Eastside Youth Demand Inclusion in City Budget

May 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Feeling they don’t have a seat at the table during budget season, over 200 local students rallied outside Los Angeles City Hall Tuesday and invited the mayor and council members to sit down at the dining table they’d set up and “break bread” over a discussion on city youth services.

“You say youth are the future yet you don’t invest in our youth,” said 14-year-old Martin Raza as he stood across City Hall.

The students are members of the Invest in Youth Coalition which is campaigning to get city officials to invest in a youth development task force aimed at getting funds for community-based safe places and youth programs such as tutoring, mentoring, workforce development, college support and other services.

Although 800,000 young Angelenos live in the city, the Youth Coalition points out there is no specific department that addresses their needs.

Jackie Vargas, right, discusses the importance of involving youth in the city;s budget process with representatives from the mayor’s office Tuesday at a table set up outside L.A. City Hall. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Jackie Vargas, right, discusses the importance of involving youth in the city’s budget process with representatives from the mayor’s office Tuesday at a table set up outside L.A. City Hall. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“We want a better future for ourselves and that starts with the budget,” Ariana Chavez, 17, told EGP. “We want a voice in our city.”

A number of students, sitting with representatives from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office and several council members, argued that the timing of budget sessions during school hours makes it hard for them to participate in the discussions.

The group estimates a $10 million budget allocation for youth development would allow for the creation of 50 programs citywide, something they want to see,.

Arlyn Nuñez, 18, of East Los Angeles, told EGP that Tuesday’s City Hall “dining table” discussion is the first step toward making sure city youth receive much-needed services.

“We’re in a low-income area, we don’t have many services available to us,” Nuñez said, explaining that tutoring and other after-school programs would benefit the region.

“Instead, money is being spent in incarcerating our youth.”

According to the coalition, 10,000 youth – ages 19 and under – are arrested annually: most are minorities.

The group points to the cities of San Francisco and New York, each of which has a youth development department, as examples of what can be done.

“Being a part of an after-school program helps students stay away from the streets and prevents them from getting locked up,” said Lincoln High School student Leslie Sanchez.

Garcetti’s representative pointed out there has been investments in youth through HIRE LA’s Youth Initiative and LA College Promise. Through HIRE LA, Garcetti hopes to see at least 20,000 youth employed by 2020. Under LA College Promise, LAUSD students will be guaranteed admission and a year of free tuition at a Los Angeles Community College campus.

Councilman Jose Huizar has asked city staff for a report on how the city spends its funds and how it can better prioritize youth services. “It’s a monumental task, but one Councilmember Huizar really wants to see done right,” stated Huizar spokesman Rick Coca in an email, adding that CD14 staff have had a series of meeting with youth advocates, one as recently as Monday.

Coca said his boss stands with advocates “in recognizing that the City’s youth stand to benefit the most from a thorough, well-researched comprehensive report on where our resources are going in funding youth services.

“ … So we convened a session with the CAO and the CLA and representatives from the Boyle Heights For Youth and LA For Youth campaigns to begin to figure out the scope and what we want the criteria to be since “youth programs and services” can cover so much ground.”

Eastside students rally outside L.A. City Hall Tuesday, urging elected officials to invest in youth services. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Eastside students rally outside L.A. City Hall Tuesday, urging elected officials to invest in youth services. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

A [dedicated] youth development department is imperative if Los Angeles hopes to address the issues young people face, said Lou Calanche, executive director of Legacy LA, a community based non-profit that runs youth programs at Hazard Park and the Ramona Gardens Housing development in Boyle Heights.

Last year, in response to multiple officer-involved shootings in Boyle Heights, members of 23 nonprofit groups called on city officials to fund a department focused on youth development services.

“Boyle Heights is about 50 percent under the age of 25, if youth voices aren’t front and center in times like today, then the city is saying that youth of color aren’t a priority,” said Joel Garcia, director of Self-Help Graphics, a community arts center in East Los Angeles.

Several students acknowledged that organizations like Legacy LA and Self-Help Graphics were instrumental in keeping them out of trouble and on the path to college.

Araceli Rodriguez, a senior at Garfield High School will attend Sacramento State University in the fall. She told EGP it is especially important for the city to invest in youth at a time when the Trump administration is threatening budget cuts for education and other public programs.

“We need our leaders to send a message and put their money where their mouth is, that starts here in our city.”

Suspect in Eastside Church Assault Arrested

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

BOYLE HEIGHTS (CNS) – A 50-year-old man is being held in a Los Angeles jail on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman in a Boyle Heights church, and police are seeking additional victims.

