Oral Histories

Interview of Donald Spivack

The Bradley Years: Los Angeles City Government, 1973-1993
Politics and Government
Parker, Caitlin
Spivack, Donald
Persons Present:
Spivack and Parker.
Place Conducted:
Spivack’s home in downtown Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Caitlin Parker, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; B.A., History, Amherst College; M.A., US History, UCLA. Parker’s dissertation focuses on urban policy in Los Angeles during Mayor Tom Bradley’s administration.Parker prepared for the interview by reviewing archival records related to downtown redevelopment in the Bradley Administrative collection at UCLA and the Bunker Hill Collection at USC, as well as articles from the Los Angeles Times and other print sources.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Spivack was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a few corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
7 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series includes interviews with key individuals who served in Los Angeles city government during the administration of Mayor Tom Bradley. The interviews focus on each individual’s political development, activism, and role in the Bradley administration. Major urban policy issues addressed in the interviews include social services, economic development, urban redevelopment, housing, transit, policing, education, and city finances. This project was generously supported by Arcadia funds.
Growing up in South Philadelphia – Philadelphia’s urban renewal program during the 1950s – Studying architecture and urban planning at the University of Pennsylvania – Involvement in New Haven Model Cities program while at Yale – Training in transportation planning – Developing the Urban Planning program at the Ohio School of Architecture -- Regional transportation development in Detroit – The planned Los Angeles People Mover – Red line planning in Montgomery County, MD
Coming to Los Angeles to coordinate redevelopment and transit for the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) – Taking on responsibility for the Central Business District Redevelopment Project –Developing a program to contain rather than demolish Skid Row – Litigation that set a cap on tax increment revenues for redevelopment programs – CRA involvement in social service provision – Bradley’s support for CRA-led redevelopment – Comparison of Los Angeles to Detroit – Attracting a new residential community downtown – Criticism of affordable housing activists – Foreign investment in downtown – Reaching the cap on downtown tax increment revenues – Changes in CRA leadership.
Diamond Plan to consolidate state offices – Renovation of Central Public Library – Approach to Broadway Avenue –Stabilizing Skid Row after demolition of housing stock – Expansion of the Convention Center and relocation of the residents in the area – CRA giving city and state additional funds during the budget crisis of early '90s – Building Staples Center and partnering with Anschutz Group to build entertainment center and hotels – Staples Center and the loft movement triggering new interest in living downtown – Planning transit for the Hollywood Redevelopment Project – Legal challenges to Hollywood project – Redeveloping Hollywood Boulevard—Controversy over scale of Hollywood-Highland project – Residential displacement from Hollywood Project – Lessons learned from downtown and applied to Hollywood Project – CRA focus on South Los Angeles after the 1992 Civil Disturbance – Difficulties in redeveloping commercial strips in South Los Angeles – Development around Western and Slauson –- Advancing private student housing around University of Southern California – Decision on whether to require community benefits and prevailing wages for construction – Working with faith-based local development corporations in South LA – Availability of state housing funding – Applying for park money under Proposition 84 – Food desert program and urban agriculture – Creating new incentives for development and simplifying regulations and requirements –Eastside redevelopment project and negotiations with community over eminent domain – Transition from Bradley to Richard Riordan – Riordan’s focus on economic development over affordable housing – Reorganization of housing into a Housing Preservation and Production Department and ongoing financial difficulties – Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Collapse of office market – Success of loft conversions- Banks' reticence to finance lofts – Benefit to CRA of revitalizing city core – Growth of historic core encroaches on Skid Row and Little Tokyo – Live-work ordinance in industrial – Debate over how to stabilize Skid Row – Impact of Safer Cities Initiative -- Protests of Los Angeles Community Action Network – Litigation with the county over creating new downtown redevelopment plans – Addressing homelessness in the city and creating a housing plan – CRA’s discussion of a living wage and equal benefits – Involvement of community and labor representatives on CRA Board – Testifying in support of a living wage proposal in New York – The state’s termination of redevelopment programs – Philosophical differences over purposes of redevelopment – Achievements of CRA’s revitalization – Involvement in environmental justice work – Redevelopment under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa compared to Mayor Bradley.