David Ryu

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David Ryu
Member of the Los Angeles City Council from the 4th district
Assumed office
July 1, 2015
Preceded byTom LaBonge
Personal details
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materRutgers University; UCLA; University of Southern California

David Ryu (born 1975) is a Los Angeles City Councilman for Los Angeles City Council District 4.[1] He is the first Korean-American to hold a council seat in Los Angeles, California.[1]

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from UCLA and a Masters of Public Policy & Administration from Rutgers University.

Early life[edit]

Ryu was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1975, the oldest of three children[2] His father, Eul Chul Ryu, and mother, Michelle Won Chung Ryu, moved the family to Los Angeles, California in 1980, when Ryu was 5 years old.[2] There, Ryu's father served as editor in chief of the Korean Street Journal newspaper based in Los Angeles, and his mother worked as a nurse. Ryu's parents were married for over 40 years before his father's death in 2016.[2]

Professional life[edit]

After graduating from UCLA, Ryu became a Deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, he later worked as a special investigator for Los Angeles County's Auditor-Controller.

Ryu later served as Director of Development and Public Affairs for Kedren Acute Psychiatric Hospital and Community Health Center.[3]

Political career[edit]

Ryu was one of over a dozen candidates to replace Councilmemebr Tom LaBonge, who was term-limited. Ryu and Carolyn Ramsay, a former aide to LaBonge advanced past Joan Pelico, Teddy Davis, Step Jones, Rostom "Ross" Sarkissian, Mike Schaefer, Wally Knox, Tomas O'Grady, Jay Beeber, Tara Bannister, Sheila Irani, Fred Mariscal and Steve Veres, in the March 2015 primary.

Ryu defeated Ramsay in the general election, on May 19, 2015,[4] he was ceremonially sworn in June 29, 2015, and took office on July 1.[1]

Ryu chairs the Health, Education and Neighborhood Councils Committee, and serves as a member on the Public Safety Committee, the Public Works & Gang Reduction Committee, and Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights and Equity Committee, as well as Vice Chair of the Arts, Entertainment Parks & River Committee.[5]

Political Positions[edit]

Document Retention[edit]

Document retention was the first part of Ryu's agenda to be acted upon. One of Ryu's first legislative actions in City Council was introducing a motion to require outgoing City Council members to retain documents when an office transitions; the motion passed in September 2016.[6] Before this motion, there was no rule barring outgoing City Councilmembers from destroying documents before leaving office.[7]

Campaign Finance[edit]

Also soon after entering office, Ryu pushed for a ban on political donations from non-individuals, including corporations, developers, unions, and business groups.[8] No other member of City Council would second the motion, and it did not proceed.[9] In January 2017, Ryu, along with Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Paul Krekorian, introduced a motion to ban contributions to city elected officials and candidates for city office from developers and their principals with development projects currently or recently before the city as well as increase the matching fund rates from the current 2:1 match in primary elections and 4:1 match in general elections to 6:1 in both primary elections and general elections for all candidates who qualify for matching funds;[10] as of January 2018, the motion was pending in committee.[11]

Neighborhood Preservation[edit]

Preserving residential neighborhoods was another part of the agenda of Ryu. Out-of-scale homes, also known as "McMansions," were a concern to many residents, particularly in Beverly Grove, Hancock La Brea, and the San Fernando Valley.[12] In December 2016, Councilmember David Ryu introduced a "Baseline Mansionization Ordinance" to address this citywide issue[13] This motion intended to limit the scale of the construction and revise the City's rules which govern the amount of residential floor area that can be developed on a single-family lot through the approval of the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO) and Baseline Hillside Ordinance (BHO); the ordinances were passed and went into effect in March 2017.[14] Councilmember Ryu expanded the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone to include the Miracle Mile neighborhood on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles; this zone preserves the unique and historic character of a neighborhood while still allowing for new housing opportunities.[15]

Spending Transparency[edit]

Ryu became the first city councilmember in Los Angeles to appoint a panel of citizens to oversee and advise how he uses his discretionary funds, dubbed "The Discretionary Funds Task Force".[16] In Los Angeles, each one of the 15 members of City Council are apportioned "discretionary funds" from the city's budget to be used on projects in their district. However, disclosure of how this money is used is not required, and there is little oversight.[17] To address this, Ryu introduced his Discretionary Funds Task Force, which doesn't have the authority to tell the Councilmember how to spend his discretionary funding, but can make recommendations and advise the Councilmember on how to use this funding. Councilmember Ryu also became the first and only councilmember in Los Angeles to make his discretionary spending history publicly available on his website.[18]

Legal issues[edit]

In August 2002, Ryu faced a charge of attempted rape for which Ryu was exonerated.[19]

On November 15, 2002, the District Attorney’s office informed the judge in the case that it was “unable to proceed within the statutory period" and Ryu was exonerated of all charges, according to court documents;[20] the court felt that the constitutional requirement of evidence was not met. Mark Kim, the attorney for the defendant, said the case was dismissed because "conflicting evidence" emerged after the case was filed.[21]


  1. ^ a b c Daily News: "David Ryu’s City Council District 4 win a victory for Korean Americans", 05/20/2015.
  2. ^ a b c Los Feliz Ledger: "Council member's father dies of heart attack", 10/17/2016.
  3. ^ "Meet David". Councilmember David Ryu. Retrieved 2017-11-22.
  4. ^ Alpert Reyes, Emily; Karlamangla, Soumya; Nelson, Laura J. (May 20, 2015). "L.A. City Hall outsider Ryu wins City Council race". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ The Council of the City of Los Angeles (PDF), The City of Los Angeles
  6. ^ "Los Angeles City Council File Management System"
  7. ^ Daily News: "LA City Council tightens record-keeping rules after fallout over destroyed documents", 09/07/17
  8. ^ Common Cause: "L.A. City Councilmember’s bold idea to curb campaign spending", 10/16/15
  9. ^ Los Angeles Times: "New L.A. councilman eyes ban on business, union donations to candidates", 09/18/15
  10. ^ Los Feliz Ledger: "Ryu, Krekorian and Buscaino Seek to Stop Developer Donations", 10/10/17
  11. ^ Los Angeles City Council File Management System: Council File: 15-1088-S1
  12. ^ "Neighborhood frustration grows as mansionization continues in L.A.," 10/22/14
  13. ^ "STATEMENT: Ryu on Ordinances for Baseline Mansionization and Baseline Hillsides," 12/09/16.
  14. ^ "LA takes new steps to fight McMansions," 03/01/17
  15. ^ "Miracle Mile HPOZ Approved by Council Committee, 03/21/17"
  16. ^ Discretionary Funds Task Force, CD4
  17. ^ City Watch LA: "City Council Slush Funds Are a Major League Rip Off," 03/14/17
  18. ^ CD4 Checkbook
  19. ^ Court, LA. "LA Criminal Case Summary". lacourt.org. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  20. ^ "Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles". LA Court. Superior Court of California. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  21. ^ Reyes, Emily Alpert. "L.A. council candidate faced attempted rape charge that was dismissed". latimes.com. Retrieved 2017-11-22.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Tom LaBonge
Los Angeles City Councilmember,
4th district

July 1, 2015 - present
Succeeded by