Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Marsh Park

Once a civic punchline, the Los Angeles River is quickly shining through as the “emerald necklace” of our city. With Marsh Park, which I dedicated with Supervisor Gloria Molina in a well-attended ceremony, we see yet another glint of green, this one opposite Taylor Yards. Marsh Park joins the pocket parks that I've been proud to dedicate at Elysian Valley's street ends since I’ve been in office.

In addition to providing a shady, green place to sit (on a snake! see pic), Marsh Park incorporates an innovative approach to managing stormwater runoff from the neighborhood. Through a section of concrete drainage pipe that has since been removed, stormwater used to empty, untreated, into the river through the park. The ground has been lowered so that the dirty water coming from the city storm drains filters through the ground. The park has been replanted with native marshland and upland plants, which will assist with water infiltration and encourage birds, mammals, and insects such as butterflies to inhabit the area.

Elysian Valley residents Ray and Cecilia Dominguez deserve special thanks for their part in this. They opened their home for community meetings to gather input. Now they can see the fruit of their labor, right around the corner from their home!

I should also thank the teenagers from ArtShare who created the frog, snake, and turtle for sitting and playing on. The young adults who make up the Los Angeles Conservation Corps built the park. And the project could not have been done without the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy/MRCA, which continues to push for a greenbelt along the Los Angeles River.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A woman of distinction

Senior Field Deputy Baydsar Thomasian has been recognized by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce as a "Woman of Distinction", and will be properly celebrated at the Chamber's annual Women of Distinction luncheon on Tuesday, May 23rd. In service to the 13th Council District, Baydsar predates even me: she started as a field deputy for now-Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg when Jackie was CD13's representative, and began building real relationships with residents and businesses in Hollywood and throughout city government. She consistently wows constituents and city workers alike with her commitment to the community and her delightful personality. You can't walk past more than three stars on the Walk of Fame without meeting someone that Baydsar has helped out. She's also my chief liaison to the Armenian community, and she was an invaluable guide when I travelled to that country last year.
And for those of you haven't met her yet: it's pronounced "BYE-tzar".

UPDATE: Baydsar accepted her award in style and with grace, despite the best efforts of her cheering section.


A Walk on the River

With members of the Atwater Village Neighborhood Watch and other Atwater Villagers, I went out for an evening walk, organized by Barry Shapiro, on the Los Angeles River. We started at the Ferncroft entrance by the Red Car River Park and walked towards Fletcher (and almost made it all the way there!). Kids from the Inside Out Community Arts program displayed their artwork along the river bank; I hope we can bring that program to Atwater Village and Glassell Park very soon.

About 45 neighbors joined us, including gang intervention specialists from L.A. Bridges who informally answered questions about gang problems in the Atwater Village area. We walked until just after sunset. We hope to do it again soon.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wise Choices for a Safer City

Budget time, grueling though it is, is one of the most concentrated, edifying periods of down-and-dirty work. Even though this is the first year I have not been on the Budget and Finance committee (I changed my legislative priorities when I assumed the Council Presidency), I still had the pleasure of chairing the Council's budget deliberations, which concluded today after an all-day marathon session, in a unanimous "aye" vote for the FY 06-07 Budget.

The $6.7 billion budget, proposed by the Mayor and adopted with amendments by the City Council, addresses the city’s critical issues of housing, traffic and public safety and shores up its finances for the year ahead. My colleagues (with the invaluable initial contribution of the Mayor) have produced a budget that gives us safer streets and safer finances, and I’m proud of our work.

Here are some of its highlights:

Public safety
  • In order to fund the expansion of the force by up to 1,000 additional police officers in the next five years, the council approved the proposal in the mayor’s budget to decrease the trash collection fee subsidy. This should bring in over $20 million in FY 06-07.
  • $251,000 set aside for Neighborhood Prosecutor program around schools
  • Additional funds for gang prevention, intervention and reduction programs
Fiscal safety
  • Council raised the city’s reserve fund to 4.3% ($185.8 million), in an effort to reach the policy goal of 5%; that includes a 25% increase in the Emergency Reserve Fun from 2% to 2.5%


  • Council set aside $1.05 million to maintain the current number of emergency shelter beds, with matching funds to be sought from L.A. County.
  • With an infusion of $12 million in general funds, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund will reach an all-time high of $112 million (including the $50-million permanent supportive housing project)
  • A $957,000 study of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance to guide policy around preserving housing opportunities

  • Council increased by $2.2 million funding for traffic signal installation and left-turn arrow signals
Other significant changes to the budget include: MICLA funding for small capital equipment in Rec & Parks; 27 positions to restore and expand the 50-50 sidewalk Program; allocation funds to support the two-way public testimony program for Van Nuys City Hall; and setting aside $300,000 for a strategic plan for aging services.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mother's Day

A few months ago, this letter landed in my inbox. I've been saving it. I know a Mother's Day appreciation should be about how much my mother has done for me personally, but I'll save that for off-blog and share how proud I am of the effect my mom, Sukey Garcetti, has had on many of the people around her.


About twenty years ago, I had the opportunity of delivering your family's mail when you lived at 5064 Gaviota Avenue in Encino. Because of the large volume of mail for the family, and because of the need for the certified letters to be signed, I often came to your door and became acquainted with you and your family. It was a long walk to the back of that flag lot, but I always looked forward to seeing your mother again. She always greeted me with a smile and a kind thought. When the holidays arrived, your mother handed me a carefully wrapped present -- a book. She had perceived that I had a literary appreciation. That insight from her enabled me to become more introspective about many ideas, and a couple of years later, when offered one of eight vacant teaching positions, I chose English. During the intervening sixteen years that I have been a teacher, I have had no regrets about my decision to find value in story. My only regret was failing to adequately thank your mother for her kindness.


(Of course, I've since passed this on to mom, who remembers our old mailman well.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Clean Money: Taking It Around Town

Last night, more than 120 people packed into Colfax Avenue Elementary School in North Hollywood to support the idea of a Clean Money Campign for Los Angeles. I've posted before about the proposal I've introduced with Wendy Greuel and Bill Rosendahl to promote a system of full public financing of local elections here in Los Angeles, but last night was the first community meeting since our motion moved forward.

The outpouring of interest was tremendous. The indomitable Patt Morrison emceed the evening, which consisted of a panel discussion with some of the brightest minds on public financing: Ethics Commission Vice President and longtime LA Times journalist Bill Boyarsky, Executive Director of the California Clean Money Campaign Susan Lerner, attorney Cary Davidson, and Center for Government Studies President Bob Stern.

If you are interested in learning more about public financing of local elections, here are some informational links:

Our next community meeting will be at 6:30PM in Venice on May 30th at Venice High School. You can RSVP early to my office by emailing my legislative deputy Molly Rysman.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Police Station Groundbreaking

With Chief Bratton and Councilmembers Herb Wesson, Ed Reyes, and Tom LaBonge, I dug up the first few shovelfuls of ceremonial dirt to make room for our city's 20th area police station. Located at 1130 S. Vermont Ave (in council district 1), the new station will serve parts of CDs 1, 4, 10, and 13. In CD13, it will serve the area bounded by Melrose to the north, 3rd Street to the south, Vermont to the east, and Gower to the west. The station will be built with voter-approved bond funds from Proposition Q and will serve 139,000 residents in a area six miles square, comprising East Hollywood, Koreatown, Pico Union, Wilshire Center, and Country Club Park. Look for it to open its doors in 2008, at which point CD13 will be served by four different police stations (add the new one to Rampart, Hollywood, and Northeast Divisions). Chief Bratton, City Engineer Gary Moore, and my fellow councilmembers have personally put a lot of work into opening this badly-needed station. Thank you all.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Congratulations, Andrew

Just recieved word over the wire (OK, the e-mail) that Governor Schwarzenegger has appointed Los Angeles's always-helpful Andrew Adelman to the Seismic Safety Commission. Andrew has been great to work with in his capacity as as general manager of LA's Department of Building and Safety. In addition to his work for us, he belongs to the Structural Engineers Association of California and has previously served on the California Building Officials Seismic Safety Commission. Congratulations! (In the pic, Andrew is the one on the right who's explaining the permitting process to the Urban Land Institute fellows.)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Atwater Ranch Market, community clean-up

Five years ago, a young city council candidate named Eric Garcetti helped scrape paint off of a nondescript wall in Atwater Village so that a muralist could help brighten Glendale Boulevard. Some five years later, the mural looks great, and Atwater Village residents are as invested as ever in keeping their community beautiful. Thank you to all who came out to the Atwater Village community clean-up over Earth Day weekend.

Joga Bonito

On an incredibly beautiful day in Glassell Park, I met up with Councilmember José Huizar; soccer stars Brandi Chastain, whose World Cup triumph resulted in The Ripped-Off Jersey Seen 'Round The World, and Landon Donovan of the L.A. Galaxy; and soccer superstars the Anahuak Soccer League to open up the "Joga Bonito" artificial turf field at Glassell Park that was donated by Nike. To see the faces of the kids and their parents as Glassell Park got the first field of this sort in the city was nothing less than magical. As Brandi Chastain spoke, one mother with her daughter from Anahuak (where more than 300 girls now play) shouted out, "My daughter's the next one!" I have no doubt that she is—and I can guarantee that Councilmember Huizar and I, who got a chance to try out the new field along with the kids, aren't going to give her too much of a run for her money.

Bellevue is back

I'm not the first blogger whose turf includes Silver Lake to notice that the wonderful Bellevue Park is once again open to the public. Closed since 2004, the park won a grant of $1.7 million in voter-approved Prop K for Kids funds to restore its irrigation system and improve drainage on the fields. We were also able to improve the jogging path and light the park safely and effectively. I joined Mayor Villaraigosa for a grand re-opening and got to throw out the first pitch of the Little League game. Click on the picture at right to see a few more Bellevue shots on my flickr page.

May 1

It was inspiring to join the rallies yesterday. And of course, it was impossible not to join the rallies; the street symphony poured over into the Budget Committee's discussion of the Cultural Affairs Department's 2006-7 funding, and it was hard to stay indoors once the crowd began to swell outside my office window. I wove my way through the crowd and ran into a few friends (and made some new ones as well). Later in the day, I joined my colleagues Bill Rosendahl and José Huizar on the stage at City Hall, and still later on in the afternoon I joined the Mayor, the Speaker of the Assembly and many others at the end of the Wilshire march. It was the most enormous privilege to be up there and to be able to see what the rest of the walking city could only feel: the hundreds of thousands that, once the march had reached its end, still stretched back past the horizon, more than a mile back to Rossmore.

My grandfather, Salvador Delgado Garcetti, was born in the city of Parral, Chihuahua. He married a woman named Juanita Iberri, whose parents came to the United States from Guaymas, Sonora. (Many people think I'm Italian because of my last name. My Italian ancestor immigrated to Mexico first. I have a very inclusive family tree.)

And this is how it starts for so many of us, this necessary of act of looking to the past without amnesia and to the future without blindness: by recalling our families, their names, the places of their birth, the oceans they crossed (my mother's family is from Eastern Europe), and the deserts where they left their sweat and tears.

Every generation gets to choose whether it will learn the lessons of the past or forget them. Every generation gets to shape what it will stand for under the banner of the American flag. So let us choose that the American flags we waved on May 1st will stand for justice, for inclusion, for fairness, and for our right and our obligation to speak, and to be heard.

Photo by John Parres, via Boing Boing

Monday, May 01, 2006