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LOS ANGELES — Attorneys for the mother of a man who died at the West Hollywood home of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck in 2017 filed an amendment to her wrongful death lawsuit, alleging the political fundraiser lured her son from Houston to Los Angeles for the purpose of engaging in “commercial” sex acts, court papers obtained July 8 show.

The amended civil lawsuit accuses Ed Buck of human trafficking and engaging in “revenge porn” by making and sharing a video of his alleged “meth-fueled sexual encounters” with Gemmel Moore.

The civil case was initially filed in Superior Court but moved to federal court in May. Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Assistant Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum are named as co-defendants for allegedly violating Moore’s civil rights in their refusal to prosecute Buck.

Moore, 26, was the first of two men to die at Buck’s West Hollywood apartment in less than 18 months. He was found dead of a crystal meth overdose in Buck’s home on July 27, 2017. The coroner ruled the death accidental.

On Jan. 7 of this year, a second man died of methamphetamine toxicity at Buck’s home in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue. The death of Timothy Dean, 55, of West Hollywood was also ruled accidental.

Defense attorney Seymour Amster has denied that his client — who allegedly was present at the location when both men died — had any involvement in either death.

Prosecutors last summer declined to file charges against Buck regarding Moore’s death, citing insufficient evidence. As for Dean’s death, the District Attorney’s Office has said that the death remains under investigation.

The July 3 amended complaint alleges that Buck “regularly solicits sex from black men in exchange for temporary housing and/or monetary compensation.”

Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, said she and her son had been living with her in Texas, but Buck bought him a plane ticket to return to Los Angeles, which he did the day he died.

Buck has been a prominent donor to Democratic candidates and office holders. He has also been active in LGBTQ political circles and once ran for the West Hollywood City Council.

The lawsuit seeks damages against Buck on allegations of wrongful death, human trafficking, sexual battery, drug dealer liability, premises liability, negligence per se, intentional infliction of emotional distress and hate violence.

In addition to seeking general damages, the lawsuit also seeks an undetermined amount of punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

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GRIFFITH PARK — The Griffith Park Observatory has scheduled a series of events and activities to mark the 50th anniversary of U.S. astronauts landing on the moon, including a free-daylong event July 20 commemorating the day that man first walked on the moon.

Activities will begin July 13 with the launch of the Golden Moon Festival and a free star party at 2 p.m. Following the party will be screenings of “Apollo 11” by CNN Films at 4 and 7 p.m. Tickets for the screenings are $15 for members of the Friends of the Observatory and $20 for non-members.   

On July 16, the anniversary of the launch day, will be marked with a free All Space Considered presentation at 1 p.m. The presentation will be led by the observatory’s curatorial staff and special guests in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon as they look back at the historic space mission.

A free panel discussion will be held at 7:30 p.m. July 17. “From California to the Moon” details how the Southern California aerospace industry contributed to the engineering and manufacturing of Apollo 11. The free panel discussion includes former engineers Don Harvey and Jerry Elverum, who created the Lunar Descent Engine that allowed the astronauts to land on the moon.

Another panel discussion will be held at 7:30 p.m. July 18. “The Once and Future Moon” will examine the ups and downs of getting to the moon, as well as the future exploration of the moon.

At 8 p.m. July 19, Friends of the Observatory host a screening of “Apollo 11” by CNN Films followed by a rooftop party with refreshments and a chance to mingle. Tickets are $50 for Friends of the Observatory members and $75 for non-members.

“To Walk on the Moon: Past, Present and Future” is a free all-day event July 20 with presentations and activities taking place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“A Look Back at Apollo 11” is at 11 a.m., followed by “The Mysteries of the Moon” at noon, “Man on the Moon: Hoax or No Hoax?” at 1 p.m., “Artemis and the Return to the Moon” at 2 p.m. and “Our Future on the Moon” at 3 p.m.

Space journalist and author of “Moon Rush” Leonard David tells the story of how nations and private industries are planning on heading back to the moon and beyond at 7:30 p.m. July 21. Admission is free.

On July 22, Griffith Observatory Director E.C. Krupp gives a presentation at 7:30 p.m. “Into the Blue” is part of the Cosmic Musings lecture series on the change of perspectives into the vast blue planet known as Earth.

