Earlier this month a group of activist pitched tents in front of the former Rampart police station in Historic Filipinotown as part of “Reclaim Rampart,” an effort to turn the empty and boarded up facility into either a community center, affordable housing – even a community garden. Anne Hars with the L.A. Right to Housing Collective said the station serves as a symbol of police violence and corruption associated with the Rampart scandal. “We think it’s time to change the symbol of that time period – the old Rampart Police Station – into something that fights crime by giving opportunities to the people of the community,” said Hars, whose group is holding a community meeting Tuesday night.
But, as far as the LAPD is concerned, the old Rampart station at Temple Street and Benton Way is not up for grabs. In fact, beginning in January, preliminary work will begin on a $17.6 million project will to convert the approximately 45-year-old station into the headquarters for the department’s SWAT Team and other elements of the Metro Division.
The station has been vacant since 2008 when the LAPD opened a new and larger Rampart Division Station on Sixth Street.
The renovation project will allow the Metro Division to leave behind cramped quarters now shared with the Central Division downtown, said Thom Brennan, Commanding Officer of Facilities Management. The project will completely renovate the approximately 25,000-square building, which will be strengthened to better withstand earthquakes and outfitted with all new electrical, plumbing and ventilation systems. In January, workers are scheduled to begin demolition of the interior but most of the construction activity won’t begin until probably the end of the 2012, Brennan said. “The interior will completely be redone,” said Brennan. “The City Council approved that.”
As far as community space goes, the only portion of the new building that will be accessible to the public will be a small substation staffed by the Rampart Division.
Hars, with the housing collective, said the city never approached residents about potential alternatives. “We think the money could be better spent building a community arts education center, a community garden, affordable housing, etc.,” Hars said by email. “If SWAT needs a new building they should start holding some bake sales and go door to door selling chocolate. We promise to buy some.”
Har’s group has scheduled a Reclaim Rampart meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m. to solicit ideas for the property.