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Federal Transportation Grant Funds Help Leimert Park Village Become Model Community

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Federal Transportation Grant Funds Help Leimert Park Village Become Model Community

Federal Highway Administration
March 24, 1999

Wednesday, March 24, 1999
Contact: Gail Shibley
Telephone: 202-366-0660
FHWA 21-99

LOS ANGELES—Leimert Park Village, one of eight communities that benefitted from $5.1 million in federal grants for "streetscape" improvements after civil unrest in Los Angeles in 1992, now is a model of progress and community involvement, according to Gloria Jeff, deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.

Jeff visited Leimert Park Village to view the effect of federal transportation funds on improving the quality of life and livability in such communities.

"Vice President Gore launched a comprehensive strategy to help communities across America grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth," said Jeff. "This funding supports that strategy. Access to transportation is especially critical to making communities more livable and to putting people first."

Twelve area communities, including Leimert Park Village, are part of an effort called the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI). It was founded in 1994 to bring back a sense of identity and ownership to main streets and transportation corridors throughout the city. The program is focused on ethnically and geographically diverse, transit-dependent communities.

Jeff said that funds for streetscape improvements such as lighting, transit shelters, and community information kiosks, help communities create safe, attractive pedestrian and transit environments. She characterized Leimert Park Village as a model illustrating how to get involvement from everyone, not just the government, but also the people who live and work in a community.

LANI has set up a process whereby each project area creates and is guided by what it terms a "Recognized Community Organization," or "RCO," which is composed of local residents, business and property owners and representatives from community organizations. Jeff said that the RCOs are more than mere advisory boards because they participate in every aspect of planning and implementing projects in their communities.

In keeping with LANI’s focus on neighborhood sustainability, Leimert Park Village created a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Leimert Park Village Community Development Corporation, to continue revitalization efforts. While LANI provides support services for the corporation, most of its activities are independent of LANI. The organization currently has two contracts to provide administrative services and community outreach.

Previous development programs often had lacked neighborhood scale and connection to public transit, and other well-meaning programs often were unsuccessful because they failed to involve community members in the decision-making process, Jeff said.

LANI also has gotten involvement from the private sector: it has leveraged over $3.5 million in additional neighborhood investments since 1995.


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