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Portraits Of L.A.'s 10th District

Sarah Golden |
March 4, 2011 | 11:23 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Council District 10 spans across the 10 freeway, dipping into Crenshaw neighborhoods and reaching east out to Wilshire Park. In the 10th’s western most corner, there is the Palms neighborhood. Jutting off the district like a peninsula, Palms sits just north of Culver City. 

Eric Hernandez deals with rent control issues full time (Sarah Golden)
Eric Hernandez deals with rent control issues full time (Sarah Golden)

Palms is largely a residential neighborhood with streets of apartment complexes. Here is a snapshot of the issues that concern people in one such complex, located on Clarington Avenue, two weeks before the March 8 election.

Eric Hernandez

“You caught me during my few moments to chill,” said Eric Hernandez. His apartment was warm with the feeling that he recently cooked food. Clean shirts are draped across the arm of the couch, hangers poking out of the necks. A Simpsons rerun played in the background. 

Hernandez works at City Hall in Santa Monica, dealing with rent control issues full time. When he’s done with that job, he returns home, where he works as the
complex’s manager.

Hernandez says he’s too busy to keep up on specific issues for the March election. What’s important to him is what he sees every day: rent control.

The apartment is just north of Culver City, where Hernandez does his shopping and dining, and east of Santa Monica, where he works.

“As a tenant, I get my rent charge raised every year,” he said.

Hernandez says his rent goes up a minimum of 3 percent annually. In Santa Monica, the minimum rent increase is 1%. He would like to see Los Angeles adopt similar rent stabilization policies like the one in Santa Monica.

Deborah Owens

Deborah Owens moved to Los Angeles with her husband in 1996. For the first six months, they were appalled by the amount of traffic, the cars, the people. But when the two split five years later, both of them decided to stay in the area.

“It’s home now,” said Owens.

Coming from a small town in Maine (“I was related to all the people on my block!” she exclaimed) what Owens really finds attractive about Los Angeles is the diversity. There is so much to see, and Owens loves to explore it all.

“I’ve probably seen more of the city than most life-long residents,” she laughed. But something is always between Owens and adventure – traffic.

More than anything else, Owens would like to see the transportation infrastructure improve.

Owens’ house is close to the Expo Line, the light rail train, that will connect Culver City to downtown and, eventually, extend to Santa Monica.

“It’s like they’ve stopped working on it,” Owens said. She watched as the first part was built – and then watched as messy construction zones sat like a stagnant pond.

“I used to get fliers at my door, every once and a while, about what the city plans to do next,” she said. “But then the information just dried up.”

Owens sat on a red and white floral print couch, her tivoed television show frozen in the background. Hank, her cat, purred rhythmically, stretched across Owens’ lap.

Though public transportation must get much better first and foremost, Owens has noticed other traffic qualms that rub her the wrong way. For example, two new stoplights have been put in between Palms and Century City, where Owens works as a project coordinator at an event planning firm. Both new lights have a left turn arrow – but neither one is turned on. Owens thinks the lights could go a long way to relieve congestion.

“What’s the deal?” asks Owen.

JP Bolles

JP Bolles moved to Los Angeles from the Bay Area over six years ago. He came here to go to Loyola Marymount University to study video editing; he stayed for the industry. He now works at a talent agency.

Like Owens, he finds transportation in Los Angeles lacking. But unlike Owens, his main concern isn’t public transportation.

“The roads suck,” he said. They’re shredded and riddled with potholes.

“Public transportation is awful here. Everyone knows that,” said Bolles. “But what are we going to do? Los Angeles is never going to be a New York or San Francisco. “

He pointed out that in the sprawling metropolis, a comprehensive public transportation system would be next to impossible to build.

Roads, on the other hand, affect everyone.

“Everyone drives, and everyone needs to deal with them,” he said.

Victor Pesauanto

Victor Pesauanto doesn’t keep up with the news or elections. The French horn player moved to Los Angeles from Chicago and plays music for movie scores and other projects. He lounged on his black leather couch with his two cats, Honey and Huckleberry, crawling around him.

Pesauanto is a member of the Musicians’ Union. The issue that concerns him the most is the number of independent musicians in Los Angeles who are taking jobs from union members.

“I don’t know what could be done about it,” he said.

Though Pesauanto isn’t worried about his job for the time being, he worries about the direction his line of business is headed.

This story is part of our March 8 election preview series Irked and Inspired: Los Angeles Residents Speak On The Issues. 

Reach Sarah Golden here.



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