Community discusses Master Plan

The Economic Development Committee of the North Area Neighborhood Development Council kicked off the first of a series of forums with a discussion Thursday night aimed at collecting opinions about the university’s Master Plan and constructing a proposal to pass along to the university and city hall.

Planning · Kirk Cartozian, a representative from the real estate advisory services of Cartozian Associates Real Estate, moderated a discussion Thursday among students, community members and university officials. The discussion focused on the Master Plan. - Carlo Acenas | Daily Trojan

“We’re trying to get ideas from the community and make recommendations that we’d like to see included in the [Master] Plan,” said Samantha Foley, one of the two USC student representatives on the NANDC and a senior majoring in political science and international relations.

A group of about 20 business owners, residents, USC professors, students and representatives from labor unions met in the University Village on Thursday to discuss the Master Plan, a guiding document that details the university’s plans for expansion and renovation over the next 30 years. Participants mainly discussed housing displacement, affordable housing and whether the Master Plan will address both real estate issues.

Kirk Cartozian, a representative from real estate advisory services of Cartozian Associates Real Estate and a USC alumnus mediated the question and comments between the audience members.

Cartozian spoke of developer investments and how the community can benefit from entitlements.

“You guys are hopefully going to be creating a voice for yourself, and that’s the most productive way to see how your surrounding is in the future as investment comes, development comes, how you can get the most for your local affected area,” Cartozian said.

Cartozian said the first step needed is to assess the needs of the community — what might be lacking in the community and what resources might already be out there. Getting to one voice will be hard, he said, but the members of the audience will be able to come to a reasonable solution.

The U.V., which will be bulldozed and redeveloped as part of the Master Plan, was one of the main topics of discussion.

Business owners said they are worried their businesses will lose the relationship they have with the community and face higher lease rates. Likewise, community members said they were worried the U.V. will cater to students and not the community.

Foley, who said she has been talking directly with USC representatives, said that so far the idea is that the new U.V. will be both a community and student space.

“As they get close in the development process, they want a better idea of what community members want; it’s not going to be just what students want,” she said.

David Galaviz from USC Government and Community Relations said the retailers in the U.V. need to operate year-round.

Galaviz said so far retailers such as Forever 21, a community-serving bookstore, Superior Grocers or a related supermarket, restaurants like Applebee’s, a small hotel and a community movie theater are possibilities for the new U.V.

“The goal isn’t to develop something like The Grove,” he said.

Aside from the development of the U.V., community members also spoke about housing displacement and affordable housing.

Gloria Serrano, a resident of 37 years, said she’s seen the community change drastically, and there has been much displacement.

“A lot of housing has been turned into student housing. But in no way we are speaking against the students,” she said. “Families are forced to pay a large amount to live in small apartments because of rent hikes.”

Galaviz said USC has been talking about including a financial aid stipend to encourage students to move in to new student housing that will eventually be developed as part of the Master Plan, rather than moving into community housing. The plan would create about 5,000 more beds for undergraduates.

Another community resident, Dennis Brathwaite, acknowledged housing displacement but also said there needs to be a balance between community members and students in the area.

“I think the students like the interaction with the local people … I think there’s a familiarity with the students and the people from outside.”

Christina Gotuaco, a senior majoring in public policy, management and planning agreed, saying she likes living in the urban area and interacting with the community.

“It’s just nice to have this community feeling that you wouldn’t get if USC was segregating the students from the community members,” she said.

City Council Representative Dennis Rodriguez, communications assistant for Councilmember Bernard Parks, said the Neighborhood Council should put together a reasonable proposal in writing within the next two weeks to present to the city community redevelopment agency, planning department and our council office.

Shawn Simons, president of the NANDC, said she understands that not everything on the proposal will make its way through to the Master Plan but said she hopes the city will listen.

“We want to do our diligence as a community to give a full-fleshed out proposal … You win some and you lose some, but we don’t want to hear [after we submitted the proposal], ‘Sorry, you closed the books on that,” Simons said.

The next forum will take place April 29 at 7 p.m. at the U.V. computing center.

