There was standing room only at Tuesday’s meeting, as folks came out to talk about the future of Century Boulevard. It has been a rough ride along the City’s thoroughfare to LAX, due to potholes that have gone unfixed for years.
Now that funding is available, and improvements are being made to street and sidewalks, a new issue has surfaced. The City has to acquire portions of properties owned by some residents in order to make the needed improvements.
There are 17 slivers of property that need to be acquired in order to carry out street renovation. Mayor James Butts and council members adopted a Resolution of Necessity to acquire property under Eminent Domain Law to move ahead with the project.
According to Butts, on the north side of Century, between Van Ness and Crenshaw, “you can’t even push a wheelchair on that side of the street. There is barely room for one person.”
Still, some homeowners are not happy.
A man who owns property on Century said the sidewalk in front of his property already meets ADA specifications, and widening it “will have a detrimental affect on our property. It’s been there since the 50s and we would like to keep it like it is.”
Another homeowner said he was “confused” about the appraisal he received and that the City only offered him $3,000. “I don’t think it’s fair,” he said.
Mayor Butts told Public Works Director Louis Atwell to speak with the man. Later in the meeting, Butts clarified the property owner’s assessment: “The gentleman was not offered $3,000. He was offered $23,000 for his property.”
“When that traffic is running down there at 50 miles an hour, and you can’t walk, you’ll be so nervous. Don’t think we take this decision lightly, it’s a decision that has to be made,” Councilman George Dotson said.
“This is the opportunity that we have right now to move this city forward,” Councilman Alex Padilla said.
“We all knew where the big potholes were, so we could dodge them,” Councilman Eloy Morales said. “We are all going to be impacted, but we’re all going to absorb it so we can improve it.”
The council approved a two-year blanket purchase order agreement for the annual purchase of safety shoes. An agreement was approved with the National Recreation and Park Association for Inglewood Parks and Recreation and Library Services to receive grant funds in the amount of $15,000 for the provision of “out-of-school time programs” through March 1, 2017. Inglewood police were given the green light to purchase gas masks and related equipment and supplies with grant funding.
Inglewood Assistant City Manager and CFO, David Esparza presented the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Mid-Year Budget Review Report. Currently, the General Fund has only spent 39 percent of its budget so far. Police and Fire Department expenditures are 44 percent vs. 50 percent at mid-year. Public Works has spent about 38 percent of its budget. “This shows we are maintaining our budget expenditures in line with our revenue collection, and the departments have been very good and responsive in maintaining fiscal constraints,” Esparza said. He noted the City’s busy season is coming up and expects spending increases. Overall, General Fund expenditures are up 2%.
Trudy Goodwin said Inglewood is an example of a community of color with a heavy police military presence. Referring to the council vote to approve gas masks for police, she said there should be fewer expenditures for police gear and more for community services.
“That $79,768 you have for gas masks should be moved up to parks and recreation so we can work with our youth. We have plenty of folks in this town that are unemployed that can use that money for to help generate jobs for them. I ask Inglewood to do something bold and courageous and step away from this militarization of our community,” she said.
Padilla explained the grant can only be used for police-related purposes, and that the City is working with businesses to increase hiring.
West Basin Municipal Water District Director Gloria D. Gray spoke briefly about ocean water desalination as a more reliable source of drinking water. She asked the council to direct City staff to prepare a letter of conditional support for the program.
“Water is a very important issue in the state. Most of you are aware we have been in a 4-year drought…West Basin has made it a priority to see that we have a reliable water source,” Gray said. She added that Los Angeles County depends heavily on imported water from Northern California and the Colorado River and “we have no control. We have to focus on developing local resources.”
Rich Nagle, West Basin General Manager, noted: “If you could predict rainfall, I’m going to go to Las Vegas with you and make a lot of money because we can’t. Rainfall and snow melt is going to be unpredictable. The one thing we can predict is that the ocean’s going to be there. In fact, it’s predicted (that) it’s going to rise a little bit.”
Residents gave ocean desalination two thumbs up:
“If you’re in California, water’s a problem. I am counting on my city council to get on top of this. Desalination is taking the salt out of the water. We’ve got plenty of water, but we have to take it out,” Michael Benbow said.
Another resident, who has lived in the city for 45 years, urged the council to support the agency’s efforts. “I am in support of water desalination,” she said. “I have been to other countries where they use it. The water’s delicious.”
Councilman Ralph Franklin urged everyone to go on a water tour offered by West Basin. Seeing the process of moving water to Southern California and insuring that the water is safe to drink will increase your appreciation of it, he said.
Two residents asked for reparations (including grief counseling) for the families of Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin, who were killed by Inglewood police in February. One man wanted to know the timeline for the investigation.
The meeting was closed in memory of former Los Angeles Police Chief Willie Williams.