Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal Says Farewell

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Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal

Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal

This week wraps up my 10 years as your 2nd District Councilmember and I could not be more proud of the state of this district.

Even though I will no longer be behind the dais, I am excited that our projects will continue to take shape and work their way to completion.  These projects include diagonal parking on Elm Avenue from Ocean Blvd to 3rd Street (25-30 new parking spaces), and extension of our Broadway road diet west from Temple Avenue towards Cherry (creating more parking), the evolution of our Downtown Fitness Loop, additional curb and street repairs, continued rehabilitation of our Bixby Park Community Center, and the next steps towards the completion of our corridor pilot projects.

Without question, it has been my privilege to walk hand-in-hand with you to create the lasting, positive change we see all around us.

Promises were kept and stakeholders’ quality of life improved.

It’s easy to forget what we inherited 10 years ago – shopping carts throughout the community, unpaved alleys, stray cats and dogs, unrestricted loud motorcycles on Ocean, open tree wells, underperforming business corridors, F grades on beach water quality, very little bicycle infrastructure or residential usage, plastic bags littering our streets and waterways, fighting and noise in the Dining and Entertainment District, outdated parking meters, a vacant Pike area, tired park spaces, the strong desire and need for Cambodia-Town designation, no Vision Zero, a library branch and senior center in need of improvements, even worse parking conditions, no multi-family recycling program, lack of a downtown vision for development, and an inferiority complex as a city.

Many of you know that Jane Jacobs is my community building, urban planning hero. Her celebration of and unwavering faith in what cities can be is a life’s calling.

It was my calling long before I had words to describe the stir and excitement I felt about the potential of cities. The more gritty and tired our urban core was, the more inspired I became.

Through Jane Jacobs visionary eyes we understand that, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

In 1800, only 3% of the world’s population lived in urban areas. By 1900, almost 14% were urbanites. In 1950, 30% of the world’s population resided in urban centers.

And, here’s something that Jane Jacobs knew in 1961. She knew, as did many urban planners and world health watchers/advocates – that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will reside in urban cores.

Knowing this places an immense responsibility on us all to become centers of sustainability and innovation so that we can live compactly, efficiently, and sustainably so that the richness of city-life can exist and the beauty of our natural world can be preserved.

We can track the rise of fall of our civilization with the rise and fall of cities.

Cities have intense challenges, but those same challenges make them into engines of innovation.

That, my dear friends, is what we have done in our city.

We have, together, taken all our urban challenges and innovated our way in to wellbeing, into prosperity, in to dreams fulfilled, and into a viable future for ourselves and for our future generations.

I know that we go about our lives, working in our neighborhoods and beyond never once realizing that what we have done is what we hope all cities can do by 2050.

We have worked to get our city right as though our very survival depends on it.

For this, I could not be more grateful to have walked with you every step of the way; breathing life back in to the heart of our city, breathing emotion back in to our public space, creating our public living room, and restoring her life and ours.

Thank you for taking this journey with me.

It has been an honor to serve you. Thank you for dreaming with me and saying “why not? Why not us? Why not now?”

 

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