The City Council unanimously approved Councilmember LaBonge’s initiative to make public school campuses greener and open them on weekends to neighboring communities.
The plan, which was initiated by Councilmember LaBonge and Councilmember Richard Alarcon and approved on Wednesday, calls for a master joint-use agreement between the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and the Los Angeles Unified School District to create recreation opportunities on school campuses throughout the city.
“With this initiative, we’re taking a giant leap toward making Los Angeles a healthier city where children of all ages can play and enjoy active recreation in their own neighborhoods,” Councilmember LaBonge said. “This plan helps us fight obesity, connect people to their own neighborhoods and make our school campuses greener. It’s a win-win-win.”
This plan attempts to address the limited park space available in Los Angeles. A recent study by the Trust for Public Land, (“TPL”) a national non‐profit public land conservancy, found that two‐thirds of children 18 and under in Los Angeles do not live within walking distance of a public park. The limited park space has been linked to high rates of childhood obesity and other health issues.
The multi-agency Community School Parks working group has been studying this proposal since the two councilmembers first introduced it in August, 2007. The City of Santa Monica has successfully opened playgrounds for public use at several schools, for example. The program is expected to start with 15 pilot sites throughout the city. It is expected to cost about $200,000 per location per year and would be funded through public and private sources.
About 70 students from Thomas Starr King Middle School and a crowd of neighbors joined Councilmember Tom LaBonge and city beautification officials in dedicating the long-awaited mural entitled “Fluid City Rising” on the Hoover Walk in the Franklin Hills this morning.
“This beautiful mural represents the determination of this community to make Los Angeles a more beautiful city for its children,” said Councilmember LaBonge. “I am so happy to see King Middle School students here because this mural is for them.”
Area residents had initiated the mural project to clean up the frequently tagged walk, which is a cement stairway and retaining wall at the north end of Hoover St., just below Prospect St. Students from Franklin Elementary, King Middle and John Marshall High schools use the stairway to walk to school every day. Residents Mary Frances Reynolds Smith and Mary Rodriguez (who is now the Education Deputy in Council District 4) felt the graffiti sent the wrong message to neighborhood youngsters. They began applying for grants for the project in 2003 and engaged mural artist Ricardo Mendoza to paint the mural.
Getting it painted and installed took many years because the 2005 winter rains destroyed an adjacent retaining wall that was repaired through a FEMA grant. The City’s Office of Community Beautification awarded the project $15,000 in grants over two years. Council District 4 hired the art restoration firm of Nathan Zakheim & Associates when the mural wall began to crumble recently. Neighbors maintained the area for many years in anticipation of the mural installation.
Mendoza painted the mural on a huge canvas in his studio and installed it on-site in late February with the assistance of Kuva Zakheim and several assistants. Click here to see more photos from this event.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge and officials from city water and parks agencies broke ground this morning on a section of a new water line that will run through Griffith Park. The new pipeline replaces a major water transmission pipe that is 70 years old and leaking.
“I want to make sure the public knows that the water line is being installed to improve water pressure and address leaks,” Councilmember LaBonge said. “There may be some traffic disruptions, but the project will be finished before you know it.”
The project replaces a section of a water line that connects the North Hollywood Pump Station with the Ivanhoe Reservoir in Silver Lake. About 11,100 feet of 96-inch diameter welded steel pipe will be installed along Crystal Springs Drive from approximately 500 feet north of the intersection of Los Feliz Boulevard to the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot. Construction, which will last until about November, 2011 and include open trench and jacking/tunneling. Jacking and tunneling will be utilized to minimize traffic impacts.
The Department of Water and Power is undertaking this water line replacement project due to a history of leaks and low water pressure issues. The project is also needed to comply with federally mandated Water Quality Regulations.
"As part of LADWP's ongoing Water Infrastructure Program, RSC Unit 3 will replace an existing water pipeline constructed in the 1940s," said Glenn Singley, director of LADWP's Water Engineering and Technical Services Division. "The new pipeline will improve water quality for the City of Los Angeles while increasing water supply and pressure critical to fire protection activities in Griffith Park."
Also on hand for the groundbreaking were Vicki Israel, Assistant General Manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks, Albert Torres, Chief Park Ranger for the City of Los Angeles, as well as several community members and city staff.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge and city finance officials told about 125 residents of the fourth district tonight what the city’s $500 million budget shortfall for the 2009-2010 budget could mean to them. At LaBonge’s 10th Community Congress since being elected in November, 2001, officials explained the budget process and addressed priorities.
