ALPERN AT LARGE--After I got home last night, after a busy day in clinic and suffering through a miserable rain-soaked and traffic-plagued commute en route to an excellent meeting with CD11 planners for a proposed large development near the future Bundy/Olympic Expo Line station, it dawned on me how the changes resulting from the election of Bill Rosendahl to the City Council in 2005 are alive and well.
Although Bill Rosendahl's physical health isn't as strong as I wish it was (he is in a hospice, I'm afraid, as a result of the cancer that forced him out of office), the "quiet revolution" of his election, and his popularity on the Westside, are quite healthy and strong. Whether one agrees with Bill's opinions had and has nothing to do with the hallmark of his City Council tenure:
Simply put, Bill Rosendahl embraced everyone, from conservative to liberal, and made darned sure that ordinary citizens--no matter how poor or wealthy, no matter how quiet or loud--were heard and represented.
Emblematic of his initial campaign origins to the City Council was the hastily-arranged and small meeting that a few of us transit advocates called together with Bill in a hotel room in Santa Monica, and we talked about transit goals and finally having a City Council representative who gave more than lip service to the idea of alternative forms of transportation.
Also emblematic of his start was the small meeting that a few of us had with Bill in the Mar Vista Library to talk about true transit-oriented development, and true affordable housing, instead of the nonsense that normally just leads to overdevelopment, gridlock, and environmental misery.
It was these small meetings that made Bill so reachable, so accessible, and so empathetic to the goals and plight of ordinary Angelenos.
Whether it was or is the Santa Monica Airport and LAX, gridlock and mobility problems, or affordable housing and a lack of economic opportunity, Bill was and is the man who made it clear that Westsiders had a place and person to go to who would listen and fight for them.
Thank you, Bill Rosendahl, for being a huge part of the fight to upgrade LAX in a manner that didn't smash Westchester and the rest of the Westside, and for having both my back and that of the region in fighting to get a Metro Green Line to LAX and the Westside.
As for your health, I am dreadfully sorry about that--but just as your career and early departure led to the rise of the successful Mike Bonin, we know that the equally successful tenure of Ted Lieu started with the early departure of the late Mike Gordon.
A true movement may start with one person, but for it to have legs and endurance requires a successor, and a cadre of individuals who operate based on the principles of that movement. And the movement you started, Bill, is true, indeed:
1) A Citywide and Countywide train/plane/mobility effort is part of your legacy, no matter who belittled and disrespected you along the way.
2) An affordable housing effort is part of your legacy, no matter what B.S. or opportunistic creeps have abused your efforts to make housing for the middle class a reality in the Westside.
3) An effort to help the homeless--particularly for veterans--is part of your legacy that began as a social worker for veterans returning from the Vietnam War.
4) Most importantly, the imperative that campaigns and issues be addressed transparently and honorably is certainly part of your legacy.
Your Mar Vista neighbors love you and are proud of you. And I love you and am proud to have you as one of my friends. My social worker wife Celia was and still is thrilled that a social worker actually made it to the City Council.
Thank you so very much, Bill Rosendahl, for being an example to the rest of us on how to live a life with honor and service to others--no matter who resisted you along the way.
Thank you, Bill Rosendahl, for a life well-lived.
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)