New commissioner Jim Rodriguez Jr. likes what he sees in Downey

DOWNEY - The newest member of the Downey Planning Commission, Jim Rodriguez, Jr., is glad he now has a more direct role in the implementation of city policies on a variety of issues. He mentioned the recent cases involving the request by the Swami Narayan Temple located on Lakewood and Alameda to expand (it was granted), the tightening of regulations on the operation of hookah bars and cigar lounges in the city, and the rejection of Club DB Lounge's request to hire go-go dancers and expand its square footage. In turning the requests down, the Planning Commission considered the spike in troubling incidents in the club and that the idea of scantily-clad go-go dancers was not exactly in line with the standards and intent contained in the city's General Plan, Rodriguez said.

"I remember also we've had to consider some signage and other routine matters," he added. "I've attended about four meetings so far," Rodriguez said, "and each one has been exciting." But Rodriguez, a resident of Downey for over 25 years and who started working in real estate to pay his tuition at USC, obtaining his bachelor's in finance in l983, says he's excited most by the potential of the Tierra Luna project.

"If we can integrate the significant various elements, say, linking Kaiser, the Columbia Learning Center, the brand-new park, and Downey Landing, the entire site, via walking paths, if the people build it well, people will come. It has the potential to become the most unique site in the area," he said. "Downey has a wonderful image. People really want to live here, want their children to get educated here. Some see it as the Beverly Hills of the Southeast area. So we'll have to try to keep it upscale."

Rodriguez at the same time complimented the city's community development staff as "very helpful, and for their detailed reports."

Rodriguez was born in Washington, D.C., and moved to Southern California when his engineer dad was relocated here. His ancestry includes a maternal grandparent who was German and a Spanish grandpa.

After graduation from Santa Monica High School in 1977, he spent the next 13 months as an exchange student in a central region in Venezuela where he, conscious of his Spanish roots, learned the language and absorbed the culture.

He then first worked for Union Bank for two years, after which he got his career in real estate and development really rolling. He obtained his real estate broker license in 1989.

In 1990, he and his wife, Connie, formed Home Loans of America, arranging home loans and loans on income property for over 15 years.

Managing his real estate multi-apartment complex portfolio today, with properties found in Bell, Bell Gardens, and Downey, is a fulltime job, he says. Other than undergoing spinal fusion surgery in December last year (the operation fused four vertebra, replaced three discs, and implanted eight screws and two rods), Rodriguez says he's in good shape otherwise.

Currently the track coach at St. Dominic Savio, where youngest son, Darren, is an 8th grade student who will attend St. John Bosco next year, Rodriguez is currently planning and training for an intense 7-day, Boy Scout backpacking trip in Philmont, New Mexico this summer.

The two older brothers are both Eagle Scouts; Darren, who's finishing his senior year at St. Dominic Savio, is expected to Eagle by year-end. The oldest, who is 20, attends Cal State Long Beach, Connie's alma mater, where she obtained her degree in accounting. The middle son, a senior at Bosco, has been accepted into the USC College of Engineering in the fall. The Rodriguezes have been married 25 years.

Among Rodriguez' other community involvements have been as board member of the Downey YMCA for over 20 years, including service for many years on its executive board, and as chairman of the finance committee for five years; he received the Distinguished Service Award in 2003.

He has served as a trustee on the Downey Regional Medical Center Memorial Trust Foundation for 20 years. He has also been very active in scouting, serving as Scout Leader for Troop 2 and Troop 371 for the last 8 years. A source of great fun and camaraderie, he says, is his membership with the Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis for over 20 years; he has also served on its board.

Rodriguez is an appointee of the city's newest council member, Alex Saab.

********** Published: May 9, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 04