Mitch O'Farrell began his public service in 2002 under the leadership of then Councilmember Eric Garcetti. O'Farrell's experience as a field deputy, district director, and senior advisor to the former City Council President have given him the experience to make government work better for people across the 13th District. His plans include creating opportunities for more affordable housing; reforming City policy to help small, neighborhood businesses drive the local economy; and working with his colleagues, the Mayor, and the entertainment industry to halt runaway production. Councilmember O'Farrell is also the Chair of the Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and Los Angeles River committee; Vice-Chair of Personnel and Animal Welfare committee; and a committee member of Innovation, Technology and General Services committee, Public Safety committee, and a member of Education and Neighborhoods.
Below are highlights from our conversation with Councilmember O'Farrell; you can watch the whole interview above:
On what the Army Corps' recommendation for the $1 billion plan means for Los Angeles:
It's a watershed moment for Los Angeles. There's just no question about it. A former employee of the Army Corps of Engineers Brian Moore said it best. He said this is the biggest news since they channelized the river in the '30s and '40s. And, it really is. What this represents is investment and habitat restoration [...] I'm talking about for the first time a realistic chance of bringing back the steelhead trout to the river, animals and wildlife that haven't been seen since we channelized the river.
On the benefits of river revitalization for L.A. residents:
It's really important for people to know that one quarter of all Angelenos live within one mile of the L.A. River. They're the ones who are going to benefit the most and we're going to make sure they do because we want to put protections in place and create affordable housing. So, it's very exciting. It's social justice. It's economic development. It's habitat restoration. It's sustainability. It's water conservation. It's all of that wrapped into one. And, it's a wonderful moment.
On how river revitalization could affect the housing market in the surrounding neighborhoods:
The real estate speculation has already begun. Real estate is being looked at up and down the river and has been for a while. This will very likely increase that. So while that's happening, I'm working on an affordable housing policy for the city of Los Angeles [...] We are working to create a permanent source of revenue for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and a policy that will help preserve the affordable housing we have.
On the potential for displacement of long-time residents:
Our families are being priced out of the city. We've got to do something about it. It's a moral imperative. We are the only high cost city in the United States that does not have a permanent source of funding to build more affordable housing. Our partners are out there waiting for us to do this, our nonprofits, and our developers who build affordable housing, they're waiting.