Officials plan to break ground on Friday on a $2.4 million project that will upgrade five playgrounds at Pueblo Del Rio, a South Los Angeles public housing development. The 660-unit complex located near Alameda and 55th streets last received an upgrade on its recreational equipment in 1998.
Councilwoman Jan Perry, the Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) as well as the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) are gathering at the location tomorrow to announce the renovations. Included in these upgrades is the replacement of play equipment on all the playgrounds -- which a RAP contractor has already been working on for the past few months.
There will also be outdoor exercise equipment installed, basketball court renovations and upgrades to the recreation center building, which will include restrooms, new kitchen features and lighting. According to Perry's office, there are 310 children between the ages of 3 and 13 who will use the playgrounds, and more than 2,000 teens and adults who will have access to the exercise equipment.
The complex was built in 1942 and sits on approximately 34.1 acres. Although improved in recent years, the Pueblo has a long and tumultuous history of gang violence and criminal activity. According to LAPD officer Brandon Barron, who's part of the gang unit in the area's Newton Division, the 52 Pueblo Bishop Bloods are the dominating gang at this development.
During OnCentral's "Know your Graffiti" series, Barron said that the Bishops have the area locked down so tightly there's hardly any tagging.
"They know they own that whole area," he said. "There's no fight for territory there."
In 2010, more than two dozen people suspected of being part of the Bishops were arrested in a raid by the FBI and the LAPD after an approximately two-year long investigation, according to HACLA.
“Those who reside in public housing communities have the right to live in a safe environment free from gang violence," said HACLA President and CEO, Rudolf C. Montiel, near the time of the arrests. "This multi-agency effort will help Pueblo Del Rio residents win back their neighborhood.”
And in comparison to a few decades ago, conditions have improved dramatically in the housing development, according to multiple local police officers. Perry, who said she's "proud" the City of L.A. is investing the funds to improve Pueblo's recreation space, said the renovations will affect hundreds of families.
"Safe, quality recreation spaces in our community are vital to the health and well-being of our neighborhoods and are an essential part of our efforts to support families where they live," said Perry.