BID Honors John Ruhlen  
Leader Who Spearheaded Sepulveda Improvements Earns New Plaque  

For more than five decades, John Ruhlen has been a fixture in the Westchester community. He has been involved with the local chamber of commerce, Westchester Vitalization Corporation, and the Westchester Town Center Business Improvement District, but more than anything, his name has become synonymous with the incredible beautification efforts along Sepulveda Boulevard.

On the 4th of December, 2018, the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association and the WTCBID honored Ruhlen with a plaque that will be placed along Sepulveda Boulevard to commemorate his efforts.

"No one has done more to change the face of this street than John Ruhlen," said the BID's Executive Director Don Duckworth. “He has poured his blood, sweat and tears into making this happen, and I am confident that without his leadership and resolve we wouldn't have any of this.”

The Westchester Landscape Entry Project, begun in 2014, removed the 50-plus-year-old Ficus trees, many of which were diseased or structurally unstable, to allow for sidewalk, curb and gutter repairs along Sepulveda Boulevard. The result has been a more pedestrian-friendly and more beautiful boulevard with meandering sidewalks and attractive landscaping.

“Our goal was to create a much more walkable streetscape that will enable pedestrians, especially children and the elderly, to safely connect with the schools, churches and the YMCA, which are located on Sepulveda,” said Ruhlen, who began the effort more than a decade ago.

john Ruhlen
John Ruhlen At December 4th Event

The project included the planting of approximately 100 new trees and vegetation, including New Zealand Flax, Fountain Grass and Pink Trumpet Trees, which will not present the problems inherent with the Ficus trees whose root systems destroyed the street, city infrastructure, and sidewalk. In addition, the project reconstructed the pedestrian areas, including creation of meandering sidewalks and lush landscaping.

The $2.85-million project was funded through a variety of sources.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters secured a $1 million federal grant for improvements along the west side of Sepulveda Boulevard. Former Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl worked with Equity Office Partners, and the owners of Howard Hughes Center to secure a $1.85 million contribution from Equity Office Partners to handle improvements on the east side of Sepulveda.

“We spent a lot of time, sought ideas and support from the community, and it is exciting to know that, after all that collaboration, we can now walk along this beautiful boulevard,” said Ruhlen.


Saving Water Means Saving Money, Too  

Water and Energy Conservation During this historic drought, all eyes have focused on efforts to reduce water consumption, but saving water can mean saving money, too. By reducing your energy usage, you also reduce the demand for fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

Less burning of fossil fuels results in lower emissions of carbon dioxide, a primary contributor to global warming. By reducing your water use you not only save this precious resource but you also save on the energy that would have been used to transport and treat the water.

Investing in efficient conservation measures has proven to be a cost effective way to help safeguard the reliability and sustainability of our natural resources.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) offers a variety of rebates and programs for residential and commercial customers to assist customers in using energy and water more efficiently as well as saving money and resources while improving our environment.

Programs include rebates on appliances, electric vehicle chargers, irrigation systems, heating and cooling, toilets and solar systems. Whatever you may need you can find something to help you save energy and water. For a complete list please visit www.ladwp.comLos Angeles Department Of Water And Power

BID Ambassador Helps Save the Life of Woman Who Blacked Out in Her Car  

BID Ambassador Steve Rhodes spends most days patrolling Westchester Town Center on his bicycle, providing a comforting environment, assisting shoppers and giving directions to those who are lost. But on March 9, Rhodes took on a new role as the guardian angel to Peggy Bierke.
On her way to a dental appointment, the elderly Playa del Rey resident apparently passed-out, slumped over the steering wheel of her Buick Skylark in the Bank of America parking lot.
By the time Rhodes rode up to investigate, the noonday sun had made the car a sweltering box, and Bierke was having trouble breathing.
“All the doors and windows were closed, so I began to rap on the window, but she didn’t move at all,” Rhodes said. “At first, I thought she was dead, but then I saw her taking some very shallow and labored breaths, and I knew we had to get her out of there.”
Rhodes and the bank’s security guard scrambled to call 9-1-1 and open the doors and windows to ventilate the car.
Following instructions from the 9-1-1 operator, he moved her into a reclining position and tried to cool her off as paramedics arrived. Bierke, still unconscious, was taken to the hospital, where she spent four days in the Intensive Care Unit until being released. She continues to recover at home.
“He was my guardian angel,” Bierke said later. “I’m so appreciative of Steve coming along and helping me.”
Paramedics said Bierke certainly could have died had she remained in the steaming car much longer, but after a long battery of tests, doctors are still not quite sure what caused her to black out in the first place.
“I’ve had MRIs and all kinds of tests,” Bierke said. “They’ve changed my medication, but they’re not sure what it is. I had just passed the fire station driving down Westchester Parkway when I started to see double lines on the road. I thought, “I’ll see if I can just get to the dentist.’ I parked the car, and that’s the last thing I remember before I woke up in the hospital.”

