Update: SORO NC Boundary Adjustment Hearing, Take 2

View SORO NC annex areas in a larger map
As we've previously posted, SORO NC is petitioning the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (BONC) to adjust our borders to include two adjacent, currently unrepresented areas. One of the areas to the southeast is being contested by Mid-City NC.

Due to procedural problems, BONC was unable to make a final decision at the July 5th hearing, so they will be reconsidering the petition on Tuesday, August 2.

This time, the public hearing will be at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (4718 West Washington Boulevard).

BONC will once again be hearing public comment, so please come out to support our application.

I-405 closed July 16 – 17

In case you haven't yet heard, the 405 will be closed the weekend of July 16 – 17. It is guaranteed to be a driving nightmare, and your best bet is to stay home—or even better, stay home and patronize local SORO businesses.

But you may not know that the Metro Transit Authority will start shutting down ramps as early as 7pm Friday the 15th, and won't have everything open until 6am Monday the 18th. Be sure to make alternate travel plans.

Update: Congratulations to the Metro team for reopening the I-405 17 hours early.

SORO NC Boundary Adjustment Hearing

View SORO NC annex areas in a larger map
SORO NC is petitioning the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (BONC) to adjust our borders to include two adjacent, currently unrepresented areas. The map at right shows the two areas in dark green.

We are one of two neighborhood councils interested in the area south of Venice, between La Cienega and the 10 Freeway. (Our bid for the western area is uncontested and has the support of the Westside NC).

BONC will hold a public hearing to consider both petitions on July 5th at 6pm at SmogShoppe (2651 S. La Cienega Blvd.). It is incredibly important that SORO supporters are there in force.

SmogShoppe has generously provided light refreshments and free valet parking, so come a bit early to enjoy one of LA's most beautiful event venues.

Movie in the Park: Alpha and Omega

On Friday, July 1, Councilmember Wesson, his  staff, and SORO NC brings the family-friendly animated film Alpha and Omega to our own Reynier Park (2803 Reynier Ave.). Bring your family and friends for a beautiful night of movie-watching under the stars. 

Best part: it's free. All of it. Including the movie, hot dogs, candy, and popcorn. (We do recommend bringing a blanket for the ground.) Festivities begin at 7pm and we'll start the movie as soon as it's dark enough. 

Reynier Village Yard Sale

Reynier Village Neighborhood Association is holding their third annual multi-family yard sale on Saturday, June 18th from 9am – 1pm. 15 families are participating this year; click here for a map.

RVNA is bounded by Cadillac (North), Robertson (West), Holt (East) and the 10 Freeway (South), and signs will be up at major intersections.

2011 Susan Bursk Community Service Award winner: Liz Carlin

The Susan Bursk Community Service Award is presented each year at the SoRo Festival to an individual in recognition of his or her dedication and service to the South Robertson Neighborhoods community. The award is co-sponsored by SORO NC and SoRo, Inc.

This year's winner was Liz Carlin, our outstanding Tenth District Deputy for Councilmember Herb Wesson. Liz consistently goes above and beyond for SORO. She exemplifies what a great public servant should be, and we are lucky to have her working on our behalf.

At our June Board meeting we will also recognize the other community members nominated this year:

  • Andrew Rayner
  • Baila Romm
  • Marjan Safinia
  • Paula Waxman

We're deeply grateful for the work all the nominees have done within SORO, and congratulate them on their nominations.

2011 Outstanding Green Citizenship Award winner: Green Beginning Community Preschool

A shining example of outstanding green citizenship, the Green Beginning Community Preschool has won this year's Outstanding Green Citizenship Award. The school's Executive Director, Veronica Cabello, accepted the award at the SoRo Festival.

Through its workplace environment, environmental practices, educational philosophy, and environmental leadership, the Preschool has shown itself to be an outstanding steward of the earth. From its inception, it has made every attempt to be kind to the earth and to the environment and to teach the parents and their children how to be mindful of the impact their behavior can have on the environment. 

We hope that Green Beginning's example will inspire other businesses and schools in the community to emulate their efforts to improve the environment of the community and the planet.

SoRo Festival 2011: Sunday June 5th

The 14th Annual SoRo Community Festival will take place on Sunday, June 5, 2011, from 11am to 4pm. The Festival is located on South Robertson Boulevard, between Cattaraugus and Beverlywood St. (just north of Hamilton High School and the 10 Freeway).

The SoRo Festival will feature gourmet food trucks, activities for kids and lots of exciting artist and vendor booths. The live music stage will include appearances from World Garden Dance and Music Studio, the award winning Jazz Vocal Ensemble from Hamilton High School, top 40 music from Sound Assembly, and the Latin Soul sound of The Westside Crew.

