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Silicon Beach and the Digital Divide

Thursday, August 10, 2017

By Veronica Mackey

 

Silicon Beach.  If you haven’t yet heard of it, you should know that this hotspot for tech-driven companies it is closer in distance than you think.  It is driving up property values and creating thousands of new jobs, and is being blamed for displacing renters and small businesses. 

 

Unlike Silicon Valley in Northern California, home of Google and Facebook, Silicon Beach is not overwhelmingly geared toward technology jobs.  Rather, the area tends to have a more diversified economy where tourism, finance, and/or other industries also play a major role.  

 

According to Wikipedia, Silicon Beach is the Westside region of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, home to over 500 tech startup companies, with emphasis on the coastal strip north of LAX to the Santa Monica Mountains.   Major technology companies like Google,  Yahoo!, YouTube, BuzzFeed, Facebook, and AOL have opened offices in the region. 

 

While the rapid growth of tech companies has boosted the quality of life in such areas as Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, Venice, Culver City, pockets of Downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood, cities to the south and east are lagging behind. 

 

The tendency of companies to congregate in these centrally-located, high income areas has raised concerns about the feasibility of racial minorities joining the workforce, as they tend to live in further outlying areas.

 

One of the biggest reasons for the digital divide has to do with the uneven distribution of fiber optic lines, which is the gold standard of Internet connectivity. A new study has found that fast, high-capacity fiber-optic lines are hard to find in areas south and east of Playa Vista, Playa del Rey, Westchester, Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice and Manhattan Beach.  

 

Some smaller, poorer cities cannot afford fiber optics because it is expensive to install.  So it’s no coincidence that these cities are not up to speed with smart technology.  And until more investments are made in areas like South Los Angeles, richer cities will become richer and poorer cities will become poorer.  

 

There is technology available today that can download 25 songs in 1 second.  Without equal access to high speed data, Manhattan Beach might be forewarned against an energy crisis while Compton residents could be literally in the dark.

 

Understanding the need for fiber optics to meeting future demands and building a stronger workforce in less affluent cities requires a shift in thinking. Cities have to think of fiber optics as a necessity, like air and water. 

 

Inglewood, Redondo Beach, and El Segundo are working quickly to lay down extensive fiber networks, along with Riverside County, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Huntington Beach, Carlsbad, Ontario and Culver City, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

 

While Google, Snapchat, Yahoo!, Facebook and other major companies in Silicon Beach can afford to buy their own broadband communication systems, small local governments need to work together so they, too, can afford to build the technology infrastructure.

 

Broadband Internet providers like Spectrum and AT&T continue to compete for customers, while some cities have begun to install their own fiber optic lines and provide direct access to residents.  Beverly Hills, for example, provides fiber optic technology to homes. 

 

In the future, and even now Southern California will become a cluster of “smart cities” using technology to operate self-driving cars and to find parking spaces that double as car charging ports. 

 

Silicon Beach will obviously benefit local communities, as cities will profit from investments, and tax revenues.  But there is a downside.  Since Snapchat moved to Venice, rents in the already pricy area have risen out of control.  

 

 

According to an article in L.A. Curbed (March 31, 2015):  “In this single wave of growth, Snapchat will displace about three dozen renters in the multiple buildings they're moving into.  It's not clear which addresses and suite numbers exactly Snapchat is going to occupy, but at the complex on Abbot Kinney, they're snatching up about 40,000 square feet, leaving roughly 6,700 square feet of the space alone.”

 

Snapchat bought ocean view property in the area, which was rented to their employees. Rising rents forced some residents and mom–and-pop proprietors out.  Residents complain about not having enough parking.

 

It’s hard for city officials to argue with “progress” when technology from Silicon Beach companies can potentially create tens of thousands of new jobs, enhance crime fighting and bring major economic investments.  Casualties of displaced renters and small businesses, and an even wider digital divide are realities that deserve attention.  

 

At the lightning-fast pace in which technology is growing, the sooner, the better.

 

As construction continues on the massive new football stadium and entertainment center, due to open in 2020, potential sponsors and suite owners got a preview of the finished product at the new stadium model center on Tuesday.

 

Located in Playa Vista, about 15 minutes from the site, the new model is a dramatic display of what is to come.  With a floor to ceiling video screen, it’s one spectacular way to advertise the new stadium.   

 

Visitors got a glimpse of the $2.6 billion, 70,000-seat venue, which will sit on 238 acres at the old Hollywood Park site, which will include a hotel, retail shops, an entertainment center and upscale housing.

 

The Playa Vista center offers more of an interactive 4D experience than a traditional model —with audio and visual technology that mimics Hollywood.  Like the vision of big thinking stadium owner Stan Kroenke, who also owns the Rams, it overshadows expectation.  

 

After showing high-tech videos of the project as well as the Rams and Chargers, two doors open to reveal the model of the stadium and adjacent areas.

 

Arranged in three pieces across a 1,200-square foot space, designers believe it’s the biggest such model ever constructed in North America; they needed a crane to hoist it.

