After being bombarded for weeks by my friends who work at the Council District 13 office (as well as friends who have no direct connection with Garcetti or the district), the day has finally come: The CD13 Planning Town Hall at Mayberry Elementary School in Silver Lake. The purpose was to meet the new Los Angeles Department of City Planning director Michael LoGrande, who recently took over in July from his retired predecessor, Gail Goldberg.
The much-publicized event was attended by some 60 or so community folk, mostly neighborhood council people and/or homeowners group-cum-PLUM geeks who wanna see what the incoming director is all about.
The event fielded questions from not just the audience but from Twitter and from a Google online exchange. I did not get my question (which pertained to whether he supported altering planning practicies to avert neighborhood blight) answered, so I didn’t know where he stood on that. One women from Echo Park, however, got three of her questions answered. Hmmm…
My first impressions of the guy: Seems affable, reasonable. His background as the Chief Zoning Administrator indicates he rose up the ranks within the department and sounds like a manager-type rather than a visionary-type. Of course, Goldberg was very much a visionary type (“Do Real Planning!”) although she seemed to do little to impact the City, much less the department. Also, for a department head, he appeared rather young, no older than his mid-40s (later found out he, like Garcetti, is 39, which means I could have gone to high school with the dude…).
I did see some community folk there I hadn’t seen in years, such as Susan Borden, a community activist from Echo Park, who has been involved with the Echo Park Improvement Association for years, and was one of the generous people who mentored me in my first forays into community organizing in the mid-1990s.
After the event I chatted with Garcetti and CD13 district deputy Ryan Carpio, and then hung out with fellow town hall attendee and friend Filiberto Gonzalez (who actually lives in Chatsworth but is intrigued with @ericgarcetti‘s tweetocratic methods of civic engagement) at the 1642 beer and wine bar in Historic Filipinotown. It was a dimly-lit hipsterish joint, and we were the only people of color upon walking in, but it was a pretty chill place with some good brews. After we left the place (at that point a couple of Filipina/Asian gals were sitting at the bar), he asked if there was a place that “actually reflects the neighborhood.” So I led him across the street to Tribal Cafe.