The attack occurred around 10:40 a.m. on May 6 in the sacristy of Resurrection Church on Opal Street, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The victim defended herself and her resistance caused the man to flee the church grounds in his vehicle, police said. The suspect’s vehicle was later located and impounded by police.

The suspect was identified by police as James Melendez of Los Angeles. He was arrested May 9 on suspicion of assault with the intent to commit sexual assault. He’s being held in lieu of $125,000, according to online inmate records.

Anyone with information about additional victims was asked to call the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Area Detectives-Sex Crimes Detail at (323) 342-8995.

Pedestrian Fatally Struck by Car

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A pedestrian was struck by a car and killed Wednesday in the Boyle Heights area, police said.

Ramon Guerrero, 61, of Los Angeles was hit by the car shortly before 6 a.m. as he crossed the street in a crosswalk at Olympic Boulevard and Orme Street, the Los Angeles Police Department reported. Guerrero died at a hospital.

The motorist, 49-year-old Fredy Guirao of Los Angeles, stopped at the scene and was interviewed by police but was not arrested.

“Alcohol and/or drugs are not a factor in the collision,” a police statement said.

Anyone with information about the case was urged to call Officer Juan Mendoza at (213) 833-3713; Detective Felix Padilla at (213) 486-0753 or (877) LAPD-247.

Man Fatally Shot

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A man was fatally shot Monday in Boyle Heights.

The shooting occurred about 7 a.m. at Eighth and Fresno streets, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The man, who was in his 30s, died at the scene, according to the coroner’s office. His name was withheld, pending family notification.

No arrests were immediately reported.

Residents Will Have Say In USC Health Campus Expansion

March 16, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

The Board of Supervisors took steps Tuesday to ensure Boyle Heights residents have a voice in shaping development around LAC+USC Medical Center.

Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended hiring a consultant to facilitate a partnership between the county, USC and local residents, hoping to generate a shared vision for the campus and community.

“It is important we make sure everyone gets a seat at the table,” Solis said.

Residents and community advocates told the board that they’ve been excluded from conversations about development of the campus for too long.

“Development is great, but not when the community is stepped on,” resident Jesus Ruiz said, adding that many of his friends had been forced out of Los Angeles by rising costs.

Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at LAC+USC Medical Center, told the board that he and other leaders were “thinking about how we can best serve the community where we reside.”

Residents expressed concern about being displaced in a gentrifying neighborhood.

“History paints an unfortunate story of what happens to communities when powerful institutions like USC come and develop. Many times it’s a cycle of displacement, criminalization and ultimately, erasure,” said Esthefanie Solano, a youth organizer for InnerCity Struggle who grew up in Boyle Heights.

“We expect USC to invest in, support and see every young person and resident as their next medical student, doctor, surgeon or biotech engineer.”

The discussion came as the county considers adding services for the homeless and improving juvenile justice facilities on or near the campus, where it owns 124 acres and LAC+USC Medical Center.

Solis said the development options were wide-ranging, including a clinic, housing and a biomedical center.

For its part, USC is planning a 200-room hotel, more student housing and a cancer treatment center as part of its 80-acre Health Sciences Campus.

However, as the university builds out its campus, the lack of resources in the surrounding neighborhoods becomes even more stark, community advocates said.

“It’s not about being anti-USC, it’s about let’s work together,” said Lou Calanche, executive director of Legacy LA Youth Development Corporation and a USC grad.

Community leaders said growth on the campus should be aimed at creating more jobs and affordable housing for those who live nearby.

The motion – co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl – was added as part of a supplement to the board’s agenda. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urged his colleagues to postpone a vote, arguing that more review was warranted, as the impact of the work would reach “well beyond USC.”

The board’s vote was 3-0 in favor, with Ridley-Thomas abstaining.

The board directed the county’s chief executive officer to report back on goals and a work plan for the Health Innovation Community Partnership.


Search Continues for Gunman in Drive-By Shooting

March 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

LOS ANGELES  – Police searched Tuesday for a gunman involved in a drive-by shooting that wounded a 17-year-old boy in the Sanford neighborhood of Los Angeles south of Boyle Heights.

The shooting was reported around 11:10 p.m. Monday near the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and South Indiana Street, said Officer Liliana Preciado of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Division. The teen was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition, she said.

A description of the car or the suspect was not immediately available.

The shooting was believed to be gang-related, Preciado said.