For more information—including a schedule of main stage events—check out our SoRo Festival 2011 page.

Save locally with the SOROCard

As featured in LAIST, the free SOROCard gives cardholders discounts at a wide variety of participanting local business—and offers local businesses the opportunity to promote themselves directly to the community. Launched in Summer 2008 by SORO NC, the program continues to expand with new merchants.

For a full list of participating merchants, click here.

If you are interested in learning more about the program, please email our outreachchair@soronc.org. All participants are required to sign up with SORO NC. Alternatively, we encourage you to attend any of the SORO NC meetings listed at right, which are always open to the public.

Fire Station 58 Update

SORO NC and LAFD Community Meeting
Community meeting:

SORO NC General Board Meeting with LAFD Leadership
to discuss their new deployment plan

Thursday, May 19th
7:00pm / Hamilton High School Cafeteria
LA has one of the best Fire Departments in the country and the community is justly concerned about LAFD's proposed changes to Station 58 equipment and staffing. After talking with the LAFD leadership, this is what we know:

Current situation

Station 58 is the 14th busiest in Los Angeles. Right now, Station 58 has four pieces of equipment, organized into three teams:
  • Light Force 58, which has six staff, a hook and ladder truck, and a water pumper,
  • Engine 58, which has four staff and a second pump,
  • Advanced Life Support (ALS) 58, which has two paramedics and an ambulance.

In response to budget cuts in 2009, the LAFD instituted a Modified Coverage Plan (MCP) that shuts down different parts of the station each month. The MCP is still in place.

So right now, during each 27 day period we only have a full complement of twelve staff on duty for twelve days; it goes down to eight staff for six days (when they shut down the Engine); and finally down to six staff for nine days (when they shut down the Light Force). Not ideal.

The new plan

The proposal for Station 58 keeps it open every day. The Station is not closing. They will move the hook-and-ladder to another station, upgrade the Engine team by swapping in a paramedic/firefighter, and put the remaining pump and an additional ambulance in "ready reserve" at the Station. That means we'll have a permanent staff of six (with one more paramedic), instead of the six to twelve rotating Firefighters we have now.

The LAFD leadership feels this is a better plan than the MCP they're under now. Among the benefits are that city-wide, Firefighters will no longer be continually moved from station to station and locally, we'll have a stable team again. LAFD does not plan any furloughs or lay-offs.

Additionally, the Battalion Command Team will move closer to us (to Fire Station 68 on Washington Blvd., 2.5 miles away).

The next closest Fire Station that serves the SORO area is Station 92 on Pico. They were similarly staffed. The plan calls for eliminating their Engine company and placing it in ready reserve (taking their staffing down to eight).

If the two Stations were fully staffed (as it would have been pre-2009), we would have two Light Forces, two Engines, and two ALS ambulances. With the new plan, we'll have one Light Force, one Engine, and two ALS ambulances between them.

Projected impact

Station 58 fields 15.8 calls a day. 13 of those are medical-related; the rest are a mix of gas leaks, people stuck in elevators, actual fires, etc. The new plan for Station 58 places more emphasis on medical response and less on fire fighting, and the extra paramedic should help in that regard. The Engine company is still very able to fight fires, of course.

The extra ready reserve pump and ambulance can be activated in emergency situations, although with some delay.

One of the biggest concerns is that a ladder truck does have specialty equipment, including am extending aerial ladder, chain saws for ventilating smoke from roofs, and the jaws of life. Calls that require a ladder truck would be dispatched from one of the nearby stations:
  • Station 92 on Pico (Century City) - 2.6 miles
  • Station 61 on 3rd St (Fairfax) - 3.6 miles
  • Station 94 on Coliseum (Baldwin Hills) - 4.1 miles
  • Station 29  on Wilshire (Hancock Park) - 4.6 miles
  • Station 26 on S. Western (West Adams) - 4.7 miles

However, LAFD projects that even though we are losing the ladder truck and one pump, response times should be better for us across the board than under the current brown-out plan. They point out that its common now for them to dispatch units from other stations when our team is out on calls or when there is a larger fire.

LAFD Projected response times for SORO area (in minutes)

Response Medical: Basic Medical: Paramedic Medical: Ambulance Fire: Engine Fire: Light Force
Full Staffing 4:55 / 78% 5:26 / 91% 5:42 / 95% 4:08 / 91% 5:20 / 96%
MCP (current) 4:57 / 76% 5:30 / 90% 5:47 / 94% 4:13 / 89% 5:40 / 94%
New Plan (projected) 4:57 / 77% 5:18 / 93% 5:46 / 94% 4:11 / 90% 5:31 / 96%

The chart shows average response times and how often they hit or beat that time. Of course, the times shown in the bottom row are only projections.

With the pending high-rise developments in Century City, the need for ladder trucks in our area will certainly increase.

Decision process

The proposed plan comes from Chief Peaks and his team, not the City Council. It's based on their analysis of a million calls over the last three years (download an informational brochure from LAFD). They used a computerized system called ADAM to determine which areas of the City needed which resources. You can see some of that analysis at the LAFD website

They estimate that the plan would save $55 million a year, mainly through staff attrition. The City Council, of course, sets the LAFD's budget. The Council LAFD budget discussion will happen on Wednesday, May 18.

When we asked the LAFD leadership if—regardless of budget—they preferred the new plan to the current MCP with its station brown-outs, they said yes. Individual Firefighters and their Union may disagree.

What you can do

It's important that our Council Members and the Mayor know how we feel before they discuss cuts to the LAFD budget on the 18th.

Similarly, the LAFD needs to understand how we feel about their deployment plan. As noted above, at the request of Council Member Koretz, SORO NC will host the LAFD leadership on Thursday, May 19th at its General Board meeting. We encourage you to attend and ask questions. You can also contact their Public Information Officer, Captain Jaime Moore, at (213) 978-3824 or via email at jaime.moore@lacity.org.

The Station itself will hold an open house on Sunday, May 15 from 9am to 1pm.

Grow LA Victory Garden Classes

SORO NC Green Team For four consecutive Sundays (May 1–22) at the Hami Garden, the Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative will help new gardeners start their own gardens quickly and easily in a container, in the backyard or at a community garden. Participants are able to turn their interest in gardening into successful, productive gardens that will generate positive changes in their homes by helping to lower grocery bills and enhance opportunities to eat healthy food.

The Grow LA Victory Garden classes are organized and led by UC California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers. Those who complete the 4-week training will become UC-Certified Victory Gardeners.

List of topics include the following:
  • Week 1: Planning, tools, containers, building raised beds, seed starting, plant selection 
  • Week 2: Soil preparation, soil properties, transplanting, irrigation, and mulching
  • Week 3: Composting, pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), beneficial insects, organic pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Week 4: Harvesting, pollination, seed saving, fruit trees, recipes, review, graduation 

Visit our event page for more information about the program and registration.

Castle Heights Earth Week & Eco-Fair

Castle Heights Elementary School will be holding a full week of events to celebrate Earth Day. Co-sponsored by SORO NC, the week includes recycling and e-waste drives and culminates in an after-school (2:34 to 4:30 pm) Eco-Fair on Friday, April 29. The Fair will include Earth-friendly crafts, games, music, demonstrations and food. 

For more information, see our Eco-Fair event page.

2011 Susan Bursk Community Service Award Nominations

Submit your choice for this year's winner

Nominations due May 6

It's time to nominate a worthy recipient of the Susan Bursk Community Service Award for 2011. Each year, SoRo, Inc. and the South Robertson Neighborhoods Council recognize an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the community. Your neighbor, friend, colleague—even someone you've admired from afar—could be the recipient this year.

Think about who's helped the community that you know. Perhaps an un-sung hero...

Submission instructions are on the form, which is available for download in either MS Word or PDF format.

Welcome to our new, improved website

More information and better ways to stay in touch

At first glance it might look like the old site, but under the hood it's completely different. 

We've rolled out deeper and easier top-of-the-page navigation. We've added pages for each of our committees and major programs. There's now a community calendar that will include events within SORO. We've made it easier to stay in touch with us by adding a contact form and a better topic-based email announcements. And the new Resources section has links to useful City and neighborhood organizations.

Like any new site, it'll continue to improve over time. If you have suggestions on how we can make it better, please let us know.

SORO NC Bylaws Revision Project

In late 2010, the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners approved a measure requiring all Neighborhood Councils to adopt a common Bylaws structure, including a standardized table of contents. BONC also included language suggestions in their template to help NCs develop consistent and legally valid policies.

Based on this, the SORO NC ad hoc Bylaws Committee has developed a draft revision to the Council's bylaws. This version has been completely restructured by the working group to conform with BONC's template. Throughout, many small changes have been made to the language in our old bylaws, and in some cases, the working group has opted to use phrasing and content suggestions from the BONC template.

The SORO Council will address this proposed draft at its March 2011 meeting. To learn more about the proposed changes, visit the Bylaws Updates page.