Inglewood enjoyed a year of ups and downs that will continue to shape the City as it continues its quest to become a “destination” city.
The year began with Super Bowl 56 and ended with the City scrambling to assemble funds to build the Inglewood Transit Connector.
To start the year, Inglewood Assemblymember Autumn Burke abruptly announced her decision to step down from her seat despite initially campaigning on a platform to return the Inglewood Unified School District to local control.
Warren Lane Elementary School became the battleground of the area residents versus their local government to stop the closure of the last remaining school in the 90305 zip code.
The school closure then became the focus of a special election held in March to elect Burke’s predecessor. Residents selected her former staffer, Tina McKinnor, to finish her term.
Then the fun began with the City hosting the granddaddy of all sports, Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium in February.
With pandemic restrictions lifted, SoFi Stadium welcomed over 70,000 fans to Super Bowl 56 held in February.
The city kicked off the week-long celebration with a three-day concert series that featured music guests and the city council awarding its first ever ‘Key to the City’ to actress Issa Rae.
The event went off without a hitch after a devastating mass shooting claimed the lives of four young adults celebrating a birthday, the month prior, in an unregulated Airbnb.
The City was forced to implement strict short-term rental guidelines later in the year to ensure the safety of guests and residents.
Safety became a hot-button topic after the tragedy at the Inglewood Airbnb which put a spotlight on the Inglewood Police Department.
In January, a judge ruled that the City couldn’t move forward with destroying police records related to use-of-force and other officer conduct-related documents after the ACLU filed a lawsuit to stop them.
Lawmakers created Senate Bill 1421 which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, which would have required the disclosure of the records. It was alleged the City’s last-minute action during the last city council meeting of 2020 was to avoid the disclosure.
“This premise that there was an intent to beat the clock is ridiculous,’ Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. said at the time.
The matter continues to go through the process, while the department hemorrhages officers.
The City recorded less than a dozen homicides despite a mass exodus of officers to outside agencies and retirement. The council responded by ratifying a new contract with the police unions which gave them a 22% salary increase over 3 years.
As the year progressed, the City continued to approve plans related to the Intuit Dome, the multi-billion NBA area for the Los Angeles Clippers, and various housing developments throughout the city.
After a quiet summer, the City turned its focus to the upcoming Nov. 8 election.
Mayor Butts and council members George Dotson and Alex Padilla were on the ballot.
According to the mayor, the residents are very happy with the direction of the City and encouraged them to keep the team together.
“You don’t change quarterbacks midway through the game,” said Butts.
Despite a drop in his popularity, Butts narrowly avoided a runoff capturing 53% of all votes cast for mayor, and Padilla captured over 60% of the votes in District 2 to return to the dais for an additional four years.
District 1 voters showed their displeasure with Dotson by forcing him into a runoff against Gloria Gray, who is currently a member of the West Basin water board. They will face each other on March 7, 2023, where residents will have to determine whether Gray will align with the current council or be a wild card due to her close proximity to a more progressive crowd.
Finally, the year was consumed with the City’s efforts to assemble financing for the Inglewood Transit Connector (ITC) that will drive out dozens of small businesses along its path.
A joint powers authority arrangement exists between the City and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) which will further expand gentrification efforts in the City of nearly 100,000 residents.
Funding has been secured through multiple local, state, and federal grants to the tune of nearly $400 million which is being spent on countless consultants to prepare for the shovel to hit the dirt.
The final actions of this year included adopting policies to acquire land and relocate existing businesses. The City also pledged $19 million to purchase the vacant parcels across from the Kia Forum that was slated to become Raising Cane’s. The staff reports state the acquisition was related to the ITC project but it is unclear how the two entities will be enjoined to the space.
The City looks forward to 2023 to have the remaining funding needed to construct the ITC with the future of the council hanging in the balance.
To kickoff 2023, Inglewood will celebrate the grand opening of Tha Dogg House, a Snoop Dogg and Funko collaboration located at 913 W. Arbor Vitae in the space formerly occupied by 7-eleven and the 2023 College Football Championship game on Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium.