LA Councilman David Ryu: Promise to Listen, More Than Campaign Rhetoric

RARE POLITICIAN--When David Ryu campaigned for City Council earlier this year he promised to listen to the residents and to put neighborhoods first. He repeated this pledge so frequently that he risked becoming a caricature. 

All candidates boast of their acute sense of hearing and the depth of their caring for communities. But, as I got to know David Ryu over the course of the election, I came to a startling realization: he really means it. He’s sincere. In the past weeks he demonstrated this big time on two different fronts.
When alarm bells began sounding up and down Wilshire Boulevard over Metro’s new seven week option to close the street for subway work at La Brea, CM Ryu’s phone started ringing off the hook. To our delight, he picked up the phone and went to work on our behalf and put a halt to the squeeze play Metro was trying to pull off.  
Metro had demanded that Ryu and the Wilshire communities decide on the accelerated seven week plan by November 13. But Ryu refused, saying that neither he nor the rest of us had sufficient information to rationally assess the new proposal. He put out word that no neighborhood needed to make a decision until Metro had done their homework and provided traffic and noise studies comparing both options. And he insisted that he would not make a recommendation either way until the impacted neighborhoods had a full opportunity to advise him of our concerns.
Traffic congestion and intrusion is going to result from either option – whether Wilshire is shut down for 22-weekends or the new seven-week closure (plus six-weekends for the decking of the La Brea intersection.) This is a matter of selecting the lesser of two evils.
We have known about the weekend closures to deck Wilshire for several years. This was the plan contained in the Purple Line Extension Environmental Impact Report. No one liked it, but it allowed for the underground construction of the subway station in a way that caused the least amount of cut-through traffic and loss of sleep.  
The new plan to close Wilshire between Highland and La Brea for seven full weeks (49 days of 24-hour mayhem,) instead of during 16 weekends, caught us completely by surprise. Our immediate concern was for businesses, but we soon realized there was a whole other problem: school children. 

There are five schools in our area and there was no mention of how Metro would mitigate the impact it would have on parents picking up and dropping off their kids – or for the children who walk or ride bikes to school. We raised this issue with Councilmember Ryu and he understood exactly where we were coming from. 

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How you can take all the cars off of Wilshire on week days – with thousands of people trying to get to-and-from work – and divert them to Olympic, 6th, or 3rd remains to be seen. Metro’s traffic studies are due in January 2016 and, then – finally – we will all have some real facts on which to base our decisions.
In another show of support for the neighborhoods, Councilmember Ryu joined with Councilmembers Koretz, Cedillo and Englander at a joint Transportation and Planning Land Use committee meeting to vote “no” on a do-over for Mobility Plan 2035, which is currently being challenged in court.
He understands that a one-size-fits-all plan can never work for a city the size and complexity of Los Angeles. Most importantly, David Ryu listened to those of us who live in Council District 4 and will bear the brunt of this impractical and utopian scheme. This misbegotten plan demands a fundamental change in how we get from point A to point B. At its core is the goal of purposefully creating congestion in order to force us out of our cars and onto bikes and busses. (More about this later as the legal battle play out.)
So, thank you Councilmember David Ryu for stepping up to the plate and hitting another one out of the park on behalf of your constituents – and proving that your oft repeated pledge to listen to the voters wasn’t just a campaign promise.


(James O’Sullivan is Vice President of Fix The City and President of the Miracle Mile Residential Association.) Graphic: LA Weekly. Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.




Vol 13 Issue 93

Pub: Nov 17, 2015