Packing House Ideas…

Post by Maria B. Rodriguez

With the hopes that one of the large Botach buildings will be availably vacant in the future, it is a great opportunity for LPV stakeholders to build a Mercado-style, Fast-Fresh Packing House/ Hub. The Vision stakeholders have spoke in depth about their Fast-Fresh Accelerator as a major goal for building an incubator that houses a variety of fast-fresh food options. Below is an example, a case study, that the community looks to for packing house ideas…

El Mercado La Paloma, Los Angeles


El Mercado La Paloma is an example of a ‘Mercado-style’ packing house in the heart of Los Angeles. A packing house is known as a facility, usually a large space, where fresh produce is sold and a variety of retail, primarily food vendors, share spaces in the facility. The Mercado La Paloma targets many of LPV 20|20 Vision stakeholders’ Fast Fresh business community goals. In fact, the Mercado La Paloma was heavily mentioned by stakeholders at multiple meetings as a prime example of what the community was seeking to implement. Another astounding concept El Mercado La Paloma incorporates is its financial assistance opportunities for up-and-coming vendors to expand in El Mercado. LPV can reuse one of Botach’s future vacant buildings to implement the Fast Fresh Hub/ Packing House. Prospective Shark Tank applicants that make it through the final stages of the program can have the opportunity to grow their businesses in the Fast Fresh Hub/ Packing House. (Mercado La Paloma, 2004-2016 and 2015 Restaurant Guide Advertorial: Mercado La Paloma, 2015).


Business Spotlight: SIKA

Post by Maria B. Rodriguez


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet SIKA! Sika is not only the name of his business, but also the name the he goes by. I am inspired by Sika’s driven, motivated, eclectic and energetic personality. I met with him and asked to take his photo while doing some field work in the Village last quarter. We held a lengthy conversation, where he discussed tips on staying fit while approaching the age of 70. As many in the community know, SIKA maintains an active and healthy lifestyle, eating a vegan diet and exercising at the nearby Baldwin Hills Kenneth Hahn Recreational Park. He is a leader in the focal movement to support anchor businesses in his respective community. Stop by his store to get the best African American artifacts, including imported goods such as clothing, ebony soap, and art.

Business Spotlight



(Photo via Steven H. on Yelp)


Eso Won bookstore is an independent bookstore found in Leimert Park Village. It is Los Angeles’ only  black-owned independent bookstore, and has stood the test of time, having been in operation for 28 years.Eso Won has played host to President Clinton and President Obama, and is the go-to purveyor of African American literature. The store hosts many readings and book signings.

The store is owned by James Fugate and Tom Hamiltion. Eso Won has faced the risk of closing in the past. The last move was into Leimert Park Village in 2006. With raising rents in LPV, Eso Won has one again been faced with the possibility of closing shop. However,  recently Fugate and Hamilton received financial backing from Los Angeles based artist Mark Bradford. This has solidified the security of the store in the community, representing a place to celebrate and partake in the sharing and preservation of African American history and culture.

As found on the Eso Won bookstore website, “Eso Won (African for Water over Rocks) is a living proverb as it provides fluid, safe, stirring opportunities that flow to a reservoir of knowledge for all people to experience.”

If you have the chance, take advantage of this gem! Show Eso Won books some love, and support Leimert Park Village!



Eso Won Bookstore
4327 Degnan Blvd
Los Angeles, California 90038
(323) 290-1048

Promoting Active Lifestyles

Post by Maria B. Rodriguez

The Culver Boulevard Bike Path is an example of a pedestrian corridor that runs on a raised median of a major arterial road. The path is elevated 2 to 3 feet above street level but drops to grade level when crossing intersections. The bike path spans about 2 miles on Culver Boulevard. It is commonly used by local residents and supports lots of human activity, such as biking, walking, in-line skating and is wheelchair accessible.  (Culver City Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, 2010).


Expanding from the case study above, I have proposed to implement the Leimert/ Crenshaw Boulevard Running Corridor. (pic below). The Leimert Boulevard Running Corridor is an excellent model for an infrastructural improvement that can increase human physical activity to promote healthier lifestyles. The proposed path would run on the median of two roads, Leimert and Crenshaw Boulevards. The path will be raised 2-3 feet to avoid any traffic obstructions and make it comfortable for users to feel safe while on the path. It will also be well-landscaped with native vegetation, include seating such as benches, well-lit with energy efficient light posts, and contain two paths: a paved and multi-use (trail) paths.


LPV’s Sustainability Goals

Post by Maria B. Rodriguez

Throughout the Winter quarter, our group emphasized the importance of strengthing the community’s environmental wellbeing by developing a series of scenarios. The scenario that fit best towards implementing sustainable objectives was the “Grow” element in our Strategic Scenario Plan. The “Grow” element, also known as the EcoWellness scenario states the following:

ECOWellness cultivates the growth of an EcoDistrict, supporting health and overall well-being through measures of sustainability strategies in Leimert Park. Vision stakeholders expand their partnership with West Angeles CDC and Global Green to include LPV in Crenshaw’s EcoDistrict Master Plan. ECOWellness in LPV develops efficient systems, products, procedures and programs to revitalize and sustain an aesthetically healthy urban environment. Fresh and natural food businesses prosper, energy efficient technology is implemented when possible, and the Village is a pedestrian and bicycle friendly commercial district. The community embraces a beautification project that activates native streetscape and adopts a 2-mile running corridor on the east side of the Plaza, along main Boulevards’ parkway. The diverse business community establishes sustainability guidelines to maintain up-to-date technological and physical infrastructure. With advanced technology, businesses implement green initiatives decreasing their impact on the environment. The ECOWellness concept supports a livable environment for thriving businesses and overall public health.


Create. Grow. Share.


As the quarter wraps up, we’re putting the final touches on our visioning plans. We were encouraged to develop a few scenarios for the future of LPV and we did so, creating scenarios for creative business growth, for sustainable wellbeing, and for international tourism. In the end though, we decided that picking one of these scenarios is simply not realistic. Each of these scenarios was inspired by the conversations we’ve had with LPV community members.  They are each means to goals that the LPV community has for itself: a thriving local economy, a culture of creativity and entrepreneurship, a community that is physically and mentally healthy, and a community that is a cultural tourist hotspot. Therefore, our team created a unified scenario called Create. Grow. Share., where each word represents the three formerly disparate scenarios.

Our vision recognizes that LPV has already existing an amazing foundation of values, tradition, and organization.  Create. Grow. Share. is a vision plan that envisions this foundation growing into LPV’s ideal version of itself.

Each element in the plan details potential plans, programs, and projects that may be implemented to satisfy community goals. Each element also includes case studies to highlight ways these strategies are implemented in other communities. Many of these strategies may even already exist in LPV, but have the potential to grow in some way.  For example, our plan discusses cultural district branding. LPV already has amazing African iconography throughout the village alongside an art deco design theme. These are great foundations and are already being exploited as a branding opportunity in the public lot development design. This can also be taken further with wayfinding that readily delineates LPV as its own cultural district, similar to how Chinese gates delineates Chinatown in LA and street lights/decor delineates Little Italy in Manhattan.

Create. Grow. Share. is a vision plan that hopes to encapsulate what the LPV community already sees in itself, and what it hopes for its future.


Little Tokyo

One of LPV’s long term goals is to develop as a hot spot for cultural tourism. It is certainly not a leap to see how this can be.  LPV has all the right ingredients: historical buildings/park, fascinating history, intriguing shops, local legendary institutions, event venues, regular festivals/events, a plethora of art and performance spaces, and a community with a long history of activism.  The addition of the new Metro stop creates a connection to LAX and downtown LA. The community has partnerships locally, regionally, even around the world. There is an abundance of vibrant culture at LPV.

I looked at Little Tokyo as an example of a very successful cultural district. There are a lot of similarities between the two communities. They each feature pedestrian boulevards, they each are next to major culture and art museums, and they each are home to historical buildings and events.  They both feature major cultural events and host plenty of cultural boutiques.

As LPV moves towards creating an environment for cultural tourism, I believe Little Tokyo offers some examples of methods of attracting tourists:

  1. Welcoming, festive lighting at night
  2. Cafe seating.  Seeing people actively enjoying outdoor spaces creates a vibrant atmosphere.
  3. A diversity of businesses that bring foot traffic during the day and at night. Restaurants and karaoke bars bring lots of people to Little Tokyo at night.
  4. A continuity of building design and wayfinding that lets people know when they arrive in Little Tokyo.
  5. Cultural district designation.
  6. Instagram ready locations/buildings/structures.

Obviously, one size does not fit all.  But case study analysis is definitely important in the process of developing (and inspiring!) a plan for LPV as a cultural district.



