Community asks for beautification improvements

Local stakeholders urged expansion of the USC Master Plan to include beautification plans for the area west of Vermont Avenue at a meeting for the North Area Neighborhood Development Council on Thursday.

Local voices · North Area Neighborhood Development Council safety chair and area representative Leslie Evans addresses concerns of those attending the meeting. - Woodrow Clark | Daily Trojan

About 15 residents and activists gathered in a multipurpose room at the University Village to hear presentations from the council’s leadership about local issues, ranging from public safety to re-districting.

NANDC President Shawn Simons said she was told at USC’s open houses that the university’s plan for beautifying the community would not extend past Vermont Avenue.

“When they say we need the community to shop here, they are talking about all of you west of Vermont,” Simons said. “But when they say they are going to do a community beautification, they are not talking about west of Vermont.”

Simons, who sits on a Master Plan advisory board and communicates regularly with USC officials, said the university has been fairly receptive.

“They seem fairly open to this right now,” Simons said. “We are not asking for a lot.”

Simons said that though the Master Plan will likely reap many benefits for the community west of Vermont Avenue, she believes the university should expand its beautification since the school’s influence spans past Vermont.

USC currently operates several programs past Vermont Avenue, including a faculty and staff housing program and yellow jacket security patrols, Simons said.

Charlene Limenih, a resident two blocks west of Vermont Avenue, said she feels the university’s presence because many students live in the area.

“I am definitely for USC looking beyond Vermont,” Limenih said. “They should look at least to Normandie [Avenue] because we have students in that area.”

Limenih, who has found whiskey bottles and condoms in her yard after parties, said the school could improve on how they educate off-campus residents about respect and responsibility.

“We care about USC,” Limenih said. “It is nice for us … but I want them to look at me as somebody too. We count.”

Simons said the Master Plan means USC might improve nearby parks, but the system for allocating funds for this project needs to be improved.

“Something we are pushing for is creating a structure for how the community accesses this money and decides to use this money,” Simons said.

At the moment, Simons said, USC is communicating with city council member Bernard C. Parks’ office about the needs of the community.

“USC is being told by the council district what we want,” Simons said. “It really should be our voice.”

Simons encouraged the audience to stay up to date about the process as it progresses in the coming months.

“I don’t know that we necessarily have to be freaked out … but we need to be knowledgeable about what’s happening,” Simons said.

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