Wanda Love has been the president of the Gardena Chamber of Commerce since 2008, and is running for city council with the hope of helping to develop Gardena’s economy.
As the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Love is tasked with ensuring that businesses have the resources they need to succeed and thrive. Gardena, she says, is significantly lacking in terms of having a strong, city-run department of business development in which a single director, Spencer De La Cruz, runs the show under the city.
“We don’t really have an economic development department, we have an economic development director, but we don’t have a department,” Love said. “That’s unique to Gardena, that’s not unique to any other city…most cities our size have an economic development department.”
A non-existent economic development department for a city the size of Gardena is shocking to Love and it is the alignment of her experience as the president of Chamber of Commerce and the empty void of business development in Gardena that pushed her to run for this position.
“I would just like to see Gardena shine like the rest of the South Bay,” Love said. “It used to be the destination city when we had the casinos, now people drive through Gardena and don’t even realize they’re in Gardena.”
What Love sees as the major hole that lies within Gardena’s potential for growth is its lack of stimulation for business development. A city that she believes to have the potential to be a hotspot for all sorts of demographics is cut short as venues that support a strong sense of community and demonstrate effective economic spending simply do not exist.
“Everybody leaves outside the city to spend their revenue because we don’t offer anything for millennials, we don’t offer anything for people in their 40s or 50s, there’s no nightlife, there’s no great shopping, (and) there’s no great dining,” Love said. “We can do much better, and we definitely can do much better when it comes to supporting our local small businesses. The city shouldn’t make it such a challenge for any sized business to do business in Gardena.”
The issue of revenue and smart economic development is a core pillar among the issues she wants to address in Gardena. In order to resolve this issue, Love stated that it is important to listen to the needs and wants of the community members of Gardena.
Voices and opinions from Gardena citizens that Love recall include demands for a national, brand-name restaurant to be able to sit down at, assistance for services for our seniors, services for veterans, and services for youth.
“What I’d like to start seeing is us being more proactive and not reactive, go out and shop for businesses and smart development and invite them into our city,” Love said. “Not saying give them the kitchen sink, but try to find out who is looking for what and if we have places and spaces in the city of Gardena.”
Other key issues that Love wants to tackle are homelessness/affordable housing and education.
Love stated that homelessness and affordable housing go hand in hand. She wants Gardena to develop a relationship with LA County and lobby for financial assistance to address Gardena’s homelessness issue.
“L.A. County has funding for housing,” Love said. “L.A. County has programs and services for the homeless issues, so there are services that we can provide and offer.”
The issue with education for Love ties into what she believes is a conflict between city and private interest. She drew attention to the signage laws that prevent private daycares from being able to advertise their business with signs on their yards.
“So many people that own in-home daycare facilities have come to the chamber and complained about the fact that they can’t really promote their business with a sign in front of their house because the city doesn’t allow it,” Love said. “
The city not allowing organizations and companies to advertise appears to Love as counterintuitive against any goal of expanding educational success or business development.
Love made the choice to not accept or apply for any endorsements and is one of eight candidates running for council.