February 28, 1993 - From the February, 1993 issue

LA/CRA’s Economic Development Strategy: TPR Readers’ Reactions

In our January issue, The Planning Report presented an article by Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency Administrator Edward Avila outlining a new role for the CRA and describing a new economic development strategy for the city and region. LA/CRA is also sponsoring a series of “thought-pieces” on economic development issues.

For this month’s issue, The Planning Report asked a cross-section of its readers to give their reactions to Avila’s proposals.

I think it’s an excellent plan. It’s what is needed in Los Angeles today. Most importantly, it moves away from the old economic development concepts of job creation only and dares to move into new areas by proposing to create not only jobs but also opportunities for entrepreneurs that will help to build an economic base in the African-American community. 

Bishop Leon Ralph Chair, Los Angeles Opportunity Industrialization Center; Vicechair, Ministerial Alliance

Perhaps the most important aspect of Ed Avila’s plan for economic recovery is found in the title of the document itself: “A Proposal for a Regional Economic Development Strategy for the City of Los Angeles.” The premise of the document recognizes that Los Angeles’ economic reality is directly linked to the vitality of the entire region, and that any proposal for recovery needs to be coordinated region­wide. 

While giving top priority to the creation of jobs and the expansion of the area’s economic base, it contends that no redevelopment project can be successful without empowering the community and promoting active participation from those most affected by redevelopment. 

The success of this plan will also require the cooperation and involvement of numerous departments and agencies, and the CRA should be commended for coming forward at this time to provide not just the vision but also the blueprint for revitalization. 

Monica Lozano CRA Commissioner; Editor, La Opinion

I think the plan is well done and a good beginning. I particularly like the bottom-up, community-based emphasis of this plan. It has the capacity to build on our strengths and be sensitive to the needs and wishes of the community. In the current economic climate, this is a strategy that holds real promise. 

Jane Pisano Dean, School of Public Administration, USC 

It’s been nine months since the riots but Korean businesses are still having difficulty rebuilding. We think the CRA economic plan can be a starting point in directing the kind of help that we need. We also believe that the CRA’s activities will help the Korean community create a community center that has been lacking. 

Stuart Ahn Ko-Am Construction 

Economic development is a regional issue, not a downtown problem. For the first time, someone is reaching out to incorporate all parts of our city into this discussion. I commend the CRA for initiating this discussion. No one else has! 

Benjamin Reznik Chairman, Valley Industry and Commerce Association

In my inner city community, the rising tide of Los Angeles poverty is sweeping across valley floors and eroding the vitality of once tranquil hillsides. Unless we successfully implement some form of Avila’s vision of defining an economic development strategy and a widely accepted redevelopment resource, growing waves of poverty will surely wash over the remaining hills as well. It’s time to stop the CRA-bashing and time to start guiding them in the work! 

James Bonar, FAIA President, Silver Lake Residents Association 

I enthusiastically endorse the economic strategy plan of LA/CRA. It’s revolutionary in its approach to our regional economy because it focuses upon the potential of small and medium-sized growing manufacturing firms. 

Charles Woo ABC Toys; President, Central City East Association 

We will discover in the months ahead whether Los Angeles has the creative energy and leadership that will move us towards a new social order of economic opportunity. If so, it will be the kind of energetic initiative demonstrated by Ed Avila’s proposal that will get us there. 

His proposal is especially important for its inclusivity and generosity: an overall citywide policy focused on expanding economic independence for people throughout the city. He recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all the districts of this region and the degree to which we might all prosper together. And his proposal is important because it emphasizes our need to empower institutions and agencies to work with communities and to have the means to implement community goals. 

The new Mayor and Council may notice that the time of setting district against district and issue against issue must come to a close as the time for creating real economic opportunity for all of our citizens begins. 

Robert Harris USC School of Architecture 

Catholic Charities Community Development Corporation applauds Mr. Avila’s plans for the CRA, and we look forward to continued community participation in responding to the increasing challenges facing the housing and social service needs of Los Angeles. 

Wendy P. Indvik Housing Specialist, Catholic Charities Community Development Corporation

We understand and support the Agency’s need to make itself more sensitive to areas in need of redevelopment and revitalization. We hope there will be an understanding and commitment to the parts of downtown that are unfinished because downtown is an economic engine that helps all Council districts throughout the city, especially those hurt by the civil unrest. 

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Carol Schatz Vice-President, Central City Association 

It’s a lifeline that we ought to grab. Unless someone comes up with a stronger, more compelling plan, we ought to dig in our heels and dig ourselves out of a hole. This gives us the means to start climbing. 

Maxene Johnston President, The Weingart Center

For the first time, I feel a lot more enthusiastic about the course our administration is taking on the CRA’s direction. We have to focus on what each sector of our community is demanding. If the CRA and our administration are given some support and assistance in attaining our goal, we’ll begin to see some positive improvement.

Frank Kuwahara CRA Commissioner, President, Southern California Flower Market

The Economic Development Strategy prepared for the CRA has taken aim at the central issue that defines the commercial viability of Los Angeles: its capacity to administer its commercial and manufacturing potential. It is made explicitly clear that no such administrative vision operates today. This report steps squarely into that vacuum. 

Michael Collins L.A. Convention and Visitors Bureau

Anything, including Ed Avila’s proposed economic development strategy, that will help the economy of the City of Los Angeles is favorable. In the 1990s, however, the East Side of Los Angeles must be included and get the benefits, not just the negatives, of growth. 

Frank Villalobos Barrio Planners 

For Los Angeles, as for the nation, “it’s the economy, stupid.” It’s good that someone has finally shown some real leadership for this region. The CRA proposals reflect a real awareness of the human issues facing all of us and it is an essential first step to resolution. 

Ira Yellin President, The Yellin Company 

CRA has begun to expand their concept of economic development, which is a definite step in the right direction. The real challenge will be to demonstrate that low-income minority communities can enjoy direct benefits from CRA-initiated activities. 

Dr. Eugene Grigsby The Planning Group 

The ideas presented in the regional economic strategy for the City of Los Angeles are worth paying serious attention to. 

Daniel Wolf Director of Public Affairs, Walt Disney Corporation 

As a general philosophy, I believe we must approach our problems with a strong emphasis on economic development; otherwise, we could end up selling our future short. I also believe the CRA is well positioned and ready to take on this challenge and provide the leadership needed to drive the economic re-development of our city. More specifically, I can see that this plan will be very valuable when applied to the economic issues facing the entertainment industry and to Hollywood redevelopment 

Christine Essel CRA Commissioner;Vice-President, Paramount Studios 

The CRA economic strategy plan is a ray of light which can focus the business community in getting back to the basics of rebuilding our confidence in Los Angeles’ future. 

Stanley Hirsh Cooper Building/Mercantile Center 

The LA/CRA’s initiation of a strategy for regional economic revitalization is a positive signal to the financial community that rebuilding Los Angeles is more than imaginable — it is achievable. 

Anthony Hughes Vice President and Western Regional Manager, Public Finance 

First Boston Corporation

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