The South Los Angeles Initiatives Strategic Plan (SLA) has been named an awardee by the L.A. section of the American Planning Association and will be honored in an award ceremony on Thursday.
The SLA Initiatives were a joint, broad-based effort of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilmembers Bernard Parks, Jan Perry, Herb Wesson, as well as former Councilwoman Janice Hahn, to improve socioeconomic conditions on the southside.
"We identified 10 key result areas that we are really looking to focus on," said Jim Marchase, the SLA Initiatives' project manager. As detailed in the plan itself, those key areas include increased housing, increased and improved retail, the removal of barriers to stimulate development, job creation, business development and improving the educational system.
"We needed to get these things in place so that investment made sense from a viability and economic standpoint, and bring them into South L.A.," said Marchase. "When we went back and we looked at it, we asked what are the things that can put in place that can change the types of stories that are being told in South Los Angeles."
Valerie Shaw is a commissioner on the Board of Public Works and was the organizer for the Initiatives. "What makes this plan is unique is that it is a regional effort," she said. "Generally when the city creates activity, they might look at neighborhoods or council districts, but we tried to look at an entire region. I think that's significant. Then we created the frameworks through which the departments, the political strata and community members could all operate in concert to move forward projects."
Shaw says that's why they won the award. "We created something that's never been there internally, which was this mechanism to look at a region, gauge all the elements and move forward on a project."
L.A. Deputy Mayor Larry Frank, who was the main mayoral liaison for the project, agreed, and called the project "a model that should be looked at elsewhere."
"The highlight is actually getting everybody on the same page – mayor, council, city departments," said Frank. "The actual long-term commitment, not walking away from projects, but actually doing them with accountability every step of the way."
Councilwoman Jan Perry of the Ninth District said the most important thing right now is finishing what was started. "The number-one thing is to finish every project that is started. That's absolutely critical," she said. "For me, the main goal is that everything in the pipeline gets done." That's especially true because she'll term out next year – but she's not walking away from city politics: Perry is a mayoral candidate for 2013.
To see everything that's in the pipeline, you can see the plan here. The award ceremony will be held Thursday night.