The Golden Moon Festival concludes with the recap of the history of Apollo 11 with All Space Considered while looking back at all the activities and presentations from the festival at 7:30 p.m.

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The Los Angeles Independent by Independent Staff And Wire Reports - 1w ago

LOS ANGELES — Hollyhock House, architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1921 modernist creation at Barnsdall Art Park in East Hollywood, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site July 7, the first time modern American architecture has been recognized by the United Nations cultural organization.

The Hollyhock site is among eight works by Wright that shared the designation. The others are Unity Temple (1909, Oak Park, Illinois), the Frederick C. Robie House (1910, Chicago), Taliesin (1911, Spring Green, Wisconsin), the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House (1937, Madison, Wisconsin), Taliesin West (1938, Scottsdale, Arizona) Fallingwater (1939, Pennsylvania), and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1959, New York).

“This designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site underscores the significance of Los Angeles’ rich history of modern architecture,” City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said. “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House is a beloved masterpiece locally, and now a treasure world-wide.”

“The inscription of this nomination marks the first modern architectural cultural property designation not only in California, but the United States. It has been a pleasure working with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and all parties in our efforts to preserve and restore the priceless cultural resources at Barnsdall Art Park — and our work continues.

“We are grateful to the National Park Service for recognizing that our collaboration here at home enhanced this serial nomination,” O’Farrell added.

The building was constructed between 1919 and 1921 for oil heiress Louise Aline Barnsdall, who donated it to the city in 1927. It is now owned by the city of Los Angeles and operated by the Department of Cultural Affairs as part of the art park, which also includes a gallery, theater, and year-round art classes.

The house was reopened to the public in 2015 after a three-year restoration.

The World Heritage Committee announced the new additions to the list at its meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan. The honor does not include any funding for preservation efforts, but will likely result in a higher profile and greater tourist traffic.

“These sites are the best of the best, and who wouldn’t want to part of that club?” said Lynda Waggoner, a former director at Fallingwater, who led the team that submitted the buildings for review. “They hold what is called by UNESCO ‘outstanding universal value’ — value that transcends national borders and is important to all of humanity.”

There are more than 1,000 World Heritage sites around the world, but only 24 in the United States.

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LOS ANGELES — City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell called on the state to direct $1.2 billion toward the city’s battle against homelessness, matching the amount of a voter-approved municipal bond measure aimed at attacking the problem.

“We need to augment our programs and go beyond and push for 20,000 [supportive housing] units or more,” O’Farrell said, adding that the city’s current goal of 10,000 units would not be enough to house Los Angeles’ homeless population.

“We need to double or triple that amount if we’re really serious about solving the homelessness crisis,” the councilman said in front of City Hall June 26. “We are working locally to reduce the cost of Proposition HHH housing as well. We want to make more units more quickly without sacrificing the quality of those units.”

Measure HHH was approved by Los Angeles voters in 2016, authorizing $1.2 billion in bonds to fund supportive and affordable housing, along with other measures to address homelessness.

O’Farrell, who chairs the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, said Los Angeles is the only city in the state that has taxed itself to build supportive housing. He said 1,400 units will be open by the end of the year and more supportive housing units will be approved for construction soon.

Figures from the most recent Southland homeless count found that more than 36,000 people are homeless in the city of Los Angeles, an increase of 16 percent since last year. Countywide, the homeless population jumped by 12 percent.

“These numbers … are depressing, outrageous, mind-numbing,” O’Farrell said. “What we need is a paradigm shift in our thinking and in our determination across all levels of government. We must create a sustainable and robust system for addressing this crisis. It is the challenge of our day.”

The councilman said the state needs to make changes in the Ellis Act, which allows owners to opt out of the rental market, and the Costa Hawkins Act, which restricts the implementation of rent control ordinances in certain circumstances.

He also said the federal government needs to participate in finding solutions to the problem. O’Farrell said federal funding for homeless issues decreased from $55 million a year in 2008 to $30 million in 2012, when the crisis was expanding. Recently implemented federal tax policy may also be contributing to the city’s increasing population, and officials are analyzing the effects of those policies, the councilman said.

