Joe Buscaino is an American politician, currently serving on the Los Angeles City Council for the 15th district. Buscaino was elected on January 17, 2012 to fill the vacancy left by Janice Hahn, following her successful bid for the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a member of the Democratic Party.  He was re-elected on March 5, 2013, to a full four-year term with 83.09% of the vote, the largest margin of victory since at least 1996 for a Los Angeles city council race in which more than one candidate was listed on the ballot. On March 7, 2017, Buscaino won re-election with 74.85% of the vote .
Buscaino in 2011
|Member of the Los Angeles City Council from the 15th district|
January 31, 2012
|Preceded by||Janice Hahn|
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Alma mater||California State University, Dominguez Hills (B.A.)|
Following his election, Buscaino was appointed by the city council president to serve as chairman of the Public Works Committee. The committee has oversight of the Department of Public Works, and its Bureaus of Sanitation, Street Services, Street Lighting, Engineering, and Contract Administration. The Department of Public Works is the city’s third-largest department and has a staff of more than 5,000 employees, who are responsible for the construction, renovation, and operation of City facilities and infrastructure. The department also installs sewers, constructs storm drains, and builds the city’s streets, as well as public buildings, rights-of-way, and service facilities.
Other committee assignments include Public Safety, which includes the LAPD, LAFD and Emergency Management; Trade, Commerce & Tourism, which includes the Port of LA, Los Angeles World Airports and the LA Convention Center; and Information Technology and General Services, which includes the General Services Department, Information Technology Department and Los Angeles City Clerk’s office.
- Arts, Parks, Health, Aging & River
- Public Safety (Vice Chair)
- Public Works & Gang Reduction (Chair)
- Trade, Commerce & Tourism (Vice Chair)
- Ad Hoc on Special Olympics 
Back to Basic Car Plan: In the past 50 years, LA’s population has grown by 25% while the LAPD has grown by 30%; however, the number of officers on the street has actually decreased in that time. Cognizant of the need for more officers patrolling the streets, Councilman Buscaino paired up with Councilman Bonin to produce the Back to Basic Car Plan, a 10 point plan that encourages the LAPD to return to their “Basic Car Plan,” a model implemented in 1969 that saw a 1% reduction in crime while nationwide crime rates soared by 55%. Under the Back to Basic Car Plan, the City will revisit the LAPD’s deployment formulas in order to establish reasonable minimum patrol staffing levels. The implementation of minimum patrol staff levels, along with other changes that encourage operational flexibility and integration with local communities, ensures that the Back to Basic Car Plan reflects a robust vision to combat crime and establish relationships between the LAPD and the constituents they serve. 
8-step Homelessness Plan: Councilman Buscaino has a comprehensive plan to address homelessness, both in San Pedro and in LA as a whole.
The first step in the plan was the expansion of the LAHSA Emergency Response Team, which since 2015 has provided nearly 5,000 individuals with either referrals, direct services, or in the case of 235 constituents, a variety of housing placements. The new plan also includes the creation of a two-member Mental Health Team, who assist the Emergency Response Team.
The second step in the plan was the creation of a LAPD footbeat patrol in downtown San Pedro and on Gaffey St. between 1st and 14th streets. The beat patrol has been in place since 2015.
The third step in the homelessness plan was creating the South Bay Cities Homelessness Committee, which enables dialogue amongst the South Bay Cities, many of whom suffer from severe homelessness issues. The Committee provides a forum for collaboration, which is much-needed if we want to eliminate homelessness on a city-wide basis in LA.
Step four in Councilman Buscaino’s plan is the promotion of Permanent Supportive Housing, which the Councilman views as a viable means of drastically decreasing homelessness. By providing Section 8 Housing Vouchers, the city can not only relocate homeless constituents to housing, but moreover, can be proactive in preventing constituents from falling into homelessness. The most recent action regarding step four of the homelessness plan was the construction of the Vermont Villas, a 79-unit supportive housing project which primarily serves homeless veterans in the Harbor Gateway area.
The fifth step towards eliminating homelessness was the creation of the San Pedro and Wilmington Homelessness Taskforces. The decision to create the community-specific taskforces was partially influenced by the presence of 1200 constituents at a lively 2015 community forum on homelessness, held in San Pedro’s Warner Grand Theatre. The forum reinforced the idea that homelessness is a problem best solved by direct engagement with the local community; this is what the taskforces aim to accomplish.
Sixth in the Councilman’s steps towards reducing homelessness in LA is cleaning up homeless encampments around the district. This process--which happens every weekend--is done with the help of the City’s Bureau of Sanitation and Watershed Protection Unit. The goal of these clean-up projects, like the April 2015 clean-up outside of Ante’s Restaurant in San Pedro, is to respect the individual rights of the district’s homeless but ensure that their living areas are sanitary, safe, and not conducive to drug use or violence.
The penultimate step in the Councilman’s homelessness plan was the creation and 2016 passage of the City’s Comprehensive Homeless Strategy (CHS). The CHS provides a road map of the City’s efforts to reduce homelessness over the next decade, which includes $100 million in funding. This city-level funding comes in addition to $600,000 in South Bay-specific funding by the LA County. This combination of funding ensures that District 15 has proper and community-specific resources to combat its issues with homelessness.
The final step in Councilman Buscaino’s strategy to eliminate homelessness is the promotion of Harbor Interfaith’s GoFundMe campaign; Harbor Interfaith are a team who provide services “including shelter, transitional housing, food, job placement, advocacy, child care, education and life skills training”. Their campaign has currently raised $5,200, funds which provide much-needed aid to the homeless community in San Pedro. By promoting their services in addition to the funding provided by the City and County, Buscaino hopes to address the issue of homelessness from all angles. 
