The Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice works to ensure that the billions of development dollars that are being spent on the 40-block strip between the University of Southern California (USC) and the Staples Center have tangible benefits for people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods.
AN UNPRECEDENTED COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENT
In May, 2001, the Coalition won an historic Community Benefits Agreement from the LA Arena Land Company, owned by billionaires Phillip Anschutz and Rupert Murdoch. The agreement, signed May 31, 2001, requires the developers to include affordable housing, living wage jobs, local hiring, parks and more in their $1 billion, 4 million square foot LA Sports and Entertainment District. See SAJE in the News for LA Times, The Nation, and Wall Street Journal coverage.
Key features of the Community Benefits Agreement include:
- Living Wage Jobs: 70% of new jobs will be unionized and/or pay a living wage.
- Local Hiring/Job-Training: 50% of new jobs will be hired locally through a community-run job training and placement center funded with $100,000 in seed money from the developer.
- Affordable Housing: A minimum of 20% of housing units must be affordable to low income people. In addition, the developer will provide a $650,000 0%-interest revolving loan fund towards the building of new affordable units by community non-profits.
- Parks and Recreation: The developer will provide $1 million for parks and recreation facilities within a 1 mile radius, and between $50,000 and $75,000 to involve community members in site identification and planning.
- Environmental Planning: An ongoing Coalition Advisory Committee will address such issues as construction, traffic, pedestrian safety, waste management, air quality and "green" buildings.
- Parking: The developer will help establish preferential parking and pay resident parking costs for 5 years.
In 2004, SAJE and our partners in the Figueroa Corridor Coalition are working towards implementation of the Agreement. To date:
- Zero-interest loans have already been made to two non-profit development corporations.
- With the help of City Councilperson Jan Perry, the City's first poor people's parking district will soon be operational.
- 30 people have already obtained living-wage union jobs through the Figueroa Corridor Community Jobs Program.
- Ground-breaking for a 500 unit student housing complex is anticipated for this Spring. According to our agreement, this generates an obligation for 100 units of housing that is affordable to low-income people.
- A study and participatory process have been completed to identify potential park sites, and under the leadership of the Environmental Justice Office of Environmental Defense (a founding Coalition member), park development will soon be underway.
As the real estate market heats up in the Figueroa Corridor, so have relationships between Coalition member organizations and the University of Southern California. In search of a positive alternative, SAJE has teamed up with the Oakland-based Data Center, USC student Jordan Love, Occidental student Maria Isabella Prack, and Benjamin Beach from Legal Aid's Economic Development unit to research best and relevant examples of university-community collaboration. We have found some promising results in other cities and will post the information here when the research is complete. In the meantime, a recent meeting with USC was encouraging, and we are hopeful regarding new efforts towards collaboration.