Vermont Gage Park, 6264 S. Vermont Ave., LA 90044. Winchell’s Donuts will provide free breakfast. Volunteers will also receive free lunch. The event, which also includes a community resource fair with music and exhibits, ends at 1 p.m.
If you’re looking for another incentive, we will also be giving away fruit trees and shade trees while supplies last. Hope you can join us for the festivities as we work together to beautify our community.
On June 2, I had the privilege to dedicate the intersection of 51st Street and Central Avenue as “Benjamin J. Bowie Post 228.” The square dedication, which coincided with the “Penta-Loom: Ode to Soldiers” mural unveiling, pays homage to the 1st American Legion Post established in California.
Post 228 was named in honor of Corporal Benjamin J. Bowie, who was drafted into the U.S. Army on Oct. 28, 1917. He served in combat with the 92nd Infantry Division, until he was tragically killed on Sept. 11, 1918 by friendly fire. Bowie was the first African American from Los Angeles killed in World War I.
It was my pleasure to honor the Bowie Post 228 and its members, many of whom are advocates for education, public safety and veteran issues affecting the South LA community.
Also as part of this week’s ceremony, we officially unveiled “Penta-Loom: Ode to Soldiers”—portraying the images of personnel from various branches of the military. The mural by artist Patrick Henry Johnson is the first to be commissioned under the City's new mural ordinance and was made possible by a partnership with Union Bank and ArtworxLA. It is part of my office’s ongoing efforts to breathe new life into historic Central Avenue.
Great news for low-income families in search of affordable housing! The City Council on June 1 approved a 100 percent affordable housing project right here in the Ninth District.
Hollywood Community Housing Corporation received the green light to develop 43 units along Central Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard next to Angelus Funeral Home—a historic South Central monument designed by famed architect, Paul R. Williams.
The Paul Williams Project, at 1010 E. Jefferson Blvd., will offer tenants FREE onsite supportive services, including ESL, GED, financial literacy, and youth programming.
The development, which is slated for very-low and low-income households, preserves and restores the landmark funeral home designed by renowned architect Paul R. Williams, who was the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects.
Construction to the complex is expected to begin in early 2017. To stay up to date on subsidized housing opportunities in the City of Los Angeles please click here.
It gives me great pleasure to present to you a #throwbackthursday video to when my office coordinated community clean-ups across four different locations in the Ninth District. Every month, we coordinate clean-ups in collaboration with schools, churches, neighborhood groups and stakeholders districtwide. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, please call the District Office at (323) 846-2651.
Curren D. Price, Jr. Councilman
District 9 - “The New 9th”
I had the honor and privilege of hosting on May 22, the 9th Annual "Tribute to SHeroes" Awards at the Radisson Hotel at USC. A SHero is a woman who has demonstrated significant leadership, great pride and an unyielding commitment to strengthening our community.
This event is a tradition I started when I first served in the State Assembly and continued through my time in the State Senate, and now as your City Council representative in the New 9th.
The yearly luncheon allows me to honor the dedication of 25 phenomenal women who are driving positive change in the Ninth District—individuals who often are not thanked enough or whose tremendous impact goes unnoticed.
Of all the events I host every year, this is the one that is closest to my heart. After all, I have two very special SHeroes in my life: my mother Ms. Charlena Price and my wife Del Richardson-Price.
The recipients of this year’s SHero Awards have helped enrich the lives of our neighbors, and this past Sunday we came together to celebrate their accomplishments.
Ladies: You are the epitome of putting service before self! A very warm congratulations to …
Executive Director & Founder-Life After Uncivil Ruthless Acts (L.A.U.R.A.)
Executive Director-South Central Prevention Coalition
Business Owner-Mariscos El Diablo
Trust for Public Land-Avalon Green Alley Team/Resident
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)
Soledad Enrichment Action Community Activities Coordinator/Resident
Co-Founder & President-Nu Alpha Delta Multicultural Sorority
Weingart Family Solutions Center/Resident
Jefferson High School Community Liaison/Resident
Executive Director-Los Angeles Wellness Station
Vice Principal-Santee Education Complex
Community Resident-Social Support Liaison-Harmony Project
Public Safety Officer-University of Southern California
Founder-Solidarity House of the South/Casa Solidaria del Sur
Founder-LA on Cloud 9
Social Worker at Los Angeles Trade Tech College-Early College Academy
Coordinator-LAPD Newton Division PAL Program
Founder-Downtown Dog Rescue (DDR)
To see the photos from this year’s event, click here.
Curren D. Price, Jr. Councilman
District 9 - “The New 9th”