Councilmember Tom LaBonge joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Council President Eric Garcetti, other City officials and 240 youth squad members to celebrate the third year of Summer Night Lights, the anti-gang program.
The violence reduction and community initiative keeps City parks open after dark with organized activities for at-risk youth, while also providing job opportunities and a safe place to spend the summer.
"We need to do all we can to keep the children of Los Angeles safe," Councilmember LaBonge said. "Opening our parks to them is a wonderful way to keep them engaged while they're out of school."
"Summer Night Lights is a crucial part of our broader strategy to invest in another summer of hope for our youth and safety for our families," said Mayor Villaraigosa. "This is our chance to build on last summer’s success and make this summer better than the last."
Summer Night Lights expanded from 16 to 24 locations citywide and provides after-school activities, athletic leagues, arts initiatives and family programs to the Los Angeles community. The comprehensive program works in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department, A Better LA, the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Conservation Corps., and the LA Unified School District.
Last year the program served over 270,000 youth families Citywide, and served 250,651 meals. In addition, Summer Night Lights helped achieve reductions in all gang related crime.
Over 100 folk musicians, dancers and singers from around the world performed at The Grove at Farmers Market on Sunday at the 5th annual Culture Day sponsored by Councilmember LaBonge and Los Angeles Sister Cities.
"We're here today to celebrate the diverse cultures of the world, all of which have found a home in this cosmopolitan City," Councilmember LaBonge said. "We are the world right here in the heart of Los Angeles."
Clapping and dancing crowds greeted dance groups from sister cities Jakarta,Indonesia; Taipei, Taiwan; Beirut,Lebanon and Mumbai, India. Drum ensembles from Nagoya, Japan and Lusaka, Zambia were followed by Berlin's recreation of 1930s German cabarets and Mexico City's Tenor of the Americas, Maximo. Irish singer, Ken O'Malley, emceed.
The Councilmember, President of Sister Cities of Los Angeles, Inc., at one point led the crowd and a group of performers in singing "We Are the World."
Presdient Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Sister Cities program in 1956 to build people-to-people relationships among Sister Cities and increase cultural understanding and awareness. Sister Cities of Los Angeles was formed in 1959 with Nagoya, Japan and Eilat, Israel. Today, Sister Cities of Los Angeles is a major force in international relations and trade with 25 member cities.
Joined by families from across the City, Councilmember LaBonge took the first dive into Griffith Park Pool for Operation Splash, Kaiser Permanente's kick-off to the first week of summer. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and General Manager of Department of Recreation and Parks Jon Mukri also joined.
"This was my neighborhood pool when I was growing up," Councilmember LaBonge said. "It's wonderful to see another generation of families coming to Griffith Park to enjoy and love another feature of Los Angeles."
"Operation Splash will kick off a summer of safe, healthy and fun activities at city pools by providing vital services, such as free swimming lessons, for children and their parents during the hot summer months," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "This partnership with Kaiser Permanente will transform city pools into a summertime oasis where children can meet new friends and develop a routine of regular exercise."
Operation Splash also included the Expo Center’s youth synchronized swimming team and children from Glassell and Chevy Chase Recreation Centers Summer Camp.
For the 2010 summer, the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks received a $250,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente Southern California that will fund free swim lessons for 6,000 low-income youth and adults at 35 pools across the city. Operation Splash will support free junior lifeguard training for 780 low-income youths at 49 city pools, and extend the summer swim season for one week at seven city pools serving about 10,000 pool patrons.
Joining the effort to make youngsters water safe and provide them with the opportunity to participate in water polo, synchronized swimming and diving is the LA84 Foundation. Over the last 25 years the Foundation has consistently assisted the City’s efforts to provide youngsters with access to quality sports programs.
Operation Splash developed as part of Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) efforts to reduce obesity in the community by broadening opportunities for access to healthy foods and daily physical activity.
Children and their parents can check their eligibility at local participating community pools. For more information, call the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks at 323 906-7953 or email at Citywide.Aquatics@lacity.org.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge and author Charles Fleming led a tour of the Silver Lake route spotlighted in Fleming’s book Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles on Friday.
The book, a favorite on Amazon.com, highlights historic staircases that are part of the unique Los Angeles landscape. There are more than 200 stairways across hilly sections of the City from the time when trolleys were the main means of transportation.
Councilmember LaBonge's tour included the Landa and Lanterman Terrace stairs. For more information about Charles Fleming's book, please visit www.secretstairs-la.com
Councilmember Tom LaBonge celebrated vast improvements to the Shatto Park and Recreation Center on Thursday 11 months after a $685,000 renovation project began at the Koreatown park. Members of the Wilshire Center community, including and representatives of the Department of Recreation and Parks, joined Councilmember LaBonge for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"More people live in the surrounding neighborhoods of Shatto than any area of the U.S. outside of Manhattan," Councilmember LaBonge said. "It's important that the community has a place to gather, exercise and play sports. These improvements make Shatto Park the centerpiece of the community."
