Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Downtown Landmark - By Amanda Hamaday

       One of the most well - known buildings of Los Angeles is most definitely the STAPLES Center, a landmark home to four professional athletic teams as well as a huge entertainment arena. Now the home of the LA Lakers after the Great Western Forum, it opened on Figueroa Street on October 17, 1999. It is owned and operated by the L.A. Arena Company and Anschutz Entertainment Group. While most think of the community it gathers on the inside of the center, it also has much influence on the public communal space on the outside. 

      When communities take the initiative to map out the commercial, industrial, service and arts amenities they want to hold onto and negotiate with public and private actors, they find creative ways to do this.  Staples Center developers and city officials were approached during development with neighborhood residents and a large coalition of community organizations, churches, and unions. Jafari Eayne, organizer for the Figueroa Corridor Coalition spoke of the negotiation saying "It took a two- to three-year campaign, but after a lot of media pressure, a lot of organizing, and a lot of good coalition work, we managed to get a community benefits package that includes things like local hiring, affordable housing, money for parks, and the first ever low-income parking district."

Some of the provisions included in the Staples Center CBA:
·       $1,000,000 for the creation or improvement of parks and recreational facilities
·       $25,000 per year for a term of five years for the creation of a residential parking permit program
·       an agreement to comply with the city’s living wage ordinance and to make all reasonable efforts to reach the goal of ensuring that 70% of the jobs created by the project pay a living wage;
·       an agreement to give priority hiring to persons displaced by the project and to low income individuals residing within three miles of the project
·       job training programs to be coordinated with community groups
·       $100,000 in seed money for a first source (i.e. local) hiring program
·       a requirement that 20% of the residential units in the project be affordable
·       $650,000 in interest-free loans to non-profit housing developers for the creation of additional affordable housing
·       an agreement to cooperate with the coalition to establish an advisory committee to assist with the implementation and enforcement of the agreement.

     Since 2001, a number of provisions of the Staples Center CBA have been implemented. Funds were distributed for parks and open space, the parking permit program was put into place and the revolving loan fund has revolved several times. The implementation of the CBA has been monitored and they have worked to set up a community land trust for affordable housing. Today we see that the STAPLES Center is one of the finer sections downtown that light up from miles away, but just around the corner you will find other dirty and dark downtown public streets. At least the arena has had good efforts made as the result f its construction to draw some good attention to its part of town. 

By: Amanda Hamaday

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