“The financial picture for the city of Los Angeles, like every government entity in the world, has changed dramatically,” said Councilmember LaBonge. “Because of the global economic crisis, Los Angeles has a smaller piece of the pie than usual. I’m talking to and listening to my constituents so that we can work well together, work harder and work smarter to accomplish what needs to be done.”
Councilmember LaBonge and Ray Ciranna, Interim City Administrative Officer, led the budget discussion, which was held at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens Auditorium. LaBonge presented results of an on-line survey his office conducted that analyzed residents’ budget priorities. The top priorities residents cited were public safety, preventing overdevelopment, and street repair and maintenance.
City officials presented information on how the budget process works, which areas may be trimmed and what departments could experience an infusion of funds from the federal stimulus plan. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa must release his budget proposal to the City Council by April 20th. The City Council will then hold a series of hearings over a three week period before voting on the budget.
Besides Councilmember LaBonge and Mr. Ciranna, other city officials in attendance were Bill Robertson, Director of the Bureau of Street Services; Lynne Ozawa, Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst and Debby Rolland of the Department of Recreation and Parks.
Please join Councilmember LaBonge for a piece of birthday cake in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Los Angeles-Nagoya, Japan Sister Cities Relationship. A brief ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 1 at 1 p.m. on the lawn of City Hall South (northeast corner of First and Main streets downtown.) Nagoya was the first of Los Angeles' 25 Sister Cities.
Thousands of Angelenos decked out in green filled the streets of Downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 17 for the 10th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Concert. Proceeds from the fun and free event went to benefit the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society.
“As a native son of Los Angeles with deep Irish roots, I’m proud to see this wonderful, family friendly event light up the heart of Downtown,” said Councilmember LaBonge, the parade's top promoter. “Today is a great day for all of us to come together and celebrate this vibrant culture in Los Angeles.”
The parade began at historic Olvera Street and featured a number of prominent Irish-Americans including Grand Marshal Robert Patrick and LAPD Chief William Bratton, representatives from Los Angeles' 25 Sister Cities, police officers and firefighters, and many more.
As the parade ended, the celebration continued at Pershing Square with a performance of the National Anthem by Lorenzo Lamas, booths serving Irish food and drink, and a free concert by world famous Irish rockers Young Dubliners.
The late Dr. Milt Davis, beloved teacher, coach, and family man, was honored on Saturday, March 14 with the planting of 20 trees at Dante’s View, a hillside in Griffith Park with a spectacular view of Los Angeles.
Councilmember LaBonge was joined by more than 50 of Dr. Davis’ friends, relatives, and former students for the planting that included the construction of a new bench by Eagle Scout Alex Joaquin and assistance from the Highlander Fire Crew.
“On the field, Coach Davis would say, ‘When you get knocked down, you get back up, get back in the huddle, and call another play – you keep going towards your goal,’” said Councilmember LaBonge, for whom Dr. Davis was a lifelong mentor and friend. “His advice was bigger than football. It was an important life lesson that touched tens of thousands of people.”
Dr. Davis was an All-Pro football player, a 30-year scout for the National Football League, a coach at John Marshall High School, and a counselor and professor of Life Sciences at Los Angeles Community College. He passed away in September, 2008 at his home in Elmira, Oregon.
With the great-grandson of the park’s original donor at his side and about 50 community members around him, Councilmember Tom LaBonge dedicated Griffith Park as a Historic Cultural Monument of the City of Los Angeles. It is the largest historic monument in the city.
“I hereby dedicate Griffith Park as Historic Cultural Monument number 942. This park is the greatest gift ever given to the City of Los Angeles,” Councilmember LaBonge said. “Without it, our city would have no soul.”
The dedication ceremony, which included the unveiling of the monument sign, capped a year-long city process that garnered tremendous support from the community and the city at large.
Jon Kirk Mukri, General Manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks commented, "This recognition of the historic significance of Griffith Park is long overdue. This park is not only of historic consequence for the City of Los Angeles but is an international icon."
The effort to name the park a historic monument was initiated by Van Griffith, great-grandson of Col. Griffith J. Griffith, who donated more than 3,015 acres of park land to the city in 1896. That gift became Griffith Park which, as the city acquired adjacent parcels over the years, has become one of the largest municipal parks in the United States at 4,217 acres.
"This is a great day for Griffith Park and a great day for the City of Los Angeles," LaBonge said.
Also in attendance were Barry A. Sanders, president of the Board of Recreation and Parks; Ken Bernstein, Director of the Office of Historic Resources, Daniel Paul of ICF Jones & Stokes (the consulting firm that prepared the historic monument application); Chief Park Ranger Albert Torres; Louis Alvarado, Honorary Mayor of Griffith Park and Bernadette Soter of the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council.