O’Farrell introduced several motions during the June 26 City Council meeting, including a request to hold a homeless and poverty summit, and another calling on the city to coordinate Housing Department resources to find vacant units and house people faster.

Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority officials said during the council meeting that based on the 2019 numbers, the county is housing people at a slower rate than people are falling into homelessness.

“The heart of homelessness is the inflow of people,” said Phil Ansell, director of the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative. “We have doubled the number of people moving into permanent housing, while at the same time we had a 12 percent increase. On average, 133 families escaped homelessness each day, but 150 people became homeless per day.”

Ansell said if the city and county can move people into permanent housing faster, they could rapidly accelerate the process of moving people into interim housing. But he noted that interim housing should not be viewed as the final solution to solving homelessness.

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WEST HOLLYWOOD — The city has been honored with the prestigious National Civic League All-America City Award. 

The award, bestowed yearly on 10 cities from throughout the country, recognizes the work of communities in using inclusive civic engagement to address critical issues and create stronger connections among residents, businesses and nonprofit and government leaders.

The All-America City Award was presented at a ceremony concluding the National Civic League’s three-day conference in Denver June 23. The conference provided municipal thought-leaders with opportunities to connect and share insights with peers, learn from national leaders and present the stories of their work to a jury of nationally recognized civic leaders.

During the weekend, 20 cities were invited to take part in the All-America City competition represented by teams comprised of residents, business leaders, nonprofit representatives and municipal employees to show off what makes their approach to civic engagement stand out. Of those 20 cities, West Hollywood was honored among 10 cities to receive the All-America City Award.

“It’s not a surprise to me that West Hollywood took home an All-America City Award,” Mayor John D’Amico said. “West Hollywood continues to build a strong culture of engagement among residents, staff, and the City Council.

“Our commitment to outreach to everyone including populations historically left out of decision-making and to authentic communication programs means meaningful governing can and does happen. “The City recognizes the importance of leveraging civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues and we will continue to implement new programs and protocols to further strengthen and deepen our commitment to creating a city responsive to the needs of the community.”

West Hollywood has a strong commitment to engaging community members in a myriad of ways and with a range of tools. A key focus of the city’s efforts has been the inclusion of traditionally marginalized populations in decision-making processes. West Hollywood has multiple boards, commission, and/or task forces that strive to engage seniors, women, people living with HIV, transgender people, gay and lesbian people and low-income residents.

The city also prides itself on its trailblazing communications program, which aims to authentically and creatively engage all residents. That has resulted in dozens of national and local professional communications awards recognizing the distinct approach and unparalleled effectiveness of the City’s Communications Department initiatives.

In its application and presentation, the city highlighted three project histories demonstrating how it leverages civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues. They included

• Russian-speaking population outreach. When West Hollywood became a city in 1984, many new immigrants from the former Soviet Union settled in the city and informal efforts for the city to reach out to that community were often unsuccessful.

Determined to break through the barrier, the city created the position of a Russian outreach coordinator, and over time, more Russian-speaking staff were hired by the city and in law enforcement. The city also created a Russian Advisory Board to integrate the community into the city’s decision-making process.

The advisory board and Russian-speaking staff members provide opportunities for community members to present their concerns, start dialogue, hear what is happening in the community and become involved in the programming of city activities. The city has created multiple programs and events targeted to the community, including Russian Arts and Culture Month, year-round arts events and tributes and memorials for Russian veterans and Holocaust survivors.

• LGBTQ Arts Festival. To complement the nearly 50-year history of Christopher Street West’s LA Pride in West Hollywood programming every June, the city developed its One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, which produces 40 days of mostly free events and art installations throughout the city.

The festival runs from Harvey Milk Day on May 22 through June 30 each year, which marks the end of Pride month. One City One Pride is organized by the city of West Hollywood’s Arts Division with the participation of the city’s Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, Transgender Advisory Board, Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission and community partners, and provides the community at large with a series of arts, film, cultural, and social activities that celebrate the creativity and diversity of the West Hollywood/Los Angeles LGBTQ community. 

• West Hollywood Homeless Initiative. The West Hollywood Homeless Initiative addresses homelessness with a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, collaborative response.

