June 1, 2001 - From the June, 2001 issue

New Westside/Valley Councilman Offers A Vision: Jack Weiss On Growth, Schools & Mixed Use

Former U.S. Assistant District Attorney Jack Weiss is now the Councilman-elect from a district than reaches from the San Fernando Valley to the Westside. TPR caught up with Jack just before his election results were certified last Saturday and asked him to give us his impression on development within the City. His clear vision of the link between schools, mixed-use and quality of life interlinked with his desire to fix Rampart paints a picture of a man well prepared for the battles that lie ahead.


Jack Weiss

An estimated population the size of two Chicagos will descend on L.A. in the next decade. That growth will place undue burden on our current infrastructure, housing stock and school facilities. What is your vision for accommodating that growth in your district?

I am fortunate to represent a district that contains some of the most significant residential neighborhoods in L.A. So the issue of balancing growth and the preservation and protection of quality of life has always been one of the most pressing public policy problems in my district.

However, it is also important to look to the future of Los Angeles. And the future-given the current and forecasted trends-is going to have to involve a re-examination of the role of mixed-use development.

You made mention of the future of the City proper. What have you seen that piques your interest for addressing the issues of growth throughout the L.A. metropolis?

Transportation planning. Growth planning. And finding positive ways for the city to interface with the school district re: the siting and construction of new schools are some of my priorities.

Additionally, I am very interested in the many proposals and projects currently afoot to revitalize Central Los Angeles. Major cities need a center. The building blocks are there, we simply need to focus on revitalizing the core in innovative ways so that it begins to deal with the commercial and housing needs of the city.

But, the fact that the core empties after work signals that we haven't encouraged the proper level and quality of development Downtown. That's something I'd like to see more focus on. We need more projects such as the L.A. Center Studios and the loft district. Those are the ones that are really helping create a coherent mixed-use vision that attracts people back to the core.

A number of municipalities are looking to regional governance and planning to accommodate the aforementioned population growth. How do your plans for coping with LA.'s growth fit bridge to the larger issue of our region's growth?

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I think that what we have now in Los Angeles is a shift, probably the political equivalent of the Watergate scandal of 1974. There is so much new blood and new energy in City Hall, that I believe we have a very good opportunity to combat some of the bigger problems of this city and region.

I had the chance to spend time with each of the new councilmembers. And I am extremely encouraged by their collegiality. I believe that this group will be brave and act in a unified matter to make bold steps for the betterment of the city and the region-this group holds a lot of promise for the L.A. region.

As you say, this recently elected Council will be very new. What role do you want to play on this new Council? And what particular issues do you want to champion?

I said in my campaign that I was running because I wanted to make changes. I'm a practical person and I like accomplishing tangible results. I've never been in this for the soapbox or the grandstanding. And I'm hopeful that these other new members are in it for the same reasons.

With respect to a particular issue I want to champion, I've been a federal prosecutor and I've had experience putting criminals in jail and ensuring that civil rights laws and corruption laws are in place. For me personally, I want to play an integral role in solving and ending the cycle of scandal at the police department. I think that's where I can be uniquely useful to this city and I hope, utilized in that manner.

Last question: While this is obviously up to the discretion of the presiding President of the City Council, are there any particular committees that you would like to be considered for in this new council?

While I have not taken a close look at all the possible committee assignments yet, I believe that my background and experience make me uniquely qualified to serve on the Public Safety Committee.

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