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Panels of Residents to Recommend Redevelopment Strategies


The Community Redevelopment Agency and City Councilman Nate Holden last week announced the appointment of seven residents advisory committees that will recommend strategies for revitalizing the Midtown Shopping Center and six commercial corridors in the Mid-City and West Adams areas.

The 57 business owners, community leaders and residents will survey the seven commercial areas, hold public meetings and work with city officials to determine the most appropriate options for rehabilitating aging buildings, developing vacant lots and stimulating business in the designated areas.

The impetus for the action was a City Council motion, adopted April 2, calling on the redevelopment agency to focus on generating reinvestment along commercial corridors "suffering from serious social and economic distress."

In addition to the Midtown Shopping Center, the tentative boundaries for the proposed study areas are Jefferson Boulevard between 6th and Cochran avenues; Adams Boulevard between Victoria and Fairfax avenues; Washington Boulevard between Western Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard, and between West and Redondo boulevards; Pico Boulevard between Western Avenue and Plymouth Boulevard, and between La Brea and Fairfax avenues; Venice Boulevard from Arlington Avenue to Crenshaw Boulevard, and Crenshaw Boulevard between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the Santa Monica Freeway.

Depending on their studies, the committees could decide to tap city funds for public improvement programs, such as alley cleanups and refurbishing commercial facades, or ask the CRA and the City Council to set up more comprehensive projects.

The residents are key to the process, officials said.

"These commercial corridors have suffered from years of neglect. . . . This is the time to take charge," Samuel B. Villalobos, a CRA community affairs specialist, told members of the committees at their first meeting last week.

Holden, who selected the committee members, assured them that they "will have a lot of juice" in determining what steps are taken to revitalize their communities.

Whether the CRA will be welcomed as a partner remains to be seen, said Lauren Schlau of the Southwest Assn. of Neighborhoods, which held a community meeting last month to discuss private and public development plans under consideration in the Mid-City and West Adams areas.

Schlau questioned the need for a study and CRA involvement in areas such as the Midtown Shopping Center, where private developers are willing to invest.

"What does the community get for its tax dollars when the last study (of the area) went on the shelf?" Schlau asked. "The question is: What is the best way to spend public dollars?"

Kim Pfoser, the CRA's principal planner for the area, said a 1991 study of the Mid-City area provided some background for current efforts but "didn't come to any specific plan of action. With the riots and the recession, conditions have changed. We're ready now to take the next step and implement changes" recommended by the committees.

The committees' monthly public meetings begin next month.

Information: (213) 766-9830.

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