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José Huizar plans for a new 'cohesive' downtown LA district

By Hayley Fox
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012, at 09:09AM
Spring Street Bike Lane Eric Richardson / blogdowntown

Councilman Jose Huizar riding down the Spring Street bike lane.

New district lines for the Los Angeles City Council went into effect last week, putting the majority of Downtown into the 14th District -- and the hands of Councilman José Huizar.

Huizar said that while having one council office represent Downtown as a whole may keep the area "cohesive," the different neighborhoods in DTLA have very unique characteristics and needs.

"Our challenge will be to link these distinct communities together," he said.

Huizar said his focus for the area will be "revitalization" and applying the successful tactics and structure of his Bringing Back Broadway initiative to neighborhoods through Downtown. Renovations at Clifton's Cafeteria, the announcement of an incoming Ace Hotel and a Ross Dress for Less slated to open in 2013 are all DTLA developments the councilman has publicly embraced as part of his Bringing Back program.

"It's not that we're going to lose focus on Broadway but we have opportunity to use the same type of approach we used on Broadway for all of Downtown," Huizar said.

As more residents pour into Downtown, infrastructure for everyday life such as more schools, parks and access to transportation will be key parts of development, the councilman said.

He said he plans to continue the push for L.A.'s streetcar and Regional Connector, while also looking to manage the influx of traffic through better technology -- such as the recently announced parking application that tells drivers where spots are available in Downtown and adjusts rates according to demand.

"Im excited about the possibilities, and at the same time I realize the challenges that lay before my office and the city," Huizar said.

While much of Downtown's demographics are changing, the issues surrounding homelessness, mental illness and crime on Skid Row persist. Huizar said he will strive for consistency and additional resources for the in-need area and will try to deal with "immediate needs" while "slowly chipping away at a huge problem."

Much of Huizar's new area was previously in Councilwoman Jan Perry's 9th District. Perry has been extremely vocal in her opposition to her newly defined district since the beginning of the redistricting process.

"It's not a new district, it's a district that's been hacked in half," Perry told OnCentral earlier this month.

She's said that by removing Downtown from the 9th, South L.A. will have lost its "economic engine" and the loss of these assets would create an "economic apartheid."

Perry will reach her term limit as a councilmember next July and is in the running to be L.A.'s next mayor.

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