By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
And it works. Its come-one, come-all January 31 meeting at USC's Davidson Conference Center was standing room only 20 minutes before it kicked off. The councilman's people said more than 600 attended. I'd have guessed higher. There were five panel discussions on local and citywide issues (I was on the charter-reform committee). Accustomed as I am to the dismissive way the City Council shrugs off public comment and criticism, I was encouraged to see how, in this context, a sympathetic moderator (ours was Charter Commissioner Marguerite Archie-Hudson) could draw out members of the public until their views were clear, comprehended and appreciated.
The 8th District congress is touted as the model for charter-empowered neighborhood councils all over the city. It ought to be.
Toward a Dapper Downtown?
After years of seemingly delegating the responsibility, the center-city stakeholders are planning to fight the decline of downtown Los Angeles. They say they're going to clean it up and keep it that way.
The last attempt, the CRA's Broadway Improvement District, foundered two years ago. Kicked off with bright hopes early this decade as "Miracle on Broadway," that BID bid collapsed because it never had more than a hairsbreadth-majority support from the Broadway merchants who paid all the assessments for street cleanup and improvements. Their landlords and near-neighbors got the BID benefits for free.
The current effort, spearheaded by the Central City Association, downtown real estate titans Maguire Partners and the Times' business side, removes that inequity by assessing landlords instead of tenants. The targeted region is also several times larger: roughly, from Main Street east to Hill Street with a jog (to include the Music Center) to the Harbor Freeway, and from First Street south to Olympic. According to Maguire partner Tim Walker, the new approach has already netted a 65 percent participation among property owners, many of whom are overseas.
Walker said the major emphasis of the $3.2-million-a-year program will be to keep the area clean and safe with a street staff of nearly 30. A colorfully attired cleanup crew, started this week. Next week comes a low-key security force. After that, Walker promised some serious downtown marketing.
"Downtown is incredibly safer than most people think it is," Walker said. He concedes, however, that the upcoming Big Three projects - the cathedral, Disney Hall and the new Staples Arena - can't help the region unless people feel comfortable going and staying there. And that's what the new BID is all about.
Long Shrift for Laura
In discussing the McKinley Building debacle last month, I omitted mention of one noteworthy player: Councilwoman Laura Chick. Though the doomed historic structure isn't in her district, she filed a motion to shield it with a landmark designation last September.
So she should be numbered among the righteous minority on this issue.
Also, had I read her motion, introduced in late September, I would have known the 1927 building was designed by the historic Los Angeles firm of Morgan, Walls & Clements. And I wouldn't have had to look all over the place for the spelling of the word Churrigueresque.