|It wasn’t easy to get to WVRC on March
But most of us managed. The problem was a tree that fell across Sunset Blvd,
just west of Copa de Oro. Somehow, the city repair crew decided to cut off
entering via Copa de Oro, so you had to use ingenuity or stealth to enter
that way. As a result, we started a bit late, to accommodate those who
struggled to arrive.
SANDY SANDERSON led us in the Pledge, with an Invocation by PETER MORE.
PETER provided a meaningful message, noting our indebtedness to those in the
armed services serving in the Iraq War. We were reminded of the
families whose loved ones have died already, asking that their pride in duty
and devotion may perhaps outweigh sorrow. He concluded with the hope that we
will be able to bring peace to a needy world. This material was composed by
PETER’S friend, Michael Lindley – a good choice, as usual, PETER.
HARRIS had arranged for the Santa Monica Oceanaires to provide our song,
that they really did the job. First up was The Star Spangled Banner, with
wonderful harmony, yet retaining the basic melody. Next was an Oh Yeah,
which became Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie - following an introductory
series. They concluded with Coney Island Baby – and YOE, for one, was
convinced that we should attend their upcoming program on Saturday, April
12th, at 2 pm and 7:30 at University High School. Entitled, It’s A
Wonderful World, they feature barbershop harmony of the songs that we all
learned from our radios (yes, there was life before TV!). Price of tickets
is mostly ten bucks, and it will be a most entertaining show – BE THERE!
MIKE YOUSEM was unable to announce any Visiting Rotarians, but we did have
several guests. It was great to see Martha and Bob Brumbaugh, who were the
guests of RUDY ALVAREZ. Martha and Bob were in town to finally close down
the Condo of her dad, DOUG DESCH. Hope we’ll continue to see you both from
time to time – we miss you already.
RHODES – WICKETT brought along her Special Guest, Waverly Johnson, who heads
up the local PATH operation.
TSENG once again introduced his own Special Guest, Philip Starr. Both these
men have now visited twice, so we will be circularizing them with this
SUSAN ALLEN brought along Yuriko Suzuki, our Ambassadorial Scholar.
Unfortunately, PP JIM SUMNER is back at St. Johns, hopefully for a brief
stay. And two of our Rotary Auxiliaries, Eleanor MORE and Mary Fran COX,
spent the day having some medical procedures taken care of today. Give them
all a ring, OK? In case you missed it, former member Bruce Blickensderfer
passed away this week.
ROZELLE gave an excellent report, aided by photos on the screen, of our
participation in the Corazon Project this past weekend. This is a program
where they – literally – build a house in one day for some family in Mexico.
The cement floor had already been laid, but the group put all the rest of
the house together on Saturday, March 22nd. There were fifty Rotarians
and friends from the Manhattan Beach Rotary group, plus ten of our helpers
from WVRC – PDG ANDY ANDERSON and Pat, KEVIN KOMATSU and Irine, PP DAVE
WHITEHEAD, ELLIOTT TURNER and his son, Alexander, RUDY ALVAREZ, PP RON
LYSTER, and KACY. Our congratulations to all those who participated – this
is really carrying out the true purpose of Rotary. (and now, a confession…I
have been without my own computer since we moved to Century City on the 18th
of February, and thus have been ‘guesting’ on DON NELSON’S equipment. I
mention this because ELLIOTT TURNER will be providing a special report on
this Corazon project, and there is just no way I can include it in this
week’s Windmill. Once I have my own computer back in operation – surely
before next Thursday – I’ll write up his report, and I apologize for not
being able to include it this time).
NELSON introduced our speaker, Kent Smith. Kent is the Executive Director of
the LA Fashion District – a special services district which is paid for by
property owners, and their annual budget is three million dollars. This
Business Improvement District (BID) provides maintenance, security and
marketing services to the members, and it has been recognized as a most
successful model for BIDs across the state. Kent received a masters degree
from the University of Calgary, and is classified as an ‘Alien of
His District includes 550 property owners in an 82-block area, who have
voted to tax themselves to provide the BID services. They have provided
100,000 jobs in south central LA, generating seven billion dollars in sales
annually. The Fashion District has operated since 1995, were renewed for
another five years, and they expect to operate for a third five year term.
Contemporary women’s fashion starts here – the designers have their studios,
patterns and samples are created here. They may show in NY, but as an
example, BeBe’s decision to move their headquarters to LA from San Francisco
in 2002 demonstrates the way the growth is proceeding. A major center is the
California Mart, with 3 million square feet, half of which is now composed
of gift and home furnishing showrooms. Nine buildings in and around 7th and
Los Angeles Streets will be converted to residential – the first floor being
commercial, with housing above.
of the district is devoted to wholesale, while the remaining 25% is a
vibrant retail scene in and around Santee Alley. Saturday is their busiest
day – it’s worth a visit! Their pedestrian traffic is similar to Third
Street Promenade, and their traffic has tripled since 1996. There are no
chain stores – only individual retailers (and a number of wholesalers, who
will also sell to passers-by). 72% of their budget is dedicated to clean and
safe services. There are 29 members of the clean-up team, and they collected
over 2,600 TONS of trash in 2002. They removed over 7,700 graffiti tags –
none stays up more than one day. There are 22 officers on the Safe Team,
usually on bikes in pairs. They responded to over 50,000 calls for
assistance in 2002 – a big help to the LAPD. As an aside, they even reunited
a number of lost children with their families – these people are busy! Crime
rates in the district are comparable to Woodland Hills and Brentwood. Kent’s
conclusion – “Our BID helped make all these things happen – it’s amazing
what a bunch of property owners can do when they put their minds to it.”
Q&A – RAX ZICKFELD, What has happened to property values? They continue to
increase, based on commercial and residential mix of usages. Boundaries? –
north, 7th and 5th streets, Main Street, San Pedro and the Ten Freeway.
ELLIOTT TURNER – How are occupancy rates? When they started, there was a
30% vacancy factor – it is now less than 10%. SUSAN ALLEN – What are some
examples of what you do? We do things to supplement city services – for
instance, we trim the trees every two years, rather than the city average of
seven years. PP
MIKE NEWMAN – Do you have a problem with false labels?
Yes, but we have had some success in shutting down copies. LILLIAN KLIEWER –
How are you funded? The cost is added to tax bills – this after a vote, plus
signatures of 50% or more of the property owners, and ALL must contribute.
YOE – What is your breakdown of properties? There are 1000 parcels of land,
owned by 550 different people. SHARON RHODES WICKETT – How do you interface
with the many homeless in the area? All are treated with dignity, and we
recognize that many of them are mentally ill. We try to get them matched up
with agencies that can help. We are working at it. RESTROOMS? This is
a big problem, but some have been built on rooftops, with an attendant on
duty. This is a real need, and a tough problem. Prexy TED – What are other
nearby BIDs? The Jewelry mart, Hollywood Blvd, 3rd Street Promenade, and Old
Town in Pasadena, to name a few.
Conclusion – this is a going concern, and it’s fun to go down on a Saturday,
in particular. Kent, thanks for telling us your success story.
YOE, Ernie Wolfe