Kristen Torres Pawling

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Image of GPAC member Kristen Torres PawlingWhat ties do you have to Culver City?

As a college student, I took part in an event hosted by a UCLA alumnus in what I came to learn was called the Rancho Higuera neighborhood.  I remember thinking, “what kind of magical place I am in?”  The distinct mix of architectural styles and human-scale pedestrian infrastructure struck me as a burgeoning urban planner. 

A few years passed and I moved to the Palms neighborhood as a graduate student looking for an affordable place to live.  I loved being near convenient bus service and walking distance to the vibrancy of downtown Culver City. Like many of my neighbors, I described myself as a Culver City resident when asked where I lived.

After getting married, my husband and I joked that we “moved to the ‘other’ side of the tracks,” meaning we moved into Culver City proper. We rented in Rancho Higuera for four years and then moved to Clarkdale in early 2018 to become homeowners. 

What experience or expertise do you have which qualifies you to serve on the GPAC?

I earned my degree in Geography/Environmental Studies with a minor in Urban and Regional Studies at UCLA.  During my undergraduate studies, I focused on transportation and land use issues in Southern California. After a year serving in the Schwarzenegger Administration at the California Air Resources Board working on climate change policy and communications, I returned to UCLA to pursue my master’s degree in Urban & Regional Planning with a concentration on transportation. My capstone focused on how the City of Los Angeles could implement the Complete Streets Act, which requires California cities to incorporate a complete streets policy into newly updated general plans, meaning I’ve spent a lot of time with pages and pages of outdated general plans.

I’ve worked at the local, regional, and state level on planning issues ever since graduating and currently serve as the County of Los Angeles Chief Sustainability Office’s Sustainability Program Director where I advise the Board of Supervisors on sustainability policy issues. 

What other resources (foreign language skill, participation in a local organization, practical skill, etc.) might you bring to enhance the quality of the General Plan process?

I am a member of the Bike Culver City Steering Committee and I served for two years as the Vice-Chair of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. I am president of my homeowner association. In classic millennial form, I am an avid social media user. I’m a Spanish speaker and an even better Spanish-language listener. I also bring a racial equity skillset to the table.

What motivates you to participate in the General Plan process?

As an urban planner, I strongly ascribe to the notion that a city’s general plan should articulate that place’s identity.  I believe that the process of developing a general plan is just as valuable if not equally valuable as the final plan. As a new homeowner, I am eager to help shape a general plan that informs our growth and helps our policies align with our values of inclusion, innovation, and sustainability. There is a slew of new requirements from the state, like environmental justice, climate resilience, and complete streets, that I am excited to incorporate into our community.

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