Glassell Park Youth Get Ready for School

August 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Over fifty children at Rio Vista Apartments in Glassell Park received backpacks filled with school supplies on Aug. 9. Rio Vista Apartments was developed in 2011 by Abode Communities and financed through several sources, including $12.2 million in low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. and a $2 million permanent loan from the U.S. Bank Community Lending Division, according to the press release. U.S. Bank donated the backpacks and supplies. (U.S. Bancorp)

Small School Opens in East L.A., Offers Big Opportunities

August 16, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

With the school’s marquee showing temperatures nearing 100 degrees, just over 100 eager students on Tuesday attended their first day of school at the Hilda L. Solis Learning Academy. The campus is one of 20 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools opening this year that were built to relieve overcrowding and address the district’s 50 percent graduation rate.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Nueva Escuela Ofrece Grandes Oportunidades en el Este de Los Ángeles

Eastside schools once had the most severe overcrowding in the nation, which contributed to high dropout rates in the mostly Latino community. The opening of Solis Academy will relieve the crowded conditions at James Garfield, Woodrow Wilson and Esteban Torres high schools.

The school is named after US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who previously represented the East Los Angeles area in Congress.

The school’s opening marks a more promising future for East LA students, said speakers at the Tuesday morning news conference.

A mascot has not been selected for Solis, but a three-story mural with an eagle and Aztec motif could influence the decision. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

“Forty-four years ago, students walked out of schools demanding a better day, and today, as a daughter of East LA, I am so proud to represent this area and to continue to partner with people who will push the district until every school has air conditioning that works, every school has 100 percent graduation and every school has community partners telling the story about the kids that can,” said LAUSD School Board President Monica Garcia.

Redistricting has placed the school in LAUSD District 2, represented by Garcia. Garcia said she was thrilled at the Academy’s opening day event.

InnerCity Struggle Associate Director Henry Perez said the opening of the Solis Academy is a proud and momentous occasion and represents a historic and ongoing struggle to provide the youth of East Los Angeles with a quality education and greater opportunities for success.

Overcrowding at East LA and Boyle Heights area schools negatively impacted students for decades — resulting in fewer than 50 percent of students graduating, and less than 20 percent being ready to attend a four-year university, Perez said.

In 2003, students affiliated with InnerCity Struggle launched a campaign to get new schools built, and they succeeded, he said, noting for example the new Torres High School, located just three blocks away.

Perez said he is happy to see the tide turning, but added there is still a lot of work to do.

“We know that building new schools—though significant progress—is not enough. We must ensure that instruction and the learning that takes place in these new buildings is of the highest quality that we can offer to the youth of East Los Angeles and our community,” he said.

There must be high expectations for the education the students will receive, as well as innovative instruction and avid preparation for higher education, quality careers so they become engaged members of society, “anything else is not acceptable,” Perez said.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the campus is one of 129 schools built under the district’s New School and Modernization Program that was financed with voter-approved bonds.

Solis Academy opened under the district’s Public School Choice reform process, which allows groups to compete to run new campuses and existing low-performing schools. Solis’ “small school,” career oriented model was developed by a team of Marshall High School teachers, as the “School of Technology, Business, and Education.”

Fifteen-year-old Christian Ruiz, a former Griffith Middle School student, said he was excited about the technology theme. “I’m into anything technology,” he told EGP as his mother completed his registration forms in the first floor lobby.

On the other hand, 14-year-old Nathaniel Cervantes, a former Belvedere Middle School student, said he was excited about the business theme. Cervantes said he didn’t mind being at school on such a hot day, because he’s eager to start and finish high school, and go to college so he can someday be an entrepreneur.

Principal Jose Rodriguez said Solis is currently only enrolling freshmen, and has a capacity for up to 150 students per grade. As of Tuesday morning, just over 100 students had already enrolled, and a stream of parents and students were still pouring in.

Superintendent Deasy noted it was quite a sight to see students walking into the school as construction workers left. Rodriguez said construction will wrap up completely in about a month. The library still needs to have shelves installed and science labs on the third floor also need some work.
The Solis Academy is located on the site of the former East Los Angeles Star Hospital, and was referred to as East LA Star Academy during the initial planning phase.

The building is comprised of a basement and three floors. The basement houses the cafeteria, staff lounge, and library; the first floor is classrooms, two computer rooms, and offices; and the second and third floor are mainly science labs with a couple of “flexible rooms,” according to Rodriguez. There is also a gym located at another building at the campus, and an adult school will open next door in the near future, he said.

