Confirmed by LA City Council on April 30
LOS ANGELES – Mayor Eric Garcetti’s appointment of a Filipino-American to the East Los Angeles Area Planning Commission was confirmed on April 30, by the LA City Council.
George Villanueva, 33, was confirmed as one of the new members of the Commision after all city councilmembers present at the council hearing held on Wednesday morning cast their affirmative votes.
Councilmembers Paul Krekorian (CD 2) and Paul Koretz (CD 5) were not present during the council meeting, and were not able to cast their votes.
Joining Villanueva were his fellow new commissioners, Teri Stein and Tammy Membreno.
The East LA Area Planning Commission is a citizen body that meets regularly to hear and make decisions on land use planning cases for the their respective jurisdiction in the City of LA.
Although Villanueva clarified that their Commission does not necessarily decide on all land use planning cases, as some are directly handled by the city-wide planning commission or the city council itself.
“The cases that we get are typically the cases that the Department of City Planning and the zoning administrator of the city cannot decide on without a civil commission to really look at the actual issues,” Villanueva explained.
According to Villanueva, he is “honored” to be nominated by Mayor Garcetti and that he is “proud” to now be a public servant for the neighborhoods covered by the East LA Area Planning Commission, including Historic Filipinotown, Echo Park, and Eagle Rock, and all the communities in the northeast area of LA.
Villanueva told Asian Journal that the process of his nomination and eventual confirmation to the Commission started when Garcetti’s aides called him and told him of the mayor’s interest in nominating him. The process involved background checks and sit-down meetings with with Land Use Committee Chair Jose Huizar (CD14).
Villanueva was born and raised in Los Angeles, near the area of Temple and Beverly, which is now Historic Filipinotown.
He went to college in Santa Barbara and is currently a Ph.D candidate at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He has over a year of experience in working with local government along the lines of urban development and civic engagement issues.
He presently resides in Eagle Rock in Los Angeles.
He is also a project manager for the Northeast LA Riverfront Collaborative, which works on making sure that the neighborhoods around the northeast LA River actually benefit from revitalization efforts concentrated around the river.
Villanueva said that he intends to learn more about the technical aspects of land use and planning to help him in his tough job of determining the fate of land use proposals for East LA.
“I want to also engage the community to actually learn more about this Commission, and the Planning Department in general, and the planning issues,” Villanueva added.
“I’m very honored and passionate about representing the Filipino-American community,” he said.
Villanueva also said that he is “very glad” that Mayor Garcetti has always been very open to “bringing in Filipinos, not just to his staff, but to the city commissions.” When Garcetti was still a councilmember for City District 13, he led the Historic Filipinotown designation initiative.
“I’d personally like to see more Filipinos and Filipino-Americans involved in local city politics. I’d like to see more Filipinos and Filipino-Americans run for office,” Villanueva said.
(LA Weekend May 3-6, 2014 Sec A pg.1)