Residents Will Have Say In USC Health Campus Expansion

March 16, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

The Board of Supervisors took steps Tuesday to ensure Boyle Heights residents have a voice in shaping development around LAC+USC Medical Center.

Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended hiring a consultant to facilitate a partnership between the county, USC and local residents, hoping to generate a shared vision for the campus and community.

“It is important we make sure everyone gets a seat at the table,” Solis said.

Residents and community advocates told the board that they’ve been excluded from conversations about development of the campus for too long.

“Development is great, but not when the community is stepped on,” resident Jesus Ruiz said, adding that many of his friends had been forced out of Los Angeles by rising costs.

Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at LAC+USC Medical Center, told the board that he and other leaders were “thinking about how we can best serve the community where we reside.”

Residents expressed concern about being displaced in a gentrifying neighborhood.

“History paints an unfortunate story of what happens to communities when powerful institutions like USC come and develop. Many times it’s a cycle of displacement, criminalization and ultimately, erasure,” said Esthefanie Solano, a youth organizer for InnerCity Struggle who grew up in Boyle Heights.

“We expect USC to invest in, support and see every young person and resident as their next medical student, doctor, surgeon or biotech engineer.”

The discussion came as the county considers adding services for the homeless and improving juvenile justice facilities on or near the campus, where it owns 124 acres and LAC+USC Medical Center.

Solis said the development options were wide-ranging, including a clinic, housing and a biomedical center.

For its part, USC is planning a 200-room hotel, more student housing and a cancer treatment center as part of its 80-acre Health Sciences Campus.

However, as the university builds out its campus, the lack of resources in the surrounding neighborhoods becomes even more stark, community advocates said.

“It’s not about being anti-USC, it’s about let’s work together,” said Lou Calanche, executive director of Legacy LA Youth Development Corporation and a USC grad.

Community leaders said growth on the campus should be aimed at creating more jobs and affordable housing for those who live nearby.

The motion – co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl – was added as part of a supplement to the board’s agenda. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urged his colleagues to postpone a vote, arguing that more review was warranted, as the impact of the work would reach “well beyond USC.”

The board’s vote was 3-0 in favor, with Ridley-Thomas abstaining.

The board directed the county’s chief executive officer to report back on goals and a work plan for the Health Innovation Community Partnership.


Films Explore the Power of Art to Transform ‘LA Stories’

February 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Two very different films depicting young people coming of age and using music and art to overcome adversity will be screened Saturday at the annual Lummis Day Movie Night at the Wellness Center, the newly opened office and community space located in Los Angeles’ historic General Hospital complex in Boyle Heights.

Film Night opens with the 46-minute documentary “From Invisible to Invincible,” the story of six homeless youths in Los Angeles who struggle to end their personal cycle of chronic homelessness.

Using art created by each of the six young men, the film chronicles their life on the streets and their successful struggles to transform their lives. All six of the subjects are clients of Jovenes Inc., an organization that provides housing and other essential services to homeless and at-risk Los Angeles youth.

Next up is the award-winning indie-rock tragicomedy “The Crumbles,” written and directed by Akira Boch.

(Movie still from ‘The Crumbles’)

(Movie still from ‘The Crumbles’)

In “The Crumbles,” Darla’s overly serious, stagnant musician’s life is shaken up when her free-spirited, musically gifted long-lost best friend Elisa crashes on her couch… indefinitely.

Elisa seems the perfect partner for the band that Darla has long wanted to form, but insecurity, heartache, and oversized egos all work against them.

Filmed in and around Northeast Los Angeles, the movie features a soundtrack by Lummis Day veteran musician Quetzal Flores.

The Crumbles won the Audience Award at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and earned a “Best Supporting Actress” nomination for Teresa Michelle Lee from the National Film Society Awards.

Running time for “The Crumbles is 75 minutes.

Tickets for the event are $15. All proceeds support this year’s Lummis Day Festival. Order tickets online at or, for more information, call Bob Kieft (323) 259-2504. Watch the website for updated information about the screening.

The Wellness Center is located at 1200 North State Street. A free shuttle bus will be provided between the Highland Park Senior Center and the Wellness Center, courtesy of Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar.

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