The school has a relationship with Torres High School and Solis students will attend Torres to participate in sports, Rodriguez said.

A mascot has not been selected for Solis, but Rodriguez said the three-story mural, on the building’s N. Humphreys Avenue and New York Street corner, has a large eagle and Aztec motif which could ultimately influence the decision.

During a Saturday orientation, students were told about Secretary Solis and her contributions, Rodriguez said. “I tell the girls, this is what you want to strive for—to one day have a school named or something named after you. We want you to go to college, get a career and do great things,” he said.

Solis is the third new public high school to open on the eastside in recent years. Esteban Torres High School opened in 2010, a year prior the Felicitas & Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center opened in Boyle Heights. Both schools have independent small schools located on the same campus; their opening helped to take eastside high schools off the year-round track calendar.

Deferred Action Applicants Begin Process in Hopes of Avoiding Deportation

August 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Hundreds of young undocumented immigrants lined up in the Westlake District Wednesday, Aug. 15, to take advantage of a new federal program under which they can avoid deportation and obtain the right to work.

The government began accepting applications yesterday for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which targets immigrants who came to the country at a young age and have been attending school or served in the military and have not been convicted of a crime.

See related stories:
Workshops to Inform Immigrant Youth On ‘Deferred Action’ Process
Students Find New Purpose Through Deferred Action

“This actually means getting my life back,” one of the applicants, Victor Vargas, told ABC7 as he waited in line at the Westlake District office of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, which offered assistance to people who want to take advantage of the program.

“ … I want to contribute to this country,” he said. “I was brought here at a young age. I had no control over that. I just want to go back to school and work legally, pay taxes and do what I have to do to help my family out.”

To take advantage of the program, undocumented youth must have:
—come to the United States under age 16;
—be younger than 30;
—have continuously lived in the United States for at least five years;
—be enrolled in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate or be honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces; and
—have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanors or pose a threat to national security.

Applications are available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. It costs $465 to apply.

“Childhood arrivals who meet the guidelines and whose cases are deferred will now be able to live without fear of removal, and be able to more fully contribute their talents to our great nation,” according to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

Federal officials noted that applications would be reviewed and decisions to grant the deferrals would be made on a case-by-case basis.

The program in itself will not produce immediate citizenship or give its participants permission to travel outside the United States.

The deferral process, which was announced by President Barack Obama on June 15, drawing praise from immigrant-rights advocates and ire from many Republicans — who blasted it as an election-year ploy to woo Latino voters — and other groups who said the president was ignoring the wishes of Congress, which has rejected the so-called DREAM Act.

On its website, the Federation for American Immigration Reform called the deferral process a way “to grant backdoor amnesty to illegal alients who meet criteria similar to that of the failed DREAM Act.”

“Alarmingly, the application process set forth by the administration serves as nothing more than an open invitation for fraud by illegal aliens looking to game the system,” according to FAIR. “The application contains no evidentiary standards for the documents illegal aliens must show to prove they meet the administration’s already low criteria.”

Rep. Javier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, hailed the program, saying undocumented youth “now have the opportunity to put their talents and education to work for the country they know and call home.”
When he announced the program, Obama said it would “ lift the shadow of deportation from these young people.”

The president insisted the policy was not amnesty, immunity, a path to citizenship or a “permanent fix” to the immigration system. He called it a “stop-gap measure” that gives “a degree of relief and hope to driven, patriotic young people.”

ELACC Strives to Legalize Street Food Vending in L.A.

August 16, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC) will host an upcoming town hall meeting at the Rampart Police Station, as part of its on-going efforts to legalize street food vending in the City of Los Angeles.

“We at East LA Community Corporation want to see a policy which is easily accessible by street vendors and can be easily implemented by the City,” Isela Gracian, associate director of ELACC told EGP in an email.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: ELACC Intenta Legalizar la Venta Ambulante en Los Ángeles

The details of the policy will be developed using information received at a series of town hall meetings being hosted by ELACC and supported by groups such as the Los Angeles Urban Renewal Network and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). While the group is currently only focusing on licensing vendors selling food, last month during a meeting in Boyle Heights the possibility of licensing other types of vendors was also brought up.

By late September, ELACC hopes to present city officials with a formal document detailing various policy models, such as the green carts in New York City and the street food vending policies of Portland, Oregon.

Elizabeth Blaney, co-director of the non-profit Union de Vecinos (union of neighbors) that has helped street vendors with legal issues in the past, said that while it’s good to look at other models, it’s important to recognize that Los Angeles is a distinct city with its own factors to consider.

