José Huizar

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José Huizar
Huizar in 2013
Member of the Los Angeles City Council from the 14th district
In office
December 1, 2005 – October 15, 2020
Preceded byAntonio Villaraigosa
Succeeded byKevin de León
Personal details
Born (1968-09-10) September 10, 1968 (age 55)
Zacatecas, Mexico
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseRichelle Ríos
Residence(s)Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley (BA)
University of California, Los Angeles (JD)
Princeton University (MPP)

José Luis Huizar (born September 10, 1968) is a Mexican-American politician and a former member of the Los Angeles City Council.

Huizar was elected on November 8, 2005, in a special election to fill the seat vacated by the then-mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa. He was re-elected to a full four-year term in 2007 and again in 2011. In 2015, he was re-elected but to an extended term due to new city laws.

Huizar was arrested and indicted on June 23, 2020, on federal corruption charges, leading to his suspension from council. In 2023 he pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and tax evasion.

Early life and education[edit]

Huizar was born in a village called Los Morales in the municipality of Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico,[1] the son of Simón Huizar, a migrant farm worker and later machinist. His mother, Isidra Serrano, was a meatpacking plant worker.[2]

He immigrated with his parents to the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles at the age of 3, and attended Salesian High School before attending University of California, Berkeley as an undergraduate. He received a master's degree in Public Affairs and Urban Planning from Princeton University and a Juris Doctor from the UCLA School of Law.[3] In 2004, he became the first Latino to serve on the Princeton Board of Trustees.


Los Angeles Unified School Board[edit]

José Huizar won a seat on the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District on April 10, 2001, as a candidate supported by Mayor Richard Riordan, defeating Ralph Cole with 75% of the vote.[4] He served as member and president of the board until 2005.

Los Angeles City Council (2005–2020)[edit]

Huizar and his family during a Chinatown parade, 2006.

In November 2005 Huizar ran against Nick Pacheco for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council vacated by Antonio Villaraigosa and won.[5] He was reelected to a full four-year term in 2007 and again in 2011.[6] On March 3, 2015, he defeated former Supervisor Gloria Molina, along with three other candidates, to be re-elected to the Los Angeles City Council for a fourth time.[7] He is the first Mexican immigrant elected to the L.A. City Council.[8]

On November 7, 2018, the FBI served search warrants on Huizar's City Hall office and his residence. They removed computers and boxes of files, but did not disclose the purpose of the search.[9]

On November 15, 2018, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson removed Huizar from all of his committee assignments.[10]

On May 28, 2020, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez called on Huizar to resign.[11] On June 23 he was arrested by federal agents, and the City Council suspended him from office.[12]


  • Planning & Land Use Management (previous)
  • Rules, Elections & Intergovernmental Relations (previous vice chair)
  • Energy & Environment (chair 2012–13)
  • Economic Development (previous)[13][10]

Environmental issues[edit]

Huizar during a press conference in 2009.

Huizar chaired the Los Angeles City Council's Energy & Environment Committee in 2012 and 2013. Under his leadership, the committee pushed forward the single-use plastic bag ban,[14] and worked to expand recycling efforts in commercial and apartment buildings.[15] Huizar also oversaw two of the largest solar projects in the country,[16] advocated for a coal-free Los Angeles by 2025,[17] and ensured that the council adopted a $120 million annual budget for energy conservation. In 2013, Huizar received the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters Environmental Champion Award [18] and the Sierra Club's Political Leadership award.[19] He has also worked to preserve open space and improve parks, especially in park-poor areas of the City of Los Angeles.[20]

Complete Streets[edit]

Huizar has advocated for the complete streets model of city planning, where streets are safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users. In 2012, Huizar and then-Councilmember Jan Perry wrote a City Council motion that created a parklet program for the City of Los Angeles. According to the motion, parklets would encourage "pedestrian and ground-floor activity [and provide] much-needed open space."[21] In 2013, the city's first parklets were installed in the Highland Park, El Sereno, and Downtown Los Angeles.[22] Huizar has also worked to grow bike infrastructure in the City of Los Angeles, including a green bike lane Downtown.[23] The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition recognized Huizar in late 2013 for his complete streets efforts and forging a compromise to ensure Downtown's Spring Streets bicycle lanes remained in place.[24] In 2010 and 2011, Huizar worked to install the city's first bike corral on York Boulevard in Highland Park.[25]


Huizar, holding the "H", at the Wilshire Grand Center in 2012.

