Central Area Neighborhood Empowerment Council tackles pressing issues

imageThe hot afternoon sun dropped low over Western Avenue as members of the Central Area Neighborhood Empowerment Council filed into the community room of the Amistad Plaza Apartment.

Fifteen board members were present, along with about a dozen people and presenters from the community. The council meets on the fourth Monday of every month.

Over pizza and hot wings, the council discussed what’s going on in their communities, which spans between Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Florence Avenue to the north and south, and Vermont Avenue and Arlington Avenue to the east and west. It makes up a thin rectangle that runs west of the 110.

The marathon meeting was over three hours. But no worries, we have your highlights right here!

1. The police department says that the most prevalent crime in the neighborhood is street robberies, specifically “chain snatching.” Chain snatching is what it sounds like – when a person steals jewelry off someone else. Thieves hang around bus stops and main drags, such as Vernon, Vermont and Western. The crime is more prevalent now because of the high price of gold and the struggling economy. If you see anything suspicious, please report it!

image2. Water costs are going to rise by approximately $32 per year for a single-family home. Bob Irvin, Director of Systems at the Bureau of Sanitation, gave a presentation explaining that many of the city’s sewers are operating on borrowed time – the average lifespan of a sewer is 80 years, and 30 percent of the city’s sewers are older than that. Irvin said the rise in cost is necessary to ensure quality drinking water is available and no sewers overflow. To drive the point home, he showed pictures of Los Angeles manholes gurgling human waste.

The rise in costs is dependent on how much water you use during peak times. To get tips on how to reduce your water usage, visit www.lacitysan.org.

3. The city is planning to establish an indoor/outdoor sorting facility (read: recycling center) at 5921 S. Western Ave. The announcement was answered by negative feedback from community members who don’t want the project to happen. If you have an opinion, in favor or against, it’s not to late! Contact Keith McCowen at [email protected] with your feedback.

4. Board member and youth representative Michael Martinez is organizing a youth poetry slam for the second weekend of September. The council approved funding for prizes, but it has yet to hammer out the details like a time and place. We’ll let you know the specifics when we get them – until then, get your rhymes ready!

5. Herbert Jones, Principal at the Barack Obama Global Preparatory Academy gave an impassioned plea for better education in South Los Angeles. Jones says disparities in education are keeping down youth south of the 10.

“There’s no such thing as an achievement gap,” said Jones. “There’s a resource gap. We are kept separate through the field of education.”

Jones said that when poor blacks and Latinos aren’t educated in a suffering economy, we will see more crime and violence. He recalled the political climate of South Central before the Watts Riots in 1965 and the Rodney King Uprising in 1992. Now, he says, things are even worse.

“If we don’t use education and bridge this gap, if we as adults don’t stop this political gang banging, if we don’t focus on making every child proficient in reading… and math, our community will pay,” he said. “We are just weeks away, months away from an urban rebellion. I just hope it doesn’t happen until Obama’s second term.”