Thursday, June 30, 2005

Unafraid to dream: the second inaugural

With my family and my partner Amy Wakeland joining me on stage before a standing-room-only crowd at the Barnsdall Art Park on Olive Hill, I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, the Constitution of the State of California, and the Charter of the City of Los Angeles. My friends from throughout the district and the city came to celebrate the work weÂ’ve done together in the past four years and to commit ourselves to the work we have in front of us. We were joined by dancers and singers, veterans, the leaders of community groups, unions, immigrant restaurant owners and immigrant hotel workers, councilmembers, the mayor-elect and the outgoing mayor, and my CD13 staff.

Thank you to all who came, performed, and spoke. Through each task we have undertaken together to each joke or quiet moment we have shared, I have been honored to have you by—and on—my side.

In my remarks, I asked that we commit ourselves not only to work hard and to work together, but also once again to dream. Below is a short excerpt; the entire speech can be found here.

Four years ago, I made a compact with the residents of the Thirteenth District. It was simple: I would keep my eyes on the ground, but never be afraid to lift them up to the sky. I said we would focus on the cracks on the sidewalks but we would be unafraid to dream again.

Some say change happens all at once. Others say that it comes slowly and over time. In four years I have seen both. I have seen lives change in a moment in the smile of a child with the turning on of a splash-pad in a new park, and I have seen the true grit of neighborhoods digging in for a multi-year project to improve their main street.

But perhaps it is not the pace of change that as is critical as the scale of change. Change does not happen in an entire city in one fell swoop. It comes one block at a time. With one idea, one house meeting, one interaction between neighbors, one visit from a city department. And that’s where we have focused—one constituent call, one case at a time, one leadership training, one graffiti paint out at a time until the many, many small acts of change collectively make up an unstoppable tide of transformation.

Our promise four years ago was simple but audacious, for we live in a skeptical, even cynical time. A time that tells us that our toughest problems are insurmountable, that our best years are behind us, that government is a negative force.

But I believe behind every cynic lies a powerful idealist. And I know that today I address a room full of idealism.

We also live in an age defined by velocity, an age in which we live in anxiety of how full our email boxes have become, in which it is difficult to contain, let alone keep up with forces of change around us that seem beyond our control.

On Earth Day in the Arctic a couple of months ago, I heard an Inuit leader say that in her lifetime her people have gone from the ice age to the space age.

It is against this backdrop of our repressed idealism and the rush of life that we have sought to make our communities strong and to make our dreams real.


Atwater Village Farmer's Market

The Atwater Village Farmer's Market has only been open a few weeks and it's already really popular! Thank you to SEE-LA and to the Atwater Village community for helping plan and execute this valuable and nutritional added community resource. I made sure to attend the inaugural market day and I'm sure I'll be back for more. For those of you who haven't been yet, the market is located on the Wells Fargo Bank Parking Lot at 3250 Glendale Boulevard, and will be open every Sunday, rain or shine, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Picture courtesy of Franklin Avenue
Picture from the Atwater Village Farmer's Market courtesy of

It. Is. On.

The Lotus Festival is right around the corner. You can see the lotuses starting to bloom on Echo Park Lake. You can almost smell the delicious aromas wafting from the dozens of vendor stands that will set up shop in Echo Park the weekend of July 9th. And you can almost taste the sweet, sweet taste of crushing one's rivals in glorious waterborne athletic competition.

The Lotus Festival boat races between elected officials and community groups are one of the highlights of the festival, and we will be racing our Echo Park neighbor Council District 1 team for the fifth year in a row. The record, if I recall correctly, is 3-1 in our favor. Last year, not only did we good-naturedly hand our opponents' hats to them, but we also tied for first in the elected officials category with the mayor's office.

Of course, it doesn't come without practice. At about this time every year, the CD1 team starts a whisper campaign that our team has been seen practicing. We're proud of it: Success, whether on the council floor, in the neighborhoods, or on the water takes hard work. So look closely, Team Reyes, at the picture below. Because if you don't get on the water soon, that's what you'll see on Race Day: our backs and our wake. We love working with CD1 in Echo Park, but come race day, may the best team win!

For details on the 2005 Lotus Festival, see this page.



