- Written by Alice Walton
21 Feb 2012
ANOTHER TAKE ON THE AIA MAYOR’S FORUM - Balancing the needs of individual neighborhoods while maintaining an overall vision for the livability of Los Angeles is at the heart of mayoral candidate Jan Perry’s vision for the city, she told a crowded auditorium last week in a talk on architecture and urban design.
“Yes, we respect the single-family neighborhood or even the multi-family neighborhood … that kind of forms the basis of who we are as a city and how we define our communities,” Perry said Friday evening at the Ron Deaton Civic Auditorium at LAPD headquarters. “We still have people who understand the need to be a community, and yet embrace density along the streets like Central Avenue, Vermont, Broadway.”
“You have to reassure people on the one hand and then teach them that the future can be very bright for their children,” she said.
The talk, moderated by Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne and Planning Commission president Bill Roschen, was the first in a series hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Mayoral candidates Austin Beutner, Kevin James, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti will participate in similar discussions in the coming weeks.
Since 2001, Perry has served as the councilwoman of the Ninth District. During that time, she has seen how architecture and design can impact the way people view their surroundings, even in areas as depressed as Skid Row. The Downtown Women’s Center is an example of how design can foster community, Perry said.
“It gave them back their dignity, it helped them deal with their mental health issues, it causes them to interact with each other,” Perry said of the building that mixed communal living space with private apartments. “I think the design can bring people together in ways that are extremely meaningful.”
A major challenge in pushing through public projects is time, and term limits have only hindered the work that politicians can do in the area of development, Perry said. The councilwoman pointed to the recent opening of a wetlands park in South Los Angeles.
“I think term limits are stupid. I think they hurt communities, particularly lower-income communities. I just opened a project the other day at 54th and Avalon – an old MTA bus yard – and now it’s a 10-acre wetlands. From beginning to end, to acquire the property, to settle the funding, to do the field work took us eight years,” Perry said.
In terms of structure, the city of Los Angeles has a weak mayoral system. That prompted moderators to question whether Perry would actually give up power by going from the 15-member Los Angeles City Council to the mayor’s office, where she would have to deal with the competing interests of each district.
“I don’t see it as a weak mayor,” Perry said. “I see it an opportunity to be a focused public servant, extremely focused in generating new revenue, balancing the budget, making sure that we continue to build out our city in a way that is highly desirable and provides a very good quality of life.”
● AIA Mayoral Candidate Forum Video here.
(Alice Walton is The City Maven. More of her coverage on everything politics in Los Angeles at thecitymaven.com) -cw
Tags: Jan Perry, candidate forum, AIA Forum, mayoral candidates, Los Angeles Mayoral Race
Vol 10 Issue 15
Pub: Feb 21, 2012