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Southern California VOICES

Platform: Dear Mayor: What Neighborhoods Need

July 19, 1993| Compiled for The Times by Erin Aubry, Jim Blair and Brenda Sunoo

FRANCES THRONSON: Vice president, Mt. Washington residents' association The most important thing Mayor Riordan can do is to throw the weight of our business and political leadership behind the creation of a thought-out, progressive urban planning policy.

Well-designed and built homes and businesses are an asset, something that makes people committed to where they are. (But now) our neighborhood is being blighted by poorly designed, cheaply constructed homes that are turning our streets into places where people most committed to community do not want to live.

Encourage merchants, with incentives where possible, to be sensitive to the built environment. Don't allow ugly signage and cheap rehabs to strip all the historic character and flavor from existing buildings.

EVANGELINE NICHOLS ORDAZ: Legal Aid attorney, East L.A. I would take him first to the city housing authority office and have him look at the lists of all the people waiting for Section 8 (subsidized) and affordable housing, so he can see how dire the housing problem is. The wait is about a year now. The problem is that people are scraping by, spending most of their money on rent. I would tell Mayor Riordan that the problem is that too much of the money goes toward subsidizing high-rise office buildings.

I would take him to buildings that are suffering from slum conditions, to the department of social services offices so that he could see how poorly people are treated, how humiliated and dehumanized they are are a regular basis. I would want him to turn his power over to people who constitute the majority of this community. We don't need outsiders handing down solutions that may or may not be relevant.

JEFF BRAIN: Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce I want him to know that (in Sherman Oaks) we have been working together over the last couple of years, all the different groups--the homeowners, the businesses, the schools. We would like the appearance of an adversarial relationship between government, particularly city government, and the citizens to be eliminated. (We'd) like to see the city set its priorities and develop a long-term plan for the communities so that both residents and businesses know what to expect.

I do leasing for shopping centers and I know the tenants I try to bring into Sherman Oaks have an incredible time getting their permits and opening up. They're hassled continually. It's not (only) the business world. Residents simply want to know the direction the city's going so they know whether to buy a home in a particular location.

STEPHANIE MILES: South Los Angeles First of all, being a black teen-ager, I would take him around South Central. I would show him that there are no stores and no jobs. I would show him how bad it looks, all the holes in the road and things like that. I would compare and contrast the good with the bad, how different and uneven certain neighborhoods look, how on the same street you have apartment complexes torn down that are right next to nice houses.

But the main thing I would show him is how badly we need more jobs. I'm looking for a job myself. If we had more jobs, especially for black teen-agers, I know things would look different. Because if kids don't have anyplace to work, they'll do other things that aren't so positive.

I would try to get across to Mayor Riordan that his government has to do something.

ELMA CHUNN: Paralegal assistant, Crenshaw area My concern is safety in the area. when I come home at night around 8 p.m., sometimes a car ahead of me might slow down. It's not exactly safe. I'd ask Riordan for more policemen. There's not enough of them--I'm not even sure where the nearest police station is in this area.

Once when I was opening my garage door, a youth saw that we were two older women and said, "This is a holdup." He reached over to get my purse. I hung on to it, so he hit me and gave me a black eye. Then he got my mother's purse. One of her fingers was permanently damaged.

OTTO JACKSON: Director, All American Youth Center, Mid-City First of all, I would let Riordan know I'm glad to see him. Then I would tell him about what I'm doing at my youth center, and about my needs. I would tell him I'm running the only youth center in the area, and that I have an obligation to the kids in the community. But I need funding, which I haven't had from the city since I've had this organization. I need a jump start. I need the opportunity to do for my kids what Riordan has the opportunity to do for all the kids in this city.

JAMES SONG: Manager, Funkytown Record, Koreatown I'd like Riordan to see how our community is. It's getting worse and worse. I see a lot of homeless people, more and more bums. They even go out in the streets, stopping cars for change. I see lots of people I don't want to see on the street. Maybe Riordan can clear those people out--give them someplace to live or give them a job.

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