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Thoughts on the River: Gil Cedillo

Elected to the State Senate in 2002 and recently elected to the 45th District in 2010, Assemblymember Gil Cedillo has found a balance with his underlying message that progressive politics are good for business. He has authored close to a hundred bills that were signed and chaptered into California law by four different Governors, namely: Pete Wilson, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, most recently, the groundbreaking California Dream Act (AB 130 and 131). In 2013, Gilbert Cedillo was elected to represent Council District 1 which encompasses parts or all of the neighborhoods of Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Highland Park,
Mt. Washington, Solano Canyon, Elysian Park, Echo Park, Westlake, Angelino Heights,Temple Beaudry,Chinatown,Forgotten Edge, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Pico Union,Adams-Normandie, University Park, Victory Heights, Koreatown, Mid Cities and Mac Arthur Park.

Below are highlights from our conversation with Councilmember Cedillo; you can watch the whole interview above:

On the impact of political leadership on the river project:

I was very fortunate to have my first trip as a council member with the mayor. We flew out to Washington. We are very fortunate to have someone who's so comfortable in the halls of power and who is so connected. They have this saying in Washington, you know, anybody but California ABC, right? Both our senators, uh, uh, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer brought that to our attention and said this was going to be difficult. Politically we have strength because we have such a large delegation. I think the most recent trip of the mayor, with Senator Boxer and them working it, proved that we do have a program here that can be effective for the people of Los Angeles.

On the impact of the river:

The impact is going to be incredible, incredible. It's going to create a location and people are going to get up as we said in Washington and they're going to get up on Saturday mornings and they're going to ask themselves, where do we want to go? Are we going to the beach? Are we going to go to the park? Or we can go to the river. That's what we look forward to, that we're going to have an opportunity to create a place that's going to be central to the lives of Angelenos and to all of Southern California. There'll be recreation, economic development, housing, a whole range of activities. We look forward to the cafes and the restaurants and the retail.

On the potential for economic development:

This land is valuable. We're going to use these dollars carefully for restoration, for habitat, very important. But, there's no question that anybody interested in economic development is going to be looking at the LA River. In my new capacity as the council member for the area, I am daily talking to developers and, that's what they're looking at. It's very, very precious land that banks both sides of the river.

On demographic changes in the city:

You have to put the river in the context of changing demographics in the city. You have to put it in the context of aging in the city. And, what happens when people age? Sometimes they move out of the homes that they grew up in, the family is no longer there and, unless children return, they sell that house to a new family. That experience that happened to them fifty years ago is now going to happen again to maybe a young hipster or young chipster family. And, they're going to come in and make investments. The question for us is how do we manage that change that's respectful to the history of the communities and thoughtful about the future growth?

On collaboration:

Public participation in the decision making process is very important. The collaborative was one example of it. If you're going to get buy in from the community, they have to participate and they have to participate very substantively and from the beginning. People have to come in early. They've expressed their concerns, their issues. Uh, they've been heard early. Now, we can move forward with projects that are responsive to the community.

Thoughts on the L.A. River
Click on the thumbnails below to watch interviews with local elected officials and government agency representatives who stopped by our studio to talk L.A. River.
Gil Cedillo, L.A. City Councilmember, CD 1
Eric Garcetti, L.A. Mayor
Pauline Louie, Urban Waters Ambassador

Mitch O'Farrell, L.A. City Councilmember, CD 13

Jan Perry, L.A. City Economic & Workforce Development Department

Ed Reyes, River Pioneer