Councilmember Traci Park was at a tree trimming in Brentwood in the morning on January 27, and that afternoon in Venice knocking on constituents’ doors, letting them know the water pipe break, which had flooded their Venice Canal Streets, was being handled. Afterwards it was back to the District Office in Westchester to go over emails and constituents’ concerns.
Just another Saturday.
People have noticed her visibility in the district. “Someone asked me what I was running for,” Park said. “I told them I have three more years on this job.” Unlike her predecessor, Mike Bonin, who was seldom seen in one of the 10 communities that CD 11 represents, Park seems to be everywhere.
She or one of her field deputies try to attend as many community meetings and events as possible.
“I am trying to rebuild the trust with our constituents,” she said and added that many in her district told her they felt they had been abandoned for years.
Park has made constituents one of her priorities. “We say ‘yes’ to every invitation we can.”
The other side of her job is legislation, making and voting on possible motions at City Hall.
When she took office in December, she was an outsider. Park had never held an elected position and had no friends in City Hall. “It was a steep learning curve,” Park said. “Everything I did last year was for the first time.”
Surely, the former Councilmember, Mike Bonin, left some notes or made time to go over issues in CD 11 to ensure a smooth transition. No. “I never had a hand-off meeting with Bonin,” she said, adding the only meeting she had with that staff was a two-hour talk with his planning deputy Krista Klein.
Her predecessor had also left her in a “challenging position legislatively,” and she had to prove herself to the established Council. “He did everything he could to plant seeds of distrust.”
Her optimism, intelligence and drive to get things done has gone a long way to changing opinions at City Hall.
Before being elected, Park worked for 20 years as a municipal attorney. She was the first person in her family to attend college and earned degrees at Johns Hopkins University and Loyola Law School.
A typical day starts at 5:30 a.m., when Park reads overnight communications and looks at her calendar.
By 9 a.m. she’s at City Hall to meet with her team before going into chambers. Once Council is underway, meetings can last anywhere from a couple of hours to six. Typically, the day continues with committee meetings.
Each councilmember sits on several committees and Park is the chair of Ad Hoc Committee for the 2028 Olympics and Trade, Travel and Tourism, vice chair of transportation, a member of public safety, ad hoc City Governance reform and the claims board.
Once the councilmember leaves downtown, she goes to community meetings in her district. The prior evening, she had been to a Mar Vista Town Hall.
Generally, she’s in bed by 10 p.m. and reads before turning out the light. Right now, she’s in the middle of a fiction “When We Were Orphans,” but “I read everything,” she said.
When her term started, she has to assemble a staff who was willing to work with a first-time councilmember. Now “We’re up to 18 people,” she said. “Everyone works way too much, and we don’t have days off.
“We’re a start up,” Parks said. She is trying to model her term after former CD 11 member Bill Rosendahl, who was much beloved and respected for his loyalty to constituents.
Park was asked about discretionary funds that can be used in her council district.
Every councilmember receives discretionary funds. Generally, that money comes from two sources: AB 1290 is a state law passed in 1993 that allocates a certain amount of property tax revenue to be used in specific redevelopment areas. The amount each district gets varies, depending on the locations and revenues of the various redevelopment areas.
The Council District Real Property Fund collects 50% of all net proceeds from each sale or lease of City-owned real property, plus a portion of the franchise fees from oil pipelines. The money is distributed according to the Council Districts the real property or oil pipelines are located in, so the amount available to each Council office varies.
When Park took office, CD 11 had about $2 million in discretionary funds. Before he left office, Bonin had committed the funds to nonprofits. His spokesperson told CTN in June 2022 that he was “focusing use of his discretionary dollars on efforts to address homelessness crisis.”
Park said simply, “his office provided us with a list of nonprofits, that had been promised money, and we honored his commitments.”
She feels her biggest accomplishment in her first year was disbanding the numerous tent encampments in her district.
Of the 15 Council Districts, “We’ve housed the most people, with the greatest retention,” Park said.
She admits there are still “tents here and there,” but the encampments with 20, 30 or more people no longer exist.
This coming year, her focus will be on finding solutions for those that live in RV’s.
“This is the number one problem my office is hearing about,” Park said, and it encompasses all her communities, including those who illegally camp along PCH and the beaches.
Right now, there is no legal tool for having RVs move, but Park has introduced a motion in the chambers, so there will be a legal recourse to prevent camping on city streets.
Even though she is ideologically different from many of her councilmembers, and they might disagree on the way to accomplish goals, she said, “There’s a cohesiveness, we agree on public safety, keeping areas clean and safe.”
She joined with Councilmember Kevin de Leon to address copper wire theft that is leaving thousands of streets dark and even parts of the new Sixth Street Bridge. “I’m tired of spending money on thieves that are wrecking our community,” Park said, and noted that street light repair costs in the past year was estimated at $17 million.
Park feels we need to invest in the police and public safety – and not all councilmembers agree with her, but she said, “I was not elected to make friends. I am in this for my constituents.”
Park added that she “feels the weight of responsibility to the people who elected her, and it’s heavy. I have an obligation to get this right.”