Monday, October 30, 2006

A City Mourns

As representative of the 13th district, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most extraordinary individuals in the country. From sanitation experts to public safety officers, the strength of Los Angeles can be found in the individuals that have devoted their lives to making the city a sparkling example of social justice, economic prowess, and community development.

It was with great sadness that I attended the funeral of LAPD Officer Landon Dorris, a member of the Northeast Division who was killed in the line of duty when conducting a routine traffic investigation. A three-year veteran of the department, Officer Dorris achieved his dream of joining the LAPD after having served for 6 years in the California Highway Patrol. Father of three-year-old Landon, Jr. and one-year-old Brandon, Officer Dorris embodied the very best qualities of a father and a police officer. His presence will be missed in our community and in our hearts.

Officer Dorris was not the only loss sustained by the City family. Angela Bowden, a long-time researcher for the Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) organization, also left us too soon, passing away at the young age of 30. After dropping out of high school, she returned to Cal State Northridge, where she earned a degree in Deaf Studies/Linguistics, and then went on to earn a Masters in Economics from Cal State L.A. She worked tirelessly to connect low-income communities of color to information to develop effective, proactive workforce and economic development initiatives. My office worked very closely with her to develop a tiered health care workforce system that helped residents of the city move up the ladder in the health care industry. Angela's life was an inspiration, and her legacy will challenge us to work for economic justice in this city and the world over.

The work and commitment of Officer Dorris and Angela have forever changed the face of the city. Our thoughts and prayers are with both families.

Ad Hoc Homelessness Meeting in Venice

Providing housing for the thousands of individuals that will go to bed tonight without a roof over their heads is one of the most serious issues facing the city today. I joined my colleagues Jan Perry and Bill Rosendahl in Venice for the Ad Hoc Homelessness Committee meeting, where we discussed recent developments in Los Angeles' efforts to address homelessness and hear comments from concerned residents and homelessness advocates alike.

Much of the debate in Los Angeles has centered on enforcement strategies used by the city to abate encampment activity in certain areas. While enforcement is an important part of the solution to homelessness issues, relying solely on the work of the LAPD is the equivalent of trying to sit on a one-legged stool. As we work towards addressing the root causes of homelessness and finding a decent shelter where homeless individuals and families have the opportunity to permanently get off the streets, we must be equally committed to the other two legs of the stool: services and outreach. We must reach out to those who are homeless to make them award of the possibilities that are available to them other than sleeping on the street and we need to invest in specially trained counselors to do that work. The final leg is the provision of services: shelter, health, and, in some cases, rehabilitative and educational programs are needed to find a permanent solution for those without housing.

In consideration of this broader approach, Councilmember Perry and I are seeking funds to open 500 additional shelter beds for homeless individuals in the city, 200 of which will be winter beds to provide extra relief during the harsher months. These beds may only be the first step towards solving the city's homelessness issue but they are needed while we develop permanent supportive housing options.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Enterprise Celebrates its 200,000th Affordable Home at Gateways

Gateways Housing, which was recently honored by the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing as project of the year, is home to the 200,000th unit in the United States that has been constructed from the investments of Enterprise Community Investment. Since 1982, Enterprise has invested $7 billion towards affordable housing initiatives with the goal of finding a house for every person in the country. Their investment and energy have been essential components of many of Los Angeles' affordable housing programs. The 200,000th unit is the 29th at Gateways, and will be occupied by Patricia Van Lieu, a formerly homeless individual. The example that Enterprise and Gateways provide for the city and the world inspires hope and makes us believe that one day, every person in this nation will have a roof over their head.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

People for Parks Awards

I was invited to be the emcee for the People for Parks 5th annual awards ceremony, held at the Grace Simmons Lodge in Echo Park. For nearly two decades, People for Parks has worked with communities, public agencies, and the private sector to expand the public park system in Los Angeles, to create more open space in our urban environment and to ensure that children throughout the city have easy and regular access to safe parks. The awards ceremony gives parks advocates throughout the city an opportunity to gather and celebrate the progress on open space issues that has been a key element of Los Angeles' revitalization.

Being emcee was quite an honor. I had the privilege of introducing some of the most noted parks advocates in the city, including Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Wendy Greuel, and Department of Recreation and Parks General Manager Jon Mukri. However, the night belonged to the awardees. We honored everyone from Carissa Perez, who helped create Cheerleading, Aerobics, and Ballet Folklorico classes, to Hazel Young, who championed Echo Park's Lotus Festival more than 30 years ago. A special award was also given to Brentwood Green, community organization of the year, for their work in creating green space at Brentwood Science Magnet. Finally, it was my honor to introduce my former colleague, Cindy Miscikowski, who was this year's recipient of the People for Parks Woman the Year award.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award

I am very grateful to announce that I have been selected as a recipient of the New Frontier Award for 2006, presented by the Kennedy Library Foundation and Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government.


