Rotary to honor Karen Dial; YMCA pancake breakfast; Westchester star party

BY GEOFF MALEMAN

A panel of design and development experts from the Urban Land Institute met last year with community leaders and the Westchester Town Center Business Improvement District (BID) to study ways to improve the Westchester area.

Now, the panel’s suggestions have been compiled in a report that provides a blueprint for the area’s reemergence as a strong retail area and gateway to and from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Among the suggestions presented by the panel in its report are the following:

The panel suggests the BID focus on attracting unique small business retailers, especially with a connection to the arts. Other candidate retail uses include the types of chain stores being attracted to locations along Sepulveda Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue in the cities of El Segundo and Manhattan Beach, as well as stores and restaurants that can serve the large employment base located in and around LAX.

According to the panel, the BID and the city of Los Angeles should actively promote private sector efforts to revitalize the retail block containing the Kohl’s on Sepulveda Boulevard.

While the BID is constrained on three-and-a-half sides by Westchester’s residential neighborhoods and LAX, there is the possibility of expanding to the west into the LAX Northside Development area along two major regional streets, Westchester Parkway and La Tijera Boulevard, the panel states.

Panel members encouraged the BID to work closely with the airport to provide for a new and exciting retail development in that northside area.

According to the report, “The LAX runway expansion plan would have a tremendous negative effect on a number of properties at the southern entrance of Westchester Village. In anticipation of the final EIR study and LAX’s plans, the BID should become a voice for the property owners and the district and strengthen its relationships with LAWA and with the city Planning Department, which is likely to play a major role in the interface between LAX and the surrounding communities.”

The panel agreed that the BID should encourage LAWA to make these lands available for private development. Such support would also be consistent with the city of Los Angeles’ economic development policies which are increasingly focused on supporting the city’s job base, particularly higher-paying jobs in the fields of high technology, creative arts and information-related activities.

The panel also focused on the area’s parking requirements.

“A well-functioning parking system is an important ingredient to have successful revitalization of a business corridor,” the report said. “If well managed, parking can be a valuable asset as a source of revenue. Developing the management system is a key priority for the BID as a first step to revitalization. New construction of facilities, a market-driven rate structure for on- and off-street parking to ensure full utilization of spaces, and professional management will all encourage more visitors to the community.”

The panel encouraged the BID to carefully review the study of existing parking supply and assessment of future needs to determine how many spaces are needed, where to put the new parking and what rate structure would be required to fund the creation of new parking areas.

“Ideally,” the panel said, “two parking structures could be developed on the east side of the Sepulveda Boulevard corridor. The parking structures will serve as catalysts for development and provide incentives for companies to relocate into Westchester Village.”

The panel also suggested that the BID take advantage of its location to develop a “portal to Los Angeles” concept, developing a gateway landmark at the intersection of Sepulveda and Lincoln boulevards. That, the panel reasoned, would set the stage for Westchester’s image and branding.

“The landmark should make an iconic statement that tells visitors they have arrived in Los Angeles,” the report said. “Some of the ideas that came from the panel to create this statement were the use of video screens, billboards, murals, and other graphics that will illuminate Sepulveda Boulevard.”

The panel also encouraged the BID to focus on the 87th Street Triangle area and to look at new ways to enliven that area.

The BID’s executive director, Don Duckworth, said the group was pleased with the report from the Urban Land Institute panel and is looking at new ways to implement many of the panel’s suggestions.

ROTARIANS TO HONOR KAREN DIAL

The Playa-Venice Rotary Club plans to honor Karen Dial, president of the H.B. Drollinger Company,—with the “Sunrise Community Service Award”—at the club’s South of the Border Dinner Dec. 7.

“Karen is a—hardworking, caring and thoughtful person who took over the leadership of the H.B. Drollinger Company when her father, Howard, passed away several years ago,” said Gwen Vuchas of the Rotary Club.

“Howard was a 50-plus-year Rotarian with the Westchester Club, and Karen has continued to live the motto ‘service above self’ that she learned from her father.—She leads by example and is willing to participate in all levels of service from trash clean-ups to raising money for a local family who lost their little boy in a tragic accident.”

Dial is a longtime supporter of Airport Marina Counseling Service, the Westchester Family YMCA, Loyola Marymount University, the Union Rescue Mission, Rotary Club of Westchester and the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the CenterPointe Club in Playa Vista and will include a Mexican-themed menu, tequila station, and entertainment with mariachis,—singers and dancers. The cost of the dinner is $65 per person.

The club is currently seeking sponsorships and accepting reservations. For more information or to save a seat, please call (310) 306-8525.

YMCA PANCAKE BREAKFAST

The Westchester Y’s Men’s Club is continuing its tradition of flipping pancakes to raise funds to benefit the Westchester Family YMCA. From 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 16 in the parking lot of the YMCA, 80th Street and Sepulveda Boulevard, the Y’s men will be serving up a pancake breakfast. Tickets are available from members of the Y’s Men’s Club, the YMCA front desk, and at the door for $5 per person ($20 maximum for a family of four or more).

The LAX Food Pantry is in critical need of donations, so the Westchester Y’s Men’s Club said it is making a special plea for pancake breakfast attendees to bring canned, boxed, and bagged food donations to the breakfast.

All proceeds will benefit the various projects of the Westchester Family YMCA.

WESTCHESTER STAR PARTY

From 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, astronomer and author Bob Eklund will be hosting an evening of astronomy in the parking lot of Westchester Christian Science Church, 7855 Alverstone Ave., Westchester.

High-quality telescopes will provide views of the moon, the planet Jupiter, stars and nebulae.

“Our telescopes will show features like the Tycho crater, surrounded by bright rays,” said Eklund. “And higher magnifications will reveal mountain ranges, dark lava fields, and rippling ridges.”

Children are especially welcome, and attendees may bring their own telescopes.

There will be a special focus on learning all about the moon, including why it looks the way it does and the location where the Apollo astronauts landed. All are welcome, and there is no charge.

For more information, please contact Eklund at (310) 216-5947.

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