It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I stood with my family, raised my right hand, and took the oath of office, being sworn in as the new councilman for the 15th District. It has been challenging, rewarding, exhausting, frustrating, and incredibly fun all at the same time. Just like a roller coaster, there have been ups and downs, but there is no question, this has been the ride of my life. Not a day goes by where I do not reflect on how humbled and grateful I am by the trust and confidence you have bestowed on me, by electing me as your councilman.
Having spent the prior 15 years in the LAPD, I was used to working within and navigating a large bureaucracy, but there’s really no comparison to the responsibilities and complexity of being a councilman, representing 250,000 constituents in a city of nearly 4 million people. Los Angeles is an incredibly diverse city, with an annual budget of $7.1 billion and varying density, geography, industries and demographics.
With so many people and such a large bureaucracy, it’s easy to get lost in minutia and get tripped up by the day-to-day obstacles and hurdles that I inevitably encounter. I recognized from the very start that this would not be an easy job, so I committed to focusing on three goals: ensuring public safety, delivering core city services that impact quality of life, and creating jobs through economic development.
In the past year we have achieved some major accomplishments that align with those goals:
We created a new Skateboard Safety Ordinance to help LAPD curb reckless skateboarding, following the tragic deaths of two teens in San Pedro.
We hosted a Neighborhood Watch Summit with the Senior Lead Officers of LAPD’s Harbor Division, to educate residents and business owners on tactics to reduce property crime.
We replaced all low pressure sodium street lights with LED lights, saving the city 60% on its energy bill and creating a safer environment under the whiter light.
We removed 600 under-utilized parking meters from San Pedro and Wilmington allowing residents to park for free in many places in the two downtowns, while reducing rates at those few meters that remain.
We solved the longtime pothole problem on Capitol Drive, outside the Target parking lot
We allocated extra funding to fill thousands of potholes in San Pedro, Watts, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway and Wilmington.
We repaired one of the worst sidewalks in Wilmington even though the city it not funding sidewalk repair.
We brought the USS Iowa battleship to San Pedro, drawing thousands of visitors from all around the world.
We organized the first-ever Veterans Appreciation Festival at the USS Iowa
We donated surplus computers to families at the Jordan Downs housing devleopment
We passed an employee pension reform package that will save the city millions of dollars
We cleared overgrown weeds and trash from along Grandee Avenue in Watts, and removed hundreds of cubic yards of illegal dumping in alleys.
We broke ground on the new Downtown Harbor Watercut
We broke ground on the Plaza Park improvement project
We refurbished an old World War II era warehouse at the Port and opened the nation’s largest indoor craft marketplace - Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles
We began stabilization and cleanup efforts of the White Point landslide and selected nearly fifty members of our community to participate on an advisory panel to ensure we have enough input in making a decision on how to repair Paseo del Mar.
We began a search for a developer to revitalize the 30-acre Ports O Call property in San Pedro. This redevelopment project will generate thousands of jobs both during construction and after completion and will create a new regional destination for the City.
Focusing on the year ahead, we have several projects that are already in motion.
We secured $2.2 million for a makeover of the sports field at Harbor Park in Wilmington, where young athletes have been playing in substandard conditions for way too long.
We will be improving traffic flow and parking infrastructure in San Pedro, with the completion of the Gaffey St. bridge, installing angled parking on 5th and 7th streets in downtown, adding new traffic signals on Gaffey at 8th , 10th, 11th and 15th streets, and doubling the number of parking spaces at Field of Dreams.
We will be kicking off the $125 million Machado Lake Ecosystem Rehabilitation Project and water mitigation project in Harbor City, cleaning the entire lake, park and creating a new and thriving destination with a fishing pier, seating area, pedestrian bridge and overlook. This project will be completed by 2016.
We will create soccer fields in Wilmington from the Union Pacific property and build a new pocket park on Banning Blvd. Watts will get a new skate park and the 109th St. pool will be remodeled. Harbor Gateway will also get a new pocket park while the Rosecrans Park will get a $6 million remodel.
Throughout the district we will be looking for more locations to build parks and increase open space.
We will soon break ground on the BNSF Railroad’s Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) project, which will eliminate millions of truck miles each year from our freeways by using rail. Since 1990 the amount of trade has tripled in our ports and by 2030 it will triple again. This project will reduce emissions and create more good-paying local jobs in our communities.
We repaved two major thoroughfares in San Pedro this year - Gaffey and Western, but citywide, 8,700 miles of streets are in terrible condition due to decades of inadequate funding of street maintenance. Our poor streets increase traffic, cause accidents, lower property values and cost vehicle owners an additional $750 in maintenance every year. That’s why I’m working on a $3 billion bond measure that - if approved by voters - would fix every failed street in Los Angeles within 10 years, creating 30,000 new jobs in the process.
We have accomplished so much in the past year. I am very proud of what we’ve done, and the cooperation and dedication of my team that made it happen. But I’m not satisfied.
There is so much more to do, and there are big problems facing the 15th District and the City of Los Angeles. I understand your frustration when it seems like progress is so slow and change takes so long. The glacial and tedious pace of government frustrates me as well, and it’s easy to to get discouraged. But, with an intense focus on my goals, an unwavering commitment to serving my hometown, and a vision of bringing a better quality of life to the 15th District, I know that the future is bright.