“I was just doing my job,” said the modest Rhodes. “I’m just glad she’s OK.”
Don Duckworth, Executive Director of the Westchester Town Center BID, said, “Situations like this are exactly why having an ambassador program is important.”

BID Ambassador Steve Rhodes
BID Ambassador Steve Rhodes

Karen Dial, President of the BID and H.B. Drollinger Co., championed the program, which began last summer to provide an added level of safety and to help customers feel more comfortable when shopping in the area, and Duckworth said, “The incident with Peggy Bierke underscores the wisdom of her guidance for a bicycle ambassador.”
“It means that there is another set of eyes watching our business district,” he said. “Steve is looking out for situations like this as well as other potential issues such as cleanup needs and lost shoppers – anything our ambassador can do to help. We want him to take the initiative and do just that.”
The BID contracts with City National Security Services to provide the ambassador for the area, and City National’s Chief Operating Officer Cedric Sutherland said he is proud of the actions Rhodes took that day.
“He was quick-thinking and did everything he was supposed to do,” Sutherland said. “We were very happy to recognize him right after the incident and hold him up as a model for our other employees to emulate. He did an outstanding job.”
As for Bierke, she said having an ambassador in the area is “very important, not just because of what happened, but because it makes everything just a little safer for all of us.”
The 39-year Playa del Rey resident added that she’s looking forward to reuniting with Rhodes once she’s feeling better.
“I feel like I’ve had nine lives and cheated death a lot,” she said. “I’ve had a heart attack, a stroke, and now this. Thanks to Steve, I guess it just wasn’t my time to go. I’m looking forward to thanking him personally.”


Westchester Town Center “Leverages” New Funding
for Local Projects
The Westchester Town Center (WTC) often advocates for external assistance that benefits its Stakeholders either on its own or as part of a team.

Although such initiatives usually take the form of promoting governmental policies that benefit local commercial properties, they also take the form of seeking financial support for local projects. Such action “leverages” local commercial property owner assessments by bringing non-BID funding into the area.

As shown below, WTC action has generated nearly $1 Million in local project funding that otherwise would not have been available.

Local Property
Owner Value
Sepulveda Boulevard Improvement Project
$11.6 Million
Installation of electrical conduit for
landscape lighting at City cost
Installation of water meters for
Sepulveda Boulevard landscape
$16,000 (est.)
Avoidance of General Contractor mark-up
for electrical facilities installation
$46,035 to $73,978
Installation of the “Welcome to Westchester”
sign at Lincoln Avenue
City Council Member Rosendahl grant
for Sepulveda electrical improvements
Neighborhood Council grant
for Sepulveda electrical improvements
Westchester Vitalization grant
for Sepulveda electrical improvements
DWP Holiday Decoration grant
Triangle street tree installation
Sepulveda storm drain expansion
Sepulveda Eastway and Sepulveda
Westway street overlay
Total “leveraged” value (added dollars)
from BID operations (excluding Sepulveda
Boulevard Improvement Project)
to $955,330

BID Board Readies Renewal Plan  
Westchester Town Center Business Improvement District (BID) President Karen Dial has announced the initiation of efforts for renewal of the district over the coming twelve (12) months.

The BID was adopted by the Los Angeles City Council in July 2007 for a five (5) year term ending December 31, 2011. In the short time since its inception the BID has accomplished a long list of remarkable achievements. We want to see these accomplishments continue and even expand in the future in order to stimulate business district revitalization,” she asserted.

BID Executive Director Don Duckworth reported on some of the BID’s accomplishments at the Board of Director’s April meeting. “Among other things, the Westchester Town Center BID has provided landscape lighting and upkeep along Sepulveda, street sweeping, sidewalk pressure washing, trash collection, graffiti removal, and homeless services coordination throughout the entire Westchester Town Center area. New decorative trash receptacles, broken sidewalk repairs, and about 120 new street trees have also been installed through the BID’s efforts. A new website, shop local advertising campaign, and a ‘Halloween Town Fair’ event have been initiated. All of these efforts are directed at attracting new customers to the area. And without the BID these improvements would not have taken place,” he said.

The BID is governed by a non-profit corporation that consists of local business and property owners. Board Members include: Karen Dial (H. B. Drollinger Co.), John Ruhlen (Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association), Miki Payne (H. B. Drollinger Co.), Bill Allen (HFH, Ltd.), Heather Lemmon (The Real Estate Consultants and L B Property Management), and Tracy Thomas (Coreland Companies). This organization provides assurance that local business needs receive top priority in the BID’s programs and activities. During its first years of operation the organization made an extensive outreach to community groups, potential customers, and Westchester business and property owners to develop a strategic action plan of work to assist in revitalizing Westchester businesses.

As part of the BID renewal process, additional outreach and stakeholder communications efforts will be conducted. Look for a series of open community workshop meetings in the coming months as the renewal plan begins to take shape.

We are actively seeking input from all business owners, property owners, residents, and others,” said John Ruhlen. “Anyone desiring to express ideas or preferences about the future BID; or wanting to participate in BID activities is urged to telephone (310) 417-9030 to do so.

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