Residents Upset Over Possible Reduction in Recreation Programs

The future of the recreational facilities at Mar Vista Gardens draws a crowd at the Del Rey Neighborhood Council

The future of the recreational facilities at Mar Vista Gardens housing project in Del Rey was the subject of much discussion at Thursday’s Del Rey Neighborhood Council meeting.

A small crowd showed up to voice their concerns about the Mar Vista Gardens Recreation Center. At issue are the proposed changes in the programs offered at the center due to the Department of Recreation and Parks no longer funding the programs that include sports activities. While the department maintained the programs, the Housing Authority of the city of Los Angeles paid the utilities, which amounted to about $100,000 for all seven of its sites. But the funds they have been providing are temporary, according to Sanford Riggs, the Housing Authority’s director of Housing Services.

“Therefore, we had to come up with creative solutions to keep these rec centers robust, viable, and open,” Riggs said.

As a result, the Housing Authority began to work with the City Council office and residents at Mar Vista Gardens to come up with a plan.

“Some residents were appalled because they didn’t know what was going on,” said Joann Harvey-Dixon, a resident who has been working with the Housing Authority and also serves as vice president of Mar Vista Gardens' resident advisory council. “There are still residents who do not want this to happen. We would appreciate it if Del Rey takes everything in and researches it also.”

Harvey-Dixon stressed that the Housing Authority is trying to work with residents to ensure they are able to maintain programming at the site.

Another Mar Vista Gardens resident, Daisy Vega, told the board in Spanish that she and other residents want the Del Rey Board of Directors to get involved because of what a difference the sports programs make in the lives of their children by keeping them off the streets and out of trouble.

Del Rey Neighborhood Council Board President Eric DeSobe and at least one other board member questioned why Mar Vista Gardens was chosen first out of all the Housing Authority sites.

“We looked at all of our sites, and how they were structured,” Riggs said. “And we made an internal evaluation that said this would be a very good fit to try this out.”

The Housing Authority has received two bids to run the facility from the Venice Boys and Girls Club and the Santa Monica Boys and Girls Club, Riggs said.

Del Rey Neighborhood Council Secretary Shelli Margolin-Mayer wanted to know if the same programs would be offered at Mar Vista in the future. Riggs said he is convinced the services will be “robust,” however, “I can’t say the same because every entity has its own program.”

While the board took no action last night, DeSobe wanted to be kept up to date on the timeline as to what happens next.

Eric Brown, the Housing Authority’s director of intergovernmental relations, said the new entity will be chosen at a meeting scheduled for Sept. 20 after which time the Housing Authority’s CEO will review it before it goes before the Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners in October or November.

After the Sept. 20 meeting, the Del Rey Neighborhood Council will ask the organization chosen to make a presentation to it and "share their vision" for the recreational facilities at Mar Vista Gardens, according to DeSobe.


Westside Mobility Transportation Plan

The board also heard a presentation on the “Westside Mobility Plan" which includes public input in the goal to help alleviate local traffic.

“One of the key reasons that there is intense traffic congestion on the westside is that there is a jobs, housing imbalance,” said Michael Kennedy, senior transportation planner at Fehr and Peers Transportation Consultants, who are working with city staff on the project. “There are a lot of commuters coming in and out.”

The plan encompasses West Los Angeles and the coastal corridor and would include north to south transit options – in particular those that link Sepulveda and Lincoln Boulevards.

“The major element is light rail on Lincoln Boulevard, so that’s kind of like the big ticket item,” Kennedy said.

The ideas were condensed to four “packages” which include a light rail on Lincoln Boulevard, a light rail on Sepulveda Boulevard, low capital, which would not include rail and high capital which consists of a “wish list” of travel options, according to Kennedy. The light rail would be similar to the green line, and other possible modes of transportation would include heavy rail, similar to the red and purple lines, possibly a streetcar on Venice Boulevard and the addition of parking on Lincoln Boulevard and on Washington Boulevard near Del Rey.

The light rail on Lincoln Boulevard would connect to LAX, he said.  The plan also includes improvements to bike travel and roadways.

Del Rey Neighborhood Council board member Renae Paonessa expressed concerns about whether Beethoven Street would be widened to accommodate bicyclists. Kennedy said there are no plans to widen the street, but it has been designated as a “bike-friendly” street and would have a shared lane for cars and bikes. Other streets are also being considered as part of the city’s bike plan, according to Kennedy.

Bike lanes, sidewalks and transit lanes may also be added to the bridge over Ballona Creek, Kennedy said.

Public outreach meetings will continue this fall with the next one scheduled for Oct. 4, he said.

Mike Stafford September 15, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Slauson-Culver Park will be reopening soon with a new building and expanded recreational facilities and programs. The two entities competing to take over Mar Vista Gardens Recreational Center are the Boys and Girls Club of Venice and the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica. While it may be sad to lose familiar faces, I think the non-profits are going to do a great job.


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