Eighth District State Report Shares Inspirational Vision for CD 8 – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

Council member Marqueece Harris-Dawson greets a Mother’s Day guest. (Courtesy picture)

Residents of South Los Angeles have been affected by three years of crisis: a pandemic that has tested every system designed to protect us, police brutality unheard of since the 1960s, and an economic upheaval that has evoked the long 1930s queues.

For many of us, the chaos began four years earlier with the Trump administration. Our systems have twisted to the point of breaking. We sent our working-class neighbors to work in grocery stores and as guards without financial or physical protection.

What our national culture considered “essential” was, in fact, useless. Collectively, those years have left us with a sense of betrayal and vulnerability, and for those of us in the Eighth District, a sense of uncertainty. The lesson learned, “We don’t rise to the level of our goals. We fall at the level of our systems.

Community members join the Harris-Dawson at the opening of the Van Ness Pool. (Courtesy picture)

Every action we take is a vote for what we want our community to become. Our vision is both inspiring and ambitious. For the tight-knit community of South Los Angeles, the desire to make everything better for everyone — not just ourselves — is at the heart of what we ask of city departments and the people we choose to serve.

My team and I have taken action and continued to work throughout stay-at-home orders to address these emerging concerns and system failures that have plagued us for generations. We have implemented community goals around housing, public safety, rebuilding our social networks, and improving our streetscapes as we acclimate to the realities of the pandemic. The result of this work can be seen throughout the eighth arrondissement.

Harris-Dawson and Representative Karen Bass meet with entrepreneurs at a supportive housing site. (Courtesy picture)

Our Senior Meals program has helped feed thousands of seniors and hundreds of businesses in South Los Angeles during the pandemic. Additionally, while preparing for the lifting of quarantine, we were able to open two new pools and facilities at the Algin Sutton and Van Ness Recreation Centers. These districts had not had a swimming pool for 20 years, a generation deprived of essential know-how, a family activity and memories.

We continued our work on housing for the homeless, Chesterfield Square, a permanent development of supportive housing for the elderly, will welcome its first residents in August. Three more homeless housing developments will come online by the end of the year, providing shelter for hundreds of families, seniors and veterans.

Our office misappropriated LAPD funds (Reimagine funds) that were deployed in two major programs. Guaranteed Basic Income: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot (Big-LEAP) is a $3.2 million pilot program that empowers families with $1,000 a month for one year to make financial decisions for themselves.

CD 8 staff prepare to participate in the 2022 homeless count. (Courtesy photo)

My team and I have established a $4.2 million Community Grants initiative to expand and continue the work of our service organizations that provide:

  • Youth Development Program
  • Domestic Violence Intervention
  • Access to mental health care
  • Artistic programming
  • Community-oriented public safety
  • And community cleanups

So far, we’ve supported 14 organizations across the district with nearly $1 million in direct funding.

Establishing dialogue is essential to how we represent and advocate for improvements in our community and ensure that every voice is heard. My team has directly engaged hundreds of people, business owners, tenants and landlords, to address our infrastructure concerns. Features such as streetlights, water pipes, electrical systems, medians and sidewalks along our main streets are in poor condition and at odds with our well-maintained residential areas.

Through Western Our Way (WOW), a project along Western Avenue between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Century Boulevard, traffic will slow down to mitigate car crashes along this high injury risk network.

The Manchester/Broadway project area extends seven blocks east to west along Manchester Avenue and 33 blocks along South Broadway. It includes sidewalk improvements, new bus benches and planters, median improvements and street lighting.

In March, we opened the Rail to River project, which runs 8.3 miles along Slauson. It will provide dedicated walking and cycling paths and links to communities, schools and metro transit hubs. These infrastructure projects respond to decades of divestment and total $235 million in investment in our neighborhoods.

My office strives to be responsive and proactive in responding to community concerns. During the past year, in partnership with 311 and the Los Angeles Community Corps, we responded to 17,289 calls for removal of bulky items, 5,291 calls for illegal dumping and 3,783 calls for removal of graffiti.

The streets we share must be clean and safe. Over the past five years, Council District Eight has had one of the highest reporting rates in the city, underscoring the need for equitable services and residents’ commitment to creating the neighborhood they deserve.

Last summer, as we began to gradually move out of our homes, my staff and I allowed neighbors to meet again in safe spaces. There were day camp opportunities for our youth at every park in the district, offering gardening, dance lessons, sports, art and yoga.

This summer we’ll be bringing back our family programming with Movies in the Park, the annual jazz festival at St. Andrews Park, and we’re also adding a swim party. To make families feel comfortable participating in these activities, we have invested in community safety programs, including safe passages, community safety partnerships, community response workers raising awareness to intervene before problems start and additional sanitation cleanings.

The proximity of the various cultures that make up this neighborhood encourages us to “look out for each other”, and we do. Being together at events like these strengthens the fabric of our community.

As a resident of South LA, I know we want to live near our families and friends, near our jobs, with affordable rent or mortgage payments. So, we insist that our major boulevards reflect the same care we take for the streets and avenues we call home. When things break, we want reasonably fast response times, trash to pick up, and sidewalks that are safe enough for our kids and grandmas to walk on.

We are a community of pride and rooted in activism. We fight to preserve the history of South Central Los Angeles and for our future, we fight for the fairness of services we deserve. We’re so proud to call this place home, we scream its street names on our shirts and hoodies. We are capitalizing on this moment of uncertainty and turning it into a moment of opportunity. We are South LA Strong.

Jack L. Goldstein