South L.A. climate change project gets $35 million

Wave Staff Report

LOS ANGELES — A grant that will provide $35 million to fund a collection of environmental and economic development projects in South Los Angeles was announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti and other civic leaders Nov. 21.

The Transformative Climate Communities grant from the California Strategic Growth Council will fund the South LA Eco-Lab. The funding will be leveraged with an additional $24.6 million from the city of Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and nonprofit partners totaling nearly $60 million for mobility, clean energy and green job development projects in the area.

“This investment will set our sights on what tomorrow should look like in a community with big dreams for the future,” Garcetti said. “This grant is a big step toward building the South L.A. that residents have envisioned for years — with improved quality of life, public health and access to economic opportunity.”

The South LA Eco-Lab will invest in infrastructure projects such as the city’s Departmnet of Transportation Stress Free connections and electric vehicle car share, StreetsLA Cool Pavement, free monthly bus passes, home solar installation, street trees and school greening that will provide open space and stormwater capture benefits.

The project area includes 3.9 square miles bordered by Vernon Avenue, 60th Street, Western Avenue and Central Avenue, officials said. The project is expected to be completed in 2028.

“This project will invest millions of dollars into the ideas and needs identified by local community members which include expanding access to free and affordable public transportation options; cooler and safer streets to walk on; additional trees and green space for youth to use; additional job opportunities for residents; and assistance for tenants and small businesses,” said county Supervisor Holly Mitchell. “We must continue to strengthen our partnerships between the community, local government, and the state to ensure our investments are centered on the needs of our residents.

I want to thank the Slate Z and South L.A. Eco-Lab project partners for all their work on this project and their commitment to revitalizing South L.A.”

The grant was put together by a coalition of community-based organizations, including SLATE-Z, Community Partners, CicLAvia, Climate Resolve, Coalition for Responsible Community Development, GRID Alternatives, LACI, LA Neighborhood Land Trust, TreePeople, and TRUST South LA, who were able to secure the funding in partnership with several city agencies, Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, and with support from the Broad Foundation.

The South LA Eco-Lab builds on the work of the South LA Climate Commons Collaborative, a project which won a planning grant from TCC for $200,000 in 2018. Garcetti’s Offices of Sustainability and Economic Opportunity worked with SLATE-Z, the Los Angeles Equity Alliance and Brotherhood Crusade to help create the neighborhood level climate resiliency plan and the Department of City Planning was the fiscal sponsor for the planning grant.

The South LA Eco-Lab is the product of intensive, multi-year community engagement to bring healthier air, cleaner energy, new mobility options and economic opportunity to a community with a history of racial injustice, disinvestment and disproportionately high levels of pollution.

The South LA Eco-Lab will also leverage or connect to other climate related investments and programs within South Los Angeles and throughout the SLATE-Z area, including the Department of Transportation’s Universal Basic Mobility Program, the MTA’s Rail-to-Rail program, and expansion of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy.

“The South LA Eco-Lab project is an example of what can happen when we let communities lead and identify the projects that best meet their needs,” said Connie Llanos, interim general manager of the city’s Department of Transportation. “This grant helps us expand on our commitment to deliver Universal Basic Mobility for South L.A. and deliver much-needed improvements for local residents including safer streets, cleaner air, and more options to get where they need to go reliably and affordably.”

“Our community has been working to address poverty in South Los Angeles by revitalizing the economy in environmentally sustainable ways,” said Zahirah Mann, president and CEO of SLATE-Z. “SLATE-Z is proud to serve as the strategic advisor for the South LA Eco-Lab, and form part of the lead applicant team with Community Partners and the city of Los Angeles; we have the privilege of working with incredible, mission driven governmental, nonprofit, and resident leaders who developed holistic and transformative projects and plans.

“The South LA Eco-Lab will result in deep transformative change for South Los Angeles, launching our community as a leader in climate mitigation and preparing our businesses, residents, and students for the climate resilient economy.”