Walking to class at Vista Middle School in Panorama City, kids cross over the Pacoima wash — a littered and foul-smelling channel that has become the first battlefront in Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer’s plan to create a safer environment for children.
Feuer announced the pilot program at Vista Middle School on Monday. Two businesses within a quarter mile of the campus, De La Cruz Recycling and EV Auto Body, have been charged with polluting the wash — a first step in a pilot program that seeks to clean up neighborhoods around Vista and three other Los Angeles middle schools.
In addition to environmental polluters, the effort will also ramp up checks on parolees living close to campuses, seek out businesses that sell tobacco to kids, train a volunteer force of parents to watch over students walking to school and seek to return truants to classrooms.
Creating a safe environment for children, Feuer said, “that’s who we are in the City Attorney’s Office, that’s who we are in this community.”
Along with Vista Middle School, the pilot program will also target Barack Obama Global Preparation Academy south of downtown Los Angeles in Vermont Square, Joseph Le Conte Middle School in Hollywood and John H. Liechty Middle School in the city’s Westlake section.
From the sex trade to marijuana dispensaries, Councilwoman Nury Martinez said the neighborhood surrounding Vista Middle School needs help.
“I’m grateful you chose Vista Middle School and Panorama City, because the problems in this community are very, very serious,” Martinez said.
Keeping guns and criminals away from Vista Middle School was the reason behind an Aug. 12 sweep that resulted in nine felony arrests and removed five kids from unsafe environments, according to the City Attorney’s Office. Those efforts will continue, as part of a plan to make sure such individuals don’t possess firearms.
LAUSD board member Monica Ratliff, who was also on hand for Monday’s announcement, said educating children is of the utmost importance.
“That means the community around the school must be safe,” Ratliff said.
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