Tue, May

CD11’s Traci Park Addresses Unhoused, Limited Budgets and Summer Olympics to Venice Neighborhood Council

ALL THINGS VENICE - It was a homecoming of sorts for LA Councilwoman Traci Park (CD-11), a fellow Venetian who addressed the local governing body for the first time since assuming office last December. 

Smartly dressed, confident and looking presidential, the first-term councilmember offered a “state of the district” of sorts touching on the recently approved municipal budget, city services, her priorities, committee assignments as well as her take on the state of homelessness here in Venice and the rest of CD-11. 

Despite a year-over-year increase in homelessness citywide and especially on the Westside, Park painted an optimistic outlook on the encampment crisis as she reiterated that some 200 individuals had been housed here in Venice and that her alliance with LA Mayor Karen Bass is paying dividends in her battle to turn the tide on the issue street living. 

Stressing that LA lacks the “tools and resources,” to effectively end the homeless crisis, LA has appropriated a staggering $1.3 billion dollars in the city’s new spending package while boasting a fully funded LAPD and LAFD as Park has positioned herself as a strong advocate of cops and firefighters. 

Describing the VNC as important to “neighborhood democracy,” as she sees Venice as a “divergent” community.

Park introduced to those assembled her District Director Gabriela Medina and Venice Deputy Ashley Lozada, both former staffers of former councilmember Joe Buscaino of San Pedro who Park supported for mayor last year who announced his failed mayoral bid at the beach at the height of COVID-19. 

Park stressed to stakeholders she does not “have a magic wand and that we do not have unlimited funds” in describing her transition from political neophyte to one of fifteen members of one of the most powerful city councils in the United States in America’s second largest municipality. 

Park announced some prized committee assignments as she is the first Venetian to serve on the LA City Council since the days of her predecessor Ruth Galanter.  

Park has assumed the position of Chairperson of the Trade, Travel and Tourism Committee as well as Chair of the newly created Ad hoc Committee for the 2028 Summer Games that are coming back to LA for the first time since 1984. Park says she will investigate the sighting of events here in Venice, and as of this writing, no events are scheduled for the community, while Santa Monica will be hosting across the way. 

Park also serves as Vice-Chair of the Transportation Committee and as a member of the Public Safety Committee announcing that a collective bargaining agreement has been reached with the Police Protective League, one of Park’s earliest and most avid supporters in her council victory over fellow Venetian Erin Darling by a slim,  52%-48% margin. 

Park announced her district offices are located at the Westchester Park Municipal Building and that three days a week she is downtown in council and committee meetings. Park mentioned she supports a greater investment in infrastructure improvements like fixing sidewalks and improving the quality of life in general in the district. 

While Park noted public safety staffing levels were at a twenty-year low, the LAPD budget request was fully funded and that she was seeking greater and increased deployment strategies in hotspots like Oceanfront Walk here in Venice. 

Park is concerned with the plight at the boardwalk and that she was working on more staffing to alleviate the issues at the restrooms currently plaguing this popular tourist destination. 

Park is committed to retaining a sensitivity to marine life while her basic approach to governance is “cautious and thorough.” 

Park noted tree canopies were damaged during the winter storms and was proud of the efforts to remove the RV dilemma along Jefferson where specialized street sweeping services were being implemented to restore and retain the progress being made by her office. 

Park described “vehicular homelessness” as a major issue facing the district and that finding long-term solutions a new priority. 

Park proclaimed she as well as her staff are working on the issue of homeless “every single day” since assuming office last December. 

Park says she is determined to turn the homeless issue around with compassion calling the last eight months in office “the shortest, longest of my life.” 

Another priority was to relocate the RV question at Lincoln Place and that Mayor Bass was investigating city-owned parcels at LAX as a long-term possibility. 

In a brief Q&A with VNC board members, Community Officer Soledad Ursua asked if Venice Bridge Housing was hosting illegal migrants that have been sent to Los Angeles in recent weeks. Park described the question as “interesting,” but was not aware of a migrant issue here in Venice. 

Community Officer Steve Bradbury suggested a police sub station on Washington as opposed to the current locale at the beach and Park indicated she would support such an initiative. 

Getting back to the Summer Olympics, Park indicated she could provide greater details as to the location of an event here in Venice. 

“I’ll know more by November,” offered the freshman councilmember. 

Park’s staffers closed by announcing some street cleanups and that LAHSA was having intensive engagement with the homeless in the community. 

“I see what you see,” offered Park. 

Park District Director Medina also spoke about the formation of a 45-member task force that was designed to specifically address the issues at Oceanfront Walk and that members of the VNC were encouraged to attend and join this effort to cleanup the beach. Park mentioned she toured OFW with LA Supervisor Lindsey Horvath and that this initiative is what was described as “a work in progress.” 

Park’s presentation was well-received as the tone and tenor of her relationship with the VNC and the council office was night and day in comparison with her predecessor Mike Bonin, who was forced into retirement by the recall efforts of Venetians like Nico Ruderman and others disgusted with his unpopular positions in regards to the homeless issue that spun out-of-control on his watch. 

(Nick Antonicello is a thirty-year resident who covers the local political scene and all things Venice. Have a take or a tip? Contact Antonicello via e-mail at [email protected].)