Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl launched the 11th District Empowerment Congress Saturday, May 20th.

More than 150 community leaders gathered at Loyola Marymount University for the inaugural meeting, which focused on two issues in the 11th District — planning and transportation.

“This is the beginning of something very exciting,” Rosendahl said. “We are giving people a real chance to determine the direction of their neighborhoods.

“We are giving people a genuine opportunity to be part of governing.”

Rosendahl and his staff say they recruited residents from every community in the 11th District to make up the Empowerment Congress, which will develop policy proposals and help Rosendahl lobby for them.

The full congress will meet twice annually, and working committees will meet throughout the year on policy issues.

At the weekend general assembly session, members engaged in a question-and-answer session with Gloria Jeff, the new general manager of the Department of Transportation, and Gail Goldberg, the new general manager of the Planning Department.

Rosendahl said Jeff and Goldberg promised “sweeping reforms in their departments and pledged to make their agencies more visionary and more community-friendly.”

Attendees also heard from Laura Trejo, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Aging.

She spoke of expanded opportunities for seniors as a result of money Rosendahl helped her department get in the city budget process.

“During my campaign last year, I promised that people would no longer have their noses pressed against the glass as decisions were being made,” Rosendahl said.

“With this Empowerment Congress, people will not only be in the room when decisions are being made, but they will help frame the issues, shape the debate, and develop the solutions,” he said.

The bulk of the work of the Empowerment Congress will be done in the working committees.

At the weekend meeting, Rosendahl announced that he had appointed co-chairs of most of those committees:

n Transportation Committee — Angela Reddock and Ken Alpern;

n Planning and Development Committee — Maritza Przekop and Kurt Toppel;

n Public Safety Committee —Dennis Hinman and Gwen Vuchsas;

n Affordable Housing and Tenant Rights Committee — Nancy Karlin and Mindy Meyer;

n Homelessness Committee — Adlai Wertman and Robert Levy; and

n Senior Services Committee — Frances Stronks, Edmundo Gonzalez, and Maureen Burruel.

In the coming weeks, Rosendahl plans to announce chairs of the committees on the environment, education, youth issues, arts and culture, and government reform.

The chairs will work with Rosendahl’s staff to determine the membership of each committee.

Each committee will meet at least once monthly, have a designated liaison from the City Council staff, and have access to policy experts.

Rosendahl pledged to diversify the Empowerment Congress, which he said needs more renters, more women, and more non-whites to better reflect the nature of the 11th District.

Applications to join the congress are available from Rosendahl’s office or on the Web site, www.councilmanrosendahl.com

Information, (213) 473-7011.