I never thought the city where I attended elementary school and where both sets of my grandparents are residents would be the city where I would intern my junior and senior years of college.
As it has turned out, I currently serve as an economic development intern for the City of Inglewood’s Planning Department. This opportunity is an absolutely wonderful learning experience, for I am an Urban Studies Major.
My hope is to enter the field of urban planning and ultimately become a city manager. Within LMU’s urban studies program, we take a course called Urban Internship where we get course credit for interning in a field related to the urban environment or urban issues. Naturally, I chose urban planning. I started in Inglewood last March and have been there ever since.
Among my various duties, I work a lot with the city planning archives. I have inventoried the city’s historical aerial photos dating all the way back to the 1940s. I am also collecting the planning department’s Master Sign Programs, which establish the criteria that commercial developers and their retailers must follow for storefront signage to make shopping centers look uniform. I have also perused through hundreds of address files to verify we have all records of zoning, conditional use, sign, and plot plan permits made for each of those properties within the city. In each of these experiences, I have been able to see how much the city I grew up in has changed since I was a kid, and has changed since it was established in 1908.
Other duties include researching economic opportunities for the city to assist with long-term city planning projects. I have called and consulted with other cities for their approaches to updating the website and application materials for new business owners, streamlining the process for residents to make changes to their properties, and notifying the public of planning commission hearings on properties.
My supervisor and I have also worked on attempts at fair planning practices. Inglewood is increasingly bringing in necessary amenities to the city, such as the Forum, new Metro stations, and hopefully, a football stadium!
These developments are so valuable in boosting the economy and city’s cultural morale, but there is a lot of social justice involved, as well. For example, I have looked into ways of avoiding gentrification as all these new developments come about.
I have also researched ways to regulate Uber by protecting the rights and livelihood of both taxicab drivers and Uber drivers. Additionally, I have worked with my boss on authoring the city’s grant agreements with Metro to create transit-oriented development around the new transit stops. A huge component of that application has been assuring residents are involved in the design process as well as in the process of updating land use documents.
It has been such an awesome experience shaping how the City of Inglewood will look and approach planning in the future.
While learning more about Inglewood and helping to shape the city, I have developed professionally. My internship has reaffirmed my enthusiasm for my future in urban planning. The experiences I am having at Inglewood will be so valuable in my final year as an Urban Studies major and my post-baccalaureate adventures such as pursuing urban planning research abroad or enrolling in an urban planning master’s program.