The Miracle Mile Residential Association held its annual meeting online this year, updating residents on a number of concerns and projects that the Association will be focusing on over the next year and beyond.
After introductory remarks by Miracle Mile resident Mary Woodward, resident Montrese Chandler provided a brief history of the neighborhood, which was created in 1922 by developer A. R. Ross as a more suburban, automotive-focused shopping alternative to downtown Los Angeles.
MMRA Vice President Samantha Friedland then reminded members that association dues for 2022 are now due, and those who renew their memberships by the end of the month will be entered into a drawing to win prizes from local merchants, including Milk Jar Cookies, the Hair Parlor on 8th, Candela, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Met Him at a Bar, the El Rey Theater, MIXT, Urban Florist, and Equinox gym.
Next, MMRA President Greg Goldin provided quick updates on nine major issues of interest to the neighborhood, including:
New City Council Representation – The 2021 City Council redistricting process moved the majority of Miracle Mile into CD 5 after many years in CD4. Goldin said the responsiveness of the new council office has been “like night and day” compared to previous representation, but also noted that current City Councilmember Paul Koretz is termed out this year, so will be replaced by a new representative in the 2022 election. Goldin said the MMRA will likely hold a forum for the runoff candidates after the final two are determined in the June primary election.
The Academy Museum – The museum opened to much fanfare in October, but Goldin said the neighborhood’s big concern is that the venue has already violated its operating agreement – which says it will not close Fairfax Ave. for events – twice in the last few months.
Wilshire Courtyard Redevelopment – Goldin said not much is known about the proposal for the property at Wilshire and Sierra Bonita, “which we hope will never be seen outside this architectural rendering”…and more details likely will not be available until the environmental review process begins at some unknown date. Whenever that is, however, Goldin said the neighborhood will definitely advocate for preservation of the much-loved park along 9th St. behind the current complex.
Mirabel Development – Goldin said this 42-story, 348-unit project proposed for 5411 Wilshire Blvd. will likely move into its environmental review phase sometime this year, which will bring more information and details. Among other elements of concern, Goldin said, the project will be required to preserve/incorporate the Streamline Moderne Sontag Drugs building at the NW corner of Wilshire and Cloverdale.
La Brea Tar Pits Renovation – Goldin said the current proposal for the redevelopment of the Tar Pits, along with adjacent Hancock Park and the Page Museum would preserve the hills/berms popular with neighborhood children, and create a more open, transparent version of the museum. He said the plans could take 7-10 years to come to fruition, because the museum still needs to raise money for the project, but “we’re all pretty excited about this transformation.”
LACMA Redevelopment – Goldin said this much-discussed project seems to have been delayed by at least 18 months, while estimated costs have soared from $750 million to more than $1 billion. Goldin said the project is still officially slated to open in 2025, but “LACMA is very secretive about its plans,” and “even [that date is] in doubt because no one knows if they have the money to proceed.”
SB 9 and 10 – Goldin said the effects of these two statewide bills, which passed the legislature last fall, won’t be known for a while yet, but because SB 9 exempts official historic districts from its green light to redevelop single family properties with duplexes, and to split those lots into two parcels, Miracle Mile’s Historic Preservation Overlay Zone should protect it. As for SB 10, which would allow cities to allow the construction of up to 10 new units on any single family parcel near certain kinds of public transit, Goldin reported that City Councilmember Paul Koretz introduced a motion that would help protect Los Angeles neighborhoods from this kind of development, but Council President Nury Martinez has so far refused to allow a vote on the motion.
Fairfax Gardens Development – Goldin said this development, planned for 800 S. Fairfax, will replace a current complex of 40 rent-controlled units with an 8-story luxury development that will tower over the historic Tom Bergin’s pub and restaurant, next door, “much like a Mack truck would loom over a Mini Cooper.” Goldin said the MMRA will be fighting to halt or at least minimize the new development’s size and impacts.
Purple Line Subway Extension – As local subway construction “inches toward completion,” Goldin reported that Metro will begin removing the concrete decking from Wilshire Blvd. between La Brea and Mansfield this spring. The work will be done over 10 weekends, starting on Friday, April 22, and running through July. Wilshire Blvd. will be closed between La Brea and Highland from 9 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Monday on each of those weekends. And after the decking is removed, there will be several more months of street restoration, which could also require some additional closures.
After Goldin’s updates, MMRA Neighborhood Watch captain Kari Garcia thanked the neighborhood’s current block captains, and noted that even more are needed to help neighbors come together, learn how to secure their homes, and help create a sense of neighborhood and community. Garcia said the group has been working on neighborhood issues such as homeless encampments, distancing marijuana dispensaries from Wilshire Crest School, illegal murals on dispensaries, trash problems, and more — “basically everything that affects quality of life, we’re taking a look at it.”
Garcia said one big goal of the neighborhood watch is to get enough residents signed up with a security company to qualify for a full-time patrol car in the area…and only 15 more homes are needed. The watch is also helping deal with vacant and nuisance properties, and increasing emergency preparedness. (She urged all residents to sign up for a 90-minute Ready Your LA Neighborhood (RYLAN) training class, and also to take a Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) class.)
Meanwhile, Garcia reported that according to recent crime statistics, violent crimes, robberies, burglaries, auto thefts and more are all down so far this year in the Miracle Mile/Park La Brea area. Homeless encampments, however, have increased, but Garcia said that because LA does not have enough housing to place everyone, and because of laws that prevent taking or destroying someone’s personal property unless it’s been abandoned, the city has a hard time clearing encampments, even though it is working on outreach to camp residents.
Finally, Garcia also presented a handy infographic with resources people can connect with for various kinds of issues in the neighborhood.
Rounding out the meeting’s presentations, Thao Tran, Miracle Mile’s regional representative on the Mid City West Neighborhood Council, urged people to sign up for the MMRA newsletter to stay informed, and noted that there are many opportunities to get involved, such as her effort to advocate for a new dog park in the La Brea Tar Pits renovation project (a petition she circulated got 5,000 signatures in favor of the dog park, and has won at least initial attention from the development team).
Finally, in answer to questions from neighbors, the presenters reported that yes, the MMRA is working on plans for a big block party and centennial celebration later this year…that residents should definitely tune into this year’s mayoral race, and start contacting candidates about issues that concern them…and that a summary of information, resources and links from this meeting is now available on the front page of the MMRA website.
Anyone who didn’t get a chance to tune into the live meeting, but would still like to watch, can find a recording here.
About Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.
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