HCNC to Hollywood: Grow smart

The Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council has come forward with its development recommendations for the Hollywood Community Plan, and I want to recognize the thought and effort with which they went about crafting their input. While many observers of city government fear that neighborhood councils are reactionary and thoughtlessly anti-development, the CHNC's proposals prove what I have been consistently arguing about the councils: that the more they are brought into the process and given real authority, the more they will move beyond reflexive "no" positions and into an understanding of the necessities of managing a growing city. The CHNC's recommendations endorse zone changes that encourage mixed-use development at a 3:1 Floor Area Ratio and with a 75-foot height limit—a reasonable guideline that acknowledges that urban growth must take place with reasonable constraints to meet the needs of Los Angeles in the 21st century.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hollywood Teen Community Project

Congratulations and farewell to the Hollywood Teen Community Project. After 8 years of activism and program activities around lowering teen pregnancy rates, the project has closed its doors. (The original grant, from the California Wellness Foundation, was only for a limited time.) Located in the Adolescent Medicine division of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, the program was enormously visible and successful. During the time it was in operation, teen pregnancy declined by two-thirds. It couldn't have happened without the staffing or support of Susan Rabinowitz, Jenna Baumann, Tracy Levine and many others, too. Thank you!

A Sad Day at Rosemont

On June 30th, we will say goodbye to Brad Rumble, Rosemont Elementary's profoundly talented assistant principal. It's at least some comfort to know that Brad, an educator at Rosemont for 15 years, will just move south a few blocks to become principal of Leo Politi Elementary at 11th and Hoover. Congratulations, Brad! At Rosemont, Brad has been an active partner in my efforts to clean up CD13's graffiti and to increase the number of parks and place to play for our district's children. I am sure that he will be as much of a community leader in the CD1 neighborhoods

around Leo Politi. In fact, I might just let Councilmember Reyes know what a catch he's getting....

Friday, June 17, 2005

Stay Alert—Crime Tips

I periodically receive tips from the Los Angeles Police Department that I like to pass along. Here is their advice on avoiding carjackings. In all of Los Angeles, there were 225 carjackings in the January-June 13 period of 2005, down 9.3% from last year. Don't panic, but stay safe.

There are many precautionary steps that you can take that will help ensure your safety. Before you enter your car, make sure to pay attention to your surroundings. If someone is loitering near your car, wait until the individual leaves. Most importantly, trust your instincts. If something makes you feel uneasy, get into the car quickly, lock the doors, and drive away.

Once in the car, keep your windows and doors locked, and if you come to a stop, leave enough space to maneuver around other cars. If a suspicious individual approaches your car, calmly drive away. If you see a stranger looming near your place of residence or work, drive around the block until the person leaves. Additionally, try to drive with someone, especially in areas unfamiliar to you.

When getting out of your car, try to park in well-lighted areas, and avoid parking near dumpsters, woods, and large vans. Don’t leave valuables in plain view, and even if you’re in a rush, try to check your surroundings before you leave.

If you are involved in a carjacking, remember that safety comes first. If you are threatened with a gun, give up your car, leave the area as quickly as possible, try to remember what the carjacker looked like, and report the crime immediately to the police.

Finally, there are proactive steps you can take to make sure that a carjacking does not happen in your neighborhood. Contact your Neighborhood Watch, local law enforcement agencies, and others to get the word out about prevention.

I can't overstate the importance of reporting crime. To contact your local police station, call 3-1-1 or contact my office.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Earthshaking announcement

Donald Wilson, Century Plaza

Donald Wilson, Century Plaza

Only minutes before an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale shook City Hall, I joined hotel owners and hotel workers on the steps of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Led by mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, the two sides announced that they had ratified a new contract, that the strike and boycott were over, and that Los Angeles was back in business! Representatives from LA, Inc. were on hand to make it clear that Los Angeles is still ideal for conventions and travel.

I offer my sincerest congratulations and commendations to the two sides, who were able to reach a mutually agreeable contract that will get them to November 2006, and to mayor-elect Villaraigosa as well, who reinforced in late-night negotiating sessions that a protracted strike and lockout would hurt us all.

(For more on the actual earthquake—which has no known connection to the hotel contract—check out where six different metrobloggers posted within seven minutes of the quake.)

