Rolando News Interview With Linda Godoy, EACPC Chair
Here’s what I learned about Linda and the Eastern Area committee.
Bob: Hi Linda, thank you for meeting with me to talk about the Eastern Area. While some residents may have attended meetings in the past or have heard of the committee, the Rolando Community Council may be a more familiar organization to them. What is the role of the City’s planning committees?
Linda: The role of the planning committees is to assist the City with community planning and development and to review proposed projects. We serve in an advisory capacity to the City decision-makers on these projects. While it is up to the City Development Services Department to make the ultimate decision on whether a project meets all the requirements to move forward, the committees provide communities a voice in our future.
Bob: What neighborhoods comprise Eastern Area and how are the neighborhoods represented on the committee?
Linda: There are six neighborhoods that make up Eastern – in addition to Rolando Village, they include Rolando Park, Redwood Village, El Cerrito (south of El Cajon Boulevard), Oak Park and Webster. Two City Councilmembers represent Eastern Area: newly elected District 4 representative Monica Montgomery and Council President Georgette Gomez (District 9). Each neighborhood has two at least two representatives. The Eastern Area Bylaws currently allows for 15 elected members to represent the community based on the bylaws and City Council Policy 600-24. There are three seats for at-large members, like the seat that you hold, Bob. Our charter also allows for one seat to be occupied by a business owner who owns or operates a business within the planning area boundaries. I’m pleased that we have a committee right now with 13 members. We do have seats up for reelection this spring. Each term is two years. The seats in Rolando Village are not up for election this year.
Linda: Mario Ingrasci has served from Rolando for several years. Ross Naismith filled a vacant seat in 2018, as you did for a vacant at-large seat. Mario leads our transportation subcommittee and you are leading our election subcommittee this year.
Bob: Now I’d like to ask some questions about you. In which of the neighborhoods do you reside, and how long have you lived in Eastern Area?
Linda: I moved to Oak Park and purchased a condominium in 1973. I raised my two children there.
Bob: How did you get involved with Eastern Area?
Linda: I had met Laura Riebau, who was serving as the chairperson of Eastern Area, representing El Cerritos and she encouraged me to join. Someone interested in joining the committee can attend three consecutive meetings, submit a letter of interest, and be elected by the committee to fill a vacant seat for their community or one of the at-large seats. Like you, that’s what I did.
Bob: What got you interested in serving your community?
Linda: My interest started at a very young age. When I was in high school, I was on the Student Council and every club I could join. This is was the only way that my mom and dad would let me stay after school. It really became part of my soul. Soon after I bought my condo in 1973, I joined our Homeowner Association (HOA). I was the only woman on the HOA board. In those days, women were expected to serve as secretary. I eventually became president of the HOA and served for many years, but this was very stressful since I was a single mom, working and then raising two children. After a five-year absence, I returned to the HOA board. The HOA had experienced a rough road in my absence. They not only wanted me to return but asked me to be president again. What was I to do? I accepted the challenge and got the HOA back on track. I’ve now been the HOA president for over 20 years.
Linda: We all bring a diverse skill set to organizations. The committee follows Council Policy 600-24. I think it is always good to have had experience with your neighborhood community council, HOA boards, Little League, PTA or some other organization. It is important to understand the City government. Respect, ethics, honesty, and patience are good qualities to possess. I’ve always believed there are three sides to every story—mine, yours, and how it really is. Bob: Can residents participate in the planning process without being a committee member?
Linda: Please just come to our meetings, ask questions, be open-minded, be realistic, help and do your homework. You’ll find that there is a lot to learn. Council and other elected official representatives speak at each of our meetings. If you attend, you’ll learn a lot about what is going on in our city, our neighborhoods and in the state.
Bob: What are some of the biggest issues facing the Eastern Area right now?
Linda: Many of the issues we face are those that also challenge the rest of the City. The cost of housing is a serious issue, and it will be very important to follow what our City Council and the State propose to address this dilemma because this can affect the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Homelessness is another concern that we see every day and the social issues that go along with it. Quality education is also a need for our residents. Because Eastern Area is an older part of the City, much of our aging infrastructure is failing or is sub-par and needs to be updated or replaced. How do we get developers interested in building projects that will improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods? This is a fundamental question, yet to be answered, that affects our future.
Linda: As I mentioned, do your homework. Identify the need for whatever it is you propose. If you can demonstrate the need and its benefits and how you get from Point A to Point B, it will provide your Council person what they need to advocate for your proposal. It might take targeting particular City departments. Just complaining to our representatives goes nowhere. Think outside the box, collect the information you need, present it to our representatives and you will have success. Persistence and patience, which seem contrary to one another, will help you cross the finish line.
Bob: I sincerely thank you for your dedication to our neighborhoods. Community service through active participation on committees, councils, and other organizations can be very rewarding and it has a lasting impact on our communities.
Linda: Thank you, Bob. I am looking forward to meeting residents at community council meetings in Eastern Area over the coming months. I’m hoping that by reaching out we’ll see some new faces attending our committee meetings in the future. With their participation and feedback, we’ll succeed in meeting the challenges that face the Eastern Area.