In a unanimous vote 13-0 this morning, the Los Angeles City Council approved Seleta Reynolds, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nominee to head the Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT). The approval means that Reynolds will take the General Manager reins of LADOT starting August 11th, 2014. Reynolds replaces Jon Kirk Mukri, who became DOT’s head after former GM Jaime De La Vega resigned following widespread employee discontent.
City council questioning was brief. The council’s Transportation Committee chair, Mike Bonin, was visibly enthusiastic about Reynolds, at one point stating that he was “stoked” about the nomination. As at Reynolds’ committee appearance last week, Councilmember Bernard Parks was the only somewhat skeptical voice. Parks questioned how Reynolds’ San Francisco livable streets experience had prepared her to handle LADOT’s 1800 employees and complicated budget.
Reynolds was upbeat and articulate in addressing the council. She opened with the importance of LADOT and L.A.’s streets as “a face to the city.” She repeatedly emphasized the need to make LADOT a great place to work, saying that she would keep “employee morale front and center.” Reynolds touted her prior experience as having prepared her for the current fiscally constrained environment. She stated that she will do more with less, and will make sure that LADOT partners with communities, businesses, and “as many partners as will have me.”
Reynolds intends to meet with what she considers to be “the strong leadership team at LADOT already” to finalize a strategic plan, expected around Labor Day.
This will be a new chapter for LADOT. The department has never had a general manager whose top priorities included safety or multi-modal transportation, much less walking and bicycling. Reynolds has a proven track record on all of these. Using actual data-driven processes, she has been making San Francisco streets safer for all users, including drivers, transit riders, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Time will tell how her leadership will shape her new department. Today, though, it is clear that, by nominating Seleta Reynolds and shepherding her approval, Mayor Garcetti signaled that Los Angeles’ DOT and, by extension, Los Angeles’ streets great and small, will move toward a safer, more shared, and more community-friendly future.
Of course, nominating and approving are the easy parts. Reynolds will need Garcetti’s and the City Council’s continued support as she leads her new department.