In 2015, Buscaino successfully lobbied for the creation of Watts Serenity Park, a 1.13 acre parcel of land that was previously vacant and often crippled by drug use and violent crimes. A $5 million construction project, the land offers the Watts community a safe space for community recreation, complete with play equipment for kids, a Fitness Zone® exercise area for adults, and a skate park. 
Buscaino also pushed for the renovation and re-opening of the 109th Street Pool and Rec Center in July 2016. A $4 million project that created 18 jobs, the area now offers residents the option of using a baseball diamond, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, a children’s play area, tennis courts, a multipurpose sports field, and the 109th Street Pool, complete with a splash pad for younger children. 
In March 2015, Buscaino also announced the 103rd St. Streetscape Improvement Project, which utilizes $1.25 million in METRO funding to ensure an improved experience for pedestrians using the 103rd St. blue line stop. Improvements to the streetscape include: 5 irrigated landscaped median islands, a gateway monument, access ramps, trash receptacles, benches, bicycle racks, way-finding signage, high visibility crosswalks, and sidewalk improvements, all of which enable a better relationship between residents of 103rd St and their community. 
In addition to the improvements along 103rd St., Buscaino plans to use part of the $2 million in Green Streets funding given to the 15th District to make improvements to the historic Watts Towers area. These improvements aim to revitalize the area by planting hundreds of new trees, repaving sidewalks, repairing and replacing lights, and investing in the development of the Watts Towers Cultural Crescent. 
Councilman Buscaino has also encouraged businesses to involve themselves in the revitalization of Watts. The most notable example is Locol, a project of renowned chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson. Locol is a fresh take on fast food that offers healthy, affordable options to the Watts community--everything on the menu is priced under $8. In 2017, Locol was recognized as the LA Times Restaurant of the Year. 
Buscaino has also promoted community events in Watts, such as the Watts Winter Wonderland, Watts Cinco de Mayo, and Watts Dia de Los Muertos. The Winter Wonderland features food, crafts, a tree lighting ceremony, real snow, and sledding, and has had attendance in the thousands since its creation in 2014. The Cinco de Mayo and Dia de Los Muertos celebrations, meanwhile, were started as a way of celebrating the rich Mexican heritage found throughout Los Angeles; the events were highly popular in their first year (2016), and are expected to bring the Watts community together for years to come!
Councilman Buscaino’s Office has collaborated with the LA Great Streets Team and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative to produce the Gaffey Street Conceptual Plan, which outlines an estimated $7.2 million in improvements along the iconic entrance to San Pedro. The funding will allow for changes like landscaped medians, high visibility crosswalks, traffic signal synchronization, coordinated street furniture, sidewalk repairs and street sweeping, a solar powered Soofa bench, landscape enhancements and public art. The Conceptual Plan will calm traffic, improve the Gaffey St. pedestrian experience, make the landscape more drought tolerant, and provide more public spaces for the San Pedro community.
Councilman Buscaino helped create and support Clean San Pedro, a non-profit organization dedicated to cleaning and revitalizing the Pacific Corridor area of San Pedro. CSP was built by residents of San Pedro who were frustrated with the lack of beautification efforts in their city. These activists now perform a variety of functions--daily litter and debris removals, reporting of graffiti, weekly sidewalk cleaning, etc.--with the purpose of preserving their city’s natural beauty. See cleansanpedro.net for more information.
San Pedro Courthouse: Councilman Buscaino’s Office helped oversee the search for a developer who could transform the space occupied by the now-closed San Pedro Courthouse. The courthouse closed in January 2013, and since then, the area has been the subject of frequent conversations, as its location in the heart of downtown San Pedro makes it lucrative property. In November 2016, the LA County Board of Supervisors announced plans to team up with real estate firm Holland Partner Group to build a multi-use development in the 1.8 acre space. Past projections by the Supervisors indicated that the area could accommodate up to 250 residential apartments.
San Pedro Waterfront Redevelopment Project: For years, San Pedro’s Ports O’ Call fishing village has undergone a steady decline in revenues and community engagement. While busy on weekends, the market is often dull during the week, and as a result, roughly a fifth of the shops have been forced to close. That trend is about to change, however, thanks to the announcement of the San Pedro Waterfront Redevelopment Project. A $100 million dollar endeavor, the project will revitalize much of LA’s waterfront. The Ports O’ Call village will be torn down and replaced with the San Pedro Public Market, a 16 acre development that will feature restaurants, markets, bars, shops, offices, a waterfront promenade, and an amphitheater for live entertainment. Construction on the project is set to begin in late 2017.  
Push for faster rescue boats: Ever since a tragic April 2015 accident that claimed the lives of two children in the Port of LA, Councilman Buscaino has been vocal about the need for faster rescue boats. The Councilman continues to advocate for the purchase of new, faster response boats, a change that could potentially save lives. The current response boat for the Port of LA is Fireboat 2, which was acquired by the city Fire Department in 2003; Fireboat 2 is the largest boat of its kind west of the Mississippi, but with that size comes a tradeoff of speed. The addition of smaller, faster rescue boats could resolve that problem. 
Prior to his election to the City Council, Buscaino served as a police officer for 15 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. His assignments included the Office of the Chief of Police, West Traffic Division, Emergency Operations Division and senior lead officer for the Harbor area. He created the LAPD’s Teen Community Police Advisory Board, an organization that works with teens to problem solve and bridge the barriers between police and teenagers. The program was implemented citywide in 2011.
Buscaino has lived in the 15th Council District all his life. He is a first-generation Italian-American, whose parents emigrated from Italy over 40 years ago. Buscaino graduated cum laude, with a B.A. in communication from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Harbor Area, the San Pedro YWCA’s Racial Justice Committee and the Advisory Council for the Los Angeles Watts Summer Games. He is a member of Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church and is active in select Italian-American organizations.
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