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City Times Voices : The City's High and Low Points

January 02, 1994

Although they represent different areas, the 15 members of the Los Angeles City Council share a bond because they all work, and presumably sometimes play, Downtown. Times staff writer Greg Krikorian recently asked the leaders what most delights and distresses them about the area.

Mike Hernandez

1st District

"I tend to look at the Downtown central core as a sponge in terms of city resources. It tends to benefit a lot of people who don't actually live in the city. I don't see them paying their fair share of taxes for police protection . . . and it really affects . . . the surrounding corridors of business areas--for example, Highland Park, Figueroa Street, Lincoln Heights, North Broadway--areas where we should have theaters, restaurants. . . . Right now we treat those areas as transportation corridors. We want the traffic to move out as soon as possible. So what is happening is that people go to the theaters and restaurants (elsewhere) and Downtown isn't thriving at night.

Joel Wachs

2nd District

I think all cities have to have a heart . . . there has to be a central point in the city. And I like a lot of what has developed recently. . . . I love the Central Library. I love the Music Center. I love MoCA. . . . So I think there is a lot more Downtown than people think. There are an enormous number of historic buildings that are pretty fantastic. . . . For example, the theaters on Broadway are extraordinary buildings that we have to make an effort to preserve. If there is anything that disturbs me it is to walk down 5th Street or 4th and Boyd . . . and see this almost hideous concentration that has developed of people having to live on the street.

Laura Chick

3rd District

What I like the most really focuses on the areas that have received the most attention. We have some phenomenal sections that are beautiful and fun and exciting to work in, to walk around, to go to restaurants, etc. Then we have sections further east and south that are terribly blighted. That are dangerous. That are filled with the blight and the heartbreak of our city. What I want to see is for all of the Downtown core to be like the parts that I love.

John Ferraro

4th District

I think Downtown has come a long way. It's beautiful. So I would encourage people to come and see Downtown. . . . And what distresses me is that perception of Downtown (as) dangerous, the working community leaves at night and people are afraid to come Downtown. And it's sad because Los Angeles does have new areas that are exciting . . .

Zev Yaroslavsky

5th District

What I like is the increasing feel of the place. I also like the eastern part of Downtown. I jog here from time to time on my lunch hour. And I will go into the Alameda area, Central City East, where the lofts have been and the warehouses. There are some restaurants that have developed there and some shops. . . . What distresses me most about it is the homelessness, the social problems. Downtown seems to be the repository, especially the Civic Center area . . . for every social problem we have.

Ruth Galanter

6th District

What distresses me the most is that we still have so many homeless people that we are apparently unable to provide for. And what I like the best is the DASH bus. The DASH bus is wonderful. You don't have to move your car. You get to go all over Downtown for a quarter. It's wonderful.

Richard Alarcon

7th District

I think the central area reflects the message we send out to the rest of the world. . . . So I think that it's very important we put our best foot forward to exhibit the best of the city. . . . I am concerned particularly about the homeless problem which, I think, probably causes the most discomfort when people are in the Downtown area.

Mark Ridley-Thomas

8th District

Mostly what I see about Downtown is City Hall, quite frankly. I see homelessness in various parts of the city. . . . What I appreciate most is that people have not given up on the revitalization of what in many ways is viewed as the historic core of the city.

Rita Walters

9th District

Perhaps we can point to some of the structures that are both brand-new and, like the (Central) library, have been restored. . . . What I like least would be those buildings that . . . are not distinctive. . . . I don't think we took as much pride in the opportunity to have architecturally distinctive buildings as we took in just building out the space.

Nate Holden

10th District

Downtown is Broadway--dirty. Not just Broadway, but some of the other streets too. Not well-maintained. It seems to me that the merchants don't even care. Certainly the people don't. . . . They are bringing people back with condominiums and trying to give a good face lift to Downtown and trying to revitalize some of the business in the area.

Marvin Braude

11th District

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