City Councilmember Nithya Raman spoke to more than 260 people on Zoom Monday evening at the Hancock Park Homeowners Association Virtual Town Hall. More than 350 people signed up for the meeting, indicating a great deal of interest in discussing issues with the Councilmember. Raman agreed to meet with the group for one hour. All the questions were sent to Raman in advance of the meeting and were reported here. At the start of the meeting, HPHOA President Cindy Chvatal-Keane announced there would be no audience Q&A, in the interest of time, but participants were invited to post questions in the chat which would be forwarded to the council office.
The meeting got off to an awkward start when Raman announced that she would leave the call after 45 minutes as had been previously agreed. But Chvatal-Keane contended the agreement was for one hour. Once underway, however, Raman ended up staying through the full hour, responding to the questions that had been sent and were visible on the screen.
Starting with crime and public safety, Raman said she supported reallocating some of LAPD’s budget to other department,s but has not recommended a specific amount or percentage for the cuts. After some back and forth on the crime statistics, the discussion moved on to planning and land use issues, of great import to many residents in the historic neighborhood.
Of particular note were Raman’s views on two controversial statewide housing bills, Senate Bills 9 and 10, designed to promote increased housing density across the state. Raman said she had not yet studied the bills in detail but does not support use of SB10’s policies for Los Angeles because it hampers local control over zoning.
“Cities should have the ability to increase their zoning,” said Raman. She said she supports finding ways to produce more housing, including “gentle density increases in neighborhoods as a moderate way of increasing housing.”
Raman said she is comfortable supporting SB9, legislation that would, among other things, make building two Accessory Dwelling Units on a residential property a ministerial approval, not subject any discretionary review or approvals, and allow lots to be sub divided to create more housing units.
Raman said she supports single family residential zoning and does not think it should be eliminated, but she said, “we need to find really effective ways to create affordable housing,” and that her office is committed to making creating more housing a priority.
Raman also said she supports Historic Preservation Overlay Zones and would work with residents to continue to support them. Chvatal-Keane particularly pressed her on this point, since opponents of SB9 have asserted it will override HPOZs. (The language in the bill exempts some historic districts but there is still some question among various factions supporting and opposing the legislation about whether or not local HPOZs would be specifically shielded from the impact of the law.
Moving to more local issues, Raman and her district field manager Su Lee said they are following up on inquiries on a range of items including excessive LADWP bills, concrete street repairs, the installation of a sidewalk on Beverly Blvd. along the Wilshire Country Club Golf Course, the status of demolition of two derelict homes, and gas-powered leaf blowers. Raman encouraged residents to contact Ms. Lee by email ([email protected]) for assistance.
After all the questions has been addressed, Chvatal-Keane invited Raman to make additional comments. Raman said she was very excited to report that her office is making significant progress on increasing outreach to homeless people in encampments in the district. She said she committed to setting up a local access center for homeless people to get services, the type and extent of which would be determined by the facility. She said she hoped the recent influx of federal funding signed by the Biden administration would enable the city to provide more services to residents.
“Let’s keep the discussion positive,” said Raman. “I am here to work with you, I have been very open with you and want to keep it this way.”
A recording of the entire meeting can be found on the Hancock Park Homeowners Association website at this link.