 

The new stadium being built in Inglewood is about much more than football, as evidenced by the versatile design.  The video revealed how the football field can easily convert to accommodate a basketball or soccer game.  The venue has already been named as a Super Bowl site and will also host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

 

There’s a lot riding on this stadium in terms of dollars—most immediate for Kroenke is stadium naming rights and suites.  The first of 125 suites are on sale and the center will also serve as the hub for tickets beginning in the fall.

 

 

Inglewood’s Morningside High School was featured on ESPN Tuesday night as the place that fueled the dreams of 5 basketball superstars during the 1992-1993 season.  

 

“Morningside 5” chronicles the  lives of Stais Boseman, Dwight Curry, Corey Saffold, Donminic Ellison and Sean Harris 25 years later.  It’s the latest film in ESPN’s “30 for 30” series.

 

Narrated and directed by Mike Tollin, the film is a 90-minute presentation from the ESPN Films group, and was taken from his original 1993 documentary about the team, titled “Hardwood Dreams.”

 

Based on the lives of 5 high school basketball players from Inglewood, “Morningside 5” is a journey filled with hope and disappointment, anger and inspiration, Tollin says. The Morningside Monarchs were riding high in the early 1990’s with an esteemed reputation for basketball,   “plus their five pre-eminent players were all returning for their senior years,” Tollin told TheWrap.  

 

Morningside is the same high school that produced former WNBA superstar Lisa Leslie.  She dominated the court there as a student from the mid to late 1980s.

 

Tollin is a Philadelphia native who has become a successful TV/film producer and director in Los Angeles.  No matter where his career has taken him, Tollin said he keeps coming back to Morningside.  

 

"They had a 20th reunion in 2013, which was our first shoot," Tollin says.  "Didn't even make the (film festival) cut. We would just pick up the five guys based on certain events, like Stais was about to have a baby, so we went to Minnesota, Corey decided he wanted to try out to make a comeback in Toronto, so we went to Toronto. Dwight was out of jail and looking at job opportunities, so we followed his job quest. Sean's rap career -- he had a big concert in Vegas so we'd go to Vegas.  Donminic, out of the blue, got this incredible unlikely job. We were able to get clearance from his employers. It's pretty amazing when you see this arc of 25 years of these lives."

 

None of the men ever made the NBA, and “all but one of them has moved away from basketball and they’re all just finding their way in the world,” Tollin told TheWrap. “What I love about this film is it isn’t really a story of triumph or tragedy in any great measure — it is a film about real lives.”

 

If you missed it,  “Morningside 5” will air again on ABC Saturday, August 12, at 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT

 

Get the Upper Hand on School Bullies

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hearing about the tragic fate of Gabriel Taye, an 8 year-old black boy who took his own life as a result of being bullied, broke my heart.  

 

Not only is Gabriel among the youngest suicide victims I have heard about, but it points to a serious social problem that has turned deadly over the years.

 

School bullies have been around forever, but what has changed is its reach and intensity.   There are now more ways for bad guys and girls to intimidate their victims thanks to the Internet, social media sites, cell phones and videos.  

 

Gabriel hung himself with a necktie after being knocked unconscious in a school bathroom in January, according to reports. Now his parents, who claim they were never notified by the school until receiving a call from the school nurse who advised them to take Gabriel to the hospital for evaluation after the incident two days before he died.

 

His mother said she knew nothing about previous incidences of her son being bullied until a lawsuit revealed surveillance footage. The school is accused of a massive cover-up. Other parents at Carson Elementary School, where the incident happened, say their children have also been bullied and that the school is not safe.  

 

The lawsuit further states that in a report on bullying released by the Cincinnati Public Schools district, which includes Carson, the assault on Gabriel and its aftermath were never mentioned.  The school district has previously said that school officials didn’t know Gabriel was attacked, that he initially told a nurse that he fell, and that there were no visible abrasions or reports of a fight.

 

With a new school year just around the corner, it’s time for parents to prepare their children for school, and that means emotionally as well as academically. Kids, especially younger ones, are often afraid bullies will beat them up if they tell adults what is going on.  

 

They need the help of adults who will have their backs and work with schools and police whenever bullying occurs.  Other than monitoring your child’s social media activity and paying attention to any changes in behavior (withdrawal, ditching school, physical bruises, etc.), parents need to take advantage of resources which may not have been around when they were in school. 

 

Websites like eyesonbullying.org and stopbullying.gov, and bullying expert James Gavsie’s book,The Renegade’s Guide to Stopping Bullies, offer safe ways to tackle this problem.  Keeping your child safe is the responsibility of parents and schools.  Get off to a good start this school year by helping your child feel safe and protected.

 

 

 

 

By Veronica Mackey

 

A group of proud City of Inglewood employees piled into Council Chambers on Tuesday to be recognized for their years of faithful service.  Names of City workers were announced, who are  celebrating milestone employment anniversaries.  

