After a two year fight from 1985 to 1987, CCSCLA defeated the $535 million bond issues sponsored by the City of Los Angeles which would have allowed for the development of the LANCER Municipal Waste Incinerator to be built in the South Central community. The members of CCSCLA decided to remain together after the LANCER defeat and address other concerns and issues that were impacting the community. The fight against LANCER made CCSCLA realize that the environment consists of more than just hazardous waste, chemicals, and air quality control; our environment is also the quality of our housing stock, the conditions of our schools and the safety of our neighborhoods. All of these factors effect how we are able to happily co-exist in the same community. CCSCLA was the first African-American environmental organization in Southern California and continues to work on environmental issues such as recycling, cleanliness of our alleys and streets, childhood lead poisoning prevention, storm drain protection, used motor oil recycling, teen worker rights and any other issues which are adversely affecting our quality of life. There will be more environmental awareness workshops provided by CCSCLA on an on- going and as-need basis.
Economic and Community Development
CCSCLA understanding the great need for access to capital, in association with the Black Employees Association formed the South Central People’s Federal Credit Union that was later folded into the Watts Credit Union. Prompted by the block club leaders, CCSCLA set about to develop a grocery store-anchored shopping center in the community. CCSCLA put together a team, including Regency Centers and Infinity Redevelopment and responded to a Request for Proposals from the Community Redevelopment Agency to develop an 80,000 s.f. shopping center at the corner of Slauson and Central Avenues. That shopping center – the Juanita Tate Marketplace – is scheduled to open in 2014.
Again, taking its lead from the community, CCSCLA facilitated the donation of a synthetic soccer field to Ross Snyder Park and put together resources to develop a field at Carver Middle School. CCSCLA operates after-school programs at Carver Middle School under a Joint Use Agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The target area for CCSCLA is bounded by the I-10 Santa Monica Freeway to the north, the I-110 Harbor Freeway to the west, Slauson Avenue to the south and Alameda Street to the east. This area includes the Vernon-Central neighborhood and the Central Avenue Corridor. At the time of its founding, this target area had one of the highest populations of African-Americans in Los Angeles. In order for CCSCLA to make substantial change in the community, we needed to develop a base. In 1990, CCSCLA began to organize block clubs throughout the Vernon-Central Area. We recognized that if we are going to change the way institutions make decisions concerning South Central than we must develop sufficient power to confront the institutions making the decisions. In community organizing there are two kinds of power- money and people. CCSCLA’s ability to organize large numbers of trained leaders to address specific issues is what constitutes our power base. To date CCSCLA has been able to organize 57 block clubs that has improved the appearance and safety. The primary issue common to all the block clubs we have directly organized and those already established has been the condition of the streets in the community.
The alleys in our target area were considered to be the worst in the City of Los Angeles. Alleys are used for illegal trash dumping, drug traffic and crime, and have little or no lighting. There was a petition to the City among the block club participants demanding that the alleys be cleaned, closed to traffic and fenced off with access only to residents. This petition resulted in alley clean ups and closures that prevent crime and illegal dumping. CCSCLA also entered into a pilot program with the City of Los Angeles to train community residents, including formerly incarcerated, to do alley clean up and pot hole repair. Fifteen community residents were ultimately given full-time, permanent employment through this pilot program. CCSCLA is continuing to develop new block clubs and to build self-sufficient skills for more establish block clubs. We firmly believe that all of the block clubs we work with must be self-sufficient. CCSCLA provides training on conducting meetings, producing and distributing flyers and other technical assistance. The general response to the block-by-block organizing by residents has been well received. The block clubs vary in size but usually consist of eight to twelve persons. Monthly meetings are held each month at various sites to give the community members a forum to discuss their concerns.