Since you might not have had the chance to meet all of the ZAC members in person, we thought it would be fun to feature short profiles on each to help you get to know them better. We'll start by introducing Sharon Commins, one of the co-chairs of our Zoning Advisory Committee.
Originally from Illinois (the Chicago area, to be exact), Sharon has been an LA resident since 1972, and lived in Burbank before starting college at UCLA. She initially lived in Westwood, but currently resides in Mar Vista where she is an active member of the Mar Vista Neighborhood Council.
Sharon gained familiarity with planning early in her career, working for the land use and planning firm, Cunningham & Associates. Saving money during that time, she put herself through night classes at the Art Center College of Design. She went on to become a freelance artist, eventually circling back to planning as a neighborhood council volunteer.
Art is certainly one of Sharon’s greatest passions, but so is youth soccer. Her son played soccer from grade school through college and she “couldn’t help but notice that there was an acute lack of field space for kids to train, practice, and play games on.” As a ZAC member, she hopes to bring awareness to the need for larger park and field spaces. What kind of field space is she after? Well, in her words, “I’m talking full-size [spaces], not pocket parks or tiny 6x6 soccer or football installations...I’m talking about the real deal, because I think that to have a healthy city, kids have to have enough room to really, really run.”
Sharon also hopes to encourage industrial preservation and to strengthen opportunities for small businesses, particularly along commercial corridors. She points out that industrial zones produce jobs for our City and that there may be opportunities to create industrial live-work zones or something otherwise new and innovative. Sharon hopes to help identify “where we can put [those new districts] and where they make sense, because we can’t just be a city of residences. We have to be a city of businesses as well.”
All in all, Sharon wants the Zoning Code to be much more user-friendly. She says she frequently gets calls from friends and acquaintances asking her to help them figure out what they can build on their properties. She usually refers them to the Zoning Information and Map Access System (ZIMAS) website. She says she often gets “a call back within 10 minutes” asking “’Can you go through this? We can’t find it.’” In the end, Sharon wants LA City Planning to have more than just a clear new Zoning Code, and to be able to communicate zoning information “to the public in a clear and effective way.”
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 is really hard! I would have to say Griffith Park, the Observatory, Travel Town, and the Carousel. Those would be high on my list. There are lots of other places, the beach of course, and the Downtown historic buildings area which is absolutely fascinating. But the thing that jumps to the top of my mind is Griffith Park since I grew up in Burbank and had birthday parties in Travel Town, field trips to the zoo and Observatory – it’s sort of like a big backyard.”
If somebody asked you to recommend a dish that could only be found in LA, what would you say?
“Oh gosh! I would probably send them to Louie’s of Mar Vista and tell them to look at the menu.”
Lakers or Clippers?
“I’m not a big professional basketball fan, so I’ll say the UCLA Bruins. You didn’t ask me what my favorite soccer team is – it’s the Galaxy of course!”
Frozen yogurt, gelato or kale?
“Gelato. Keep the kale and frozen yogurt, I’ll take the gelato.”
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.