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Does Skid Row need its own neighborhood council?




A sign reading
A sign reading "Skid Row" is painted on a wall next to the Los Angeles Mission, September 22, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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The people of downtown L.A. will vote this week on whether Skid Row should create its own neighborhood council.

L.A.'s councils were created so residents and stakeholders have a direct, organized way to tell city hall what should happen in their neighborhood.

And while Skid Row residents have a place at the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council (DLANC), some argue that it will be easier to advance their own issues if Skid Row broke away.

Eddie Kim, senior reporter at L.A. Downtown News, joined Take Two to explain the divide.

Interview highlights

How much power does any neighborhood council have?

They're kind of a medium between a neighborhood and city hall. They don't have real legislative power; it's always an advisory board.

But they do have a budget of $37,000 [provided by the city], and can be kind of the voice for a diverse array of stakeholders in a certain area.

What would be the proposed boundaries of a Skid Row Neighborhood Council?

One of the controversial parts of this neighborhood council formation attempt is what its boundaries are.

Initially what's being discussed is 3rd St to the north – some people consider that part of Little Tokyo.

Then there's Main St to the west, which some people would consider part of the Historic Core neighborhood – a slightly more up-and-coming, hipster neighborhood.

To the south, it'd be 7th St. To the east, it would be Alameda, which is kind of the edge of the industrial district.

Why do some people of Skid Row feel like their concerns are being looked over in the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council?

The chairman of the [Skid Row neighborhood council] formation committee, Jeff Page ... has actually served on the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council Board.

He's said that the day-to-day things are not getting dealt with. [Page would say] all these other communities in downtown L.A. that are a part of the neighborhood council, they just don't have the same concerns as someone on the street or someone who's getting drug counseling.

What's on the agenda wish-list for people behind the proposed Skid Row neighborhood council?

One of the biggest problems or issues is safety in terms of housing.

Whether that's a shelter or a more permanent setting, a lot of people who live in Skid Row complain about conditions in buildings that are supposed to be well-maintained and well-secured. ...

Another one is green space. How can you create a safe green space for people to gather and not be bothered or have safety issues?

What do opponents of a Skid Row neighborhood council say about the idea?

 There's a lot of doom and gloom about whether a Skid Row neighborhood council will try to suppress a project from happening, or will they not want a business to go into the community.

The business community and the development community, especially, seems to be nervous about an isolation of Skid Row in a time where it's seeing a lot of economic pressure around the edges.

Listen to more of the interview by clicking the blue audio player above.