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Eco-Village’s Car Free Vision for Planned LAUSD Parking Lot

3:15 PM PDT on April 15, 2008

eco_sign_resizr.jpg

Last month the LA Eco-Village received some good news when the LAUSD announced that the location for their school on White House Place would not require the demolition of 40 homes in the Village forever altering the sustainable community that had been so carefully created.

Tonight, the Eco-Village will present an alternative to LAUSD's plan for a 137 space parking lot where the White House Place Primary Center when it is no longer needed as a school. The Center currently resides in the heart of the Eco-Village. That's right, LAUSD wants to put a parking lot right next to the Bimini Shared Street Project. The meeting will be held tonight at 6 P.M. at the Virgil Middle School Auditorium on the northeast corner of First and Vermont.

The Eco-Village's counter proposal is a five phased, $25 million dollar project that would convert the land into an educational center with car-free housing aimed at attracting teachers for the twelve public schools located within walking distance. The Villager's plan creates a new and unique vision for the land which should be attractive to LAUSD officials interested in making the best use of their land and preserving the community's where they do business.

Eco-Village co-founder Lois Arkin lays out the five phases such a plan would take in an email:

1. Restore the Bimini Baths as a year round indoor pool that could be used by local schools during the day. See historical info on Bimini Baths at: http://urbansoil.net/wiki.cgi/Bimini_Baths_Article.

Potential initial funding sources include the MWD, LADWP, Parks First Fund, Quimby funds, former users of the baths. Once established, the baths would be self funding.

2. "Carfree" workforce housing on upper levels of the Baths, approximately 50 units. Housing would be targeted to LAUSD teachers and staff who want to live more cooperatively and car free in the LAEV transit-rich neighborhood, The site is within walking distance of about

12 public schools attended by over 10,000 kids, as well as many private schools. The housing would be pre-sold and/or pre-leased to qualified low to middle income buyers and leaseholders which could be used to leverage significant financing. UTLA and other pension funds may also be a piece of the funding puzzle along with prop 1C and HOME funds. Cohousing could be an important innovation. See www.cohousing.org

For info on the car-free/car light movement, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car-free_movement.

3. Small green retail businesses along First Street and educational facilities (e.g., library). LAEV is currently incubating several small green businesses that are expected to be economically viable for retail/commercial spaces by the time such a project is built. These businesses will provide a number of green jobs for local walk-or-bike-to-work residents. Regular tours of the Bimini Baths and the LAEV neighborhood would be provided to the school communities as well as the general public. For info on the small green business movement, see http://www.livingeconomies.org/

4. Geothermal heating demonstration. Use the hot waters from the Baths to provide some geothermal heating/cooling to the development and the neighborhood, radically reducing carbon emissions from current natural gas and electricity, and demonstrating an important future energy source in the LA area. This could be used as part of an energy education program. For info on geothermal heating, see http://www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/overview.html

5. Demonstration biological living machine or eco machine that serves as a further educational facility--both beautiful and functional--to clean water for local re-use and/or clean hot waters and return to the aquifer. For info, see http://www.toddecological.com/ecomachines.html.

Photo: Damien Newton

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