Saturday, January 14, 2006

Our Councilwoman Jan Perry Honored by Metropolis Magazine As Top Urban Visionary!

This article is not on the Janurary/February website of Metropolis Magazine so I had to copy the highlights of a corrupted PDF I was emailed, so a couple of the smaller words might be wrong and some of the syntax is... suspect.

By Jade Chang

Sometimes you need a politician
who is willing to look at the small
pic - instead of the big one.
'This city is a collection of little
neighborhoods, a blanket of network.
It's better to do things in
little steps.' says Los Angeles Councilwoman
Jan Percy, whose
district ranges from the rapidly gentrifying
historic downtown core.... to South Los Angeles.
..... The Councilwoman's Ninth
District contains two of the city's
most high-profile projects, both
with the potential to alter the way
downtown LA. is perceived: Grand
Avenue, a $1.8 billion mixed-use
retail, entertainment, residential,
and hotel development dominated
by Frank Gehry's Disney Concert
Hall: and the entertainment oriented 1.2 billion dollar LA Live project,
built around the Staples Center. And as Grand Avenue begins to consider
retailers, Perry insists on including
some independent local merchants


After graduating from the University of Southern
California, where she took urban-planning
classes and had to "identify social problems and
solve them with design," Perry took a job as
admissions officer at the Southern California
Institute of Architecture in 1979. There she got
to know the school's first director Ray Kappe,
and architects Michael Rotondi, Thom Mayne whose
Caltrans building went up in her district
in 2005 and current director Eric Owen Moss.
Blunt and plainspoken, Perry is at ease around
design in a way few politicians are; she doesn't
see it as a trophy or a lure-or just another iconic
building to put on a stamp. To her design is an
essential building block of a city.

When the Midnight Mission, one of L.A.'s oldest
housing shelters, was planning its renovation,
Perry advocated the creation of a courtyard with
toilets and safe sleeping areas for individuals
who couldn't or wouldn't sleep in shelters. Homeless
housing is one of downtown's biggest issues. Rather
than battle with developers and new residents
who didn't want SROs and shelters in their
adopted neighborhoods, Perry pushed for housing
that, at least on the outside, could pass for
market-rate condos. Good design became a way
to keep a community economically integrated something
that's becoming harder and harder to
do as loft prices soar.

On the opposite end of the Ninth District, in
an area recently renamed South Los Angeles
after "South Central" became too heavy a burden,
Perry's small changes move in an unexpected

Besides adding welcome elements like
a farmers market to the community, the councilwoman
has developed a half-acre of wetlands at
the intersection of Slauson and Compton in a
new park that was once a Department of Water
& Power pipe yard; now it contains a freshwater
marsh and surrounding riparian habitat with a
variety of trees that will attract everything from
egrets to herons. It's a tiny urban oasis - and a
very big step.


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