The award was created "to honor Americans under the age of 40 who are changing the world around them with their commitment to public service." Each year, the award is given to one elected official and one non-elective community service advocate under 40.

I have the great pleasure of joining Jane Leu, founder and executive director of Upwardly Global, a San-Francisco-based non-profit that helps immigrants establish professional careers in the US. (Jane and I attended the same program at Columbia, the School of International and Public Affairs, though not at the same time.) Jane has dedicated her life to opening doors of opportunity for immigrants and refugees by forging relationships with major corporations that range from Google to J.P. Morgan Chase. She's a tremendous advocate and innovator, and it will be a great honor to share a stage with her.

Kennedy's "New Frontier", the inspiration for the award, made its debut here in Los Angeles. On July 15, 1960, he stood in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, and upon accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency of the United States, Kennedy spoke to the delegates and challenged the country, announcing that:

“We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier…a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils – a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats. The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises – it is a set of challenges…I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier.”

My thanks go out to the awards committee and to my family, my staff, and to the many of you who have worked with me on every project, small or large, that has advanced our vision of a safer, more just and more livable city, and a more open and responsive government. My gratitude to each of you for this honor won't fit on one webpage, so let me take this space to pledge, as Kennedy said, to push forward into “uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus,” and to work towards “new invention, innovation, imagination, decision.”

Walking for Peace

Walk for Peace
Each month, my office teams up with members of a different community in the district to walk door-to-door in their neighborhood, listening to constituent concerns and offering advice on how to resolve the issues that they face on a daily basis. The walks provide a unique opportunity to hear directly from the CD13 constituency, and to gauge how you feel about the direction of your city and your neighborhood.

My office joined with clergy members from the Immaculate Heart Church of Mary and leaders from the East Hollywood community to walk and talk to the residents of this neighborhood, one of the poorest and most densely populated in the city. The walk was of special importance to Immaculate Heart, which has been a fixture in the neighborhood for decades. Under the leadership of Father Rodel Balagtas, the church has rededicated itself to reaching out to residents in the area and becoming a voice for the community. We called it the "Walk for Peace": the church and my office hope to reach out to neighbors who are often frightened to leave their homes, and to break down the barriers that exist between folks that may have lived side-by-side for decades, but rarely have the chance to meet one another.

The walk was a huge hit. Nearly 100 community members turned out to help knock on doors and inform their fellow East Hollywood residents about the work being done in the area. In the span of two hours, we covered nearly one square mile, speaking to more than a thousand constituents, letting them know what has been done and discovering what we have left to do. Thanks to all who attended!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Inaugural Echo Park Farmer's Market

A quick ride west of downtown landed me at a city parking lot just south of Sunset and east of Logan, where I joined Sustainable Economic Enterprises-Los Angeles (SEE-LA) and community members in kicking-off the Echo Park Farmer's Market. The market was teeming with energy, as children enjoyed free face painting, live music floated through the air, and residents delighted in the fruits, vegetables, and other assorted organic products being sold by local farmers. Coming to the farmer's market, nearby neighbors sought healthier and more nourishing alternatives to provide their families with; and yet, the experience at the market has also helped to nourish the community. Farmers' markets provide a unique opportunity for community members from all walks of life to come together and celebrate the richness of food and the richness of life. In a world where reaching out to our neighbors is a rare event, the Echo Park Farmer's Market provided the perfect setting for residents to strengthen their bonds to the community and to each other.

I want to give a quick thank you to all of those who made the farmer's market a reality, starting with Pompea Smith and her crew at SEE-LA, whose tireless efforts continue to provide fresh food alternatives throughout the city. Also, I'd like to thank all of the folks from the Echo Park Farmer's Market Committee. Finally, kudos to Katrina Alexy, who designed the Echo Park Farmer's Market logo. Thank you all for your commitment and congratulations on a tremendous inaugural event!

