The Los Angeles City Planning Department is the largest of its kind in the United States. They review project applications, process entitlements, and strategize future land use and development for the city. Social change has been wafting through the air and made passage to all levels of government. Equity amid community leadership are critical for upward mobility in society, Faisal Roble has been appointed to be the first within city planning to hold the chief equity officer position. With over 30 years of devotion to the city, Roble plans to give the next generation a “fair shake” of employment into leadership positions and further enhancement in life quality across L.A.

Roble is looking to align broader opportunity with communities of color to establish true equality among residents. City Planning echoes the consensus decision of the city and sets a clear path for its environmental growth. There is a focal point on the diversity among employment and promotion given to anyone who is deserving of incline. Roble explained that there will be heavier support in bringing more people of color into superior roles.

Within his 30 years of service, Chief Equity Officer Roble has seen many cycles of the community, he explained that this time is significant due to the new energy behind the American tragedies of racial injustices reflected in the case of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Roble distinguished the level of atonement the world has come to yield to.

As neighborhoods grow more consciously aware, so does the community plans, regulation, and development benchmarks. Roble expressed the pain from recent racial events impacted various communities to its core. He shared his thoughts on the resurgence for better quality of life and stated, “The country could not keep the American tragedy a secret anymore, it was something too big, too timely, that we have to face, this brewing and festering racial injustice that has been plagued in our society.”

He continued, “ This particular time gave the nation and the city in particular a period to atone, and in that atonement we have reprioritized our political commitment, from the mayor all the way down, there seems to be a new energy.”

Throughout his career, Roble managed areas across Los Angeles including Southeast and West Adams, Baldwin Hills, and the Leimert communities. Throughout his career, he consistently tethered the technicalities of city planning with the ethical side of community building. Roble has been at helm of over 20 projects that contributed to affordable housing and sustainable environments among L.A., physical change that came from his work includes the redevelopment of Jordan Downs, curating a mix-income environment with full service grocery store, community services, and parks with open space.

Roble was inspired by books such as “An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy," 1944 by Gunnar Myrdal. His experience is robust with formulas for empowerment, Director Vince Bertoni fostered Robles seeds within the department.

 Robles explained the significance in his role, “’It’s just icing on the cake for me at this time of my career to become the chief equity officer because I believe cities never get peace.” Roble continued, “At this time in my career, I am responsible and can be the watch dog for making sure that both in terms of internal issues as well as external issues and the way we are planning the city—is using the tools of equity and equity being our measurement.” Roble shared delight in weaving social responsibility into the technicalities of city planning. He explained his leadership work as making sure everyone in the city has a fair shake. 

 A commitment has been made to plot a more equitable community, staffing includes 400 civil servants on the frontlines marching in unison for justice and equality. Within the history of city planning, there has been slanted lines painted in favor of certain communities and means to resources. Robles is looking to continue pushing the agenda of balance division of the city that provokes universally accessible resources to all.

COVID-19 created a new reality for the future of the community, currently the Los Angeles City Planning is in the process of renovating 35 regional plans that will navigate the use of land in Los Angeles neighborhoods.  However, the core of the city plan has adapted to the civic responsibility to not only ensure the construction of the community but also to plant equality and justice as the foundation across the county. Roble explained the pandemic reared the massive focus back to the racial inequalities that are happening daily.

Roble believes Los Angeles is the home for racial justice to be planted in both action and future policy. The Los Angeles City Planning Department were the pioneers in changing their drafting methods to an equitable lens for resources. He shared the unprecedented passion that charges up the city and causes plans for equality to move forward.

“When you know the political establishment is ready to empower the professionals, and the political establishment has taken their leadership very seriously--then it would be incumbent upon us to bring about the right tools to address some of the issues that exhibit themselves.”

He continued, “There is a political energy that gives us the impetus that we need in order to wake up every morning and move forward…” Roble broke down visually how there are polarizing environments within the city, he compared West L.A. and the valley to underserved areas in South L.A. that works off physical evidence for the need for social updates within city planning.

For youth coming up and interested in any branch of government, Robles had this to say, “ The only area where the city is the lead is in land use and the planning department in a way is the entity that establishes something akin to the city’s constitution.” He went on to express the change that the younger generation is marching for is embedded in City Planning. He called for youth of color to understand change, and that will come by knowing how the city is run.

Future projects that Roble will oversee includes deserved upward mobility, giving more senior positions to people of color. He closed by stating, “The journey has started; the destination is still there--we will see where we like to end up and we would like to work with people of color to assume higher management as we approach our destination.”

Category: Cover Stories