LGBTQ youth and adults come to West Hollywood seeking safety and self-determination, but sometimes they lack adequate support networks and end up without housing.

In addition, West Hollywood has a significant population of older adults living below the poverty line who are at risk of homelessness.

The West Hollywood Homeless Initiative, overseen by the city’s Strategic Initiatives Division, works to address these issues. This collaborative effort is led by city staff members, nonprofit social service providers, law enforcement and Los Angeles County agencies.

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LOS ANGELES — Southland elected officials and immigration-rights activists hailed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling June 27 that blocked a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

“This ruling is a victory for an accurate, comprehensive and complete census count,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, said.

“[President Donald] Trump is eager to silence the voices of vulnerable populations in our communities. That’s why he wanted a census citizenship question that will dramatically undercount these populations.

“An accurate and complete 2020 Census is essential to ensuring our communities receive the federal funds we need for countless critical programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, school lunches, highway funding, housing assistance and more,” she said. “While the court’s ruling is a victory for our nation, our House Democratic majority will stay vigilant, and fight any further efforts to sabotage a fair and accurate 2020 Census.”

In a ruling by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who was joined by the court’s liberals, the court said the Trump administration did not adequately explain its reason for adding the question. The ruling included a direct rebuke to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who last year decided to add a citizenship question to all forms for the first time since 1950.

“Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the.explanation the secretary gave for his decision,” Roberts said.

The court sent the matter back to a lower court for review.

In January, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New York blocked the citizenship question and issued a 277-page opinion describing how Ross had failed to follow the advice of census experts or explain his reasons for making a change that could lead to a severe undercount. Judges in San Francisco and Maryland handed down similar rulings.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the administration’s appeal in the case of Department of Commerce vs. New York on a fast-track basis because the government said it needed to begin printing census forms this summer.

On Twitter, Trump blasted the ruling.

“Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed country, cannot ask a basic question of citizenship in a very expensive, detailed and important census, in this case for 2020,” he wrote. “I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter.

“Can anyone really believe that as a great country we are not able to ask whether or not someone is a citizen. Only in America!”

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said that although the Trump administration has the ability to provide in court a more robust reason adding the question, he said he doesn’t think it will convince the court to overturn the ruling.

“This Supreme Court led by its chief justice said … this was, essentially, a contrived rationale, and so it’s been sent back for another rationale,” Feuer said. “But here’s the thing: There is no other rationale. There is nothing else going on here but an attempt to marginalize Latinos throughout the United States to make sure their voices don’t count. That’s what this has been about since the inception of this question.”

Several Los Angeles-area leaders gathered at Grand Park in downtown to hail the ruling.

“Los Angeles County will continue to collaborate with our tribal, city leaders … and especially our school districts and many others to ensure everybody is counted,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

Solis was joined by members of CHIRLA, the NALEO Educational Fund and the Advancement Project California in praising the decision.

“In light of [the] Supreme Court ruling, we all will stay determined and committed to a robust (census) outreach,” Solis said. “This ruling, as you know, will impact the lives of our most vulnerable.”

Solis said undocumented residents without full citizenship have been fearful of answering the question because it would require them to disclose their immigration status. The court’s decision comes just a few days after Trump pulled back the reins on another immigration sweep in major cities.

Without an accurate census, it may be difficult to receive federal funding for programs that can serve the entirety of the need-based population, Solis said.

An undercount in the state could also lead to a loss of representation in Congress.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner called the court’s ruling “the right thing for public education.”

“The census is used to determine the amount of funding Los Angeles Unified receives from federal programs,” he said. “Los Angeles Unified received $328 million in Title I funding and nearly $40 million for other federal education and health programs for the 2017-18 school year. If the question is eventually included, it could lead to a loss of as much as $20 million every year in Title I funding, which would pay for about 200 additional teachers in schools serving students with the highest needs.

“The citizenship question is not some abstract, legal issue. It has real consequences in our schools,” he said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was effusive.

“This is a hopeful day for our democracy. The census is the largest civic exercise in our country — an opportunity to show that everyone belongs here and everybody counts,” he said in a statement. “Instead, the administration tried to change who we are and write millions of people out of America’s story. Fortunately, the Supreme Court stopped this cynical ploy in its tracks, removing a major roadblock to participation in next year’s tally.”

