Councilmember Tom LaBonge and hundreds of fifth-graders from five area schools made their way to the top of Mount Hollywood and planted five trees on Thursday as part of the 3rd Annual Griffith Park Hike for Health.
“Healthy bodies and healthy minds are important, and this is a fun and memorable way for young people to see the beauty of Griffith Park during its recovery,” said Councilmember LaBonge.
Joined by members of the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, Councilmember LaBonge and members of the community led the students from Wilshire Crest Elementary, Toluca Lake Elementary, Lankershim Elementary, Charles H. Kim Elementary, and Los Feliz Elementary up the gentle 1.5-mile hike to the top, where spectacular views of the city and of the world famous Hollywood Sign greeted the happy hikers.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge, city officials, community members attended the dedication of Renee’s Place universal-access playground at Pan Pacific Park on Monday. The $850,000 play area was dedicated to Renee Weitzer, Chief of Staff and Planning Deputy in Council District 4.
“This wonderful new playground is a reflection of the great Renee Weitzer in every way, a brilliant tribute and a great gift to the children of the city of Los Angeles,” said Councilmember LaBonge, chair of the City Council’s Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee.
Renee’s Place features two separate age-appropriate sections, one area for 2- to 5-year-olds and the other for 5- to 12-year-olds. Both areas are accessible to disabled as well as fully able children. There is also a mister to cool children off on hot afternoons. It was funded through a generous $200,000 donation from Legacy Partners, L.A. for Kids (Prop. K) funds, and Council District 4 Quimby funds.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge and officials from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced plans before a gathering of residents and local business owners on Monday to address traffic and community impacts relating to the installation of a new five-foot-wide water pipe along First Street in the Mid-Wilshire area.
The new water line will connect the lines from two city reservoirs, Lake Hollywood and the Silver Lake Reservoir. It is required to provide uninterrupted service to residents of Central and South Los Angeles who are currently serviced by the Silver Lake Reservoir. The United States Environmental Protection Agency requires that the Silver Lake Reservoir be removed from service because of the discovery of low-level contamination last fall.
“We are working hard to keep traffic in L.A. moving as improvements to our great city’s infrastructure continue here in the 4th Council District,” said Councilmember LaBonge, whose office is taking great care in working with the LADOT to reroute traffic in an efficient and effective manner, he explained.
The First Street Trunk Line project, which began in February 2008 and is slated to continue until December 2009, is broken into segments to lessen the impact of the work on the community.
Councilmember LaBonge met with about 25 Griffith Park area community leaders and city officials to discuss the DWP rate increase, the draining of two city reservoirs, the implementation of a smoking ban in city parks and other issues. LaBonge convened the meeting to allow for effective communication and coordinated city services to this area of the 4th Council District.
“Information is knowledge is power,” Councilmember LaBonge said. “I believe in bringing government to the people to make the city function well.”
The breakfast, which was held at Griffith Park Adult Community Center Library, is the third in a series of focused meetings that the Councilmember is hosting with community leaders.
Capt. William Murphy, commanding officer of the Northeast Division of the Los Angeles Police Dept., introduced himself. He said property crime is down 5.6 percent and violent crime is down 3.3 percent from last year. He said his division is planning a task force to crack down on flower vendors along Forest Lawn Drive near the Fwy-134.
Among those in attendance were Jim McDaniel, Marty Adams and Susan Rowghani, Marvin Moon, Jeff Peltola and Greg Black of the L.A. Dept. of Water and Power; Los Angeles Fire Department Chief J.D. Drake; Chief Park Ranger Albert Torres and representatives of the following neighborhood groups: The Oaks, Atwater Village Neighborhood County, Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council, the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Club.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge and Council President Eric Garcetti joined officials and parents at Thomas Starr King Middle School on Monday to announce a $900,000 state grant award to make it safer for students to walk and bike to school.
The grant from Caltrans’ Safe Routes to School program will cover the cost of wider sidewalks around the school; speed feedback signs to encourage drivers to slow down; lighting upgrades in a dimly lit underpass nearby and an education program to promote student safety.
