Across the Region, Officials Prioritize Economy and Beautification Projects for 2013
By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer
People tend to make resolutions and promises for the New Year that focus on improving their appearance and their financial situations. When EGP asked local city officials and district representatives about their city or district resolutions for the year 2013, many of them had similar answers that included beautification and ways to improve the economy.
EGP asked city officials and district representatives what would be one thing that they would like to accomplish in 2013 before the end of the fiscal year in July, as well as what the biggest challenge their city or district faces this year.
For the City of Commerce, 2013 will be about beautifying the city in hopes of improving the quality of life for residents and business owners.
“From streets and roads, to city facilities where children and adults receive services, Commerce is moving forward on numerous projects this year,” Mayor Lilia R. Leon told EGP.
Similarly, Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar (CD-14) told EGP that he wants to continue his efforts to create more open and green spaces in the 14th district, which includes communities like Boyle Heights, Eagle Rock and Highland Park.
“Children need places to play in an urban environment,” Huizar told EGP. “Families need a place to relax and enjoy nature.”
Educating children in the area is important to newly installed Assemblyman Ed Chau, who represents the 49th District that covers parts of Monterey Park and Montebello. Chaus also served many years on the Montebello Unified School District school board.
“One of my priorities is improving our education system by ensuring that children in our district and throughout the state have access to a quality education,” said Chau.
But like most city officials or representatives, Chau says the main obstacle to achieving his goal ensuring his district gets the funds needed to fulfill his commitment to education.
“Due to the cuts made to education programs in recent years, and the prospect of schools experiencing an increase in funding during the coming years,”
Chau told EGP, “I will work with my colleagues in considering various options when deciding how to allocate some of this funding.”
In hopes of improving the economy for Monterey Park in 2013, Vice Mayor Teresa Real Sebastian says one of her priorities is to make sure that construction on the Market Place project- a shopping center to be built next to the 60 freeway – gets underway.
“Monterey Park supports, needs and deserves this project,” Real Sebastian told EGP. “We weathered the brunt of the recession and are now more focused than ever to create new opportunities for added value developments and jobs.”
While creating more green space is a priority for Huizar, the L.A. councilman told EGP the most important issue affecting the quality of life for his constituents is the economy, and ensuring that everyone who wants a job, has a job.
“To do that, we have to be receptive and responsive to business and help them navigate the often-times heavy City bureaucracy that they encounter,” he said.
Likewise, Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti (CD-13), who is also running to become L.A.’s next mayor, says he hopes to help improve the economy and continue to create jobs in the city by ensuring the aviation program at Van Nuys Airport is not closed.
He plans to introduce a motion at Friday’s city council meeting requesting that Los Angeles World Airports engage immediately with LAUSD to ensure continued operation of the North Valley Occupational Center-Aviation Center.
“Saving this program will directly connect Angelenos with careers and help stop aerospace companies from seeking trained workers in other cities,” Garcetti told EGP. “A trained aviation workforce in Los Angeles is critical to the competitiveness of our airports, our aerospace industry, our trade sector and our overall economy.”
Aside from beautification and bringing jobs to their communities, Huizar and Garcetti said they want make sure that their constituent’s concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
“In 2013, I want to continue my office’s goal of engaging our constituents who reach out to us with an issue, whether it’s graffiti, a bulky item that needs to be picked up or a pothole that needs filling,” said Huizar.
Garcetti told EGP that one of the issues of timeliness he wants to address is fire department response times.
“The focus for 2013 must be on making sure City Hall better helps people and solves their problems, including faster fire department response times, fixing more potholes and quickly responding to complaints in every neighborhood,” said Garcetti.
While across the board city officials look forward to moving ahead with their projects, Monterey Park’s Vice Mayor, Real Sebastian, pointed out that uncertain state legislative mandates could lead to fiscal setbacks in the city’s plans. On the other hand, Commerce’s mayor told EGP that the passage of Measure AA has made the city’s goals possible by providing resources for such initiatives.
Like most people who reflected on the previous year and took stock of what they had learned, Leon said the City of Commerce plans to use that knowledge to improve the city’s future.
“The lessons we learned from the recession have taught us that we need to remain fiscally sustainable in the short term to protect programs and services,” Leon told EGP. “It has also informed our long term view that we need to focus on environmental sustainability and economic development to improve quality of life for our constituents in the coming decades.”
EGP Staff Writer Gloria Angelina Castillo also contributed to this story.
January 3, 2013 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.