Downtown Issues for 14th District City Council Candidates

DTLA—Few people are thinking about next year’s 14th District City Council race. After all, voters won’t go to the polls until March 2020. When election day arrives, the contest will be at the bottom of a ballot highlighted by the presidential primary.

Still, it’s not too early to think about who will succeed José Huizar as the representative of the large and diverse district. Already nine people have filed paperwork to begin raising money for the race.

As declared and potential candidates move forward, we’ll expect them to be well-versed and able to detail plans and thoughts on a number of issues that relate to Downtown Los Angeles. This is a potentially voter-rich area — approximately 70,000 people reside here — with an active and engaged populace. While the boundaries of the 14th encompass Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Eagle Rock and other neighborhoods, Downtown is a community with unique assets and challenges. Candidates should be getting up to speed on what matters to area inhabitants.

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As the election approaches we’ll want to know what policies and plans candidates will have to continue Downtown’s residential boom. This is a multifaceted issue, and we’ll want defined thinking not only on how they will grow the market-rate housing stock, but how they will spur the creation of workforce housing so mid-level earners such as administrative assistants and teachers can afford to live here.

Of course, we’ll want workable plans for building affordable housing, and will want to know whether candidates think private, market-rate projects should include a low-income component. If so, how will they make that happen?

We’ll expect candidates to speak knowledgably about responding to the homelessness crisis, and specifically, what policies would they support and propose to address the inhumane conditions on the streets of Skid Row? How will they help housed and un-housed Downtowners? How will they convince other council members to accept their fair share of the burden?

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We expect the would-be representatives to understand Downtown’s urban planning and quality-of-life issues. They will need to offer thoughts on how to increase mobility on the packed streets, and where new parks could be created. Would they support congestion pricing for cars in the area? Additionally, how will they help open new quality elementary schools? Metro Charter Elementary relocated from Downtown last fall, and without viable replacements, families will leave the community.

Public safety is a key matter in every neighborhood, but again, Downtown faces unique challenges, and we’ll expect clear and creative thinking regarding how the council office should work with the police department, the office of the City Attorney and business improvement districts. Some corners in Downtown are notorious for drug dealing, and car break-ins remain rampant in the 14th. What are the plans to address these problems?

Also, under what conditions would candidates support tax breaks for proposed hotels? And we’ll want a clear yes or no — no waffling — on whether they support Huizar’s long-gestating Downtown streetcar.

This is a long list, and it’s not exhaustive. But these issues and topics matter to Downtown. Consider it a starting point, and as the race heats up, we look forward to hearing candidates’ creative thinking to move Downtown forward.

Copyright 2019 Los Angeles Downtown News