An earthshaking combination: Bonaventure Hotel owner Peter Zen with UNITE HERE leader Maria Elena Durazo, flanked by me, Bernard Parks, and Jan Perry

An earthshaking combination: Bonaventure Hotel owner Peter Zen with UNITE HERE leader Maria Elena Durazo, flanked by me, Bernard Parks, and Jan Perry

Homelessness Census

A substantial part of my job in CD13 is, I have learned, to deal with tragedy. The council office receives prompt calls about lethal fires and horrific crimes and accidents. We can often arrange aid, warn neighbors or at least call attention to crises.

But not all tragedies are alike. Some unfold over decades of neglect, abetted by silence and the unforeseen consequences of seemingly sound decision-making. This morning the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has announced the results of their homeless census, undertaken earlier this year. The numbers are both staggering and sadly unsurprising.

On three consecutive nights, LAHSA counted more than 90,000 homeless people in 512 L.A. County census tracts. This would constitute a city larger than 70 of the 88 cities in the county. The resources we will have to commit to these people, including 20,000 individuals in families, are many times more what we have done so far.

And, as I mentioned, we are not completely surprised; for years, homeless advocates used an estimate of 83,000 homeless individuals in Los Angeles County. Many thought that the number couldn't be correct; that a proper count would prove the number lower, more manageable. Now we have counted. The number is even higher. (Interestingly, for the Los Angeles Continuum of Care, which excludes Long Beach, Glendale and Pasadena, the number is uncannily close: 83,347 on one night.)

So what do we do now? We aren't starting from nowhere; the establishment of LAHSA turned around years of fighting between the city and the county to avoid responsibility. Other institutions like People Assisting the Homeless, New Image Shelter, and the L.A. Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness (to name only a few) are making strides and building support for change. For my pary, I sit on the board of Bring L.A. Home, and I have helped bring new shelter beds to Hollywood, which serves the largest homeless population outside of downtown. But clearly, a quantum leap of effort, energy and resources is needed. So tell me what you think: what's next?

Councilmembers with New Image board members, from left: Darick Simpson, Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry, Brenda Wilson, Hue Hollins, Wendy Greuel, Lynda Moran, Mae Wood, Faye Stamper-Watkins

Councilmembers with New Image board members, from left: Darick Simpson, Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry, Brenda Wilson, Hue Hollins, Wendy Greuel, Lynda Moran, Mae Wood, Faye Stamper-Watkins

March for Lesbian Visibility

I addressed the 11th annual March for Lesbian Visibility, an event dedicated to declaring Silver Lake the "Girls' Town" equivalent to WeHo's "Boys' Town" (though let it be said that Silver Lake's traditions of diversity, innovation and harmony apply to every human being equally). The march was a festive display of women's pride and I hope to be back next year!

Eric speaks to the march

Eric speaks to the march

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Silver Lake Sequoia

Behold the mighty Sequoia sempervirens! You might also know the saplings springing up on West Silver Lake Drive as redwoods. They are the same species as the big, old evergreens that already ring the reservoir. These handsome, young specimens are relatively slow-growing but will eventually make as dramatic a green skyline as their elders whom they join.

Slightly to the north on the same street (not pictured below), you will find smaller examples of Geijera Parviflora (Austrailian Willow), selected for their compact size and bright evergeen foliage. We've also planted a few jacarandas and Chinese flame trees here and there to break up the street picture a little bit. Several of you have asked for trees to plant in front of your homes. This fall we might arrange a community tree planting and do just that.

Sequoias rising

Sequoias rising

Business at the Airport

I had the pleasure of addressing the Airport Minority Advisory Council at their annual conference at the Hollywood Renaissance. No matter what adjustments are made to Alternative D, the airport will remain a fulcrum of our local economy. AMAC brings together government officials, airport executives and minority and women business owners to make sure that LAWA and similar economic engines are open and dynamic networks, not closed-off systems.

Photo by Leroy Downs

Photo by Leroy Downs

Friday, June 10, 2005

Camino Nuevo

Hooray for Camino Nuevo Charter Academy! CD13's newest charter school, a high school, broke ground at 3550 Temple Street this week. Congratulations to Philip Lance, president and co-founder; Ana Ponce, the Academy's executive director; Steve Seaford, who will be the principal of the new high school; and Anita Landecker from Excellent Education Development, whose assistance and participation has been invaluable.