 

They include 30-year employees Carmen Hayes, Chandra Caldwell, Tonuia Alleyne, and Brenda Davis; 25-year employees Aleathia Mc Cann-Scott, Christopher Beckman, Paulita Richards, and Joseph Watson; and 20-year veterans Javier Alcala, Jack Aranda, Jose Fernandez, Sgt. Felipe Medina, and Jesus Perez. 

 

Special recognition went to Police Chief Mark Fronterotta and Library Support Supervisor Susan Cunningham, for 35 years of service.

 

Folks had nice things to say about last weekend’s Taste of Inglewood and the District 1 Family Day in the Park.  Resident Yolanda Davidson was there, and gave the event high marks.

 

“A taste of Inglewood was a great community effort in terms of the community coming together,” a man told City Council members.  “Thanks for bringing progress to the city.”  

 

A few residents are concerned about new developments throughout Inglewood, and rising home values.  They wanted to know if the council will do anything about rent control.

 

“Fifty-three percent of your neighbors are renters in the city. Many home owners cannot afford to make improvements due to high property taxes.  We want stronger rent control,” a man said. 

 

A woman is concerned that “crime is really going up.”  She said it’s not safe to walk the streets in Inglewood.

 

She was interrupted by Mayor James Butts, who said, “We have had 3 homicides in the past 3 weeks and we are concerned.”  However, he continued, violent crime is down in Inglewood.

 

A man complained that he received 14 letters from an organization warning him that his property might be taken away to make room for a proposed basketball arena for the Los Angeles Clippers.  

 

“Does anyone want some of this?” he joked, holding the letters.

 

 “I already got one of those, thank you,” another man said.

 

Butts said the letters are propaganda from an organization that wants to hurt the City.  

 

A man responded to the woman who complained about crime.   “I’m an active block club member, and I follow crime in Inglewood.  You’ll see where there are active block clubs, the crime is down.  All I can say is start stepping up and attend block club meetings.  Even if you live in an apartment, you can have a block club.”  The man said he’d be happy to help people form clubs in their neighborhoods.

 

Councilman George Dotson thanked everyone who came to his District 1 Family Day in the Park.  “It’s one of the best events I’ve ever been part of,” Dotson said.  

 

Councilman Alex Padilla took his wife to the Family Day picnic and Taste of Inglewood for her birthday.  “My hat’s off to Councilman Dotson and his staff for putting on such a wonderful community event,” Padilla said.  

 

The Second District councilman also reminded everyone about National Night Out, a nationwide celebration between residents and local police, which took place Tuesday night.  “They (police) put their lives on the line every single day.  Tonight the community has an opportunity to come out and say thank you.”

 

Councilman Eloy Morales thanked police for participating in the District 3 bicycle event on Saturday. Taste of Inglewood and Family Day at Edward Vincent Park, he said, was also a big hit on Saturday.  

 

Butts’ closing comments focused on recent attempts to “intimidate” residents with flyers saying the City plans to take away people’s homes away to build the Clippers arena.  He said there is a lot of money behind the propaganda.  

 

“There are people that think we are pretty stupid.  They think (they can intimidate by) manufacturing a grass roots opposition to an agreement (with the Clippers) that might not go anywhere.  I want to tell whoever is financing this, forget it.  This council is not going to be intimidated! 

 

“No one intends to take anyone’s home for a sporting arena.  Whoever thought you’re going to scare us, it’s not going to happen,” Butts said.

 

Two public hearings were held. The first discussed tax assessments on residences with delinquent refuse and sewer accounts.  The second was held to approve the Inglewood annual Local Development Report for 2017.  The report includes “54 new dwelling units, reduction of single family residents (some became multi-family residents) and over 100,000 square feet of commercial space, which is the new senior center,” Public Works Director Louis Atwell said.

 

The Inglewood City Council approved:

 

•The City’s inclusion in the California Statewide Communities Development Authority Open Property Assessed Clean Energy Program to finance renewable energy generation, energy and water efficiency improvements, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure

 

•A three-year agreement with Passport Parking for software and mobile printers to be used in City owned handheld devices utilized by Parking Enforcement Officers 

 

•An agreement with The Baseball Tomorrow Fund for a field maintenance grant for Darby Park

 

 

•Payment of an invoice submitted by Lawrence Doors for the replacement of the exit security roll-up door located at the City Hall management parking structure  

 

•Introduction of an ordinance to amend Inglewood Municipal Code, Chapter 3 (Motor Vehicles and Traffic), Article 2 (Parking Regulations), to increase certain Parking Penalties 

 

•Amending the Inglewood Municipal Code to establish Permit Parking District No. 15, adding to the District: Ivy Avenue (between Beach Avenue and La Brea Avenue); Market Street (between Hazel Street and Beach Avenue); and Edgewood Street (between Beach Avenue and Warren Lane)

 

•Ordinance No. 17-13, amending the Inglewood Municipal Code to create Permit Parking District No. 16, adding to the District: Regent Street between west of Oak Street and the street terminus to the west 

 

•Ordinance No. 17-14, amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Salary Ordinance to include the Inglewood Police Management Association negotiated salary increases

 

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