It’s July. That means a new budget year for government agencies, where there is some turnover: some new faces, new officers, and new committees.
L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is the new chair of the Metro Board of Directors, replacing L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The Los Angeles City Council has two new members. Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson replaces Bernard Parks, representing L.A.’s 8th Council District [map] in South Los Angeles. Councilmember David Ryu replaces Tom LaBonge, representing L.A.’s 4th Council District (CD4) [map] which extends from Van Nuys to Griffith Park to Miracle Mile.
New L.A. City Council committee assignments [PDF] were announced yesterday. There are a lot of Streetsblog issues before a wide range of committees, from Public Safety to Parks to Budget, but the two committees that SBLA tends to follow most closely are Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM.) Both of these committees’ chairs continue to be chaired by the same excellent livability leaders, Mike Bonin and Jose Huizar, respectively. The make-up of the committees have shifted in positive directions, in part merely due to Parks and LaBonge leaving. Though they occasionally supported worthwhile initiatives, neither Parks nor LaBonge consistently supported the needs of Angelenos who get around via transit, walk, and bike.
The new Transportation Committee will be: Mike Bonin (chair), Jose Huizar, Paul Koretz, Nury Martinez, and David Ryu. New members Huizar and Martinez, with Bonin, give the committee a progressive forward-thinking majority, likely to embrace a healthy balance of transportation modes. Ryu does not have a track record here, but cannot possibly be worse than LaBonge. And perhaps Koretz will some day make the connection that the transportation sector is responsible for about half of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, reductions of which he has championed.
The new PLUM Committee will be: Jose Huizar (chair), Gil Cedillo, Mitch Englander, Felipe Fuentes, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Returning chair Huizar has an excellent livability leadership track record at PLUM. Councilmember Englander has a good, if slightly-mixed, record. Though he represents arguably the most suburban council district, and was first introduced to Streetsblog readers in 2012 as the villain of the Wilbur Avenue Road Diet controversy, more recently he has been very good, including championing the Reseda Boulevard protected bike lanes. Fuentes and Harris-Dawson are both very likely to champion community-minded planning that goes beyond just accommodating driving.
SBLA will likely have suggestions for new Metro Chair Ridley-Thomas and new Councilmember Harris-Dawson in the near future… but today I present my unsolicited advice for Los Angeles Councilmember David Ryu. First off, congratulations to honorable Councilmember Ryu! Perhaps you already know all this stuff, and I look forward to actually getting to speak with you, but here are five of my recommendations to help make CD4 streets great, safe, healthy, vibrant places and to improve the lives of people who live, work and breathe in Los Angeles.
1. Question Tom LaBonge’s priorities
In a crowded field, you won on your merits… but it helped that you are a city hall outsider, without ties to LaBonge. Though some of the media perceived LaBonge as a cyclist, because he infrequently hosted bike rides and spoke at press conferences for bike-friendly events, most Angelenos who get around every day by bike and by foot were very frustrated with him.
Tom LaBonge supported a 20th century transportation system long after much of L.A. had moved away from it. LaBonge favored cars, freeways, parking, and the policies that make them proliferate. I don’t expect cars to go away tomorrow, but LaBonge’s policies result in place-less gridlock that does not serve anyone well. If you will just question the policies that LaBonge supported reflexively, it will go a long way to advancing livability in our city.
2. Support safer, multi-modal streets, especially in the most population-dense and transit-oriented parts of your district
One size fits all solutions are unlikely to serve your district well. You know that CD4, like Los Angeles, is a big diverse place. Read more…