John D’Amico, 47, is the newest member of the City Council of West Hollywood, Calif., which is a small, independent city of 34,000 people almost completely surrounded by the metropolis of Los Angeles. But unlike the typical cadre of attorneys and organizers who fill these sorts of seats in cities across the country, D’Amico comes to his new role with a master’s degree in architecture and urban design and a second in aesthetics and politics, plus more than 20 years of experience in the field. In his day job, he’s a project manager for building projects at the University of California at Los Angeles, and he previously served five years on the West Hollywood Planning Commission. As he settles into his new office, D’Amico offers some thoughts on the urbanism of his city, where it went wrong, and how it can turn itself around.
Architect: This March, in your first run for city council, you unseated the incumbent. Why did the voters pick you?
John D'Amico: I believe I was successful because in most conversations I talked about the built environment and how it seemed to be at risk. Even if they [voters] had only moved here in the recent past, they really felt like the city was headed in the wrong direction. One of the expressions I used was “bigger, faster, louder West Hollywood has to stop.”