After two years, last night was the last CD4 Discretionary Funds Task Force meeting for Owen Smith, the Brookside resident who also serves as president of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.
“I found it to be interesting,” said Smith of his tenure on the task force, which was organized in 2015 by Council member David Ryu.
Smith was invited to serve on the task force that Ryu formed after he rescinded over $600,000 in discretionary expenditures made by his predecessor Tom LaBonge. Promising transparency and greater community involvement, Ryu convened the first meeting of the task force in October of 2015 to advise him on how to spend the approximately $1.2 million in discretionary funding available to the council office annually.
“It’s been 2 and 1/2 years and I think it’s been very successful, ” Ryu told the group near the end of their meeting last night. “You have helped me so much. Everything you approve, I would approve too.”
The task force also helps Ryu by saying no, as well as yes, to some requests.
“I let the committee say no. It’s a good thing, so congratulations to all of you,” said Ryu, adding that everyone has similar issues and he sees his job as bringing people in the community together “so they can share problem solving.”
The advisory task force reviewed two requests for funding last night.
First, they voted unanimously to support a $15,200 proposal for a teaching garden in Toluca Lake. And next they reviewed a proposal from several residents of Larchmont Village, who presented a request for $400,000 to pay for an SSA Security patrol car, saying they no longer feel safe in the neighborhood.
Brad Listi, a resident on Gower, said he has never presented a request for funds before, but CD4 Deputy Catherine Landers suggested he make the request to the task force. Listi said he came to the rescue of an elderly neighbor who had been robed at gun point one Sunday morning. He also cited the uptick in property crimes reported by residents on Nextdoor.com as evidence that violence is increasing. He said LAPD is overworked, and the addition of private security services could potentially save lives.
The task force members were sympathetic to Listi’s concerns, but said they couldn’t support a request for security in one neighborhood when property crimes are affecting neighborhoods all over the district. Members took turns offering advice on how to organize a neighborhood watch program.
Julie Stromberg, Task Force member from Windsor Village urged Listi to organize his neighbors and consider contacting other security services that could also provide patrol services.
Listi appreciated the various suggestions from the task force and told the Buzz he would soon begin an effort to organize his neighbors and work to improve their Neighborhood Watch program.
“I will be researching private security companies, getting estimates and seeing if there’s a feasible way forward for private patrols. I will also continue to be proactive in communicating with Council member Ryu, Mayor Garcetti, and the LAPD—and encourage my neighbors to do the same. Clearly these are big and complicated issues that will require us to work together, and to be engaged,” Listi told the Buzz.
Finally, three other members of the task force also ended their two-year terms on the committee last night. Ryu’s office is now seeking up to five new applicants to fill the seats on the committee, which meets every other month. People who are interested in applying for a seat on the panel can fill out an application and e-mail it to [email protected]. The application deadline is January 31, 2018.