Author: William Hsu

The Stories I Write Are Stories

The darkness stretches before my eyes; the sunset is just beyond the skyline. I know, I know but I don’t see the light. The rain is pounding. It is rattling on the windows. It is pounding, pounding, pounding; it is unrelenting. I find it soothing – the drip drop against the awning. The world has changed. I see the high rises with lights on all night. I see the bright skies shining from below, instead of twinkles of white. It has definitely been a few months since the air was dry. It has been a few months since I cried. It is cold outside. My fingers swell up from the cold. I can barely hold on the railing so I go inside. There is a bed. It is not my bed, but it is my bed. It does not matter, it is time to sleep because I need to dream to remember. I need to see. I smell the past in the sheets I brought from across the sea. I close my eyes and I …

This is Not the End

You die at sunrise; you died in your sleep. Every night, you dream. Every time, you fall in a little bit. Six inches under, six inches deep. Just as the sun is below the horizon, your destiny is in the East. Rise from the last day’s ashes; you find yourself sweating, unable to breathe. Is that fear I see? Yesterday’s knowledge congeals into baggage. Today is another day for mistakes. Tomorrow, you know nothing. So you died in your dream, over and over again, chasing what you want to believe. What you want to believe is the gravity holding you down, the air above. What you want to believe is tomorrow. Tomorrow, the sun will rise. Yet, at sunrise you are dead. You see nothing in the light. You see nothing as the night fades from your blinds. There is only one thing you see. One person you actually see. Who am I seeing? Who I am seeing? The one person you see, staring back blindly, blinking. The face is familiar, the smile is peculiar. …

New Beginnings – Columbia

The past month has been a whirlwind, from my departure from the City of Los Angeles, my cross-country roadtrip, to my first week at Columbia University. A lot has changed. I am no longer engaged in building public policy or writing feasibility studies. Everything has become a blessing after the hardships I endured the last eight months. There is much truth in the idea that new beginnings allow you to do something new and be someone new or even to feel something new. I have never worked so hard or felt as assured in my life, from handling grad school coursework to really trying to organize and bond our cohort together. This change really came from the lesson during my time at DCP, especially the last months. The importance of knowing the people you see and work with everyday cannot be understated. Babak, Cally, Nina, Jason, Iris, and Angela you taught me so much during the last few months we spent together. I cannot thank you enough. Though everyday has been pretty much a 9 …

Flowers for Algernon – Knowledge and Distrust

Where do I even begin to discuss this book? With everything that has happened over the course of my life, the impact now is more profound than if I read the book any earlier than I did. To put it simply, it is about the journey of a man who undergoes an operation that lifts him from ignorance to knowledge. The book contains a multitude of themes I have yet to ruminate over, but here I want to discuss the issue of knowledge breeding distrust. As Charlie becomes smarter, he wants to learn more to know more about himself. Through that process he realizes that the people around him all have something to hide; they all have imperfections. He becomes ashamed of himself as well, because of his own past and imperfections. His coworkers at the bakery, though they take care of him, laugh at him because of his lack of mental acuity. The professors who performed his intelligence enhancing operation are not motivated by his well-being but rather their own professional advancement. His mother …

Transit Oriented Communities Affordable Housing Incentive Program

On Friday, September 22, the Transit Oriented Communities Affordable Housing Incentive Program (TOC) – implemented by Measure JJJ last November – became effective. This has been a project I have worked on for most of this year and it has been very exciting to see it become a reality. With the rising housing costs in Los Angeles, it has been crucial to develop initiatives that spur more residential housing development. This program can be viewed as a super Density Bonus, which is an ordinance that allows for increased density in exchange for the provision of affordable housing. Affordability is defined as 30% (very low), 50% (low), and 80% (moderate) of the area median income. Though the program is limited to a half-mile radius around Major Transit Stops, as defined by the California State Public Resources Code Section 21064.3, many developers are excited because this new program allows for the possibility of a density increase up to 80% off the base zoning, along with a variety of incentives such as reduction in parking and increase in …

Public Policy 101: Understanding Policy

It is important for the public to understand how to understand policy, especially when it is in the process of being deliberated and adopted. As a policymaker, I want to share some of the finer points of policy making, especially into today political climate. *My views do not represent the City of Los Angeles or the Department of City Planning. Every year, a large number of policies are deliberated at all levels of government. Some are passed, some are postponed, some are dead upon arrival. In a democratic government, almost all of these policies are heard in some form or another by the public. However, there are a lot of nuances to understanding them and because the public are not generally versed in understanding policy, there are ways to get policies passed by influencing public sentiment or despite public sentiment. To make it easier for you to understand policies, especially those you care about, the following are three important things to look for to avoid supporting a policy on misguided assumptions. They are listed in …