“I support neighborhood schools that kids can walk to from home. They are the community centers of Los Angeles. Thomas Starr King is that kind of neighborhood school and I’m proud that the two council offices worked with state and city officials to make this grant happen,” said Councilmember LaBonge.
Added Council President Garcetti, "The $900,000 Caltrans grant that we are receiving will help us make much needed improvements to our streets and sidewalks that will help us ensure that students at King Middle School can get to school safely. I strongly believe that student safety is directly related to student achievement. We want our kids to be more focused on learning, and less worried about whether they’re going to be okay getting to and from school."
Also on hand for the announcement were LAUSD School Board Member Yolie Flores Aguilar, LAUSD Director of Middle Schools Anne Webb, Caltrans Engineer David Wang, Thomas Starr King Principal Kristen Kaiser and the King Drill Team, which performed for the visitors.
Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Wendy Greuel announced the completion of a $3 million major road improvement project at the intersection of Highland and Franklin avenues today. Both the north and south intersections were widened to allow dedicated right and left turn pockets to help relieve congestion at one of the busiest intersections in Los Angeles.
“This work has been needed for 30 years, and I’m pleased to finally announce the completion,” said Councilmember LaBonge who was instrumental is having the State of California relinquish the street to the City of Los Angeles in 2006.
The relinquishment paved the way for this project. When the state handed over control of this major north-south thoroughfare to the City of Los Angeles, it also provided $3.2 million in funds that it had previously ear-marked for future street and sidewalk upgrades. Those funds provided the budget for this project.
"This transit improvement project will allow tens of thousands of Angelenos and tourists to see the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, as opposed to the back of a car while stuck in traffic," said Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, Chair of the City's Transportation Committee. "I applaud Councilmember LaBonge's leadership in ensuring this critical project was completed."
Added City Engineer Gary Lee Moore, "The Highland Avenue Widening Project was extremely challenging to construct in this heavily congested area. I appreciate the support of the community during the planning and the construction of this much needed transportation enhancement project.”
Councilmember Tom LaBonge’s plan to create a monthly pass for riders using the city’s DASH bus system got the green-light in the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation will begin selling the $9 monthly passes in May.
“We want to make it effortless for people to use public transit,” Councilmember LaBonge said. “Monthly passes have been very successful in other transit systems. Why not try it on the DASH lines?”
The DASH system is a popular transit option for short rides within neighborhoods. With 28 million boardings per year, it is the second largest fleet in Los Angeles County after Metro. DASH is the only transit line operated by the City of Los Angeles. It’s running in 27 Los Angeles neighborhoods, including downtown; the average trip is about one mile.
Besides providing a transit option within neighborhoods, the DASH system serves as an important link with regional rail and bus service. At 25 cents per ride, it is a bargain.
LADOT monthly passes and Metro elderly and disabled passes are already honored on DASH services. It is the success of the Metro passes that weighed in favor of trying passes on DASH.
The monthly DASH passes will be offered at the LA DOT transit store in the Los Angeles Mall, Space 18B, 201 N Los Angeles St. Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge and the Hollywood Media District staff and boardmembers dedicated two new medians on Highland Ave. between Santa Monica Blvd. and Fountain Ave. on Thursday.
The medians, which are landscaped with date and queen palm trees, were completed in December in a public/private partnership between the City of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Media District. The Media District spent about $300,000 from its assessment fees to design, construct and maintain the medians. Council District 4 will reimburse the permit and inspection fees for this project from state funds provided through the relinquishment of Highland Ave. to the city.
“This great project demonstrates how the city works creatively with business leaders and residents to make Los Angeles more beautiful,” the Councilmember said. “Together, we’ve built new civic landmarks in the middle of a fully developed part of Hollywood. That’s smart urban planning.”
The event, which was held at Simon’s Camera, 1213 N. Highland Ave., drew community members who were enthusiastic about the landscape feature. These medians were designed to match the Highland medians between Melrose Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd., which the Media District installed several years ago.
Carol Cassella, President of Hollywood Media District BID (Business Improvement District) and Debby Wehbe, chair of the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council, were also on hand for the dedication ceremony.