SPPD Hosts San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
The USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development hosted members of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce this summer in the first stop of the Texas delegation’s three-day Los Angeles tour aimed at exchanging information with local civic leaders and experts.
During a morning meeting at Lewis Hall, the chamber members learned about the integral role a university can play in helping to build the fabric of a great city. Specifically, the group discussed issues involving community, port, cargo and transit issues, as well as what the National Football League looks for in a city with regard to establishing a franchise.
The speakers included USC President Steven B. Sample; Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council president; Genevieve Giuliano, senior associate dean for research and technology at SPPD; and Ed Roski, president of the USC Board of Trustees and chairman and CEO of Majestic Realty Co., which built the Staples Center. Henry Cisneros, former mayor of San Antonio and secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Clinton administration, served as the moderator.
San Antonio chamber vice president Yesenia Monsour MPA ’94, came up with the idea to connect the experts from the two regions and sought out the help of Cisneros, who has ties to both cities. Cisneros’ real estate investing business, CityView, is headquartered in Los Angeles with an office in San Antonio. He also serves on SPPD’s Board of Councilors.
Cisneros’ real estate investing business, CityView, is headquartered in Los Angeles with an office in San Antonio. He also serves on SPPD’s Board of Councilors.
“It’s an investment in learning,” Cisneros said. “Over the years, San Antonio has had a pretty aggressive outreach strategy of going to other cities and learning what they can.”
Giuliano opened the discussion by analyzing the ports, railroads and public transportation in a city with the sprawling geography of Los Angeles.
As cities such as San Antonio expand their suburbs, they will likely look at L.A. as a model.
“Future cities are not going to look like New York or Chicago,” Giuliano said. “They will grow outward, not upward. They’re going to look like Los Angeles.”
Garcetti spoke of the challenges dealing with the struggling economy in a county that contains more than 80 cities and many layers of government.
“We have 20-something levels of government,” Garcetti said. “So if you have a water problem, mosquito problem, community college problem, school district problem, health problem or a public safety problem, you’re going to six different levels of government.”
When Sample took the helm at USC in 1991, many people encouraged him to follow Pepperdine University’s lead and move out of South Los Angeles, either to the San Gabriel Valley or Orange County. Instead, he decided that USC should remain in Los Angeles and help improve the local area surrounding the campus.
“We at USC believe strongly that making the schools in our area better and the streets safer benefit both our neighbors and our university,” Sample said. “In short, we believe what’s good for our neighbors is also good for USC.”
Under Sample’s leadership, USC adopted 14 local schools and worked with the community to start a Kid Watch program, which helps protect children as they walk to school.
In addition, the university’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative gives 60 sixth graders an opportunity to earn full scholarships to USC if they can complete the rigorous college preparatory program through high school. To date, more than 100 former Neighborhood Academic Initiative students have graduated from USC with a free education.
Sample also began the Good Neighbors Campaign, a voluntary charitable program for USC faculty and staff in which 100 percent of donations directly benefit local neighborhoods. Last year, despite the recession, university employees contributed a record $1.1 million.
San Antonio’s bid for an NFL expansion team in 1992 was rejected in favor of Jacksonville, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. Los Angeles, which has not had an NFL team in 14 years, may not seem like an ideal city to emulate for attracting a pro football franchise. However, Roski has gained considerable knowledge on the topic, having spent more than a decade working to bring the NFL back to L.A.
After an unsuccessful attempt to return a pro team to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Roski learned what the NFL did – and did not – want in a potential home. He then strategized a new plan to address all of the league’s concerns, with the proposed Los Angeles Stadium to be built in the City of Industry.
“You say, ‘This is the second-largest market in the United States, why would they not want to be here?’ ” said Roski, who is part-owner of the Los Angeles Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers. “But you’re dealing with a group of individuals that has its own agenda and is looking to do a project that fits its plan. You continually have to learn to modify your plan to fit them.”
One example in which Roski and his team at Majestic Realty were able to modify their plan is through their innovative stadium design.
By nestling the stadium into a hill, Majestic Realty plans to minimize the use of steel and concrete, helping keep construction costs to an estimated $800 million – half the price of the $1.6 billion Meadowlands Stadium being built in New Jersey for the Giants and Jets to open the 2010 season.
According to Roski, Los Angeles Stadium would give the surrounding community an economic boost and provide it with additional entertainment options. The stadium complex would feature an entertainment center similar to Universal City Walk, with a movie theatre, restaurants, performing arts center and medical facility. Majestic projects the stadium to generate 6,735 new jobs and $21 million in annual tax revenue for local and county governments.
Roski also hopes to become part-owner of a team and relocate it to Los Angeles within the next few years.
In addition to USC, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce members visited the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Water District, the Port of Los Angeles and L.A. Metro later that week.
“[Our visit to USC] was a wonderful day with such a tremendous influx of intelligence,” said Sam Dawson, chamber of commerce member and CEO of Pape-Dawson Engineers Inc. “I think probably the most fascinating part was how USC has reached out to the surrounding community and the way that they’ve done it – not requiring tremendous investment, just good ideas.”