In 2009 Huizar was appointed to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors.[26] While on the board, he pushed for extended Metro hours,[27] increased funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects,[28] and greater attention to civil rights in transportation planning.[29] He served on the board until 2013.

Bringing Back Broadway[edit]

In 2008 Huizar created the Bringing Back Broadway initiative, a ten-year plan to revitalize the historic Broadway Theater District in Downtown Los Angeles.[30] The plan includes reactivating historic theaters,[31] as well as more than one million square feet of vacant commercial space.[32][33] As part of the plan, Huizar has also led the campaign to bring back the Historic Downtown Los Angeles Streetcar.[34]


In August 2013 the Huizar-authored Mural Ordinance was passed by the City Council, ending an 11-year ban on murals on private property.[35] In October 2013, Huizar commissioned nine murals to be painted on utility boxes on First Street in Boyle Heights.[36]

Historic preservation[edit]

In 2011 Huizar authored a motion to help extend the Mills Act, which incentivizes historic preservation by offering lower property taxes to those restoring historic structures.[37] Also in 2010, Huizar also helped expand the Highland Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.[38][39] Historic preservation is also a key aspect of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative.[37] Huizar has been criticized for land-use decisions that resulted in the loss of such historic landmarks as the Ambassador Hotel, Parker Center, Sixth Street Bridge and Lytton Savings.[40]

Bribery allegations and indictment[edit]

The FBI opened up a case at City Hall after reports of retaliation by a council member. Fundraiser and former city planning commissioner Justin Jangwoo Kim has pleaded guilty to federal charges of coordinating large cash bribes to a LA City Council member.[41][42] One of these was former council member Mitch Englander, who has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from Kim.[41] In a separate case, the US Attorney's office has filed charges against a real estate developer described in public legal papers only as Developer C, accusing the developer of giving $500,000 to an unnamed person. According to an analysis by the L.A. Times, details in the suit make it clear that C is Kim and that the alleged recipient of the bribe was Huizar.[43]

Huizar's former aide, George Esparza pleaded guilty in the investigation. He facilitated bribes from Chinese real estate developers to a council member, known to be Huizar. Specifically Developer C, now known to be Shenzhen New World Group, totaling over one million dollars.[44] On June 23, 2020, Huizar was arrested and taken into federal custody at his Boyle Heights home on racketeering charges.[45] If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.[46] On January 20, 2023, Huizar pleaded guilty to racketeering and tax evasion, as he used Los Angeles's discretionary permit system to extort at least $1.5 million from real estate developers.[47][48]


Misconduct allegations[edit]

Former staffers Mayra Álvarez, Francine Godoy, and Jesse Leon have sued Huizar, claiming that he retaliated against them when they spoke up about conduct by Huizar that they considered unethical or illegal. Álvarez's suit says she was fired for "voicing discomfort with some of his and the office's practices which she believed violated local, state, and federal law."[49] Godoy claims that she was forced to resign because "she complained about using city funds to pay for Huízar's personal expenses, and accused him of giving preferential treatment to another staffer with whom he was having an extramarital affair."[50] Leon's suit says he was fired after he went to the FBI with information about pay-to-play schemes involving cannabis business licenses, but Huizar says that Leon himself had a conflict of interest involving his own attempts to get such a license.[51]

Sexual harassment lawsuit[edit]

On October 17, 2013, Huizar was sued for sexual harassment, and he subsequently confessed that he had engaged in a "consensual relationship" with a former female staffer, Francine Godoy.[52] Huizar reportedly reduced her duties in response to her refusal to grant him sexual favors. In addition, during her campaign for a seat on the Los Angeles Community College District Board, Huizar promised to support her campaign in exchange that she give in to his advances.[53]

A City of Los Angeles investigation overseen by an independent panel of retired judges and other law experts found no evidence supporting Godoy's harassment claims.[54] The lawsuit was dropped against Huizar and the City of Los Angeles in September 2014.[55] With the lawsuit being dropped, the City of Los Angeles paid no money to Godoy.[56]


