Councilmember Huizar leverages community’s activism to vacate plans to build street through Hazard Park by USC and to work with university to commit to more than $1 million in additional park improvements as part of their plan to expand the USC Health Sciences Medical Campus in Boyle Heights
(LOS ANGELES) Dec. 23, 2013 – Councilmember Huizar announced today that he was able to secure a $2.6 million commitment from the University of Southern California to vacate plans to build a street through Hazard Park and bring $1 million in park improvements suggested by residents at several community meetings facilitated by Councilmember Huizar’s office. The agreement also includes securing additional parking for park visitors at a proposed USC parking lot, which is being built as USC seeks to expand its Health Sciences Medical Campus.
Councilmember Huizar was able to successfully negotiate with USC, utilizing significant community activism to garner support for the park improvements including a new jogging/running path; upgrades to the park gym, outdoor basketball/tennis courts and restrooms; new outdoor fitness equipment; a new toddler play area; additional security lighting and a $50,000 commitment from USC to support the park’s youth sports programs.
“Hazard Park is a long treasured community asset and a source of pride for many,” said Councilmember Huizar. “When these plans were initially announced, I asked USC to meet with the community to hear their concerns, which they did. During these frank and open discussions, USC heard from a vocal, passionate and proud community who let the university know that more work was needed. To their credit, working with my office, USC responded with an agreement that not only brings much-needed improvements to the park, but shows the university’s commitment to engage the Hazard Park community in a positive manner now and in the future.
“No agreement of this magnitude would’ve been possible without the community making sure their voices were heard. I want to thank the Hazard Park Preservation Committee and all our other concerned residents for their activism.”
In vacating the park land that they own, USC has agreed to dedicate that land to the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks. And by building a street to connect the campus through property just north of the park that USC owns (valued at $1.5 million), the University is forgoing any future development of that property.
USC has also committed to build at least 1,500 new parking spaces within their property in the next three years. At least 1,000 will come from a new parking structure, and 500 more will come from three surface parking lots.
While their streetscape plan and pedestrian improvements remove some parking meters to allow for wider sidewalk and new tree plantings, USC will provide five times more parking than is currently available. Working with the Council office, USC has also agreed to phase in the parking meter removals into two 10-year phases.
For park-goers, USC has committed to the Council office to secure 40 metered parking spaces in a new surface parking lot adjacent to the park, plus eight additional metered spaces on the new Norfolk extension, for a total of 48 new spaces.
They have also agreed to permanently preserve street parking immediately adjacent to Hazard Park on Norfolk and San Pablo Streets, and the Council office worked with USC to preserve more than 250 street parking meter spaces for the next 10 years.
It is expected that by the time this first 10-year phase is completed, parking issues should be significantly improved due to USC’s surplus of on-site parking.
In a significant addition to the agreement with Councilmember Huizar’s office, USC has agreed to provide an additional $100,000 to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation that will be available for future parking mitigation needs. The funds will be placed in an interest-bearing account and can be used to address any future parking issues that arise for adjacent residential neighborhoods, and/or provide for future community benefits.
In discussing with the Council office other ways USC can engage the Hazard Park community more directly, USC offered the use of a Mobile Computer Lab, which can be used, among other things, to provide participants with résumé building, as well provide direct entry into USC’s Job Finder database.
USC previously planned to make several other contributions to the area as part of their Health Sciences Master Plan, including:
- Undergrounding utilities as part of streetscape improvements ($12 million).
- Constructing new sidewalk on Soto for Hazard Park and new pedestrian crosswalks.
The University also recently announced it was expanding its successful Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) into the area. NAI is an elementary and middle school program, which offers low-income students free scholarships to USC if they continue with the program. USC has recently added Murchison Elementary School in Boyle Heights and El Sereno Middle School to the program.
As part of its goals for the expansion, USC is seeking to increase pedestrian use along the campus, build a 178-unit student housing facility, a child daycare center, and a hotel.