While the city does license some street vendors and the County Health Department does regulate street vendors selling food, sidewalk vending and pushcarts are still illegal in the city.

“In our communities, sidewalk vending is a common practice that provides jobs for community members and affordable food to residents,” states the ELACC Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign.

In 1994 the city passed an amendment to create street vendor districts across the city, Gracian said, but ultimately only a few were fully implemented, including one inside MacArthur Park. Yet Gracian noted that even that district “was too complicated.” It was not successful because foot traffic occurred in the perimeter of the park and not within it where the vendors were located, she said.

Though the details are still in the brainstorming stage, Gracian hopes the policy will create an incentive to increase the sale of fresh produce in local communities, and that it will be flexible enough to account for different types of food vendors—such as fruit carts and hot dog stands.

Jorge C. Corralejo, Chairman of the Board for the Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles, said he would like to see a policy that is more inclusive, but that he would have to see the final details before offering support.

He told EGP that as ELACC progresses with its town hall meetings and other activities to raise support, they need to be aware and prepared to deal with issues such as competition with brick and mortar businesses, licensing, and health concerns among other things.

“When you’re developing a policy you need to look at other parties and take them into consideration to gain support,” Corralejo said. “There will be opposition.”

Tony De Marco, president of the Whittier Blvd Merchants in unincorporated East Los Angeles said that he is neutral on what policy may be implemented in the city of Los Angeles, but as a property owner in the city he is concerned about street vendors in his area. He advises the city move carefully on the issue.

“Be cautious city of LA, of how you change code due to [the] lobbying efforts of one side,” De Marco warned.

In unincorporated East LA, illegal street vending is a concern because “we don’t have licensing and we don’t have enforcement,” he said. Like Corralejo, he says illegal street vendors are competition to brick and mortar businesses that have more regulations and restrictions due to their licensed status.

Corralejo said having a street vendor sell something a brick and mortar business already sells, and pays more overhead to be able to sell, puts the brick and mortar business at a disadvantage.

But Blaney said, “people have to have a better understanding of what people sell,” and street vendors are often not in competition with brick and mortar restaurants because they don’t sell the same products, like elotes (corn on the cob) or hot dogs.

Gracian said the issue of fees and taxes would be discussed at the town hall meetings.
Dora Hidalgo is a licensed street vendor. She sells clothing and accessories at the Vermont and Santa Monica Metro Station, and says even if the proposed policy includes fees and taxes, vendors should still be able to comply with it.

“I say that in this time when there are no jobs to be found, it would be like paying the taxes at work that everyone else already pays,” Hidalgo said in Spanish.

Gracian said they will make sure brick and mortar businesses are part of the process “because they are crucial to this being successful.”

“We see street vending as part of a successful model to attract clients to the brick and mortar. This is something we even see in malls where they now have carts in the hallways and the concentration of the restaurants in food courts.”

With regards to the health concerns raised by De Marco and Corralejo, Gracian said ELACC is communicating with the County Health Department to ensure a system that will maintain quality across the board.

The on-going discussions regarding legalizing street vendors in Los Angeles comes out of growing economic concerns and cultural factors, according to Corralejo.

Hidalgo adds that the cultural factor plays a role in the rise of street vending and its hot topic status.
“People come to this country with their culture,” Hidalgo said. “In our countries, selling out on the street was never criminal.”

The next town hall meeting will take place on August 30th at 6pm at the Rampart Police Community Room: 1401 W. 6th St.

East L.A. Sounds Off At 710 Freeway Hearing

August 16, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

During last week’s public hearing on a proposed widening of the 710 Freeway, Hector Gascon of Commerce warned that while residents might think the project’s worst offense is that “they are going to take down Sergio’s Tacos,” a local eatery, “it’s more serious than that.”

Another Commerce resident and former truck driver, Abelardo David Rodriguez, thinks the project could benefit trade at the local ports and said he would hate to see jobs being lost due to competition from a port being built in the Panama Canal along the gulf coast.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Comunidad Se Queja Sobre el Proyecto de Expansión de la Autopista 710

The magnitude of the project was not lost on members of the public who attended the hearing Aug. 9 in Commerce, one of three hearings held along the corridor to solicit community input on six project options to expand a major freight corridor along the 710 Freeway from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to East Los Angeles. In all but the “no build” alternative, the freeway could be widened from eight lanes to as many as 10 or 14 lanes. The input from the hearings will be included along with others submitted before the Sept. 28 due date for comments and incorporated into an environmental impact study to begin this fall.