Garcetti said he will work “to ensure that hard-to-count populations — immigrant households, communities of color, low-income residents, and our most vulnerable neighbors — and all Angelenos are counted in the 2020 Census.”

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WEST HOLLYWOOD — Film and television producer Tosca Musk will be honored with Single Mom Planet’s Visionary Single Mom of the Year Award at 6 p.m. June 21 at London West Hollywood.

“We are pleased to honor Tosca Musk and her exemplary work as a mother, nurturer, entertainment industry professional and business leader,” said Neferteri Plessy founder and CEO of Single Moms Planet. “She is an outstanding mother who is dedicated to her children, her family, her profession and community with a care and vision that enhances all of those around her. She is a true role model.”

Hosted by noted fashion designer Pia Gladys Perey, the event is presented by Single Moms Planet, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization created to assist struggling single mothers.

The Visionary Single Mom of the Year Award honors notable individuals who inspire, provide an example or give support to single mothers through their work, philanthropy or volunteerism. Proceeds from the event will go toward the Single Moms Planet Financial Literacy Program aimed at assisting single mothers to better manage their finances.

“I am honored to be recognized by Single Moms Planet and to have the opportunity to share my story and inspire others through this event,” Musk said.

Musk is a multi-award-winning filmmaker known for her directing, producing, writing and executive producing of feature films and leading-edge content. In 2017, Musk co-founded Passionflix, the premium streaming platform that produces and distributes movies specifically focused on the romance genre.

Musk launched her career at Alliance-Atlantis, Canada’s largest producer and distributor of feature films, becoming the director of development at Sela Ward’s Magnolia Films. She then moved into production, as Los Angeles segment producer for “TV Guide Television,” and subsequently stepped into her debut directing role with the feature film “Puzzled.” This marked the beginning of over 30 feature films, television movies and new media content.

Her television movie, “Holiday Engagement” provided Hallmark Channel with it’s highest-rated Sunday night movie in the network’s history, and her family feature, “Simple Things” garnered nine awards, including three “Best Picture” Awards and an “Audience” Award.

A mother of 6-year-old twins, Musk is a passionate advocate for women’s empowerment.

Event tickets are available at www.SingleMomsPlanet.com.

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The Los Angeles Independent by Independent Wire Services - 1M ago

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the second season of SwimLA, a program that provides Angelenos between the ages of 4 and 17 with opportunities to learn to swim, June 12 at the South Park swimming pool in South Los Angeles.

“When kids learn how to swim, they get a chance to do more than stay cool during the summer; they gain access to a life-saving skill that will keep them fit and strong,” Garcetti said. “If we want to build the healthiest city in the world, we have to start with our youngest Angelenos. This summer, we will meet that mission by putting a swimming lesson in reach for more than 40,000 children across Los Angeles.”

The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks enrolled 36,126 children in swim classes last year, double the program’s 2017 enrollment, according to the mayor’s office.

To reach this year’s goal, 51 city pools will offer lessons and expanded hours of operation. At 35 pools, the lessons will be free, while the remaining sites will offer subsidized programming.

“There are various forms of inequality, and SwimLA helps kids who live in underserved neighborhoods like the one I represent,” Councilman Curren Price said. “All families, regardless of income or ZIP code, are entitled to equal access to recreation and sports programs.”

The mayor’s office cited numbers from the U.S.A. Swimming Foundation, which reported 64% of black and 45 percent of Latino children don’t know how to swim, and 79% of children in households with incomes less than $50,000 have little or no access to swimming resources.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for children younger than 14 years old, according to the foundation.

Online enrollment for SwimLA is underway. More information can be found at www.swimla.org.

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LOS ANGELES — The city’s Board of Public Works has selected the design and architecture firm Gensler to design a master plan for the Hollywood Walk of Fame, kick-starting a $4 million investment into the national historic landmark that will serve as a catalyst to City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s “Heart of Hollywood” initiative.