Man Shot in Boyle Heights

March 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – A man was shot in his stomach Sunday in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, authorities said.

It happened at 10:08 p.m. in an alley north of the intersection of Cesar Chavez Avenue and Soto Street, Sgt. A. Aldegarie of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station said.

Paramedics took the man to a hospital, Aldegarie said.

Suspect information was not available, he said.

Electrocution Causes Injuries

March 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A man was gravely injured when he contacted “high voltage electrical equipment” in Boyle Heights in what “appears to be a case of attempted vandalism or theft,” authorities said last week.

Firefighters responded about 12:20 a.m. March 1 to reports of a person down in the 1800 block of East Sixth Street, near the San Bernardino (10) Freeway, and found the victim near the base of a bridge, according to Brian Humphrey, the Los Angeles Fire Department’s public information officer.

He was in grave condition when taken to County-USC Medical Center, Humphrey said, adding that the man had possibly suffered an electrical shock and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was notified.

An official at the coroner’s office could not immediately confirm if the man had died.

Exposed wires could be seen protruding from a nearby utility box. An uncovered access point at the base of a light pole was also visible next to the underground box.

The DWP sent crews to the scene, according to department Media Relations Manager Amanda Parsons, who said the Los Angeles Police Department is investigating.

“Based on reports received from the scene, this incident appears to be the result of attempted vandalism or copper wire theft and, according to reports, is being investigated by LAPD,” Parsons said.

“The loss of any life in the manner suspected in this incident is tragic and regrettable. Copper wire theft or vandalism involving light poles or electrical equipment is extremely dangerous.”

‘Gente-fied’: Web Series That Explores Boyle Heights’ Changing Landscape

February 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The gentrification of the historic Boyle Heights neighborhood serves as the basis for the new web series “Gente-fied”, which according to America Ferrera, one of the show’s stars, uses humor as it tackles identity and generational conflicts for Latinos in the United States.

“I read the script and I laughed, cried and saw my experiences mirrored. The kind that I identify with a lot and that I have not seen represented before in television and films”, Ferrera said who was also the new series’ executive producer that premiered this week at the Sundance Film Festival.

Lea este artículo en español: ‘Gente-fied’: Serie Web Que Explora Cultura De Boyle Heights

The 32-year-old actress, of Honduran descent, said she grew up in Los Angeles and knows the struggle of wanting to “embrace” the American culture, but from the “deep roots” of a traditional Hispanic family.

“It is a conflict, a sort of identity problem that is very much present in ‘Gente-fied’”, Ferrera pointed out.

Set in Boyle Heights, the series alternates from English to Spanish, exploring the effects of gentrification through seven characters. With light-hearted humor, issues such as the financial burdens of small business owners due to unstoppable rent increases are presented as well as the challenges of a gay Chicana artist.

Gentrification, the process by which the traditional inhabitants of an area are displaced by another population with higher purchasing power, is a matter that the series does not only show from an economic perspective but through its effect on the culture and daily lives of Latinos.

“One of my favorite episodes is the one about a mariachi group, who has played in the Mariachi Plaza for a long time. But when the youth and the ‘Chipsters’ (Chicanos and hipsters) move into the neighborhood, no one wants to listen to the old ‘boleros’ and the mariachi start to play ‘I Want It That Way’ by the Backstreet Boys,” Ferrera said.

The uniqueness of Boyle Heights, a landmark of Chicanos in Los Angeles is also an aspect highlighted in the show.

“When you go to Boyle Heights, the culture is so rich that you almost feel as if you’ve left Los Angeles and have entered a microcosm in another world,” she said.

“The first film I did was completely shot in Boyle Heights, but (the neighborhood) has changed a lot,” Ferrera recalled referring to the new “artsy” businesses and “trendy coffee shops” that have changed the area’s ecosystem.

The all-Latino cast also includes Alicia Sixtos, Edsson Morales, Sal Velez Jr. and Victoria Ortiz. Gente-fied was created by Marvin Bryan Lemus and co-written by Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez.


Fire Destroys Boyle Heights Textile Co.

January 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It took more than 140 firefighters 49 minutes to knock down a major emergency fire Tuesday at a textile business in a two-story commercial building in Boyle Heights.

No injuries were reported from the blaze, which was reported at 5:16 p.m. in the 3700 block of East Union Pacific Avenue, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Several second-floor offices were reported to be fully engulfed in flames at one point, Stewart said.

There was no immediate word on what sparked the fire.

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