South LA’s District Square: Big plans and a long waiting game


The lot slated to become District Square, seen in mid-March, 2015. | Ciara Lunger

By Ciara Lunger

A shopping center that was supposed to break ground in South L.A. three years ago is still slated for construction, according to officials who envision an economic boost for the Crenshaw district.

The 6 1/2 acre retail establishment, called District Square, is planned for the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Rodeo Road. Local organizations hope it will not only improve the financial climate but also bring in-demand shops and services to the neighborhood.

“There are a lot of missing elements in the neighborhood as far as access to basic goods — not a lot of clothing stores, still a need for groceries,” said Tunua Thrash, executive director at the West Angeles Community Development Corporation. District Square is slated to replace a Ralphs and Rite Aid, which, according to Thrash, were aging and needed aesthetic upgrades. [Read more…]

A neighborhood public meeting, without the public

The District 10 Field Office, where the UNNC meetings take place. | Kirby Pedersen

The District 10 Field Office, where the UNNC meetings take place. | Kirby Pedersen

The United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council met recently to discuss matters in West Jefferson and Arlington Heights, but no one from these areas was present to vote on or discuss the issues. The disorganization and complex content of UNNC meetings may have deterred public participation despite its members’ good intentions.

A left turn at the run-down liquor store and a right at the corner where homeless men were sitting led visitors to the parking lot for the Council District 10 Field Office. A trip through glass doors then welcomed them to a room in shades of brown – tables, floors and walls. Harsh fluorescent lighting shone down upon the three small folding tables with peeling paint that converged to form a larger table. Large trashcans lined one wall and the only pop of color in the room was a fake plant leaning against one corner of the room. This was the location of the sparsely attended UNNC meeting, but there were no physical signs or notices that informed the public of the upcoming gathering. [Read more…]

Herb Wesson takes early lead in District 10 election

Music, food, and yellow and black balloons made for a high-spirited evening at the Herb Wesson reelection headquarters in District 10.

The incumbent won outright in his sprawling and diverse district, avoiding a run-off election at a later time.

Wesson said that his first priority after being reelected would be addressing the budget concerns of the city. He acknowledged that the statewide budgets cuts were felt by everyone, but especially in places like District 10 where funds are needed to help “redevelop blighted communities.”

City Council candidates discuss the issues in South LA

A team of reporters from Intersections South LA and Annenberg Radio News talked with the candidates for Los Angeles City Council Districts 8 and 10 in an attempt to get to the heart of what matters most to the politicians and residents of the South Los Angeles community.

Tenth District write-in candidate Gavin Glynn prioritizes education on March ballot

City Council candidate Jabari Jumaane calls for more community involvement

Write-in candidate Armenak Nouridjanian discusses taxes, jobs and drugs

Candidate Chris Brown hopes to create more jobs in his district

Candidate Andrew Kim says he’s all for businesses

Candidate Forescee Hogan-Rowles focuses on job creation

Incumbent Bernard Parks talks about his achievements

The City Council election for Districts 8 and 10 takes place on March 8. Find the polling place near you.

More election coverage:
L.A. City Council District 8 debate gets heated
Tenants in District 10 want a break from rising rents
South LA officials and community members push to save libraries

Incumbent Bernard Parks talks about his achievements

This story is a part of our series of interviews with the candidates for Los Angeles City Council Districts 8 and 10.

Listen to a story by Annenberg Radio News:


Emily Frost: Why are you running?

Bernard Parks: I’m running because I’ve had significant success in the first eight years of bringing back the community on a variety of levels. And I think we’ve turned the corner on a number of issues, whether it’s economic development or looking at the rails coming in, bringing in grocery stores for the first time in 25 years. I think the community is looking to see how this community can continue to flourish in the next four years.

Frost: How do you think you’ll respond to Governor Jerry Brown’s cuts?

Parks: Well, I think it’s going to affect us in that most of the cuts are cuts that are going to affect the county. But we will see the end result of it. Because those that can’t get those services are going to spill out into the city street. The thing that’s going to impact the city the most is if he’s successful in cutting the CRA. Then poor communities will certainly suffer in their ability to gather funds to help their community.

Frost: What’s your number one issue?

Parks: The number one issue for the district is increasing job growth.

Frost: What’s the most important thing we should know about you?

Parks: Integrity and honesty.

Frost: The most important thing about your district?

