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Compton Mayor Aja Brown takes cues from Old Town Pasadena

31-year-ol Compton Mayor Aja Brown.
31-year-ol Compton Mayor Aja Brown.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

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Compton new Mayor Aja Brown has only been in office about six months, but she already has a vision for her city. Brown says she's tough enough for Compton,  and her plans for the ailing city prove it.

In a speech she gave at the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs, a non-partisan public policy center, she outlined her focus for Compton. Among other things, she’ll target the needs of families. Do that, and you address at least a couple of big problems: public safety and human trafficking, she says. 

What has the new Mayor accomplished so far?

Brown says stretches of Long Beach Blvd. have become “prostitution row” in Compton and adjacent cities.

“The first form of legislation that we did is that we eliminated hourly motel rentals in the City of Compton,” Brown said.

But, for Brown,  it’s not just about shutting down obviously seedy businesses. The 31-year-old USC grad says she wants to replace the negative activity that goes on in Compton with something positive.

“I think when people think of Compton of course they always think of gangster rap,” says Brown, “But if you ever had an opportunity to go to Compton, you would know that Compton is a beautiful city.”

But how do you take a city like Compton, which has such a reputation for crime and violence, and convince people that it’s changed? Brown says she’s seen it happen before.

“I actually grew up in the City of Pasadena,” Brown says. As recently as the 1980s, patches of Pasadena’s Colorado Blvd. were not nearly the ritzy, Tiffany-worthy destinations they are today.  “...When I grew up Colorado Blvd. was a hotspot for drugs, gangs, prostitution, pawn shops, and now it’s one of the higher-end retail magnets in North L.A. County.”

Brown believes that if Pasadena can take a street like Colorado Blvd. and turn it into a ritzy retail strip, so can Compton. “If it can happen there, it can happen here,” Brown says.

You can listen to the broadcast version of Mayor Brown’s Pat Brown Institute speech, or the full version. And here's Brown's interview with "Good Day LA"