Seleta Reynolds, 38, the new general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) starting August 11, has never lived in Los Angeles.
Reynolds took the new job after leaving the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, where she spent three years responsible for the Livable Streets division. Interviewed by the Los Angeles Downtown News, Reynolds admitted, albeit indirectly, that the city is in financial trouble, saying, “The primary weakness is the funding picture.”
Reynolds also stated that normal streets may become “public spaces.” She asserted, “There’s also a movement to reclaim streets as public spaces and it’s been amazing to see that mentality in downtown.” She was thrilled with the attitude of the city bureaucracy, saying, “But what’s struck me is that there’s an enthusiasm to try new things, which is a happy surprise because you don’t always see that in a bureaucracy.”
Asked about the MyFigueroa plan, a “complete street” project, she responded, “I know the project had controversy and delays over its impact on traffic, but what was encouraging about the debate was that stakeholders came together and reached a compromise despite some very strong fears at the start. They looked at the facts and came to a data-driven solution.”
Reynolds said she looks to New York and San Francisco as models of how to revamp a city. She said, “I want to replicate work done in New York City and San Francisco to look at data of how streetscape projects connect with the economic performance of the street. What we’ve seen in those cities is that a simple streetscape project, like a plaza conversion or something built out with temporary materials, has positive impacts on the economic performance of the businesses adjacent to those improvements.”
She favors the idea of a city streetcar: “I’m excited to get into the cost estimate and the funding plan for the L.A. streetcar,” but admitted, “I’m not knowledgeable enough about it to have an opinion at this point.”