Parks: We have a district in transition, that for many decades has been ignored. There’s a great deal of frustration about being ignored. What you find when talking to people is that they’ll tell you that nothing is going on in their district. And then you start to recite to them things that are going on in their neighborhood. Just today I talked to a lady and I said, ‘Are you aware that there’s a Kaiser health facility going in on Manchester? Did you know that your library has brand new and increased number of Internet free access computers?’

Frost: What do you want people to have in mind on voting day?

Parks: The list of things that they gave me when I came into office. Many of them are achieved. They wanted to see dirt alleys paved. We paved 50 percent of them, 15 miles of dirt alleys. They wanted to see Vermont/Manchester come alive. We put a $100 million office building there. They wanted to see issues of Baldwin Hills shopping revitalization. They’ll get a new Staples, and Magic Johnson theater, a new Buffalo Wild Wings. They wanted to see public transportation. We have two new lines. We worked very hard to get Measure R passed so that we could fund public transportation, coming down Crenshaw Boulevard and the Expo Line. These are things that in each instance, we tried to make sure the community was heard and we listened to their needs. When they asked about the fact that there are no community cultural events in the district — we have now the Taste of Soul, we have the Leimert Park MLK parade, we now have jazz festivals in Leimert Park, we have fire works on the 4th of July. These are all things given back to the community that they asked for.

Read more interviews with city council candidates.

Candidate Forescee Hogan-Rowles focuses on job creation

This story is a part of our series of interviews with the candidates for Los Angeles City Council Districts 8 and 10.

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News:


Forescee Hogan-Rowles is running for the second time.

“I lost that race to Bernard Parks and I determined then that if the district wasn’t doing better in eight years, I would run again,” Hogan-Rowles said.

If elected, Hogan-Rowles says she intends to bring jobs into the community through redevelopment.

“There’s a number of things that have gone unattended under the leadership or lack of leadership of Bernard parks,” Hogan-Rowles said. “The first thing I want to work on is new job creation because we have the highest unemployment and that’s coupled with expanding local business and expanding new local business development within our district. Our corridors don’t have enough businesses operating in them and so if you have new business, then that will create new jobs.”

Hogan-Rowles served as commissioner for the Department of Water and Power, as well as commissioner for the California Commission for Economic Development. In both positions, she said, she focused on how to create jobs, and “impact new industries and support existing industries.”

Hogan-Rowles is one of incumbent Bernard Parks’ competitors. But Hogan-Rowles says what distinguishes the two of them is their relationship with the community.

“I actually like to attend meetings and enter into dialogue and hear the responses of and requests of people so we can work through and build consensus,” Hogan-Rowles said. “So when we do make a decision, everybody knows what it is. The people united will never be defeated, so we will win on March 8.”

Listen to more interviews with city council candidates.

Candidate Andrew “Andy” Kim says he’s all for businesses

This story is a part of our series of interviews with the candidates for Los Angeles City Council Districts 8 and 10.

Listen to a story by Annenberg Radio News:


When Andrew Kim immigrated to America from Korea at the age of 14, he was most impressed with the American political system.

“It’s largely a grass roots system that I really like,” Kim said.

Kim was inspired to go to law school. He practiced civil litigation for more than 20 years and, now, he is running for city council.

“I think it is very important that a person like me, who really in this district working and living it the district, really be a part of the political system,” Kim said. “Right now, the city is not responsive to the average individual professional like myself.”

Kim is running for city council in District 10, which covers diverse areas from Koreatown to parts of the Vermont corridor and the University of Southern California.

Kim says his experiences working within District 10 have helped him understand how important this area is.

“This is really the heart of Los Angeles in terms of its geography, demography and just its cultural and ethnic composition,” Kim said. “I think this area needs a change first, for Los Angeles to change.”

What changes would Kim make? He says the biggest change needs to be an economic revitalization through the creation of new jobs and incentives for business to stay in the district. He says he will use other cities as models to make sure businesses comes to and stays in his district.

“This is an area that has been economically depressed for a long time,” Kim said. “We need to have new leadership, business friendly leadership. We have nearby cities like Burbank that have business coming in and they must be doing something right in comparison to what we are doing in our district.”

Kim says most importantly he is in the race to be a voice for the average citizen.

“Throughout my law practice, I have been representing those who are weak and helpless,” Kim said. “Many senior citizens, and those hard working people, hard working couples, I think these people need to be represented in city hall. I bring in my 20 plus years of legal practice but I also bring in my heart, which is for the average citizen.”

Kim says he hopes to give back to the country and the city that has given him so much.

Read more interviews with city council candidates.

Candidate Chris Brown hopes to create more jobs in his district

This story is a part of our series of interviews with the candidates for Los Angeles City Council Districts 8 and 10.

Listen to an audio interview from Annenberg Radio News:


Chris Brown was born and raised in District 10, located just off Pico Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. He attended San Jose State University while working in corporate telecommunications. However, his mother was diagnosed with cancer, so he returned to Los Angeles to take care of her before graduating. Now, Brown still lives in District 10 and is an entrepreneurial CEO and independent business professional, according to his campaign Website. We found out why he wanted to run and what plans he has for the city.

Listen to more interviews with City Council candidates.

Tenants in District 10 want a break from rising rents

On the morning of the most romantic holiday of the year, Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson had a “Valentine” hand-delivered to his District 10 campaign office, but the message on the card was anything but loving. 

Members of the LA Right to Housing Collective gathered outside Wesson’s office, demanding changes in the city’s rent-control law. A law that would temporarily freeze rent increases failed to pass last year. While rents are rising, many wages are not, and some tenants say they are seeing more and more families displaced from their neighborhoods.

Wesson was not present in the office when the group walked inside and delivered their card, which had a picture of a broken heart. A staff member in the office said she did not know when Wesson would be back or what his response would be to the group’s requests.

Interpreter services provided by Davin Corona, co-director of Comunidad Presente.

More stories on housing in South Los Angeles:

Protestors give Herb Wesson a hand-delivered Valentine
Historic South Los Angeles neighborhood breaks ground on new housing project
City Planning postpones ruling on luxury apartment complex

Tenth District write-in candidate Gavin Glynn prioritizes education on March ballot

This story is a part of our series of interviews with the candidates for Los Angeles City Council Districts 8 and 10.

On March 8th, voters in Council District 10 will vote for city council. Incumbent Herb Wesson, Jr. is facing challenges from Chris Brown, employment specialist; Austin Dragon, private business owner; Andrew “Andy” Kim, attorney; Luis Montoya, small business owner; and Althea Rae Shaw, victim advocate. Gavin Glynn is a write-in candidate.

Listen to an audio interview from Annenberg Radio News:


Sarah Erickson: What made you decide to run for this position?

Gavin Glynn: I adopted five beautiful children from the Department of Children and Family Services and having to advocate for their rights through LAUSD, through the county, I got to learn to navigate city government and how things were being spent appropriately or inappropriately. Really, it’s to create a better life for my children, safer parks, safer streets to walk down. That’s how I got involved with my neighborhood Quality of Life Committee and the West Adams Avenue neighborhood meeting once a month.

Erickson: What is it you see as the foremost issue on this year’s ballot?

Glynn: The first thing is education. Our students and our community in district 10 are far behind other students within the city. Those are the kids who live in the neighborhood who attend local schools. A majority of parents farm their kids out, they go to other schools. It’s a huge issue for district 10. We have little community. We have to shop outside our community. We send our children to schools outside. We’re doing everything outside of our community. We’re not even nesting in our own community. District 10 has to take a very serious look about how we can attract business and development.

Erickson: If you were elected to be the representative for your district, how could you bring about improved schools, more funding for them, more local businesses? What is your plan once elected?

Glynn: The point I’m making is that I have to go to a PTA meeting over here, and then I have to go to a West Adams Avenue neighborhood meeting over here. They need to be in the same place. That’s what I want to do. I want to streamline.. see what the LAUSD is doing, what the city is doing, where the carry over is. We need to streamline. We shouldn’t be paying for satellite offices for the council person when we have public schools to use at night. Too often, everyone thinks that LAUSD is a separate entity from city government. They are budget wise but not voter wise. The voters are the same people and the recipients of quality education in the community.

Erickson: What is your plan for getting these priorities done?

Glynn: First and foremost is corporate responsibility. The unemployment rate in America is 9.5 percent. In district 10, it’s 16 percent. It’s almost double. However, we have the number one McDonalds, Jack in the Box, Starbucks. We have all these fast food places that are the number one performers in Southern California.

Read more interviews with City Council candidates.

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