Matias Flores named to Planning Commission

DOWNEY - The City Council Tuesday approved the appointment of Matias Flores to the city's Planning Commission for District 4. Flores, an attorney by profession, replaces the departing Ernie Garcia effective Dec. 6. He will then join the other four sitting members of the commission: Michael Murray, Robert Keifer, Louis Morales and Hector Lujan.

Flores was sponsored by District 4 Councilman Fernando Vasquez.

Each council member appoints his/her choice to serve in the Planning Commission, which acts as an advisory body to the City Council on such major matters as the city's General and Specific Plans, zoning ordinances, etc., matters that guide the city's future physical development.

The Planning Commission, as its website indicates, also serves as the public hearing authority for a variety of development applications from homeowners, businesses and developers, including requests for conditional use permits, variances, planned sign programs, and site plan reviews.

Flores has a BA degree (2010, with honors) in history from UC Santa Barbara where he immersed himself in Argentine history. The family originally came from Argentina's wine-growing Mendoza province, which borders Chile to the west.

Matias was 11 when the family moved here to the United States. He attended fifth grade in Alameda, middle school at South (now Sussman), and graduated from Downey High. While at Downey High, he was assistant coach and later head coach at AYSO.

After his college graduation, Flores enrolled at the Southern California School of Interpretation in Norwalk, became a Certified Court Spanish Interpreter in July 2004, and started working for private agencies as well as the Los Angeles Superior Court as an interpreter.

During this period, Matias took what he calls "a defining trip" south of the border. He, a close friend, and younger brother, Valentin, drove from Downey in a '95 Honda Civic all the way to the southern tip of Argentina, through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. The odyssey lasted seven months.

Then Matias enrolled at Loyola Law School. He obtained his J.D. degree in May 2010, and was sworn in as a member of the bar on Feb. 14, 2011. He now works at the Law Offices of Nigel Burns, specializing in criminal law and family law.

In introducing Flores to the City Council and the public Tuesday, Vasquez said that in looking over his short list of candidates for the Planning Commission, which he regards as one of the most important, if not the most important advisory body in the city, he was particularly impressed by the passion exhibited by Flores as the latter played a significant role in the formation of Downey Art Vibe, and that he's confident Flores will help shape a clearer vision for the city as well as help develop a blueprint for future redevelopment.

The 33-year-old Flores thereupon thanked Vasquez for giving him the opportunity to serve the city. He also thanked his parents for (luckily) landing here in Downey in 1990, and never leaving.

********** Published: November 29, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 33