AIA Mayoral Candidate Conversations: Kevin James

Kevin James (right) speaks to the audience at the American Institute of Architects Mayoral Candidate discussions with Planning Commission President Bill Roschen (middle) and Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne moderating. Photo by Kris Fortin

In the third conversation in AIA’s series with mayoral candidates, Kevin James billed himself as an outsider. James, a former radio host and the sole republican on the LA mayoral ballot, was at his best on Friday night when he was criticizing city council and proposing more power for neighborhood councils. Yet when asked about bike issues, and densification, he was constantly at odds with the moderators, and used more anecdotal evidence for his reasoning.

“In that bio . . . you did not hear two key words. Unfortunately you did not hear architect.” James said. “Also, you did not hear two more words: city planner.”

Despite his lack of knowledge of urban planningisms, he was honest in his stances and critiques on projects such as Farmers Field, and the Hollywood Community Plan.

Yet, when James started talking about specific projects, his outsider status brought out answers that put him at odds with the moderators and much of the audience.

Though James was in support of programs that would increase the number of bicyclists, he said it’s because it would help alleviate congestion for motorists.

“More people you have on bicycles in the city of Los Angeles, the fewer people you have on cars.” James said. “ The motorist is going to have less traffic. The motorist is going to have more parking in the city of Los Angeles.”

Hawthorne quickly pointed out how research has backed the claim that clearing traffic doesn’t clear congestion, but James still disagreed.

Later, James disagreed with the passage of the Hollywood community plan, comparing the result to Hollywood becoming “Las Vegas West.” Yet when explaining why he didn’t want to see more densification that the Hollywood community plan would bring, he referenced his own home in the Hollywood Hills.

James professional experience has come from being a lawyer, and being a radio talk show host. He was the host of “The Kevin James Show” from 2007-2011 on 870 KRLA, until he decided to run for mayor.

James was at his strongest when talking about the role and importance of Neighborhood Councils in making planning and development decisions.  With his tour of nearly 50 different neighborhood councils, James argued in their favor of having a more prominent voice, specifically being able to choose city commissioners.

“What I found . . .in neighborhood councils was an incredible wealth of content,” James said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s on it’s way.”

One of James’ proposals that received the audience from the more than 20 people that attended at the  applause was to make a part-time City Council. This stance has been covered in opinion pieces he has written for the Daily News and the Los Angeles Business Journal.

When he talked about Farmers Field, his main stance was how the construction would hurt the Los Angeles Convention Center and hotel revenue from lost conventions, highlighting that there has not been one convention booked for the 2013-14 cycle.

And for the sports fan, James also said people cannot tailgate in downtown. “Tailgaters, that are serious tailgaters, cannot put their barbecue on the subway.”

Here’s a look at the remaining AIA mayoral candidate schedule:

Friday, March 9 (7pm – 9pm) – Mayoral Candidate Wendy Greuel
Friday, March 16 (7pm – 9pm) – Mayoral Candidate Eric Garcetti

  • MarkB

    Can the series be viewed online?

  • guest
  • Davistrain

    Not being a major NFL fan, I’m not sure why there’s so much concern about the “tailgating” situation (and I would suspect that among Streetsblog readers, “tailgaters” are scarce or even nonexistent).

  • calwatch

    It’s because most major NFL stadiums are built in parking lots with plenty of space to tailgate. With future development in the South Park area the surface parking lots are going to be nonexistent pretty soon. Even urban environments like Cal Memorial Stadium occupy surface parking lots for tailgaters. That and the drivers are stuck in parking structure traffic trying to leave, which is chaos and also not necessarily good for pedestrians either. (There will always be people who drive, and it is a safety issue when they can’t leave, since football has two to four times the number of fans as baseball or the indoor sports.) 

    This is why I support the Industry stadium proposal. A better location for all of Southern California, excellent transit access via commuter rail (no different than the Speedway train or the Angel train), good driving access, and doesn’t foul up the travels of the millions of non-football fans that have to pass through downtown on their trips (non-football travelers could use any of the other freeways in the SGV or the 91 to get around the congestion at the stadium). Incidentally I like to tailgate when I have friends that tailgate, and I don’t tailgate when they don’t tailgate. So here’s one person who has tailgated.

  • (There will always be people who drive, and it is a safety issue when they can’t leave, since football has two to four times the number of fans as baseball or the indoor sports.) ”

    Yes, but there would be far fewer home games than for baseball or basketball. 

  • Yjdraiman

    Another candidate is YJ Draiman, an elected member of Northridge East Neighborhood Council, is an Energy efficiency and Utilities audit expert. Promises a no nonsense approach to government with extensive cuts and increased efficiencies. YJ Draiman’s vision is to make Los Angeles as the World Capital of Renewable energy and conservation.


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