We moved to Downtown Los Angeles in May of 2013 and in the past 20 months I’ve never seen more progress in a community than what I’ve observed Downtown under the leadership and vision of 14th District Councilmember Jose Huizar.
And it’s not just progress, it’s also his concern for how the progress evolves. I reached out to Councilmember Huizar’s office shortly after Nick passed away when I read that Huizar was looking into programs to further assist the homeless while also making our streets cleaner and safer. He was investigating the possibility of “parking” meters installed in various locations around the city that would accept change and credit card donations to support organizations that aid the homeless. Our dear Nick was always reaching out and wanting to help those who were living on the streets around us and, inspired by Nick’s concern, I felt this initiative would give people a place to donate and hopefully eliminate some of the drug sellers that prey on the homeless who depend on handouts to support their habit. While there is no perfect solution. I thought this one had possibilities.
Diana Edoyan in Councilmember Huizar’s office promptly responded to my request for a meeting and we had a very productive discussion around how helping the homeless could also be tied in with a greater city initiative around creating awareness for how we all live in the city together and how a spirit of kindness and social consciousness, the way Nick approached life, would continue to contribute to the livability of Downtown along with the physical revitalization efforts. Whether I was being overly optimistic or not, Diana was excited about what I was suggesting and was open to taking these ideas to her boss. I’d never been to City Hall before and this first experience was one of collaboration–even though I was just one citizen with an idea that I wanted to share.
A few months later, I attended Councilmember Huizar’s homeless solutions panel where multiple stakeholders and a vocal audience with differing opinions all had a chance to speak. It was a bold move on his part and Huizar handled it with great concern and sensitivity . I’ve heard Huizar speak to students at USC’s Price School of Public Policy and listened to his vision for Downtown. It doesn’t just focus on business and more buildings, it’s also about building community, livability and a place where families want to spend the day enjoying all that downtown has to offer. It also addressed the importance of being proud of who and what we are as a city.
The idea of Bringing Back Broadway was one of the reasons we wanted to live in the Eastern Columbia Building and have a front row seat to the beautification of our neighborhood. I had a big smile the day the bistro tables and red umbrellas went up on the street. It makes a statement that WE care but it took a leader like Councilmember Huizar to make that statement. I love to see all the people actually sitting at the tables that, along with the planters, create an ambiance on the street. Yes, we still have a long way to go, but you see people eating their lunch or enjoying a coffee with friends and it shows that we’ve come out from behind our walls and we’re meeting our neighbors.
Of course I love all the new retailers who have been attracted to the area and the shopping and dining discoveries that seem to pop up on a weekly basis within the blocks surrounding our building. Some people express concern about too much building. I recognize that I moved to a city and one that is changing, at that. I want to see history preserved and I want to see more green space, too. BUT if Jose Huizar is not re-elected I fear we’re going to stall our progress and lose all the momentum that he’s worked so hard to get going. I know first-hand he will listen and that he has an incredibly talented and dedicated staff that will help him stay aware of what his constituents’ needs are.
According to Wikipedia, Jose Huizar was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. His father was a migrant farm worker and later a machinist. His mother, Isidra Serrano, was a meatpacking plant worker. His family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Boyle Heights. Jose graduated from U.C. Berkeley, got his law degree from UCLA and received his Masters of Public Policy from Princeton. If I’m looking for the right person to hire for a challenging job, those papers alone shout “Qualified!” But character counts just as much–and no one is perfect…it’s how you move forward from a challenge that is the real test of character, and I believe Jose has proved that as well.
If you live in District 14 your vote is critical. Please be sure you get to the polls before they close tonight at 8 p.m. In case you haven’t figured it out…I hope you cast your vote for Councilmember Jose Huizar.