Neighborhood council addresses water costs, traffic concerns

image Martin Luther King Jr. Park was hopping on Thursday night. The smell of barbeque drifted through the air, teenagers created an impromptu dance floor to rap music, and light shined down on a baseball game.

Inside the community gym, there was a much different scene. Sitting surrounded by playground toys and board games, ten members of the Empowerment Congress North Area Neighborhood Council Committees gathered for their monthly meeting.

The neighborhood council’s boundaries are roughly the 10 freeway to the north, the 110 freeway to the east, Martin Luther King Jr. to the south and Arlington Avenue to the west. The area includes all of USC, along with surrounding neighborhoods.

The group discussed community proposals and funding requests over sandwiches. Here are some highlights:

1. Water costs are planning to rise by approximately $28 per year for a single-family home. Lisa Mower, waste water division manager 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. Mower said the rise in cost is necessary to ensure quality drinking water is available and no sewers overflow. To drive the point home, she showed pictures of Los Angeles manholes gurgling human waste.

Representatives from the City are going to all the neighborhood council meetings to explain the price increase. Neighborhood council members voiced concerns that the cost of city services have already skyrocketed over the past year and a half, and this increase would be another burden on families during hard financial times.

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

2. Operation Confidence, a non-profit organization for people with physical disabilities, is hosting a Tribute to Our Disabled Veterans at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on Nov. 19. Consuella Mackey, a representative from the organization, asked for funding from the council since the sports arena is located in the neighborhood.

The request brought up a reoccurring issue – the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena is within the neighborhood’s boundaries, but not all of the events that come are related to the neighborhood’s residents. The council said it isn’t able to bankroll events that are not directly tied to this community. The council recommended Mackey go to other neighborhood councils and request joint funding.

3. Ever notice the difference between neighborhoods west of Vermont versus east of Vermont? The council’s chairwoman in charge of beautification, Gabriela Garcia, said that USC’s beautification projects end at Vermont – but the community doesn’t. Garcia has met with USC, but the university has yet to commit to a plan.

The council voted to send a letter to the university expressing its frustration. The letter reads, “by providing a beautification project to what amounts to basically the University’s own back yard, and not extending the work into the community that identifies itself with USC, the University only alienates a community during a time it is looking to bolster relations. By extending the beautification project to the whole university ‘community’ you help to relate a unifying feeling within the community and creating a tighter bond with the residents and USC.”

4. A local developer recently revamped the Odd Fellows Temple, a historical building located at 1828 Oak St., two miles away from the Staple’s Convention center. It is now opened to parties and meetings and in some cases, may host community gatherings at no charge.

A representative asked the neighborhood council for a letter of support allowing The Odd Fellows Temple to serve alcohol. The building’s rep said the venue would create jobs and preserve a beautiful building. The neighborhood council expressed concerns about party-goers stumbling into residential neighborhoods. Additionally, with the Staples Center so close by and a NFL stadium on the way, the council fears more traffic in an already congested area.

In the end, the council agreed to write a letter of support on the contingency that Odd Fellows commits to hiring people from the local community.

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