9 replies
  1. Fred
    Fred says:

    “Likewise, community members said they were worried the U.V. will cater to students and not the community.”

    The UV should cater to students since that is the majority of their business! Without USC, the community would not have developed to what it is today and it would probably be just another ghetto slummy neighborhood full of cheap fast food restaurants and shady landlords. I sure hope USC takes over.

  2. Jim
    Jim says:

    Shouldn’t USC provide Universal Health Care for the community? How about we leave this community as it was ten years ago, or maybe make it like an Indian reserve forever. Then students can come to show their caring about the poor dude down the block whenever they need a community service unit.

  3. Alum05
    Alum05 says:

    Honest to God, reading this kind of stuff drives me nuts. Here we go with the whole romantic Che Guevara notion of standing up to the man.

    It’s quite simple. USC has some of the very best communication and entertainment academic programs in the entire world with the rest of the university not far behind. On balance, the long term economic growth of the United States is more important than displacing a few people in the immediate neighborhood. I understand their concerns and the displacement is going to happen; it’s a classic case of eminent domain and while things have to be done in a moral and humane way, they nonetheless have to be done. As stated above, those neighborhood residents receive a ton of benefits by virtue of being close to the university that they would not otherwise have, namely private police patrol with a 30 second response time and excellent public schools infused with some of the best and brightest college students in the country – good luck having that kind of safety and that caliber of schooling in the rest of the city.

    All that said, the neighborhood went in reverse from the 30s through the 80s I’m sure that the other posters believe that the slumlords who came in and gutted the neighborhood’s beautiful older Victorian homes had hearts of gold, right?

    • Jim
      Jim says:

      No one will get displaced, I believe. Only those greedy landlords who can not milk student’s rent are complaining. They just want a bigger bite of the pie, that is USC.

  4. Joe
    Joe says:

    The morality is questionable? The morality of what? Improving one’s property? Student’s complaint about “gentrification” and Heinrich’s suggestion that USC would “alienate” local residents are both based on the idea that self-improvement is by itself insulting to people who have not improved. It’s one of these white-guilt type ideas. I challenge you to find any genuine homeowner in the area who will say he’s OFFENDED by the prospect of cleaner and safer streets, better emergency services, more retail options, renovated architecture, and rising property values.

    People and universities and cities improve themselves. We all hope to leave the world a bit better than we found it. There is no moral imperative to limit your aspirations so that others won’t think that you think that you’re better than them.

  5. Heinrich
    Heinrich says:

    While it’s true that USC does have the legal right to revamp the UV and make such sweeping changes, the morality is still questionable. Personally, I’d prefer to have positive relations with the community and make do with some subpar retail outlets than alienate all the families living around here. LA’s a big city and more interesting shops and restaurants are not far away. You can’t have the college town experience in a big city without trampling on innocent people. That’s just life. Everyone lamenting that USC is “too urban” or “in the ghetto” should have known what they were getting themselves into when they enrolled.

  6. Tommy
    Tommy says:

    It is not the university’s job to cater to the community. USC is a private school that answers to its donors and students who pay top dollar to attend. It does not need to fund and support the needs of the surrounding community.

  7. Jim
    Jim says:

    To “student”: I disagree with your assertion that USC has an “underhanded” goal of pushing community members out of University Park. Your attitude suggests you’re bitter about something USC has dont to you and not what USC has not done for the community at large. USC does more for their surrounding community than ANY other university in the nation!!

    The UV is owned by the university and should be developed in a way that supports its students interest first. The community residents benefit GREATLY from USC not just in philonthropic ways but by having USC’s privately funded police force patrol their neighborhoods and help keep them safer than they would be in any other area of south LA.

  8. student
    student says:

    Relations between USC students and the community are definitely not as positive as this article makes it seem. I know a lot of great students involved in and working with the community, but for the most part students are just trying to go to school, be safe, be able to party and be catered to. Not much of a real understanding that their stake in the community as students is not nearly as great as the people who grew up here and have families here.

    For families it is not just about a good 4 year experience, it is about a good life, as well as a peaceful, safe and healthy community to raise their children in.

    USC using students as agents of gentrification is very underhanded, needs to be adequately addressed.

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