Mayor Villaraigosa did indeed name his citywide planning commission this afternoon. In addition to ex-councilman and former candidate for mayor Mike Woo, the appointees are former Tom Bradley deputy Jane Usher, architect Bill Roschen, Occidental College professor Regina Freer, planner Diego Cardoso, Robin Hughes of the Los Angeles Community Design Center, Father Kezios of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Sabrina Kay of Fremont Private Investments and Andres Irlando of the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation. Press release with bios follows (before you complain to me, yes, the mayor's office spells it "arquitect," both in the printed and the emailed release.)
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA APPOINTS MEMBERS
TO THE CITY WIDE PLANNING COMMISSION
Today Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fulfilled his commitment to address development and planning in the City of Los Angeles by appointing nine members to the City Planning Commission. One has been confirmed.
"I have appointed men and women who have diverse backgrounds and professional experience and will bring a balanced approach to our city's planning efforts, while working with communities to protect the interests of our neighborhoods," said Mayor Villaraigosa. "I am expecting great energy and a spirit of collaboration to tackle our planning and development issues."
The members include the following: Jane Usher, a resident from South Los Angeles who worked for former Mayor Tom Bradley; Bill Roschen, an accomplished arquitect and currently on the California State Commission; Regina Freer, a professor at Occidental College who has written extensively about race and politics; Robin Hughes, an expert in affordable housing and community development; Diego Cardoso, currently director of the central area team of the Los Angeles metropolitan transportation authority; Father Spencer Kezios, pastor emeritus of the parish of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church; Sabrina Kay, chairman and CEO of Fremont Private Investments, Inc., Andres Irlando, currently president of the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, and Mike Woo, a former member of city council who represented council district 13 from 1985 through 1993.
The mayor appoints all the commissioners. They hear and make determinations on quasi-judicial and legislative actions. In addition, members of the commission give advice and make recommendations to the mayor, city council, director of planning, municipal departments, and agencies with respect to city planning and related activities and legislation. The nine-member commission also makes decisions on any matter that would otherwise be heard by an area planning commission if the matter involves a project which crosses the boundaries of the area served by more than one area planning commission.
Biographies of the appointees follow:
Jane Usher served under former Mayor Tom Bradley as his counsel, policy advocate, and speechwriter. Usher was also a liaison to the city attorney and ethics commission. She also served as the Mayor Bradley's alternate on the transportation authority for the county of Los Angeles. She was the principal force behind the merger of the former Los Angeles county transportation commission and the Southern California Rapid Transit District. Usher, who is also an attorney, just completed her second year as chair of the Annual Fund Drive for the Center for Early Education, a private primary school located in West Hollywood. She also served on the board and as president of the Windsor Square Association, and was elected this June to a seat on the board of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.
Bill Roschen was one of the founding principals of Roschen Van Cleve Architects in 1987 with the intention of establishing a community oriented, urban architectural practice. Reflective of Bill's commitment to the public realm, the firm has a portfolio of mixed use, adaptive reuse, transit oriented design, housing, urban campus design, affordability in "green" design, and historic preservation. He is currently also serving as a California State Commissioner and is on numerous non-profit boards.
Regina Freer is an associate professor and chair of the politics department at Occidental College. Her research and teaching interests include race and politics, demographic change, urban politics, and the intersection of all three in Los Angeles in particular. She has written about social justice and race relations in Los Angeles. She also serves on the board of the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research and was a member of the funding board for Liberty Hill Foundation's Seed Fund.
Robin Hughes has been confirmed as a commission member. She is the executive director of the Los Angeles Community Design Center, a non-profit architecture, planning, and affordable housing development corporation that provides a broad range of services to low-income communities. Ms. Hughes has more than nineteen years of experience in the affordable housing and community development industry. She has worked with for-profit and non-profit developers in the syndication, financing, construction, development and management of affordable housing. In addition to her non-profit experience, she has held positions in the private and public sectors with The Richman Group of Companies, Citibank, the Community Development Commission of the County of Los Angeles, and the Office of the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles. She currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the Low Income Investment Fund and City Life Downtown Charter School, the Board of Governance for the California Housing Consortium, and the Federal Home Loan Bank's Affordable Housing Advisory Council.
Father Spencer Kezios
Father Kezios has served the Parish of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church for the past 45 years. He retired in 2004 and now holds the position of Pastor Emeritus. In 1967, Saint Nicholas Church moved to Northridge. Father Kezios was instrumental not only in the fundraising for the new church complex but had an active role in the design, architecture and contracting aspects of the entire development. His commitment to development continued throughout his years of service at the parish, and included a senior citizen's housing complex, a parochial school, and a community center.
He has also been active in many civic and community affairs. He regards his assignment as Chaplain for the Los Angeles Police Department a special blessing.
Diego Cardosa successfully initiated and completed the planning and development of the Eastside Light Rail Project. He currently directs the development of pedestrian, transportation, and transportation enhancement programs. The director also has substantial experience in planning and directed all major projects and oversaw planning and development for council district 14. His experience also includes teaching in Latin America as well as serving as commissioner of the Los Angeles Housing Authority.
Sabrina Kay is the chair and CEO of Fremont Private Investments, Inc. and the founder of California Design College (CDC). FPI is a parent corporation for Fashion Umbrella, LLC, which mainly performs private investments and joint venture projects for the apparel industry. It functions as a business partner to many creative and upcoming young designers by making equity investments and sharing branding and marketing strategies and best business practices.
>From 1991 to 2003, Ms. Kay served as the CEO and President of California Design College, an accredited degree-granting college in Los Angeles. California Design College (CDC), which Ms. Kay founded in her bedroom, was the first specialized computer fashion design college in California.
After the sale of her company in 2003, Ms. Kay continued her involvement with various communities, political and philanthropic projects.
Andrés Irlando serves as the President of the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, a national nonprofit charitable organization established by the family of the late civil rights leader and American hero.
During his tenure, the foundation has grown exponentially from a start-up organization to one that now has an annual budget of $2.5 million. Andrés oversees the capital campaign to raise $65 million to complete construction of the National Chavez Center. He directs corporate and government affairs and manages the use of Cesar Chavez's intellectual property rights.
His current public service includes serving as a board member for various institutions of higher learning.
Andrés previously served as a mayoral appointee to the Los Angeles City Rent Adjustment Commission, and has extensive public service experience, having worked for numerous elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels.
Mike Woo served the City of Los Angeles as a member of the City Council, representing the 13th Council district between 1985 and 1993. He was the first Asian American and first trained urban planner elected to L.A.'s governing body. While on the City Council, he chaired the City Council's Transportation and Traffic Committee and was Vice Chair of the Council's Planning and Land Use Committee. He also represented the City of Los Angeles as a Member of the L.A. County Transportation Commission. In addition to all of his planning and revitalization efforts in the 13th District during his tenure as City Councilman, he authored the City of Los Angeles ethics reform and campaign finance reform law enacted by the City Council.
In 1994, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the Western States Director of the Corporation for National Service. In this role, he oversaw AmeriCorps*VISTA and other national service programs in the ten Western states: California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Alaska, and Hawaii.
Mike also has extensive experience in the non-profit world, having been the Los Angeles Program Director for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) for 2 years and currently serves as board chairman for the Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA)
He is also the Founder of the Smart Growth China Institute, a nongovernmental organization to help Chinese cities learn about sustainable transportation and urban planning alternatives instead of duplicating the mistakes of the developed world.