Since you might not have had the chance to meet all the Zoning Advisory Committee (ZAC) members in person, we thought it would be fun to feature short profiles on each to help you get to know them better. For this edition, we’d like to introduce Lark Galloway-Gilliam.
Lark Galloway-Gilliam is one of the “rare” native Angelenos, born and raised in LA, living her whole life in the West Adams/Leimert Park area. Lark’s interests in planning come from her experience of living for over 60 years in the City, watching it evolve and change, as “ . . . a person of color, experiencing the inequity of land use standards that the City has allowed . . .” Professionally, she has worked around land use policy “. . . as a way of providing access to healthy nutritional resources, the physical environment as a place to support physical activity through complete street design . . . ” Having served on a neighborhood council, these are the issues people in the community have raised to her.
Starting off in hospital administration, Lark later worked in the job/employment development field, specifically with people with disabilities. She then transitioned into her current position, working on health policy to improve both access to health care and the environment in which people live.
About her role as a member of the ZAC, Lark says " . . . it’s about the issue of the design standards as it relates to the proximity of incompatible uses that might create health implications for people, in particular. It’s about the equity of resources. How do we plan so that we have zoning that supports a more equitable distribution of critical infrastructure?” She emphasizes attention to affordability and access, and preservation of historical and cultural integrity of neighborhoods.
Lark is also concerned about some of the long-term implications of current infrastructure work. “I lived through the building of the 10 freeway and witnessed how that destroyed a very significant portion of the African American community--displacing people, and how it just was so disruptive . . .” with, she says, no apparent thought about the impacts, or about how to keep a community whole. Now that she has become involved, she is struck by the potential of planning to protect vulnerable communities.
"I think that the committee and the process have been interesting," Lark says of the ZAC. "I think you have to be sensitive to the fact that LA is not a homogeneous community by any standards. There are economic differences, racial and occupational/oppositional differences. We still live in a very segregated community that's driven by the market now, and some of that is driven by land use policy. So I think we're going to have to really be mindful that it's not a cookie-cutter response to the diverse composition, character, vision, and needs of a lot different little sub-communities within the City. It's going to be a very interesting challenge. How do we do that? How do we simplify this, yet provide for enough flexibility in job choices that people feel like it’s honoring their vision of their community, and then stimulate economic development at the same time?"
In her free time, Lark loves to go for walks, whether it’s on the beach or a walking trail.
While it’s useful to talk about the issues our City needs to resolve, it’s a bit more fun to talk about some of the things we all have in common: namely, our Angeleno culture.
If you were a tour guide for a day, where would you take a friend visiting from out of town?
"That’s easy. I would take them to the beach. I would take them to, unfortunately this is not in the City of Los Angeles, but there is the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook where you can see the entire city. I would take them to my neighborhood; I would take them to Leimert Park where I live and the beauty and sense of community of South Los Angeles shines . . . Well, there’s so many places. You know I had a friend coming down and she wanted to see the Walt Disney Center, and I enjoyed it, but I think the real beauty of LA is where the people are."
If somebody asked you to recommend a dish that could only be found in LA, what would you say?
"You know I traveled abroad and I was struck by how when you go out of the country, the food and cuisine is so specific. You couldn’t find Mexican food, you couldn’t find Thai food, and in LA you can find everything! I don’t think there’s anything that we don’t have! It’s such an international city. What would somebody have? I don’t know! I guess the answer would be, for communities in which there’s not as rich a diversity of ethnicities, culture, you’re missing all of that. You know, we can get Ethiopian food, we can get Indian food, Mexican food, we can get Thai food. And so if you don’t have that at home, we got it, we got it covered here in LA. We can find anything and everything here."
Lakers or Clippers?
"I don't like either."
Frozen yogurt, gelato or kale?
“Aww, or kale? Now you’re going to make me feel guilty! As the health person, I’m supposed to say kale, but I would say, to be honest, I would have to say gelato, provided it is really Italian gelato. I’m going to be honest.”
As you may already know, we selected our 21 Zoning Advisory Committee (ZAC) members to represent the diverse interests and various stakeholder groups of Los Angeles. Reading their biographies, you can see that each brings exciting viewpoints and experiences to the re:code LA project. The ZAC have been working closely with our team over the past few months, and have already had a valuable impact on the Zoning Code Evaluation Report that will now move forward to City Council.