Goals and Objectives

One of the goal is to cultivate a vibrant and welcoming village environment. Specifically, the project Increases foot traffic during the day and night from LPV locals and visitors, increases diversity of business types and improve quality of streetscape and business facades. By transforming LPV into a Sankofa tourism district, since the amount of visitors significantly increases, it has a higher demands in the community. Additionally, it requires higher quality of business services and infrastructures. When a the community becomes a successful, cultural tourism destination, it indicates it is an attractive and visitor-welcoming environment. Not only foot traffic is in a high volume, but also the the business types increase. Streetscape and business facades are in good shape that presents the beauty of the community.


Assumptions and Interventions

To make the LPV successfully transform into Sankofa tourism district, it requires the continuous accumulation of wealth and economic development, community’s petition to city to make the cultural designation, the cooperation and participation of the surrounding LA cultural centers, and retention of the black community demographic. In terms of planning, it needs linkage between nearby African American cultural attractions and Metro rail signages so that visitors can easily figure out where is LPV, get to this cultural Mecca, and continue travel to other places. Politically, government should admit LPV as an important cultural district and encourage resources, such as money and labor, to be put back in the community. Programmatically, the community holds seasonal national exhibitions, which address topic like

Black excellence, growing in a professional industry, small business celebration, entrepreneurship, art, music, film, and youth empowerment / talent. As for the community design, it can have tourism information center that offer information like attractions and maps. It holds local tours sometimes.


Strengths and Weakness

By forging LPV as a tourism district, advantageously, it can serve as a catalyst or economic wealth for South Los Angeles, prevent displacement, encourage the use of public transit, help visitor easily navigate throughout the community, beckon for other Black communities to follow the similar pattern, and serves as worldwide example. Negatively, linkage to the surrounding areas may suffer from higher traffic volume, minority groups may feel less supported, transportation system and public infrastructure needs to have efficiency and reinforcement, and tourism may not become the supportive industry in the community.



The projective that foreign LPV into Sankofa tourism district is feasible in long-term development. In terms of planning, LPV is a traditional commercial district that has experience to serve customers. Politically, there are resources (money and labors) being put into the community and guidelines that help the community develop and be sustainable. Fisically, outside investment, economic growth, and wealth accumulation are three important financial guarantees. Physically, it has a Crenshaw line that can take visitors in and out. Culturally, it has unique traditionally African American and small business culture that worth to be shared. Consequently, LPV is suitable to develop into a tourism district.

Vision Statement on Youth Retention

Vision Statement on Youth Retention

LPV values putting wealth and resources back into the local community.  Youth programs are especially evident. LPV highly values the talent and energy of young people and creates platforms for youth to express themselves through art, music, and entrepreneurship.  Programs like Manhood 101, Entrepreneurial Training Program and Employment Referrals provide resources such as technical assistance for start-ups and job seekers.   

Goals, Objective and Intervention

Goal Objective Planning Strategies & interventions Programmatic Strategies & Interventions Policy Strategies & Interventions Design Strategies & Interventions
Maintain a culture of Community Involvement Incorporate youth programming into business activity


analysis on extracurricular activities and youth development


Youth run events/shows (music, art, activism) community apprenticeship program
individual portfolio plan (to highlight one’s work done within community and build a resume)


identification  (badges, lanyards, shirts)




Scenario Summary

The theme of the third phase is to share, which transforms LPV into a cultural Mecca and an international destination. To make this theme happen, it is assumed that there is continuous economic growth, LPV makes a petition to the city to be a cultural designation, surrounding LA cultural centers are willing to support and participate in, and black community demographic remains stable in LPV. Based on the theme and assumptions, multiple scenarios are purposed. For instance, LPV will be designated as a cultural district; seasonal national exhibition (mainly Black culture) will be held, Linkage between nearby African American cultural attractions will be built, tourism information center will be set up, African American cultural node tourism will be promoted by Metro rail, resources will be putting back in the community, grocery store which sells cultural food or ingredients will be cooperated.


The value behind the phases III scenarios are stimulation, protection, attraction and demonstration. When LPV can successfully develop its tourism based on its African American culture, this unique tourism industry can serve as a catalyst for economic growth in South LA. As the community develops physically and economically, African Americans in the community have greater power to the challenges outside. It greatly prevents the displacement and protects the African American culture. More importantly, it can serve as an worldwide example to demonstration how to revitalized a broken community and cultivate local culture, and attracts other Black communities to follow the similar path.