Councilman Herb Wesson discussing the 10th district with President Barack Obama
LOS ANGELES–Confronting an unemployment rate that has risen to13 percent, City Councilmember Herb Wesson grilled Los Angeles city officials on their management of the $630 million that the city was awarded under the President Obama’s Federal Stimulus Package.
As Chair of the February meeting of the Los Angeles City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Economic Recovery and Reinvestment, Councilmember Wesson expressed his frustration and demanded answers in the wake of reports that indicate that the City of Los Angeles has only spent 25 percent of the funds.
“Our city made a commitment to President Obama to help kick-start the economy and we’ve done a poor job in honoring that commitment,” said Councilmember Wesson, who recently wrote to the President about the city’s failure to use the funds.
The meeting revealed that some agencies, such as the Community Development Department (CDD) have indeed been moving faster, having spent or committed approximately 70 percent of the $100 million allocated to that department.
Recent important CDD economic development investments include the District Square and the West Angeles Plaza retail projects. Both projects are located in Wesson’s council district on Crenshaw Boulevard, and have benefited from Wesson’s vigorous oversight.
City officials stated that since that report was issued, the city’s overall rate has risen to about 35 percent. However, they admitted that not all of the city’s projects were “shovel ready,” as many had hoped.
One such project is a $6.2 million Department of Water and Power “Smart Grid” energy conservation project. That project is still in the design phase and construction is not expected to begin until 2012.
In light of that fact, Councilmember Wesson urged the officials to look at focusing more on street resurfacing and street lighting projects on which people can more quickly be put to work.
Concerned that recent city employee furloughs may be slowing down the city’s progress on moving projects forward, Wesson’s committee ordered a report from the city’s Chief Legislative Analyst and the City Administrative Officer on whether furloughs were delaying projects.
Wesson said that the city must move with a much greater sense of urgency because of newly elected Republicans in the U.S. Congress who have threatened to sweep all of the unexpended funds, thus denying the city any access to these needed funds.
“We have to use these funds, or risk losing these funds,” said Wesson. “And as I told the President, “the people responsible need to get rolling or get
Some of the projects and accomplishments that Wesson has delivered for his district include:
Creating over 23,000 new jobs and $700 million in new economic development opportunities, including:
* The new $93 million District Square retail project at Crenshaw Blvd and Rodeo Rd, creating a 3-level 300,000 square foot development featuring a Target, Ralphs, Marshall’s, Ross Dress for Less, and full service restaurants
* Midtown Crossing, a $150 million development that will feature Lowe’s Home Improvement and other major retail
* West Angeles Plaza, a $12 million retail development in partnership with West Angeles Community Development Corporation featuring a “Fresh & Easy” neighborhood market and a new Union Bank building
* Leading the way in Improving Parks and Recreation
* Bringing over $30 million in investments in new Parks and Recreation facilities for families in Council District 10, including
* $5 million upgrade of Rancho Cienega Park, featuring a new artificial turf and running track at Jackie Robinson Stadium, a new skate park and a new soccer field, refurbishing the tennis courts is now underway, along with, and making restrooms ADA compliant for people with disabilities.