Two hundred Los Angeles Unified School District high school students visited Playa Vista Wednesday, March 1st, to take a tour of the mixed-use community UrbanPlan curriculum.

This program allows inner-city students to learn in depth about the urban planning process and compete in simulated development teams for the rights to redevelop a city neighborhood.

The program has grown from three teams in one high school that participated in the first ULI (Urban Land Institute) LA competition in 1999 to more than 200 students from ten high schools.

In UrbanPlan, students take on key roles in a fictitious private real estate development company — chief executive officer, director of marketing, financial officer, site planner/architect and city liaison.

The company’s goal is to reclaim blighted cities in a socially responsible yet profitable way.

Development teams compete to secure the rights from a city to redevelop an urban area.

The exercise is based upon an actual development project and the team must overcome true-to-life environmental, political and financial challenges.

In order to create their development plan, the students analyze materials that include maps, preservation issues, environmental cleanup, construction costs, market data, community sentiment and the objectives of the mayor and city council.

Students utilize an Excel-based real estate economics pro forma model, construct a three-dimensional model of their site plan and present their development proposals to a fictitious city council (ULI volunteers) in June.

The 2006 UrbanPlan kickoff event took students on a field trip to Playa Vista — an actual site under development — to enable them to gain practical knowledge and experience.

“Playa Vista is a good example for students about how people in L.A. can live, work and play in the same community without using their cars,” said Playa Vista senior vice president Doug Moreland, who led students on the tour.

“This is a great experience for students to get a hands-on look at what is becoming a new model for urban in-fill development.

“Playa Vista is a unique project for exactly what the UrbanPlan program is all about.”

The UrbanPlan program is open to any high school class in the greater Los Angeles area.

Most of the schools participating in the competition are drawn from the inner-city locations in the Los Angeles Unified School District to best include students from low-to-moderate-income families.

This year high schools included Kennedy, Cleveland, Reseda, Wilson, Crenshaw, South Los Angeles, Hamilton, Blazers Safe Haven, Environmental Charter and Opportunities Unlimited high schools.

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH — The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), in partnership with the Westchester/Playa del Rey Neighborhood Council, will be holding Neighborhood Watch training for the residents of Westchester and Playa del Rey at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22nd, at the Westchester Senior Citizens Center, 8740 Lincoln Blvd. in Westchester.

This will be a “Nuts and Bolts of Neighborhood Watch” training so that residents can learn how Neighborhood Watch is benefiting others and how they can get their neighbors together in a Neighborhood Watch group for their block or complex.

The concept of Neighborhood Watch is one of the most fundamental ways residents can assist local law enforcement and is the cornerstone of the LAPD crime prevention strategy.

The benefits also go beyond security of neighborhoods to improving the quality of life with better friendships and acquaintances.

NEW STAKEHOLDER

REGISTRATION DEADLINE — The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey has announced that it has extended the stakeholder registration deadline, which means those who live, work or own property in West-chester, Playa del Rey or Playa Vista will now have until Thursday, March 30th, to register for the election Monday, April 3rd, and Thursday, April 5th.

Stakeholders can download a registration form at www.ncwpdr .org or can register in person at one of the Neighborhood Council weekly stakeholder registration drives from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday through March 25th in front of Westchester-Loyola Village Library, 7114 Manchester Ave., Westchester.

The candidates for the 11 available seats have already been announced and each has posted a vision statement and qualification statement on the Neighborhood Council’s Web site, www.ncw pdr.org

BURGLARY HOTLINE — In response to the recent rash of burglaries in the Westchester area, the Los Angeles Police Department has set up a Westchester/ Playa del Rey Burglary Hotline for residents to contact detectives at (310) 482-6490.

While residents who see any suspicious activity should call 911, the hotline is intended to allow residents to provide additional information they believe might be helpful in catching those responsible for the recent wave of burglaries.

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