On Thursday, November 12, the Miracle Mile Residential Association elected a new president for the first time in nearly 20 years. After long-time president Jim O’Sullivan retired recently, the MMRA board chose Greg Goldin, a Miracle Mile resident since the mid-1960s, to take over the position.
Professionally, Goldin was the architecture critic at Los Angeles magazine for 12 years, and is co-author of the books “Never Built Los Angeles” and “Never Built New York.” Goldin was also the recipient of a coveted Getty Research Institute grant for “Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A.” in 2011.
“Greg brings an array of skills and talents to the job,” said Ken Hixon, MMRA senior vice president, in a statement to the community after Goldin’s election. “He is an experienced journalist and a strong community advocate. He will ensure that MMRA continues as one of the most effective neighborhood associations in the city.”
In the statement, Goldin says:
“My parents moved our family to the Miracle Mile in 1965, and pretty much ever since, this neighborhood has been my front yard and my back yard. I’ve combed its streets, picked over its allies, climbed the stairs of its tallest buildings, and descended into the water-logged basements of its single-family homes. I’ve seen many beloved buildings fall to the wrecking balls, and I’ve watched as our neighborhood has endured with resilience and pride. I love the Miracle Mile, warts and all, and I’m hoping that as the new president of the MMRA, I can continue to honor our past and act as a good steward of our future. Most of all, I hope I can help all of us to become more active participants in shaping our neighborhood and turning our energies to a sense of common purpose and good.”
In a conversation with the Buzz this morning, Goldin said he was not initially drawn to his new leadership position after he heard O’Sullivan was retiring, but “I was naturally concerned because Jim has been the bedrock of the MMRA for a long time.” Goldin said he was worried about the loss of O’Sullivan’s valuable “institutional memory” and deep knowledge of the ins and outs of city government. So when other candidates failed to materialize, Goldin stepped up out of a sense of “civic duty.” “I live here, I’m in this neighborhood” and “I don’t want to see the neighborhood founder,” he said. “I’m a reluctant victim of my own conscience.”
Also, this isn’t Goldin’s first involvement with the MMRA. Goldin said he was a member of the organization’s board for about six years, several years ago, working largely on traffic issues. More recently, he was very involved in the association’s successful effort to bring an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone to the area…and he also acted as a researcher for the association on issues such as the development of the new Academy Museum and the big LACMA re-development project. (While the MMRA has never taken an official position on the LACMA re-do, it’s worth nothing that Goldin, as an individual, has been one of the principal spokespersons for the Citizens’ Brigade to Save LACMA, which has firmly opposed the proposed new Peter Zumthor-designed museum building.)
But while Goldin acknowledges that negotiating big real estate and corporate development projects – “the 900-pound gorilla” that isn’t going away any time soon – will continue to be of major importance for the MMRA, he says there are also many other things he’d like to help with as president.
For example, he said, he’d like to spark a lot of new involvement with the Association, block by block, to bring in new members, talents, and energy, and create a “much more vital, participatory organization.”
One specific project Goldin hopes the neighborhood can achieve is the establishment of a dog park at Hancock Park, adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits (neighbors have already started a petition to show support for the idea). Goldin notes that Miracle Mile, like many parts of LA, is very “park poor,” and he contends that Los Angeles is also “one of the most dog-unfriendly cities in the country.”
According to Goldin, many other cities allow dogs off leash in city parks from dusk to dawn (which LA does not), and even ultra-urban New York City has 148 official dog parks in its five burroughs, compared to only 9 in all of Los Angeles. “This is supposed to be a progressive city,” Goldin said, “but there are no actual amenities for the people who live here.”
Goldin said a local dog park would improve the quality of life in the neighborhood for both dogs and their people – who will be able to gather, get to know each other, and build a new sense of community through their interactions. And that, he says, is something much more valuable, in the long run, than yet another new development project.