Downtown L.A.’s Grand Park to be renamed in honor of longtime Supervisor Gloria Molina
Clad in Gloria Molina’s signature royal purple, Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to rename downtown’s Grand Park in honor of the trailblazing politician who played an instrumental role in creating the green space.
The dedication comes a week after Molina, 74, said she was living with “very aggressive” terminal cancer. The announcement prompted Supervisor Hilda Solis to write a motion to rename Grand Park as Gloria Molina Grand Park. A plaque will be placed in the park in her honor.
Molina made history throughout her time in politics as the first Latina elected to the state Assembly, the Los Angeles City Council and the county Board of Supervisors. Molina spent 23 years on the Board of Supervisors, where she represented the 1st District from 1991 to 2014. Molina’s district stretched from Koreatown, Pico-Union and East Los Angeles all the way east to Pomona and included much of the San Gabriel Valley.
Molina’s family, friends and colleagues all recounted Tuesday the fight Molina waged to create the park, which stretches three blocks between City Hall and the Music Center. The soon-to-be-renamed 12-acre park doubles as the Civic Center’s grassy spine, connecting the County Hall of Administration to City Hall.
“It was her insistence, her tenacity and her perseverance that kept the project going,” said Molina’s husband, Ron Martinez, who said his wife was bedridden and wasn’t able to attend Tuesday’s meeting. “Gloria followed her instincts.”
When Molina became the first Latina on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in 1991, my mom proudly told me that she was a history maker we should root for, even though we lived in Anaheim.
Molina pushed the city and county to create the park as part of the Grand Avenue redevelopment project, which saw two high-rise towers erected across from Walt Disney Concert Hall.
“She fought so hard to redevelop a once-concrete jungle outside the Hall of Administration into an open green space, which has been a beacon of hope for many artists and families gatherings,” said Solis, who, like her colleagues, had clipped a bright purple extension into her hair in Molina’s honor.
Former Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who served with Molina, recalled how Molina, whom he called “indefatigable,” had refused to let the developer delay the pledge to put at least $50 million toward the park. When the Great Recession hit, the developer kept trying to delay it.
But Molina wouldn’t budge.
“Then they came back another another year: ‘We need to defer this, this is ridiculous. We can’t spend $50 million on a park when we can’t even break ground on our project.’ She said no,” Yaroslavsky said. “And finally, they just gave up ... The park would not have been built but for her.”
While the supervisors were meeting Tuesday morning, Mayor Karen Bass made a surprise appearance in the City Council chamber to honor what she called a “bittersweet moment.”
Bass joined Tuesday’s council meeting to endorse a resolution supporting the county’s plans introduced by Councilmember Monica Rodriguez.
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“As I stand here as the first woman mayor of Los Angeles, it should be very clear that I stand on the shoulders of Gloria Molina,” Bass said.
Los Angeles’ first female mayor said she had not known the city’s first Latina council member well, but that she had long taken inspiration from Molina from afar.
“Although we didn’t know each other, I was watching her. I was an activist that never envisioned myself being in elected office, but I watched her in these chambers. I watched her as she took on the battle relentlessly, and very powerfully,” Bass said of Molina, adding that “she helped shape my resolution, my determination and my leadership.”
Rodriguez also introduced a city proposal with Councilmember Kevin de León to rename the mid-block pedestrian crosswalks through Grand Park between Temple and 1st streets as the “Gloria Molina Legacy Pathway,” according to De León’s office
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