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Creating Sustainable Living Spaces in South Central L.A.

Andres Ramos, La Loma Development Co.

La Loma Development Co. received a city of Los Angeles Resolution, presented by councilmember Jan Perry for their work at Main St. Elementary. They created sustainable eco-friendly living spaces within communities and schools, improving the quality of life for all.

La Loma Development Co. is no stranger to creating natural beauty out of underutilized spaces. So when we were asked by Tree People to team up for a pro bono project that had the mission of greening Main St. Elementary, we were happy to help and become a part of a community effort. Campus greening projects are big jobs that depend on a team effort, together we created one of the first urban forest rain gardens at Los Angeles Unified School District.

Main St. Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles was in need of a more nurturing landscape and the community, partners, and the school district stepped in to help. The goal was to create a sustainable urban forest converted from a 4,000 square foot asphalt-paved courtyard.

The project was completed with the collaborative work of Tree People, La Loma Development, and over 600 community volunteers; culminating in over 1,000 hours of volunteer time. Using a Bobcat, vibrating plate, shovels, rakes, and wheelbarrows, La Loma crew and volunteers built a natural playground as a central feature in the campus courtyard.


One of the most difficult aspects of the Main St. Elementary project was coordinating the two groups of 300 volunteers to do grading, lawn removal and planting in an eight-hour window of time over two weekends.

In the past few years, there has been a large desire to make the spaces we inhabit more ecologically healthy and stimulating, especially at educational institutions. Students, parents and teachers are tired of the black top asphalt, white parking paint, and non-native trees and hedges that plague many typical campus landscapes.

As groups organize to green campus landscapes, even from within, they find it increasingly difficult to overcome the bureaucratic red tape and policy hurdles. This necessity has led to the creation of cross-organizational partnerships, often within and outside of traditional design/build process.

The urban forest incorporated a rain garden with sycamore trees, rain-catchment basins, and native drought-tolerant plants that attract birds and butterflies. Several of the partners involved also donated materials. LAUSD donated decomposed granite, mulch, compost, and plants. Tree People donated sycamore trees and provided grant money for the asphalt removal. We donated the natural schoolyard design for the project, including tree stumps used for decorative seating, boulders, and pondless waterfall.

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August 24, 2019, 5:21 am PDT

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