Ruth Schwartz reacts as a planner tells her that her property could be displaced by the project. (EGP photo by Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou)

In addition to those who could lose their homes or businesses, the hearing drew people who do not live in the project’s immediate area. Jairi Sanchez, 25, a Boyle Heights residents, told EGPNews that her own community “was destroyed by freeways” and she did not want to see the same happen in Commerce and other communities along the 710 Freeway. During his public comment, Jim Flournoy of Rosemead said the project could lead to congestion along the 60 Freeway because much of the cargo from the ports is expected to flow east toward inland warehouses and into the rest of the country.

The proposed project also brought out activists concerned about the project’s effect on air quality in the region. The Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice, which includes Commerce-based East Yard for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ), as well as Communities for a Better Environment in Huntington Park, proposed adding a seventh “community alternative” to the project that is a hybrid of different elements from the existing six alternatives, according to Isella Ramirez, Co-Director of EYCEJ.

The “community alternative” keeps the freeway at its current eight lanes and requires that only non-polluting, zero-emission technologies and vehicles be used on the freeway corridor, including a two-lane, elevated structure between Ocean Boulevard and the intermodal rail yards in Vernon and Commerce.

Instead of widening the freeway to relieve congestion, as suggested in the existing alternatives, the groups areadvocating for the agressive development of a public transit system, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and improvements to the Los Angeles River. The 710 Freeway project should be designed not only to “facilitate cargo, but to really suit the residents of the corridor,” said Angelo Logan, co-director of EYCEJ.

In her public comment, Ramirez said Measure R in other communities fund light rail and other public transit projects, “but all we’re getting are freeway projects.”

Project Manager Ron Kosinski told EGPNews they “could very well” end up with a seventh option by “picking and choosing” parts of the existing alternatives. “We have to take a look at it.”

Drone on the Range

August 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Get ready, America. Here comes “the next latest and greatest thing in aviation.” Wow, what could it be? Maybe the airlines are going to drop all of their ridiculous rip-off fees. That’d be great!

No, no, not that kind of aviation. You probably won’t find this breakthrough so great. It’s the arrival and proliferation of “unmanned vehicle systems,” soon to be buzzing around the airspace of your own town.

Yes, drones, right here at home. Those very same pilotless, remote-controlled, undetectable planes that the CIA has been secretly using to spy on and bomb people in Pakistan and elsewhere are headed to our local police departments, FBI offices, and…well, who knows who else will have these toys?

All we know is that Congress — under pressure from Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and other big drone peddlers — directed the Federal Aviation Agency earlier this year to open up civilian air space to thousands of them by 2015. And, in their wisdom, our loosey-goosey lawmakers provided no regulation of who can have drones, how many, or for what purposes.

So prepare to be pestered and monitored, for police agencies and corporate interests are said to be abuzz about getting their own. The first ones are expected to be used for high-altitude surveillance, which is worrisome enough. But consider this: A Texas sheriff’s office that has already bought a “ShadowHawk” drone says it might outfit the little buzzer to fire tear gas and rubber bullets.

No worries, though. The drone industry’s lobbying group has drafted a two-page code of conduct urging purchasers to “respect the privacy of individuals.”

How nice. Only, it’s a voluntary code — and totally unenforceable. For more information about this invasive swarm, contact the Electronic Privacy Information Center: www.epic.org.

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter,The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed via OtherWords.org.

Occupy Wall Street Paved Way

August 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Super-rich
Don’t hear our woes;
They attend,
To cars and clothes.

The Occupy movement seems somewhat subdued these days. That’s largely because the 1 percent is ready for them.

Consider how Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel prepared for the May NATO conference in the Windy City, which drew countless Occupy protesters: He outfitted his troops with new laws, new military equipment, and new surveillance gear — and authorized them to make old-fashioned trumped-up arrests.

And while Occupy Wall Street and other branches of this new movement have brought attention to our nation’s rampant inequality, where do you go next to address the concentration of extreme wealth in the hands of too few individuals? It’s shattered both our economy and our democracy. But there’s no congressional committee in charge of that.

Sure, President Barack Obama himself has dipped into the debate over inequality. First, he called for every American to have what he called “a fair shot.” More recently, he ridiculed Mitt Romney’s tax proposal during an address to supporters in Stamford, Connecticut as “Robin Hood in reverse,” or “Romney Hood.” But really tackling the problem?

That’s probably above his pay grade.