In 2005 Hispanic Business Magazine named him one of the "100 most influential Hispanics" in the United States.[57] Huizar was also named by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the 25 figures in the Los Angeles area that "stand out for their potential to shape lives."[58] In 2013, Huizar received the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters Environmental Champion Award[59] and the Sierra Club's Political Leadership award.[60]

Personal life[edit]

Huizar married Richelle Ríos in 1999, and the couple has four children. Huizar became a U.S. citizen while in college.[61]


  1. ^ Arellano, Gustavo (March 18, 2010). "With so many Zacatecans in L.A., why is the best cooking still found at home?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  2. ^ Hyman, Steve (May 7, 2006). "Sons Live Out a Dream". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  3. ^ "José Huízar". La Jornada. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  4. ^ Johnston, Robert C. (April 18, 2001). "Candidates for Los Angeles Mayor Talk Up Better Schools". Education Week. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  5. ^ Times Staff Reports (November 30, 2005). "Huizar, Wesson Sworn In as Councilmember". L.A. Times. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  6. ^ Zahniser, David and Maeve Reston (March 9, 2011). "Incumbents hold edge in L.A. council races". L.A. Times. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  7. ^ Roderick,Kevin (March 3, 2015). "Councilman Huizar reelected without a fight". L.A. Observed. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  8. ^ "Jose Huizar". Huffington Post.
  9. ^ "FBI raids home and offices of L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. November 7, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Reyes, David Zahniser, Emily Alpert (November 15, 2018). "After FBI raid, L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar is stripped of his committee assignments". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 16, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "L.A. Mayor Garcetti, Council President Martinez call for resignation of Councilman Huizar amid corruption probe". KTLA. May 29, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Emily Alpert Reyes (August 8, 2020). "With L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar arrested and suspended, who's in charge in his district?". Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ "Los Angeles City Council Committee Assignments" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 15, 2015.
  14. ^ Wave Wire Services (May 24, 2012). "L.A. City Council vote to ban plastic shopping bags". Los Angeles Wave. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  15. ^ MacVean, Mary (August 13, 2011). "Los Angeles' trash and recycling policies for apartments debated". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  16. ^ Ramallo, Joseph (October 4, 2012). "Los Angeles Takes Major Step Toward Clean Energy Future as LADWP Board Approves New Solar Power Agreements". LADWP News. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  17. ^ Linthicum, Katie (April 23, 2013). "L.A. City Council votes to move away from coal-fired energy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  18. ^ Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters (May 11, 2013). "2013 Smith-Weiss Environmental Champion Awards". Archived from the original on January 7, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  19. ^ Sierra Club Angelus Chapter. "Salute environmental champions at Chapter's 2013 Political Leadership Awards". Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  20. ^ "City sells a chunk of El Sereno's Elephant Hill for open space". The Eastsider LA. June 14, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  21. ^ The Associated Press (September 15, 2011). "Jan Perry, Jose Huizar push for 'parklets'". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  22. ^ "LA Parklets Coming To Downtown, Highland Park And El Sereno". Huff Post Los Angeles. January 25, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  23. ^ "New Downtown Bike Lanes Coming June 2012". LA BIKAS. May 31, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  24. ^ Hall, Carla (May 24, 2013). "Toning down the green of the Spring Street bike lane". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  25. ^ Linton, Joe and Ramon Martinez (March 29, 2010). "Bike Corrals for the City of Los Angeles". Streetsblog. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  26. ^ Heibel, Suzanne (April 17, 2009). "Villaraigosa Appoints Councilman Huizar to L.A. County Metro Board". Archived from the original on January 8, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  27. ^ Richardson, Eric (March 26, 2009). "Mayor Appoints Downtown Councilman to Metro Board". Southern California Public Radio Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  28. ^ MTA Planning and Programming Committee (February 20, 2013). "Motion by Directors Wilson, Huizar, DuBois, and Fasana: Enhancing Active Transportation Planning & Implementation" (PDF). Archived from the original on January 8, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  29. ^ Bloomekatz, Ari (December 16, 2011). "Metro board members lecture agency over civil rights violations". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  30. ^ "Bringing Back Broadway Vision". City of Los Angeles. Archived from the original on January 8, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  31. ^ "LAFHTF Achievements". Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  32. ^ Kim, Eddie (December 13, 2013). "Huizar Plan Could Help Activate Broadway Vacancies". Los Angeles Downtown News. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  33. ^ Kudler, Adrian Glick (December 11, 2013). "City Making It Easier To Convert Broadway's Historic Buildings Into Office Space". Curbed Los Angeles. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  34. ^ Bachrach, Eve (March 6, 2013). "The Downtown Los Angeles Streetcar Loop is Officially a Go". Curbed Los Angeles. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  35. ^ Fuentes, Ed (September 5, 2013). "Mural Ordinance Passes. Now What?". KCET. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  36. ^ "Colorful New Murals Coming to Boyle Heights Utility Boxes". Curbed Los Angeles. October 28, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  37. ^ a b Vaillancourt, Ryan (November 18, 2011). "Mills Act Funds Running Out for Historic Properties". Los Angeles Downtown News. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  38. ^ "Garvanza Historic Preservation Overlay Zone". Preserve LA. July 20, 2007. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  39. ^ Smith, Dakota (October 11, 2010). "Highland Park-Garvanza HPOZ In Effect, Neighborhood Still on Watch". Curbed Los Angeles. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  40. ^ criticized
  41. ^ a b Macias, Martin Jr. (March 27, 2020). "LA City Councilman to Plead Guilty to Obstructing Corruption Probe". Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  42. ^ "Fundraiser Pleading Guilty To Facilitating $500K Bribe To LA City Councilmember". March 19, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  43. ^ "Federal investigation into L.A. City Hall corruption involves downtown project". Los Angeles Times. April 15, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  44. ^ "Cash, casinos and a sexual harassment payout: Former Huizar aide agrees to plead guilty". Los Angeles Times. May 27, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  45. ^ DAZIO, STEFANIE; ANTCZAK, JOHN (June 23, 2020). "Los Angeles councilman arrested in federal corruption probe". ASSOCIATED PRESS. Retrieved July 1, 2020 – via The News & Observer.
  46. ^ "L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar charged in federal corruption probe". Los Angeles Times. June 23, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  47. ^ "Former L.A. Councilmember Jose Huizar pleads guilty in corruption case". Los Angeles Times. January 19, 2023.
  48. ^ Cota-Robles, Marc (January 20, 2023). "Former LA Councilmember José Huizar pleads guilty to racketeering, tax evasion in corruption case". KABC-TV.
  49. ^ Kruzman, Diana (October 25, 2018). "Former staffer sues José Huízar, alleging harassment and retaliation". Boyle Heights Beat. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  50. ^ Kruzman, Diana (November 1, 2018). "Second lawsuit accuses Huízar of harassment, retaliation". Boyle Heights Beat. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  51. ^ Denkmann, -Libby (March 24, 2020). "Former Huizar Staffer Sues, Alleges Councilman Wanted Cannabis Kickbacks". LAist. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  52. ^ Zahniser, Dave C. "Councilman Jose Huizar says he had 'consensual relationship' with aide". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  53. ^ Zahniser, Dave C. "L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar is sued by former aide for harassment". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  54. ^ David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes. "Panel finds no support for sex harassment claim against Huizar". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  55. ^ Mae Ryan. "LA taxpayers to finance councilman's defense against sexual harassment lawsuit". KPCC. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  56. ^ Benjamin Brayfield. "Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar sex harassment suit settled". KPCC. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  57. ^ "100 Most Influential Hispanics" (PDF). Hispanic Business Magazine. October 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  58. ^ "Hon. Jose Huizar, Board Member, Los Angeles Unified School District". LAUSD. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  59. ^ Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters (May 11, 2013). "2013 Smith-Weiss Environmental Champion Awards". Archived from the original on January 7, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  60. ^ Sierra Club Angelus Chapter. "Salute environmental champions at Chapter's 2013 Political Leadership Awards". Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  61. ^ Lopez, Jill Painter (August 30, 2015). "New York Times".

Further reading[edit]

  • Ronquillo, Victor (2010). El sueño de Huizar: una historia de cómo apropiarse del american dream (2010 ed.). Uniersidad de Guadalajara Los Angeles, California. p. 78.
Political offices
Preceded by Los Angeles City Councilmember,
14th district

Succeeded by