Breaking new ground for Camino Nuevo's high school

Breaking new ground for Camino Nuevo's high school

Camino Nuevo

Hooray for Camino Nuevo Charter Academy! CD13's newest charter school, a high school, broke ground at 3550 Temple Street this week. Congratulations to Philip Lance, president and co-founder; Ana Ponce, the Academy's executive director; Steve Seaford, who will be the principal of the new high school; and Anita Landecker from Excellent Education Development, whose assistance and participation has been invaluable.

Breaking new ground for Camino Nuevo's high school

Breaking new ground for Camino Nuevo's high school

Calling all preservationists

Remember the Briles house? The historic home whose demolition was stopped by the Cultural Heritage Commission? Well, the owner would like to sell to a preservation-minded homeowner. If you are interested in investing in Ambassador Hill's heritage, contact my Planning Deputy Alison Becker at (213) 473-7013 or via e-mail.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hyatt West Hollywood on Strike

On the picket lines

On the picket lines

Hotel workers in Los Angeles have decided that they have endured enough mistreatment. Early this morning, the workers of the Hyatt West Hollywood walked off their shifts in protest of alleged unfair labor practices, including the illegal withholding of health care. I visited them on the picket line this morning. This afternoon at 5 pm, they are holding a massive rally in front of the hotel. Here's why, in the words of housekeeper Morena Hernandez:

When the hotels started charging me for my healthcare I was really upset. I am a single mother with three kids. I am already struggling as it is. While I was paying for the health insurance, I had to cut back on groceries and bus tokens for my daughter to use to get to school. Ten dollars a week might be just a little for some people, but it's a lot for me. I want that money back.

Many of you know that I have long believed that strong unions are among the best anti-poverty programs we have. CD13 residents have been exceptionally supportive of the hotel workers' fight for justice, leaving bags and bags of food and dry goods at my field office to help the workers in case of a strike. Please continue your support this afternoon! If you can't make it today but would like to support, please contact my labor deputy to sign up for picket support.

Follow this link for more details...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Apocalypse? Not. (The Living Wage Ordinance pays off)

When Los Angeles passed the Living Wage Ordinance, many predicted dire consequences. Businesses would close or lay off workers, and those who remained wouldn't see little benefit if any. A study released last Friday determined our city's ordinance gave a considerable raise to 10,000 mostly lower-income workers. It showed that raising standards for service workers who are employed on city contracts or at city-leased space did not cause notable unemployment or drive firms out of business. And it also showed that there is more work to do to alleviate poverty in our city. I wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Daily News explaining why living wage laws are good policy.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Cybele at noticed a 1.9-level earthquake with an epicenter near the corner of Tyburn and Hollydale early Saturday evening. In case there's a bigger one, you might want to be prepared courtesy of the LAFD's Earthquake Preparedness Handbook. You can see the shorter version in the Sunday L.A. Times Magazine cover story.While you're reading that, I'll find a seismologist who can tell me whether we need to be concerned about quakes in Atwater; for the record, anything below 2 on the Richter scale is rarely felt or noticed.

Friday, June 03, 2005

E-News for May 2005

May's E-news has gone out the door. It compiles blog items from recent weeks and adds to them an introduction acknowledging some transitions in City Hall, notably the departures from our CD13 staff of Atwater Village Field Representative James Omahen and “Green” Legislative Deputy Glen Dake. As many of you know, Jim and Glen both played indispensable roles in everything that we've been able to accomplish together in these short four years. They have both decided to move on to different pursuits and new adventures. I'm very sad to see them go, but as they are Atwater Village and Silver Lake residents respectively, I look forward to working with them in the future. Good luck, Jim and Glen!

If you didn't get the the e-news in your inbox, why not subscribe today? You can also read it online here.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Hollywood Fire Pics

Two of my colleagues called me out of a budget meeting in City Hall on Tuesday afternoon to tell me that they could see a what appeared to be a giant fire in Hollywood. Luckily, the office tower at 6290 Sunset Boulevard was no "Towering Inferno". The fire was only on the roof. By the time I made it to the scene, it had been contained, injuring no one and doing minimal damage to property. It appeared to have started from some welding on the roof. CIM, the new owner of the building, has been renovating the former office tower into an apartment building. The fire only damaged parts of the building that were being overhauled.

Special kudos go to the LAFD, whose firefighters were able to put out the blaze in 22 minutes flat. And this after climbing the entire tower on foot! Pictures below were taken by Chief Williams on the drive up to the blaze. Thanks, chief, and thanks to all of the first responders.