Excerpted from Circling the News (October 27, 2021):
In early July, when attorney Traci Park announced her candidacy for Los Angeles Council District CD 11 to run against sitting Councilmember Mike Bonin, she said:
“LA has the highest poverty rate in California, and some of the highest housing costs anywhere in the country. Our homeless crisis has exploded, our City Hall has been beset by corruption scandals, and for the first time in a century, people are leaving Los Angeles.
“Our homeless issues have made Venice and the Westside synonymous with encampments and a symbol of the City’s inability to act on critical issues.”
Jump ahead to August, and at the urging of several Playa Vista residents, CTN accompanied Park and “birders” who had been decrying the way homeless encampments and RVs were fouling Ballona Wetlands, an environmentally sensitive area.
The bird watchers said they had reached out to Bonin, but he hadn’t responded to their pleas for action. Residents in the area near Ballona also contacted other city and state officials but had failed to receive any on-the-ground support.
The land from the curb at Jefferson to the fence alongside Ballona is City of L.A. property. “That’s where people are camping, dumping garbage and sewage, and storing mountains of personal property,” Park said. “The actual ecological preserve is owned by the State, and the damage to the interior caused by the encampments is devastating.
“For some reason, the government agencies and officials in charge of protecting this sensitive habitat seem to lack the political will to come together to address the crisis.
“It’s well past time to take immediate action,” Park continued. “The excuses of Covid, lawsuits, moratoriums, etc. have grown thin and tiresome. All this time the encampments have been allowed to grow, but there are no porta-potties, there is no security, there are no pumping services. There aren’t even enough garbage cans to serve the number of people accumulating trash.
“The storm drains are full to the brim of plastic and other garbage people are cramming inside,” Park said. “Even if the City couldn’t figure out a plan to move the RVs, couldn’t it figure out a way to keep the area clean and safe?”
While walking through the area, Park spoke to CTN.
She said she was born in Downey, her dad was an Army veteran and her mom a school secretary. “My dad, who worked for GTE, was a huge Dodger fan and took me to games at the Ravine, when I was tiny. He had me playing t-ball before I was even tall enough to swing the bat at the ball stand.”
Her mom’s parents moved to Venice in the 1960s and her grandfather was a minister at the church at the corner of Braddock and Culver in Del Rey. He and her grandmother retired to a boat in Marina del Rey.
As a youth, Park spent time swimming in the Marina and going back and forth to Catalina with cousins, where they would hike and swim all day.
After Park’s parents divorced, her mom moved the family to the high desert, where she could afford a home. Her mom married a man who was the director of technology for Apple Valley Unified School District.
“My mom was active in her union and served as an officer for more than 20 years,” Park said, adding that her mother and stepfather have since retired to northern Arizona.
Park admitted that “when I was a teenager, I’d cut school and hang out at Venice beach.” Academically, it wasn’t a problem for her because she graduated from Apple Valley High School her junior year.
“I drove my Toyota Tercel all the way to Baltimore, Maryland to attend Johns Hopkins University,” Park said. While in college, she competed on the debate team and studied “a lot of different things – journalism, English literature, political science and international relations – before I finally settled on a U.S. history major, where I focused on the history of civil rights.”