10 Questions for Patrick Koppula, Candidate for Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council President

Koppula is one of five candidates running for the top post in the ERNC in Saturday’s elections.

Elections to the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council are scheduled on Saturday, Oct. 13, in Eagle Rock City Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In his response to a set of questions from Eagle Rock Patch also sent out to other contestants, presidential candidate Patrick Koppula offers some fascinating insights:

What do you think accounts for the unprecedented interest in the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council elections this year? 

I credit three factors for the increased interest in the neighborhood council this year. First and foremost, the work of the people who took the time and effort to get the word out about the election was thoughtful and honest. I didn’t find the neighborhood council; it found me.

The second factor is a maturing property class. A number of the council candidates all bought their homes here around 2003 and the Los Angeles Times reported that home values in Eagle Rock are up 25 percent August last year to August this year.

The third factor is an in flux of people who sought the opportunity to experiment with work, play, and learning concepts and are now experimenting with governance. The efforts of the election organizers who reached out to a newly enfranchised creative class has lead to a huge opportunity for Eagle Rock to lead by example in the city of Los Angeles.

 What, in your view, is the purpose of a Neighborhood Council?

I think the Neighborhood Council is an opportunity to experiment with community based government. Unlike the Chamber of Commerce or TERA, it has official standing with the city at large and unlike the City Council, it is free from legislative duty. This is a sweet spot for pioneering new ideas for responsive government.

 What kind of changes would you like to introduce in Eagle Rock if you’re elected to the ERNC?

The neighborhood council should work to support partnerships among people and among groups, who are working towards an outcome that is unreachable without the council's coördination and advocacy powers and will create value for the entire community.

 Eagle Rock has some tremendous resources many other neighborhoods lack—two broad boulevards, two sprawling public parks, good schools, to name a few. Which of Eagle Rock’s major assets do you think are well utilized? Which do you think are underused—and what would you do to utilize their full potential as a member of the ERNC?

The reason I'm running for president is to form a council that can act on what I've discovered by interviewing people who chose Eagle Rock for the opportunity they couldn't find elsewhere in Los Angeles. The most common reasons they gave me for choosing Eagle Rock are: value-priced (not cheap) property costs, being near other businesses that promote a culture of curation and discovery, and the aesthetic potential of the built environment.

 Do you think corporate businesses such as Target and Starbucks are good for the community—or do you think they harm the interests of small businesses? Do you think Eagle Rock needs a judicious mix of mom-and-pop shops and corporate-owned stores?

Residential and workday culture impacts the fortune of small business far more by than the prevalence of corporate stores. Specifically it is a culture that values curation and discovery that increases opportunity for small local business. Corporate stores can't dominate such a culture, but they still do fine within it, so they'll make adjustments to fit into the scene. Thus, segregating corporate stores from other stores is at best neutral for small businesses. The big missed opportunity of mixing corporate and non-corporate stores is the crossover patronage from people who visit the area for the corporate store for convenience and discover a non-corporate store to love.

 What’s your view about land use issues in Eagle Rock? Do you think Eagle Rock’s community leaders are too tough on businesses looking to open in the neighborhood?

Land use governance generally suffers from outdated models that don't permit controlled experimentation. Absentee landlords exacerbate the issue. It's impossible for a community to say to a potential business, "Okay, let's give it a shot, but we reserve the right to pull the plug" and hold landlords accountable for the non-monetary value effects of their choices, so they end up doing the best they can under the model of "planning".

 How would you use the Neighborhood Council’s limited funds for projects in the community? Which areas—neighborhood beautification, public safety, youth programs, for example—would you like to prioritize?

The neighborhood council's resources are enough to pilot self-sustaining projects with large long-term impacts. The are not enough to prioritize funds for general areas of concern. Based on my research so far into what would shift up the growth trajectory for Eagle Rock I suggest piloting at least three projects in the next two years:

A. A multi-modal community-run intra-commercial transportation system.

B. Online and offline support for discovering local lease opportunities based on the criteria that makes a difference to those who are choosing to locate in Eagle Rock (hidden architectural detail, local landlords, consistent litter collection, for instance) and a repository of lessons learned and willing mentors from those who have already made it work here.

C. A community center and multi-platform app for engaging high school students as volunteers and college students as creators and leaders of civic activities.

