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Head of LA's neighborhood councils resigns (updated)

BongHwan Kim's last day as general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment will be on Aug. 4.
BongHwan Kim's last day as general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment will be on Aug. 4. courtesy of BongHwan Kim

The general manager of the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment announced his resignation today for a job at a nonprofit in San Diego.

BongHwan Kim was also a candidate for the Los Angeles City Council’s Thirteenth District. His last day with the city will be on Aug. 4. Kim is leaving to become the vice president/executive director for Civic Engagement for the San Diego Foundation.  

“The more I talked with the folks down there, the more interesting it became,” Kim said in an interview with KPCC. “It was really a wrestling match because I was really looking forward to this city council campaign that was going to highlight the importance of public participation.”

In his new role, Kim will be working to educate residents on how to interact with the public sector. 

“I’m going to be agnostic on the issues, but we’re going to be evangelical about the process,” he said.

As for Los Angeles, Kim believes that new council members tend to be more open to neighborhood councils, which were created more than a decade ago during charter reform.

“It is just a matter of time before we get eight city councilmen who have some sort of political credibility with neighborhood councils,” Kim said. 

Prior to joining the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, Kim was the executive director of the MultiCultural Collaborative and the Korean Youth and Community Center. 

A spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the office was disappointed to lose Kim. 

"In many ways his entire career working for the city has prepared him for his new role and he will be missed. We will conduct a thorough search to appoint a new general manager at the department," said spokesman Peter Sanders. 

This post has been updated.

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