DOWNEY - Ernie Garcia, Councilman Fernando Vasquez' choice to represent District 4 on the Planning Commission, said he's glad to be able to further the interests of this "great city" which has been his and his family's home for more than 25 years.His appointment was ratified by the City Council on Jan. 11. Ernie has been in the metal finishing business for 35 years, and has served as vice-president of L.A.-based South Coast Metal Finishing since 1994. A graduate of Roosevelt High in East L.A., he took a course in electro-galvanizing in 1985 at the School for Metal Finishing in Santa Fe Springs, and at one time took a 9-month business executive course at USC. Ernie's three children are all involved in one way or another in law enforcement. His eldest child, a product of East Middle School and Downey High School, has a BS in law enforcement from USC, as does the youngest (and eyeing a career with the FBI), who attended St. Raymond's, where Ernie is a "very active" parishioner; his middle child, a graduate of OLPH and Cal State Long Beach also with a bachelor's in law enforcement, works for the L.A. city attorney. His active involvement in city matters was gradual. Initially sitting on the Downey Family YMCA board, he began attending city meetings. Through the encouragement of fellow attendees and others, he became a member of Downey Elks, while a desire to perhaps contribute to the creation of positive change in the city led to his support of the Downey Police Officers Association, and this in turn later developed into his active involvement in such activities as the Downey Business Watch, Citizens Police Academy and Gangs Out of Downey programs. In September of 2008, he received a certificate of recognition for his year of service on the city's Water Board, which was phased into the Public Works Committee last year, whereupon he was asked to join the newly-formed committee. Through all this, he says he has been an advocate of job creation within the city and has actively supported the developments of local businesses such as Tropicana Bakery and Vista Cleaners. Garcia says it is with great pride that he accepted his position on the Planning Commission and that his main motivation is help build and develop the city where his three grandchildren will be raised. He said: "I love my city and I want to see it grow with my family, and I will take the necessary steps to make this happen." The Planning Commission is one of three boards/commissions whose functions are delineated in the city charter and which can make decisions on their own, with oversight by the council. The other two are the Library Advisory Board and the Personnel Advisory Board. The Planning Commission, whose other current members are Mike Murray (District 1), Robert Kiefer (District 2), Louis Morales (District 3), and the just recently appointed Hector Lujan (District 5), is responsible for "making recommendations to the City Council on matters relating to the adoption, amendment or repeal of the city's General Plan, Specific/Precise Plans, zoning ordinances, and zoning classifications." Additionally, it is responsible for "final decisions on land use, such as subdivisions, conditional use permits and variances." As such, its deliberations directly impact the shaping of policy by the council. It is, as one councilman observed sometime back, "a good training ground for the City Council." Garcia is meanwhile concurrently a member of the Public Works Committee as an earlier Luis Marquez appointee for District 5. This committee is purely advisory and is charged with "reviewing and making recommendations to the city council on parking and traffic, solid waste and recycling, wastewater collection and disposal, air quality, hazardous waste, public utilities, transportation and mobility, water supply, energy consumption and conservation, urban runoff and water quality, urban blight and streetscape, other matters affecting a healthy and safe environment; and any other matters specifically requested to be reviewed by the city council."
********** Published: January 27, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 41