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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Crime? Gentrification? Development? Tell us what the big issues are going to be in this year’s City Council races

By BARRY LANK

Try to recover from the last election if you can, because we have another one in a couple of months – and, believe it or not, it will probably have more immediate impact on your life than the presidential race did.

On March 7, the city holds primaries for eight city council seats – not to mention three school board positions, the city controller’s job, the city attorney and, lest we forget, the mayor. The General Election is May 16.

This happens to be a big election for the Eastside, where The Eastsider will focus on council races in Districts 1 and 13. In District 1 –which includes all or portions of Cypress Park, Glassell Park Highland Park and Lincoln Heights — about a half dozen people have filed paperwork with the city indicating that they will be running for the seat currently occupied by Gilbert Cedillo. Meanwhile, in District 13,  which includes all or parts of Atwater Village, Echo Park and Silver Lake,  six people have qualified to run in the race to unseat incumbent Mitch O’Farrell. (Don’t know what council district you live in? Find out here).

What do you want to ask these candidates?

The Eastsider will be soliciting the candidates’ reactions on everything from homelessness to water to the plastic bag ban. Here are a few possible topics so far:

  • Development: Los Angeles has one of the tightest rental markets in America – with the highest rentership rate of any major metropolitan area, and one of the lowest percentages of available apartments. How do we ease the housing crunch without crowding ourselves or losing too much of our local character?
  • Infrastructure: Broken sidewalks, broken streets, aging water mains – our deferred maintenance has been mounting up for years. What do we need to fix first?
  • Environment: Coincidental with the city’s bad traffic, Los Angeles is also the worst city in America for ozone pollution, despite improvements to air quality over the years, according to the American Lung Association. What’s the next step in cleaning ourselves up?
  • Homelessness: The number of homeless in L.A. has only been going up. In Council Districts 1 and 13, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found about 5,000 homeless people, most of them unsheltered – with District 13 in particular seeing a 34% increase over last year. Anybody with eyes has also seen the growth of encampments in places such as the Los Feliz Triangle and downtown. How do we stem this tide?
  • Water: How do we ensure a future for L.A.’s water supply as we shakily recover from the drought? What do we do with the Silver Lake Reservoir, now that it will no longer serve as a source of potable water?
  • Schools: The L.A. Unified School District is facing a cumulative deficit of $1.46 billion through the 2018-2019 school year. How do we tackle this debt while still ensuring quality education?
  • Crime: The Eastside has some of the higher crime areas in the city, including downtown, Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Boyle Heights. How do we get a handle on this?

What other issues should the candidates cover? Leave your suggestions in the comments or submit them in private.

Barry Lank grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, then went away for a seriously long time. He has worked in TV and radio, and currently helps produce The Final Edition Radio Hour.

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15 comments

  1. Who is running? It would be nice to see a fresh face in the Mayor’s office Garcetti has turned LA into a tent city.

  2. The LADWP. I would like to know the candidates’ positions.

  3. I’d love to hear their plans (if any) for making LA safer and more accommodating to pedestrians and cyclists.

  4. I’m guessing they will continue what they have always done about these issues – NOTHING!

    I’m actually planning on leaving LA because of some of these issues. Ultimately, I can’t rely on the same people who have failed us for years to suddenly fix these problems as I’m responsible for ,y own happiness and security. For those of you who are afraid of higher rent due to gentrification, I suggest that you too start thinking about finding a more affordable place to live where you can purchase a home because I only see LA getting more expensive with very little relief in sight.

  5. The homeless situation is a major crisis. We all have to come together to solve this one. This is on all our shoulders, not just the politicians’.

    • Katrina, the city and state must be the primary drivers in a solution for homelessness. Independent orgs and citizens lack the authority and coalition to affect real change. Lean in on elected officials as that is the only way we come to a solution.

      • Exactly. Rather than find a creative way to build temporary housing for these people (because of restrictive residential building codes), the city just lets them camp on the sidewalks and in parks because that’s so much better.

  6. A candidate who’ll get my vote will be one who’s priority is to fight for changes — not just lip service — in LA City Planning to prevent developers from tearing down good functional neighborhood homes to replace them with over-grown town houses and apartments that are out of character for the areas. Multi-unit structures cause more traffic congestion — not to mention the displacement of long-time tenants. VOTE YES ON “S.” http://www.voteyesons.org/ (Not a cure-all, but a good start!)

  7. For LA’s first suburb, council district #1: Safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists. Encouraging more vibrant, walkable neighborhoods by better use of funding earmarked for infrastructure. Addressing the decline of our public parks and other blight-related issues. Better access to the arroyo seco exercise route.

  8. Gentrification! Dear heaven, my neighborhood (Los Feliz Knolls) is being overrun by developers buying up existing homes, courtyard bungalows and even existing apartment buildings and constructing huge complexes. Most of these are destined to be unattractive Townhouse or Condominium units, which will impact the rental units in this area, not to mention the impact these units will have on the traffic and (almost non existent) parking. Across the street from me an unsightly project that was started over TWO YEARS ago is still not completed. The noise pollution and the inconvenience of the construction crews that have been here every day have been almost unbearable, and now there are two more projects in the works on St. George St. and also on Rowena Ave. which will be starting very soon. How do they expect us to deal with this?

    • I hope you realize that a vote against development (driven by east-side gentrification) is also a vote for more government control over private property rights. As a property owner, I don’t particularly want the government having even more control over my property, especially since I paid for it, not the government.

  9. For CD1 – The mismanagement of Elysian Park – $12.5 Million dollars still hasn’t reached the park and the park in a dire state. Barlow – they’ve gone quiet but they support Gil Cedillo for sure. Public Safety – Crime is up 15% is the district. Echo Park has the highest rate of fire fatalities in the City – why? Dodgers constant mismanagement and violation of their Conditional Use Permit. Affordable Housing – CD1 has tons of luxury units in coming but middle class families facing eviction get no help! Homelessness – where to start!???!

  10. Unnecessary Noise. Loud music at outdoor parties with amplification systems. Ditto coming from outside areas of clubs, heard from literally a mile away, and generally heard blocks away from residential parties. Noise laws need enforcement.

    Fireworks. Pre-July Fourth, Fourth of July, New Years, Christmas, Labor Day, Memorial Day, any day someone decides they want noise. One popular around Echo Park seems to be the M-80. According to Wiki, they “…are an American class of large powerful firecrackers, sometimes called salutes.[1] M-80s were originally made in the early 20th century by the U.S. military to simulate explosives or artillery fire.” And that is what they sound like.

    I have worked hard by phone and emails to get support from LAPD, Eric Garcetti, Gil Cedillo and Mike O’Farrell, asking that LAPD respond to illegal fireworks calls and take action, arresting and/or citing people setting them off. I heard back only from Cedillo’s office re emails. Received call back from LAPD officer on July 4th in response to my calls to non-emergency number. Said the same thing an LAPD desk officer told me, they can’t keep up with the fireworks, all over every street here in Echo Park, not enough officers to handle. “It’s been the same for the fifteen years I’ve lived in L.A., ” per one. How about planning ahead? Include LAFD.

  11. Eastsider–Thank you for providing a forum for our concerns.

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