Barack Obama honored with street in L.A.

Wave Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council voted 15-0 Aug. 28 to rename Rodeo Road as Obama Boulevard in honor of former President Barack Obama.

“We’re thrilled that Angelenos and visitors will forever be reminded of the legacy of President @BarackObama when traveling across L.A.,” Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted after the vote.

City Council President Herb Wesson proposed the name change last year and noted that then-candidate Obama held a campaign rally at Rancho Cienega Recreation Center on Rodeo Road in 2007. The 3.5-mile street runs from near the Culver City border east to Mid-City and is not to be confused with upscale Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson said the change of Rodeo Road to Obama Boulevard is a positive step forward for the black community. But Hutchinson also called on the City Council to make the change something more than symbolic.

“The change to Obama Boulevard, while welcome, will have greater meaning beyond symbolism if followed by major new initiatives by the mayor and the city council to revitalize the community,” Hutchinson said. “That means encouraging public and private investment in more quality stores, businesses, housing rehabilitation and increased employment opportunities.”

The street is in Wesson’s council district and his motion mentioned it is home to “president’s row,” a series of streets named after former presidents which includes Washington Boulevard, Adams Boulevard and Jefferson Boulevard.

Wesson noted that the council vote came on the 55th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famou s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“President Obama is no stranger to Los Angeles,” Wesson’s motion stated. “He began his college education in Los Angeles, as an undergraduate student at Occidental College from 1979 to 1981 before leaving for Columbia University.”

Obama made 26 visits to Los Angeles and Orange counties as president.

Also named in honor of Obama are a portion of the Ventura (134) Freeway between Pasadena and Glendale and a charter school in the unincorporated Willowbrook area.