The renovations were sparked after community elder Yong Mok Chun, a member of the Shatto Badminton Club, contacted city officials about the deteriorating asphalt on the badminton court. Councilmember LaBonge and the Department of Recreation and Parks General Manager Jon Mukri responded.
Major safety renovations consist of new lighting around the playground, handicap-accessible play structures and bleachers. Other improvements include new fitness equipment, a larger playground area, cushioned athletic surfacing at a badminton court and drought-resistant plants.
The Shatto Recreation Center is one of the finest examples of public parks in Southern California. It boasts an auditorium, baseball diamond, basketball courts, children’s play area, community room, tennis courts and volleyball courts.
The project was funded through Quimby funds. California Quimby Act was first established by the California legislature in 1965. The legislation was a response to California's increased rate of urbanization and the need to preserve open space and provide parks and recreation facilities for growing communities.
Night number two of Tour LaBonge, the Councilmember's series of summer evening bike rides, titled “Positively Fourth Street” for the 1967 Bob Dylan song, toured the beautiful Wilshire district in the heart of Los Angeles. Councilmember LaBonge led the nearly 10 mile excursion, showcasing the new bike lanes on Fourth Street.
“It’s so important that the Los Angeles car culture become friendlier to the environmentally-conscious alternatives,” Councilmember LaBonge said. “Sharrows like these enable cycling enthusiasts to enjoy the great City of Los Angeles and demonstrate to motorists that we can live in harmony.”
Interesting sites included a view of the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts Urban Lights installation, a trip by the La Brea Tar Pits and a tour around Larchmont Boulevard.
The Tour LaBonge bike rides are fun events that promote cycling as an inexpensive, environmentally friendly and healthy form of transportation. Every route is approximately 10 miles long and includes a police escort that leads, accompanies and follows the group.
The following four Wednesday evenings will take cyclists through other portions of Councilmember LaBonge’s district. On June 30, riders will enjoy the sights and sounds of Toluca Lake and North Hollywood, known for its up-and-coming status as the art center of Los Angeles. Other nights will explore the Miracle Mile area, the LA River and Griffith Park and a tour of Hollywood on July 21st.
All riders are required to wear helmets and sign liability waivers. Participants must be at least 12 years of age, and children must be accompanied by parents or other responsible adults. No pets allowed.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge and members of the Los Feliz community met at the corner of Finley and Hillhurst avenues to turn on a much-needed new traffic light on Tuesday. The community had been asking for the new four-way traffic light in answer to complaints of speeding motorists and accidents at the intersection.
“I’m thankful to the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation for funding and installing this necessary light,” Councilmember LaBonge said. “This will make this intersection much safer for drivers and pedestrians in Los Feliz."
Councilmember LaBonge worked out a creative solution to pedestrian safety at this intersection by seeking funding for the traffic light from the CRA.
Representatives from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) and Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA) also spoke at the ceremony.
“CRA/LA is pleased to partner with other City departments to fund traffic lights and other street improvements in the East Hollywood neighborhood,” said Leslie Lambert, Regional Administrator for the CRA/LA’s Hollywood and Central Region. “The lights will improve the traffic flow in the community and make the area safer for pedestrians.”
"LADOT is pleased to have participated in the construction of this new traffic signal so that Los Feliz residents and visitors alike can cross at Finley and Hillhurst Avenues safely," said Rita L. Robinson, General Manager.
The addition of the light will remove the uncontrolled crosswalk at Clarissa Avenue on Hillhurst Avenue where six pedestrians have reported being hit by motorists. There have been a reported 31 accidents at the intersection of Finley Avenue and Hillhurst Avenue since 2000. Three pedestrians were struck at that intersection since 2000.
Promotional items for the “Watch the Road” campaign, first introduced in 2004 by Mayor James Hahn, were provided to attending members of the community. “Watch the Road” informs motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians about "good roadway user" behaviors to save lives and improve traffic mobility. LADOT is a coalition member of the program.
Councilmember LaBonge led about 200 hikers including Consuls General and members of the Los Angeles Sister Cities to the top of Mount Hollywood at sunset last night during his Annual Summer Solstice hike.
The 1.5 mile hike, which attracted international dignitaries and avid hikers, ended with a potluck feast and a fly-over from a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter.
“There’s nothing quite like the view of the City from Mount Hollywood at sunset,” said Councilmember LaBonge. “It’s breathtaking, it’s awe-inspiring and I hope that some of our hikers will fall in love with Los Angeles all over again.”
Among the hikers were Consul General of Germany, The Honorable Wolfgang Drautz; Consul General of the United Kingdom, The Honorable Barbara Hay; Consul General of China, The Honorable Zhang Yun and many others.
The Sister Cities program, established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, fosters diplomacy among cities in different countries to promote cultural, educational and commercial exchange. Councilmember LaBonge is president of Sister Cities of Los Angeles, Inc.