Friday, October 13, 2006

New Farmer's Market

To the very considerable list of farmer's markets run by Sustainable Economic Enterprises-Los Angeles, add the brand new Echo Park Farmer's Market. I'm heading over there right now to join the very first one; they will go every Friday from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm, at city parking lot 633 off of Logan Street, south of Sunset. More reports after I sample the goods...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Letter on Hollywood and Vine

The success in saving the Bernard Luggage building has opened up the floodgates of Old Hollywood memory. Here's a letter from the granddaughter-in-law of the architect who designed the building:

Dear Mr. Garcetti,

I just read the article in the L.A. Times on preserving the Herman Building. On behalf of my family, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to you and everyone involved in saving this historic building. Carl Jules Weyl was a distinguished Los Angeles architect and designed many buildings in Los Angeles before he became a successful art director. Our family is honored that after almost 60 years since he passed away, he is still written about as an architect and art director in Los Angeles.


Our family celebrates Mr. Blue's victory as well. We would like to congratulate him and wish him continued success and thank him for the recognition he so cleverly gave on his billboard. Your welcome to give him my e-mail address if he would like to contact me, so that I can thank him personally from our family.

Thank you again for preserving Hollywood and part of the golden era.


The Granddaughter in-law of Carl Jules Weyl Sr.

Linda Weyl

Gateways Housing

I attended the 18th Annual Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH) Housing Conference, held in Downtown Los Angeles. At the conference, affordable housing advocates from across the region gather to participate in workshops, discover resources, and discuss how we can move the state towards a broader affordable housing agenda. The conference also served as the setting for the 2006 SCANPH Affordable Housing Awards. This year, Gateways Housing, which I have blogged about in this space before was awarded project of the year. Congratulations to the developer, A Community of Friends, and all of those community and city advocates that made this project a reality

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Glassell Park Field Office Opening

Over a year ago, I joined the Glassell Park Improvement Association, the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council, and representatives from Public Storage to announce the opening of the new Glassell Park Community and Senior Center at 3700 N. Verdugo Road. Included in the community center was a space for the creation of a space dedicated to serving the constituents of the Thirteenth District. Last Saturday, I was once again joined by community members from Glassell Park in announcing the opening of the CD13 Satellite Field Office at the Glassell Park Community and Senior Center. This office, which will be staffed by our senior case worker and five-year CD13 veteran Sally Martinez, is dedicated to better serving the areas in the eastern end of the Thirteenth District and providing a convenient location for residents from Glassell Park, Atwater Village, Echo Park and Elysian Valley to access the services that my office provides to CD13 constituents. Sally and the rest of our field staff are committed to improving the lives of each and every resident of the Thirteenth District, so please stop on by and check out our new digs in Glassell Park!

The Lion and the Lotus

I ventured over the border into Council District 4 to join the Silver Lake artists' collective known as the Silver Lakers, school officials at Thomas Starr King Middle School, and the school's drill team to dedicate "The Lion and the Lotus," a new mural that now adorns a corner of the school’s auditorium. The Silver Lakers work to promote the arts in the area and surrounding communities. Too often, art programs get left out of our educational system. Groups like the Silver Lakers work to reverse this trend by providing projects and programs like "The Lion and the Lotus," providing encouragement for local students and pride and beautification in the community for years to come. Thank you to the students and administrators of King Middle School, the Office of Community Beautification, and, of course, my colleague Tom LaBonge.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Sunday marked the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I was joined by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Councilmember Janice Hahn, Chief William Bratton, members of the city's Domestic Violence Task Force, and local reporter Colleen Williams in honoring the work of Los Angeles' innovative Domestic Abuse Response Teams (DART) and to highlight the programs that the city has to prevent and intervene in domestic abuse situations. DART teams work with the police department by responding to domestic violence incidents and linking victims to shelters, medical attention, legal assistance, and other services. By providing emotional and material support, DART teams give victims a chance to permanently leave a violent home.

The DART program has brought light to hundreds of individuals during their darkest hour. And yet, domestic violence persists in our city and in this country. It is a crime whose emotional wounds remain fresh long after the physical ones have scarred over. Here are some statistics about domestic violence in the United States, courtesy of the LAPD Domestic Violence Fact Sheet:

-A woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the US
-Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44
-Nationally, 50% of all homeless women and children are on the streets because of violence in the home

The Domestic Violence Hotline for Los Angeles is (800) 978-3600. More information about domestic violence is available at the department’s Domestic Violence home page.

14th Annual Thai Cultural Day

Los Angeles is home to the largest population of Thai Americans in the country, and Thai Town serves as the cultural and economic center for this dynamic community. I joined the Thai Community Arts and Cultural Center in celebrating the 14th Annual Thai Cultural Day at Barnsdall Park. The fair was ripe with Thai culture, from the four different dances from the various regions of Thailand, to the dramatic performances done by local actors, to the traditional music that filled the air. Thanks to all those who worked to put the day together, and I look forward to celebrating again next year!