In an earlier era, we had a president born to privilege who helped weave the fabric of America’s safety net. But unlike Franklin D. Roosevelt, Romney isn’t interested in addressing the challenges our nation faces because of extreme inequality. He’d rather hide behind’s his wife’s saddle, complaining that the media is picking on her for being into million-dollar, Olympic-contending dressage horses.

The Occupiers smartly chose to first camp out on Wall Street, rather than Pennsylvania Avenue. The big banks are the center of the problem, so why not simply confront them on their own turf? Activists rightly guessed that the coverage would be better in Manhattan, where the media is less inured to protests than their jaded brethren in Washington. By now, however, the Big Apple’s reporters are bored with flamboyant efforts to shine a light on the power our outsized banks wield.

Of course, the scourge of inequality harms all Americans, not just activists residing in media-saturated cities. And it’s only one of a panoply of crises. Median family income is declining, the foreclosure epidemic rages on, we’re still exporting manufacturing and service-sector jobs at a brisk rate, health insurance remains out of reach for millions, highly profitable companies like Caterpillar are declaring war on their unions, Romney’s advocating a tax plan that would cut taxes on the rich and raise them on the rest of us, and public schools and college students are being squeezed by spending cuts.

No wonder thousands of disgusted citizens have taken to the streets. Since young people are the best-equipped to camp out in the rain, they tend to lead the charge, especially if they’re stuck with big college debts and no job prospects. In fact, total college debt now exceeds total credit card debt. Can you imagine what would happen if a movement grew to stop paying?

Anyway, to foment serious change in the face of militarized police departments and a media that increasingly caters to the 1 percent, the Occupy movement needs more allies. Even peaceful revolutions require song writers, bloggers, political operatives, and upper-crust dissidents. Not to mention more people on the streets.

But most Americans aren’t yet comfortable on the streets. They have no sufficiently hated target like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak or Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. And while millions are suffering, most of us haven’t been evicted or foreclosed on.

This spring, preparing for the day when we will finally be ready, Occupy and its allies ran hundreds of activist training sessions, getting the protest infrastructure all lined up and fired up.

But when will we see really huge crowds out there? How impoverished will we have to be before we join in? Beats me, but Occupy has beaten the trail for us, mapped the course, and is impatiently waiting.

OtherWords.org Columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut.

Workshops to Inform Immigrant Youth On ‘Deferred Action’ Process

August 16, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Organizations, elected officials and community leaders have announced meetings and workshops to inform and prepare young undocumented immigrants who plan to apply for what is now being called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Deferred action—or the Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children directive announced in July—could grant temporary relief from deportation to some young immigrants who meet certain criteria; it could also make them eligible to receive a work permit and a driver’s license in California.

Deferred action targets undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US before the age of 16; are 30-years-old or younger; have lived in the United States continuously for at least five years; are enrolled in school, graduated from high school or obtained a general education development certificate (GED); have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces; have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanors or pose a threat to national security.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started accepting applications on Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Workshops to guide undocumented youth are already underway.

On Saturday, Los Angeles Councilmember Erick Garcetti in conjunction with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) held a town hall style meeting at El Centro del Pueblo in Echo Park to inform the young immigrants in attendance about the application process.
CHIRLA and the California Dream Network, CHIRLA’s statewide youth branch, have several other educational style forums planned.

The schedule is as follows:
—Tuesday, Aug. 21 with Representative Howard Berman. The workshop will take place from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at 7915 Van Nuys Boulevard, Van Nuys, CA 91402.
—Saturday, Aug. 25 with US Representatives Grace Napolitano and Judy Chu. The workshop will be from 9:30am to 12 noon at the El Monte Community Center, 3130 Tyler Ave., El Monte, CA 91731.
—Sunday, Aug. 26, from 11am to 1pm at Templo Renacer, located at 13027 Pierce Street, Pacoima, CA 91331.

Individuals are urged to be cautious of immigration scams that could result in their deportation.
CHIRLA is also conducting workshops every hour on the hour from 10am to 4pm, Monday through Friday.

In addition, CHIRLA has announced that it and three additional “trusted” community agencies will begin offering processing services for those who plan to apply for DACA

CHIRLA is offering free consultations, and $80 for processing applications. CHIRLA is located at 2533 West 3rd Street, Ste. 101, Los Angeles, Ca 90057. No appointment is necessary, for more information call (213) 353-1333.

CARECEN is charging $150 to process applications. They are open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, their office is located at 2845 W. 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90005. For more information call (213) 385-7800.

Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) is charging $20 for a consultation, and $150 for processing. LACBA is located at 1055 West Seventh Street, Ste. 2700, Los Angeles, CA 90017. No appointment is required, call (213) 485-1872 for more information.

Public Counsel Law Center is charging $40 for a consultation, and $110 for processing. They are open Monday through Friday, from 9am to 12:30pm, then from 1:30 to 5:15 pm. The Law Center is located at 610 South Ardmore Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90005. Appointments are required, to schedule an appointment call (213) 385-2977.

For more information and for updates visit www.chirla.org or call 1-866-6CHIRLA.

Editor’s Note: Earlier version of this story mistakenly listed Aug. 25 as a Friday and Aug. 26 as a Saturday.

Marijuana Dispensaries in L.A. Told To Close in Three Weeks

August 16, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The City Attorney’s Office announced on Yesterday it is warning all marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles to close by Sept. 6, when a new ordinance goes into effect, or face court action and a $2,500 fine for every day they remain open after the deadline.

The office mailed letters to 1,046 suspected dispensary locations and to 728 landlords, warning they are also liable if dispensaries remain open beyond the deadline.

The City Council voted in July to ban storefront marijuana dispensaries, citing a lack of clarity on how the city can legally regulate the distribution of medical cannabis and the potential threat of federal legal action against the city.

The council’s vote allows primary caregivers and patients to grow and transport marijuana. Under the new ordinance, two or three patients are allowed to collectively grow and share marijuana in homes or apartments, but not storefronts.

The letter from Chief Deputy City Attorney William Carter warns dispensaries that each day they remain open beyond that date is a separate violation of the law and a misdemeanor subject to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

In the letter, Carter recounted the city’s attempts to regulate dispensaries in recent years and the dozens of lawsuits by marijuana collectives that followed.

“The city spent nine months in settlement discussions with the dispensary litigants and the court. We are not able to share the content of those confidential discussions, but we can tell you that we did not achieve settlement,” Carter wrote.

“The unresolved and continuing legal impasse has been accompanied by a massive proliferation of unregulated dispensaries in the city, leaving the city with only one clear legal option — to recognize compassionate access, but prohibit medical marijuana businesses within the city.”

Medical marijuana supporters, led by Americans for Safe Access, have been collecting signatures in an effort to put a referendum on the March or June citywide election ballot to repeal the law.

“The tens of thousands of patients harmed by this vote will not take it sitting down,” Americans for Safe Access California Director Don Duncan said last month. “We will campaign forcefully to overturn this poor decision by the council.”

Sanchez Visits Montebello AltaMed

August 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Newly-redistricted Congresswoman Linda Sanchez familiarized herself with her new territory last week by touring healthcare provider AltaMed’s Montebello clinic.

Sanchez’s visit coincided with National Health Clinics week. “Community health clinics are where it’s at. It’s where the rubber hits the road,” she told AltaMed officials who promoted the continuation of $3.1 billion in federal funding for health centers — the funding would expand services to 2.5 million more patients and adjust funding by 1.7 percent to meet growing healthcare costs.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Congresista Linda Sánchez Visita AltaMed en Montebello

The congresswoman got a preview of a bill AltaMed officials hope will make PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), an elderly and disabled outpatient nursing program, more flexible, making services available in more settings, expand eligibility to people younger than 55, expanding the network of doctors, and offering services to frail veterans. AltaMed runs six PACE centers in East Los Angeles, Chinatown, Huntington Park, Downey, El Monte and Lynwood and are looking to expand to Covina and South Los Angeles.

The in-person visit was also an opportunity to advocate for the 2013 reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act, which funds services for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Sanchez provided an overview of the political climate in Washington D.C., saying that activity in the Republican-led House of Representatives has been even more snail-like than the notoriously slow moving Senate. With compromise becoming a dirty word, “it’s a very muddy road, and it’s hard to move things forward,” she said.

The Montebello clinic started off as a satellite of AltaMed’s Commerce clinic and this month became a fully operational clinic after becoming fully-licensed in July. They serve uninsured and underinsured patients, offering services that include family medicine, as well as care for expecting and new mothers, women’s health, and geriatric health services. They also specialize in care for people with digestive disorders. Last year they served 1,150 patients. The clinic is located in Garmar Plaza at 2231 W. Whittier Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640.

The city of Montebello is a new addition to the 39th District represented by Sanchez. She represents communities across Orange and Los Angeles counties, including Artesia, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood, La Mirada, Whittier, Florence, Long Beach, Lynwood, Paramount, South Gate, Watts, and Willowbrook.

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