Shakeup at LADOT: Jaime De La Vega Nominated as G.M. and Other Top Positions Filled.

Out of the shadows. De La Vega, pictured here with Metro CEO Art Leahy, won't enjoy any anonymity as LADOT GM. Photo: LA Streetsblog/Flickr

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa just announced (although Streetsblog had it first earlier today) the appointment of long-time transportation aide Jaime De La Vega as his nominee for General Manager of the Department of Transportation.  De La Vega first appeared at City Hall as a member of then-Mayor Richard Riordan’s transportation team over a decade ago.  He has been the head of Villaraigosa’s transportation team since the beginning and is credited for advancing Measure R, the 30/10 and America Fast Forward initiatives, and saving the bike/ped set aside from the city’s Measure R funds when some City Councilmen wanted to remove it.

“The Department of Transportation is home to some of the hardest working and most innovative employees who are advancing cutting-edge projects throughout the City,” said de la Vega in a press release. “I look forward to working with them to fix what is broken within the management system.”  The entire release can be found at the end of this document.

De La Vega needs to be approved by the City Council before taking the reigns from Acting General Manager Amir Sedadi.  No hearing schedule has been announced, in fact the Transportation Committee is scheduled to weigh renewing Sedadi’s appointment at next week’s meeting.  There has been no announcement on who will be replacing De La Vega in the Mayor’s Office.

Here it is! Photo: Steve Hymon/L.A. Times

Oh, and in case you hadn’t heard, De La Vega owns a hummer.  I’m not planning on covering the hummer-issue again, nor making a thousand jokes about it over the next two years, so let’s get it out of the way.

This was apparently major news for awhile in the time before L.A. Streetsblog existed.  Even NYC Streetsblog got in on the act in a time when it was just called Streetsblog and was the only game in town for Livable Streets journalism.  I bring it up now not because I care (I don’t), but because it’s going to come up a lot the next couple of months because, as I said, it’s apparently big news.  For the record, he commutes by Red Line or carpool these days and his choice of motor vehicle is for recreation only.

After being tipped to De La Vega’s appointment last night, I reached out to transportation advocates for reaction and was peppered with “hummer” jokes and commentary, even though most saw the De La Vega appointment as a solid one for the Mayor.

Ok, now that that’s over with, let’s talk policy. 

De La Vega is a safe choice for a Mayor with two years left in his term.  De La Vega is a respected insider praised for his competence, not a minor achievement in City Hall.  He’s not a game-changer in the Sadik-Khan mode, but he also won’t be caught on tape slamming the City Council during budget season as having “reality deficit disorder.”

The major issue for advocates will be whether or not the LADOT continues to inch towards livability issues over the next couple of years, actually moves quicker to make L.A.’s streets safer, or goes back to the car-first mentality that gripped the department until recently.  While nobody is going to confuse LADOT for its counterparts in Portland or New York, the Department has made noise about, and gotten heat from angry drivers for, improving the lot for “non-motorized” road users.

Alexis Lantz, the planning and program director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, writes, “We hope that Mr. De La Vega will continue to transition LADOT into an agency that really serves its mission of providing ‘for safe and optimal mobility of people and goods throughout the City of Los Angeles, in support of economic activity and a desirable quality of life…’ We hope that Mr. De La Vega will prioritize this work by allocating more staff to bicycle, pedestrian, and transit planning and implementation, and work to reorganize LADOT to create a safer and more livable City of Los Angeles.”

Villaraigosa also responded to the embarrassment caused by the “Gold Card” ticket fixing mini-scandal by appointing LAPD Commander Michael Williams, a 35-year veteran of the force to LADOT to review the management systems of the parking enforcement division.

“As a Commander and 35-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, I know the importance of running and managing an efficient division,” said Commander Williams. “I look forward to working with the LADOT parking enforcement staff to implement new systems for a streamlined parking enforcement plan.”

Also joining the team at LADOT is Jim Abalos, Personnel Director of the Personnel Department, who will be charged with assessing and reforming human resources functions, policies, procedures, and enforcement.

Working with Comptroller Wendy Greuel’s Office to complete a large-scale audit of the agency is one of Mr. De La Vega’s top priorities after approval by the Council.

MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA NOMINATES JAIME DE LA VEGA GENERAL MANAGER OF THE LOS ANGELES DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

LAPD Commander Michael Williams to Review Management Systems of the Parking Enforcement Division

Personnel Director of the Personnel Department Jim Abalos, to Assess and Reform Human Resources

LOS ANGELES – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa nominated Jaime de la Vega General Manager of the Department of Transportation (LADOT) and announced that LAPD Commander Michael Williams will be temporarily assigned to LADOT to oversee the reformation of the parking enforcement division.

“Jaime is an experienced public policy leader and manager with extensive experience working in city government, reforming departmental operations, and developing and implementing transportation projects at both the local and regional level,” Villaraigosa said. “Jaime has the leadership, management ability, and dedication to the City of Los Angeles to successfully lead the Department of Transportation.”

Mr. de la Vega brings nearly two decades of experience working on transportation-related issues. He is currently Deputy Mayor for Transportation where he develops and implements surface transportation and aviation policy at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Los Angeles World Airports.

“The Department of Transportation is home to some of the hardest working and most innovative employees who are advancing cutting-edge projects throughout the City,” said de la Vega. “I look forward to working with them to fix what is broken within the management system.”

Committed to transparency and accountability at the Department, Mr. de la Vega will work with City Controller Greuel on the top-to-bottom management review of LADOT.

Villaraigosa also announced that LAPD Commander Michael Williams – a 35-year veteran of the force with a law enforcement background that includes patrol, detectives and administrative functions within the Los Angeles Police Department – will be temporarily assigned to LADOT to review the management systems of the parking enforcement division.

“As a Commander and 35-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, I know the importance of running and managing an efficient division,” said Commander Williams. “I look forward to working with the LADOT parking enforcement staff to implement new systems for a streamlined parking enforcement plan.”

Also joining the team at LADOT is Jim Abalos, Personnel Director of the Personnel Department, who will be charged with assessing and reforming human resources functions, policies, procedures, and enforcement.

LADOT is currently working on the largest transportation infrastructure building project in City history including: doubling the amount of rail; finalizing the synchronization of the city’s traffic signals; supporting construction on the I-405 which will reduce daily commutes by up to 20 minutes;  and implementing the recently adopted City-wide bicycle plan.

Mr. de la Vega’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the City Council. Amir Sedadi will remain Assistant General Manager at LADOT.