It has been an honor and privilege serving you for the last four years, and I look forward to being your representative at City Hall for another five-and-a-half years. On July 8, I took the Oath of Office in front of my family, federal, state and local leaders, representatives of partner organizations, and the South LA community. It was a joyous day, and I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the faith and trust you have put into me. Because of you, I won a decisive victory this past March.
When I first decided to run for Los Angeles City Council, I knew I wanted a progressive platform for South LA. I was not going to let the status-quo stand, so I challenged myself and my staff at every turn to do better for a more than deserving community. I looked closely at the residents of Council District 9 and the systemic neglect that communities of color are met with and took action.
Income inequality is a very real barrier for families in South LA. In 2014, I introduced policy to raise the wage for hotel workers to $15.37 per hour. One year later, I led the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2020 for every Angeleno. To further strengthen job security, I brought key players to the table to make it mandatory that every employee, no matter their occupation, receive 48 hours of paid sick leave per year.
As I worked to strengthen working families, I knew more had to be done to remove unfair barriers to employment. Our policies were fostering unemployment and homelessness so we removed the “box” from job applications that asks candidates about their criminal record so people who have served their time will have a fair chance.
I’m proud to have championed these policies, but I’m equally excited about the economic boom happening in our backyard. Since 2013, we have ushered in more than $3 billion in development projects in CD 9. This includes projects like:
- The $250 million LAFC (Los Angeles Football Club) soccer stadium currently under construction at Expo Park
- The historic $1.2 billion Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
- The Reef, a transit-oriented, mixed-use development, which includes condos, apartments and on-site affordable housing units, a hotel, grocery store and pharmacy at 1900 S. Broadway
- A new $30 million, five-story Honda dealership at the corner of Martin Luther King and Hoover
- Vista Hotel on Figueroa Boulevard (replacing the Vagabond Inn Motel), which includes 275 hotel rooms and has a strong local hire agreement
Not only are these major projects helping to bring more than 8,000 jobs to the Ninth District, but I have insisted, and will continue to demand, commitments to local hire. To capitalize on these opportunities, my Office will work diligently to inform local residents of the upcoming training and employment opportunities. And we will keep project developers accountable for the local hiring requirements, ranging from 30 percent to 40 percent, that they promised our community.
As you can see, we have made solid gains, but my work is not done. During my next term, we will increase the supply of affordable housing in the District. To this end, my office has secured 13 sites in CD 9 that will provide more than 700 units of new affordable housing. Just as importantly for me will be to preserve existing affordable housing units that are currently at risk of conversion to market-rate. While there is a need to build more affordable housing in the region, we must also protect the affordable rentals we already have. Many of these agreements offering affordability protections are set to expire, and we have to look at the issue of affordable housing as a whole to keep more individuals from falling into homelessness.
Over the last couple of years, my Office has allocated $1 million to homeless service providers LAHSA and HOPICS to provide intensive outreach in the District. I want you to know homelessness will remain a high priority for my Office. We are also putting the City’s comprehensive homelessness strategy into action, which now includes a mobile shower and safe parking program here in the 9th District.
Furthermore, the success of Measure HHH—the $1.2-billion bond measure that voters approved in November and of which I was a co-sponsor—means that we’ll construct up to 10,000 units of permanent housing with wrap-around services for homeless people over the next decade. We’re poised now more than ever to combat homelessness Citywide, and I will be working very hard to reduce those numbers in my District.
Parks and green space will remain at the top of my priority’s list. During my first term, more than $40 million were invested into public parks for new playgrounds, exercise equipment, the re-opening of a pool, three new pocket parks and a whole slew of other upgrades! For the future, we’ll be working with LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) to bring art, cultural programs and instructional workshops to the Wetlands Park on 54th and Avalon. We will also continue to explore the possibility of building a dog park in the community, expand recreational activities for our youth and seniors, and make other repairs and improvements across neighborhood parks. Additionally, the recently adopted Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone policy will help address problems of food deserts and blighted lands by encouraging urban farming. I’m pleased to report, the first pilot project will take place in District 9.
Before getting elected to the City Council, I ran on a “Clean and Green” campaign, and I’m delighted to say we have delivered. Since taking Office, I’ve dedicated more than $4 million to clean up South Los Angeles streets and alleys, and install hundreds of new trash bins Districtwide. But we’re also fixing our crumbling sidewalks, trimming overgrown trees and removing unsightly graffiti. I have used millions of dollars in City funds to address these quality of life issues, and I am committed to securing funding year after year to make our neighborhoods more livable.
Looking ahead, it is important that the updates to the South and Southeast Los Angeles Community Plans reflect the assets and cultural resources that make our communities great. Last year, the federal government designated a vast portion of the District as a Promise Zone. I am working very closely with the Planning Department to ensure that the land use policies under these Plans promote neighborhood-serving uses, businesses with fresh foods, and a great jobs-housing balance for long-term economic vitality in the District. I am including in these Plans methods for strengthening first mile-last mile strategies to our vast transit networks while also promoting connections to the new Metro Rail to River multi-use trail on Slauson Boulevard, which will begin construction in 2018. Additionally, my Office is partnering with the Urban Land Institute – LA to develop a technical advisory panel for the Goodyear Tract and other industrial lands along Slauson Boulevard. This is an exciting project that will not only look to retain existing manufacturing businesses but also promote creative industries.
Whenever I’m considering policy, seeking to attract investment to South LA, or debating how to use finite resources, I always put the interest of our families first. I will continue to be your voice on the City Council, stand up for what’s right and always pursue the Promise of the NEW 9th! If you ever have any questions about what’s going on in our community, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my District Office at (323) 846-2651.
Thank you again for this amazing journey. I firmly believe our best days are ahead of us. To see all the photos from my swearing-in ceremony and community celebration, please click here.