With regard to raising more government resources for the neighborhood, I would campaign for locating in Eagle Rock a city-sponsored Social and Civic Innovation Incubator (modeled after the Cleantech Incubator downtown), partnered with both Startup California and the federal government's Gov 2.0 initiative.

 Do you think a Neighborhood Council should spend its funds in ways that benefit every community member? Or do you think a Neighborhood Council with limited funds has to necessarily be selective about backing certain projects at the expense of others?

I would direct the council to focus it's limited resources (monetary and otherwise) on small groups of people with the potential to create something that will benefit the entire community.

 Would you be willing to help tap private and nonprofit organizations to raise funds for community projects? What expertise, if any—in grant writing, for example—do you have for fundraising?

I've raised millions of dollars from public, private, and non-profit sources for projects that have created tens of millions in value and am always looking for opportunities to share this playbook with those outside high-growth entrepreneurial norms.

 If elected, what would you like to see as your biggest success as a member of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council?

I think the next council can aspire to raise the bar for the impact a neighborhood council can have. When other councils approach us to say, "That's amazing! How did you do it?" that's when we know we've succeeded in this regard.

Jerry Langford October 12, 2012 at 07:18 AM
Ajay, maybe you could do a little follow up journalism with Mr. Koppula? He sounds like an interesting guy, but if he's running for ERNC president, I'd like to know more about him. For example, I don't read a single personal connection to Eagle Rock in his statement; he sounds more like he's running for the San Francisco neighborhood council. How long has he lived in Eagle Rock? (Does he live in Eagle Rock?) Does he have family here? Does he rent or own a home? What local businesses does he frequent? And why is he running for President, and not a subdistrict seat for starters, considering his unfamiliarity with Eagle Rock? Right off the bat, he mentions the 25% rise in ER housing values as evidence of a "maturing property class." Anyone who's lived here for longer than a year knows we aren't "maturing", we're gaining back lost equity that still has a long way to go before we're above water. I must say that I like the idea of a "multi-modal community-run intra-commercial transportation system." I'm thinking of a helicopter-cycle-boat that runs between Casa Bianca and Spitz.
Ajay Singh October 12, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Many thanks for the pointed inquiries, Jerry. I'm sure Mr. Koppula will be happy to provide some of the answers you seek faster than any follow-up. He does live in Eagle Rock, by the way—and the wonkiness in some of his responses probably has something to do with the proximity to Occidental College (his wife is also a professor there). This Q&A, in case you didn't realize, was sent out to all candidates for the ERNC elections. You may read other responses here: http://patch.com/A-y3f0
Patrick Koppula October 12, 2012 at 09:51 PM
I am glad to, Jerry. I'm a late to this dance and hope my response will clarify, all wonkyness aside, why I'm a smart and distinct choice for Saturday's election. As Ajay already explained, I live in Eagle Rock with my wife, who is a professor at Occidental, and children, one of which who goes to a local school, the other who visits the local branch of the city library every week. The three businesses I go to most are all in Eagle Rock. I've eaten every salad/protein combination at Four Cafe, used every option at Eagle Rock Car Wash, and have a weekly massage appointment at Eagle Rock Spa. My reasons for running for the council are neither specific to my sub-district nor to an issue area, so the office of president is the best fit. While considering taking on a entrepreneurial project with a local focus I interviewed people who, like you it seems, chose Eagle Rock to do something they couldn't do elsewhere in Los Angeles. When I saw the call for candidates for the council, I realized what I was starting to think about is a resource acceleration plan for the neighborhood, exactly what I'd want a neighborhood council to do. (note: I was referring to the maturity of people who have stuck with a property for ten years and through a rapid upsurge in prices) p.s. - I've made a note to look into your cycle-boat idea after the inevitable Colorado Blvd. Canal project gets started.
Jerry Langford October 14, 2012 at 07:48 AM
Thanks for the good answers, Patrick. (Fyi, those long-time homeowners you mention experienced a rapid upsurge in 2006-2007, not in 2012.) Keep talking to people in town to familiarize yourself with the recent history of Eagle Rock, and stay involved with our local causes - you sound like the kind of guy we need around here. I'd suggest shooting a little lower in the next election. You can get plenty of things accomplished by being a sub-district or civic director.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »