Friday, November 30, 2007

Breakfast With Garcetti

This morning I forced myself to get up earlier than usual to attend Council President Eric Garcetti's community leader breakfast at Sabor y Cultura coffeehouse on Hollywood Blvd.

About 16 or so local school principals and leaders of community groups got together over coffee, juice, bagels and danishes to talk about the current issues and get an update from the councilman himself. I also spotted some familiar faces to the EHNC, such as Pilar Quispe, who heads a parents youth drug prevention group in East Hollywood, Nongyao Varanond, who heads Thai Health and Information Services Inc there in Thai Town and Nyla Arslanian from both the Greater Griffith Park NC and Barnsdall Arts Council. Eric's deputy staff were also in attendance.

I brought up the fact that all of the candidates in our neighborhood council election last month
wanted the same thing: more park/recreation space, traffic calming, less blight (graffiti, bulky items, litter), youth opportunities and arts-related programs.

Regarding parks, he mentioned the plan to put a recreation center on Santa Monica Blvd where the City's Bureau of Street lighting keeps a maintenance yard. He said it costs $30 million to move the site to an industrial area just to free the space to a park. I recommended they do a land-swap deal with Caltrans to move the yard to freeway land (since it's not preferable to put a park by the freeway anyway). He said he'll try to work this out with our Assemblyman Kevin DeLeon and probably the cost might be lower. Everyone in the neighborhood wants this park to happen, and Traci Calhoun, the principal of Lexington Primary Center, who was there at the meeting, also voiced her support.

Also regarding parks, I found out from field deputy Helen Leung that CD13 and the City's General Services are going to be talking to the owner of a vacant lot in the community to purchase it for a park!

I also found out from field deputy Alejandra Marroquin that the big construction area on Santa Monica and Mariposa (next door to Immaculate Heart of Mary School) will be a large affordable housing complex developed by Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, which will feature a community center. Looks like a potential venue for EHNC meetings!