Happy New Year! I hope you and your families had a happy, healthy holiday season and are as ready as I am to begin working toward an even better, more prosperous 2015.
As we look ahead to all the things we hope to accomplish this year, I think it is instructive to look back and take stock of the great work done to make last year a banner year in the San Fernando Valley.
From parks to trees to better public transportation, 2014 was a time of progress in the Valley. Here are just a few of the many, many things that I worked on in Council District 2 last year.
Each year, I set out to improve public access to green space in the city. It was a good year for parks, trees and our neighborhoods. Last year, I was happy to unveil the city’s 50th universally accessible playground at Studio City’s Beenman Park, while also securing free parking at Wilacre Park to alleviate neighborhood congestion.
With some dogged residents on Cantura Street, I helped save a massive 90-year-old tree canopy that provides shade and beauty to one of our oldest, most interesting neighborhoods. I also joined neighborhood leaders to plant more than 120 new trees in Valley Village’s busiest areas. Throughout the district, we planted 230 new tries and trimmed 2,785 that needed it.
Community leaders worked with my office to beautify and put a 9,000 foot public mural on NoHo’s Whitsett Slope and we cleaned up the world’s longest mural—which happens to be in Council District 2—Valley Glen’s Great Wall of Los Angeles. In fact, with our #NoTag CD2 campaign, we cleaned 1,000,160 square feet of graffiti from 28,527 locations. We also removed close to 990 1150 tons of bulky items from neighborhood sidewalks and streets.
Preserving our most precious resources also means preserving the icons of our past. Last year, I joined my fellow Metro Board Members to unveil the newly restored Lankershim Depot, a symbol of our rich rail history and a marker for the continued need for transit expansion.
Transit was another high point for my district and the Valley in general. I started the public conversation about converting the Orange Line to light rail to increase capacity, urged connecting our Valley to the San Gabriel Valley with high capacity rail, added 200 badlyneeded parking spaces at the NoHo Red Line station, and opened the ValleyWestside Express, a high-speed bus lane over the Sepulveda Pass that is shaving 40 minutes off of daily commutes.
Our city’s financial outlook made great strides this year. As chair of the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, I’m proud that we passed an $8.1 billion city budget that trimmed the fat and restored funding for vital neighborhood services, like street and sidewalk repair and public safety. It showed the world that our city’s finances are getting back on track. We still have a long way to go, but the finish line is within sight.
Last year was also the year Los Angeles regained its title as the most film friendly city in the country. The Ad Hoc Committee on Film and TV Production Jobs, which I chair, cut through the red tape, simplified film permitting and encouraged filming at desirable city properties. These actions, along with the state’s enhanced film incentive, will keep middle-class jobs in the Valley and create thousands more in the years to come.
Although last year was overwhelmingly positive, it was a tough time for some of our most needy residents. In May, when the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission suffered a devastating fire, homeless families were displaced and the Mission’s critical work nearly ground to a halt overnight. But our community came together in an unprecedented way. In less than six months, the Mission was back up on its feet with a new shelter and vehicle fleet to serve families in need across the Valley.
The story of how Los Angeles came together to “Rescue the Mission” is emblematic of the resilience and spirit of our community. No matter how difficult the challenge, we have shown time and time again that we will overcome it and grow stronger in the process.
Here’s to a fantastic 2015! I look forward to serving you and working with you to make our community better each day.