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Downtown: debating the new LAPD HQ

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, August 24, 2004, at 11:51PM

As promised earlier, I went to City Hall tonight to attend the meeting about the new police headquarters. It was my fist time in City Hall, so that part of it was cool in and of itself. It really is an amazing building.

I arrived at the meeting about a half hour after it started, so I missed any remarks and presentations that opened. What I was there for, and what went on a good hour plus, was public comment. For the most part you could divide the speakers into two camps:

  • Little Tokyo people glad to see the HQ out of their district and into the Civic Center, and
  • Higgins Building people wanting the HQ anywhere else but where they want to put it.

A lot of people said the same things over and over, and you get a little tired of that after a while. Brady Westwater, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Council (DLANC), made what I thought was the best use of the two minutes each person was given. Basically what he said was (a bit more diplomatically, but hey, it's my paraphrasing): All of you who want the HQ to not be there: get real. It's happening. People have signed off. That debate's over. The debate now has to be how to get LAPD to use the site in a way that maximizes usable public space.

The architect had some rough shapes on hand to fit into a cool cardboard version of the surrounding blocks. Some of the designs looked like they had real possibility. There will be a long give and take process to balance LAPD's priorities against those of nearby residents, but I think this is the time where that debate can be fruitful.

Some random notes:

  • I would suggest against a public speaking tactic that involves trying to show up the public figures on hand. It's not going to work, and it just makes you look bad. Show respect at all times, even when you're attacking their policy.

  • Opponents of the HQ played the children card, and had two young girls come read a little speech that talked about how they wanted the chance to grow up like normal little kids and could only have that with a park.

All in all, an interesting and informative time.

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