When District 4 began it really took off, a lot of the reason why is because we introduced the riveting section with an interview introducing a great Councilman. We promised to continue that interview and here it is, as District 4 presents the follow up; an interview with Councilman David Ryu.
We began the interview with the question of homelessness. Understanding that Los Angeles is one of the homeless capitals in America despite the efforts of non-profits like Community Nest Foundation (CNF) and PATH (just to name a few) the homeless epidemic this year was on the rise. We asked the councilman, who is very passionate about this growing problem, what this increase could mean for the communities of Los Angeles and its inhabitants:
Q. Kim Kardashian most recently spoke regarding the homeless problem here in Los Angeles, and I know last time we spoke we tackled that heavy topic as well. Can you tell me what is new or any developments in that area? What do you think of the 12% increase overall and 16% in Los Angeles?
Homelessness is the crisis of our time, and it demands the best of our energy, focus and legislation. I have many projects underway across Council District Four to address homelessness. One of them, the LA LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus in the heart of Hollywood, includes 225 beds and units for homeless youth and seniors, as well as a senior center, mental health services, and job training. It’s truly a remarkable campus serving our most vulnerable communities that I’m proud to support. 100 beds for homeless youth at this campus opened in April of this year, with the remaining units under construction.
We also have a bridge housing center for women and bridge housing for transitional aged youth opening later this year. Both these projects are in Hollywood. These projects are critical, as women and transitional-aged youth face higher risk of homelessness and need resources where they can feel safe & supported.
Down the line, I am working on permanent supportive housing for seniors in Sherman Oaks, and A Bridge Home location in Los Feliz, serving 75-100 people. You can read more about each project and how to get involved at http://davidryu.lacity.org/homeless_plan
The increase we saw this year was sobering – but not surprising. We’re building too much housing for the very high income, and next to nothing for the middle class and low income. More than 721,000 people in Los Angeles County are severely rent-burdened and living on the edge of homelessness. We need to protect these people now and keep them in their homes – which is why I’m working on more affordable development and a repeal of Costa Hawkins at the State level so we can expand rent control.
Q. What other recent developments can you highlight in district 4 that are noteworthy?
We have so much going on in this amazing district… we’ve completed $4 million upgrades at the incredible Pan Pacific Park, build new playgrounds at De Longpre Park and Griffith Park, upgraded the soccer field at Van Nuys Sherman Oaks Park… I am a parks guy. When I was growing up in a cramped apartment just north of Koreatown, City parks were my backyard. I know firsthand how important parks are to a kid’s development and community health.
I’m also excited to be delivering on a number of key issues I ran on in 2015 – from infrastructure to a more ethical government.
At long last, we have funding in our city budget to fix our concrete streets, with a repair plan on the way – something I was once told was impossible, but we showed that it can and must be done.
We are closer than ever on campaign finance reform and getting developer money out of City politics – City Council recently approved my motion to seek an ordinance banning developers with business before the City from making campaign contributions.
In January of this year, I also introduced a motion with my colleague Councilwoman Nury Martinez to bring fully paid parental leave to Los Angeles. This is something every major country already does – it’s good for working families, it’s good for children, and it’s good for a more equitable economy. I don’t want to wait for the Federal government to realize this – LA is ready to stand with working families, and it’s time for fully paid parental leave.
We break here to engage in and end the interview with a few fun question just to throw off the councilman and to get to know him on a more personal level.
Q. What is a hobby of yours that people would not think you had?
I don’t have time for it much anymore, but I love to skateboard. When I was growing up in Los Angeles, all I did was skateboard with my friends. I even got to hang out with Stacy Peralta and his crew in Venice. I was pretty good – although the last time I tried to skate I wiped out a lot.
Q. Have you ever heard of Jay Shetty and if so what do you think he captures the young person’s mentality of today or do you think he is wise beyond his years?
I have not heard of Jay Shetty, but I like anyone who motivates and inspires people of all ages to find their purpose, know their potential, and do well in the world.
Q. What is your favorite color and why?
I like vibrant colors – deep blue and hot pink. They’re just more exciting. But if you’re judging by my ties, blue. Definitely blue.
Q. If a person wanted a career in politics? What would you say were the best steps and do you think there is a time when it is too late to pursue a political career?
First off – I always tell people that politics isn’t the only way to make a difference. It’s one way. I meet people who do incredible good in the non-profit sector and as entrepreneurs.
But, ok, let’s say you want to get involved in politics – this starts by doing exactly that: Get Involved. Go to your local neighborhood council meetings, understand the issues you, your neighbors, your community and your City are facing – and look for commonalities. Listen more than you speak. Look for opportunities to be helpful, and opportunities to lift other voices up that need to be heard. Politics is all about listening, learning and organizing.
It’s absolutely never to late – or too early – to pursue a career in politics. Everyone should be involved in their community, and everyone should make their voice heard in our local government. Our government is by and for the people – never forget that. You shouldn’t have to be invited to participate in your community. Just show up.
Q. What is something people would be shocked to know about you?
This may be controversial for the chair of the City Council Committee on Health to admit… but I love Panda Express. I love it. I don’t know if it’s an LA thing, and I try not to have it often, but orange chicken and rice is a special thing.
Panda Express, huh? Me too Councilman, me too!
End of Interview. This interview was edited for content.
Written by Alex Love