The North Area Neighborhood Development Council, an independent organization that plays a role in Los Angeles City’s decision making process, held a community forum meeting Thursday evening to discuss the USC Specific Plan and how it will impact jobs in the community.
The USC Specific Plan details the planned redevelopment of the University Village. Renovations will include new student housing, retail spaces, parking and other changes.
Members of NANDC attended along with representatives from local unions, the WorkSource Center of South Los Angeles and several community members. The meeting, which was the last of a series of economic development forums hosted by NANDC, focused on new developments in the area and how to maximize hiring community members who have difficulty finding jobs.
NANDC President Shawn Simons is currently drafting a proposal that will first have to be approved by the council before being presented to USC. She highlighted four main areas of focus for the council’s presentation to USC — economic development, housing, physical attributes and community resources.
“Economic development is the most important, because if we can get people in the community working with real jobs and real salaries, then we won’t have to worry so much about subsidized housing,” Simons said.
NANDC and community members hope USC will pursue a local community hiring initiative for the planned construction that will begin sometime this year to create jobs in an area with a high unemployment rate.
The unemployment rate in Los Angeles County in December was 12.7 percent, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Simons spoke about asking to hire at least 30 percent of the workers from the community within a two-mile radius of the construction projects.
She added, however, that with such a large undertaking, the council as well as the community would like for USC to make an even larger commitment to involving local workers in the execution of the redevelopment plans.
She added that they would like to see USC commit to a 15 percent local hiring rate within a five-mile radius with at least 10 percent of those workers being “at risk,” or those who have a prior incident such as jail time that might make it difficult for them to find work.
On top of construction, Simons said she would like to see a push toward more local hiring in permanent jobs once the new University Village is completed. She acknowledged that the new U.V. would likely have higher rent for retail spaces than the current one, and she stressed the need for assisting local small businesses currently operating out of the U.V.
Simons added that NANDC will try to help local businesses and workers throughout the redevelopment process with the help of other community resources, including workers unions and WorkSource, which is an organization committed to delivering workforce development and training services in the L.A. area.
Christopher Gallas, the representative from WorkSource of South Los Angeles, told the audience that the organization will offer help to the community through mock interviews and connections with local hiring businesses for community workers.
Jane Templin, a representative from the Los Angeles Local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union 11, was also in attendance and encouraged the local workers at the meeting to be active in their search for work throughout the construction process.
“What is important is that jobs are offered to premier pathways in our community,” Templin said. “I realize the whole country’s hurting right now, but I’m not as interested in having people coming from Texas and Arizona to take our jobs when we have skilled people that can be put into skilled positions here.”