Last May, when the search for a new Planning Director for the City of LA was announced, UEPI, as part of the Alliance for a Livable Los Angeles, helped draft a letter to the new planning director with a vision for a new Los Angeles. A little over a year later, it seems that the vision has a good shot at becoming a reality.
On Saturday, July 22nd, the Alliance for a Livable Los Angeles hosted a community forum with the new planning director, Gail Goldberg. Over 150 residents filled a meeting room at the LAANE office, for a dialogue with Gail about the future of planning in Los Angeles. Community groups presented on a number of issues including affordable housing/gentrification, transportation, fresh & health food access and the impact of new developments on surrounding communities. Overall, Gail’s responses were, as one of the event organizers put it, “music to our ears.”
She concurred with the resident who expressed frustration about the impact on the downtown community of high-end fortress-like developments like the Medici, where residents come and go from their homes by driving in and out of the parking garage--completely disconnected from the surrounding community. Gail talked about how new development needs to contribute to the vibrancy and health of a neighborhood.
When Belmont and Jefferson high school students (affliated with UEPI's Project CAFE) talked about the need for healthier food in their neighborhood, Gail admitted that this is an area that planners don’t think about enough, and offered a meeting between herself and the teens to discuss what they have learned about the food environment in the Pico Union area.
She’s motivated, energetic, articulate, and she’s promising to take her role as planning director to a whole new level. As she sees it, there is a lot more the planning department can be doing to look at the city in a holistic way that leads to real change. It was a great meeting, and it left us all feeling optimistic!
Also of note at the forum was the large turnout of seniors from the Korean Workers Center who were there to talk to Councilman Reyes about concerns over the recent heat wave and air conditioning. See Bob’s post for more on that. Councilman Reyes stayed for the duration of the two and a half hour event, answering questions and speaking with residents before and after the forum.