The master plan will update the streetscape concept for the Walk of Fame with the goal of designing a more pleasant, cohesive and enjoyable experience along the public right-of-way. Based on the updated design, the consultant will recommend targeted construction projects using $3.8 million for infrastructure improvements, from an initial $4 million in seed money allocated by O’Farrell.

“The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a national historic landmark and my Heart of Hollywood initiative will give this community the attention it deserves,” O’Farrell said. “Our focus is on consistent attention to the necessary quality of life improvements for local residents and visitors. A great public corridor — one that is safe for pedestrians, visible at night, and responsive to community needs — can help catalyze even more investment in housing for all income levels as well as economic development.

This means good-paying jobs for our local workforce. Hollywood Boulevard can be this kind of place, which is why the city is making this strategic investment.”

Since luminaries Stanley Kramer and Joanne Woodward first received their stars decades ago, the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been an internationally recognized landmark that draws millions of visitors each year. It is the product of a unique joint partnership between the city of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which produces the iconic induction ceremonies featuring honorees chosen for their excellence in the fields of motion pictures, television, recording, radio, and live performance.

“The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to collaborate with the Heart of Hollywood initiative to preserve the Walk of Fame and make strategic improvements that will benefit generations to come,” said Rana Ghadban, president and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

“The Walk of Fame is an iconic and character-defining part of the historic Hollywood Boulevard District,” said Christy McAvoy of Hollywood Heritage, a local historic preservation organization. “Hollywood Heritage looks forward to being part of a coalition that will preserve the Walk and its historic environment for generations to come.”

“We are proud to play a stewardship role in the Walk of Fame,” said Kristopher Larson, president & CEO of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance. “Given the walk’s incredible allure, we know how critical it is to the image of Hollywood. We’re proud to partner with the city on this important initiative to ensure its protection and continued care.”

The Bureau of Engineering will be the lead city agency on the project, which also calls for participation from community stakeholders.

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LOS ANGELES — In a construction milestone for the Purple Line extension project, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced June 12 that a tunnel-boring machine has broken through to connect with the Wilshire/Western subway station in Koreatown.

“Our last [tunnel boring machines] at Wilshire/Western were powered down over 23 years ago, so we are definitely going ‘back to the future’ in our modern-day mission to extend this subway,” said county Supervisor and MTA Board Chair Sheila Kuehl, referring to a decades-long effort to extend the Purple Line farther west underneath Wilshire Boulevard.

“I’m glad that this enormously complex operation has gone off without a hitch,” she added. “It’s a testament to the ways in which the MTA and its contractors meticulously plan and execute their tunneling work.”

The 1,000-ton, 400-foot-long tunnel-boring machine, named “Soyeon,” burrowed through the last remaining cluster of soil 50 to 70 feet below Wilshire June 11. It’s one of two TBMs to mine about two miles of parallel subway tunnels between the future Wilshire/La Brea Station and the existing Wilshire/Western Station.

MTA officials said it took Soyeon, which was originally lowered into the ground at the MTA’s Wilshire/La Brea station site in the Miracle Mile area last fall, eight months — working five days a week, 20 hours a day — to reach the bulkhead wall at the face of the Wilshire/Western subway terminus.

Anticipating future westward subway expansion, the transit agency built the retaining wall as part of construction of the station, which originally opened in 1996.

The second TBM named “Elsie,” which was launched six weeks after Soyeon, is also expected to break through to Wilshire/Western later this month. When done tunneling this project section, both TBMs will have mined nearly half a million cubic yards of earth.

“Our tunneling achievements to date prove that we can successfully mine through some of the most challenging conditions that any subway project anywhere in the world is likely to face,” MTA CEO Phillip A. Washington said.

After tunneling this leg, both TBMs will be used to tunnel west to future station sites at Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. The machines are expected to reach the end of the four-mile subway section in Beverly Hills by mid-2020.

Following the tunneling operation, the MTA said it will focus on completing construction of its first three subway stations over the next three years.

The $9.8 billion, nine-mile underground subway project will extend the Purple Line from its current terminus in Koreatown to the Westwood/VA Hospital in West Los Angeles. The first section is scheduled to be completed in 2023, the second in 2025 and the third in 2027.

People can follow the TBMs’ progress on Twitter at www.twitter.com/purplelineext.

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