By Emilie St. John
INGLEWOOD — The year started with the city hosting the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium.
It ended with the city trying to find funding for Inglewood Transit Connector.
It between there were ups and downs that will continue to shape the city as it continues its quest to become a “destination” city.
Early in the year, Inglewood Assemblywoman Autumn Burke abruptly announced her decision to step down from her seat despite initially campaigning on a platform to return the Inglewood Unified School District to local control.
Warren Lane Elementary School became a battleground as residents tried to stop the Inglewood Unified School District from closing the last remaining school in the 90305 zip code.
The school closure then became the focus of a special election held in March to elect Burke’s successor. Residents selected her former staffer, Tina McKinnor, to finish her term.
Then the fun began with the city hosting Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in February. With pandemic restrictions lifted, more than 70,000 fans filled the stadium to see the home team Los Angeles Rams defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20.
The city kicked off the week-long lead in to the Super Bowl with a three-day concert series that featured music guests and the City Council awarding the first ever “key to the city’ to actress Issa Rae.
A mass shooting claimed the lives of four young adults celebrating a birthday in an unregulated Airbnb.
The city was forced to implement strict short-term rental guidelines later in the year to ensure the safety of guests and residents.
In January, a judge ruled that the city couldn’t move forward with destroying police records related to use-of-force and other officer conduct-related documents after the ACLU filed a lawsuit to stop them.
It was alleged the City Council action during the last City Council meeting of 2020 to avoid disclosure.
“This premise that there was an intent to beat the clock is ridiculous,” Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. said at the time.
The matter continues to go through the process, while the department keeps losing officers. The city recorded less than a dozen homicides despite a mass exodus of officers to outside agencies and retirement. The council responded by approving a new contract with the police unions, which gave them a 22% salary increase over three years.
As the year progressed, the city continued to approve plans related to the Intuit Dome, the multi-billion NBA arena for the Los Angeles Clippers, and various housing developments throughout the city.
After a quiet summer, the city turned its focus to the Nov. 8 election.
Mayor Butts, and council members George Dotson and Alex Padilla were on the ballot.
According to the mayor, the residents are very happy with the direction of the city and encouraged them to keep the team together.
“You don’t change quarterbacks midway through the game,” Butts said.
Despite a drop in his popularity, Butts avoided a runoff, capturing 53% of all votes cast for mayor, and Padilla captured more than 60% of the votes in District 2 to return for another four years.
District 1 voters showed their displeasure with Dotson by forcing him into a runoff against Gloria Gray, who is currently a member of the West Basin Municipal Water District board. They will face each other March 7.
Finally, the year was consumed with the city’s efforts to assemble financing for the Inglewood Transit Connector.
A joint powers authority arrangement exists between the city and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportaion Authority, which will connect the recently opened Crenshaw/LAX Rail Line with the city’s entertainment district.
Funding has been secured through multiple local, state, and federal grants to the tune of nearly $400 million, which is being spent on consultants to prepare for the shovel to hit the dirt.
The final actions of this year included adopting policies to acquire land and relocate existing businesses. The city also pledged $19 million to purchase the vacant parcels across from the Kia Forum that was slated to become Raising Cane’s. The staff reports state the acquisition was related to the transit connector project, but it is unclear how the two entities will be enjoined to the space.
The city looks forward to 2023 to acquire the remaining funding needed to construct the connector.
Also coming in 2023 is the grand opening of Tha Dogg House, a Snoop Dogg and Funko collaboration located at 913 W. Arbor Vitae in the space formerly occupied by 7-Eleven and the 2023 College Football Championship game Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at email@example.com.