Work Begins On El Sereno Transportation, Safety Projects

January 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar on Saturday took part in ground breaking ceremony for a major transportation and safety upgrade project in El Sereno along Alhambra Avenue.

Huizar’s office said local residents, led by the El Sereno Arroyo Playground Vecinos and the Concerned Neighbors of El Sereno, have been requesting improvements along the street for years.

The changes on Alhambra Avenue will bring safety improvements along a 1.5 mile stretch that runs from Valley Boulevard to the Alhambra city limit, which Huizar’s office said is a dangerous route that has been the scene of several traffic collisions, including a hit-and-run in 2017, which took the life of a young mother.

The improvements will be near the El Sereno Arroyo Playground, which opened in 2013 on the corner of Alhambra Avenue and Lowell after Huizar reached a deal with Caltrans to lease the land to the city.

“Like the adjacent El Sereno Arroyo Playground, these Alhambra Avenue improvements are a long time coming,” Huizar said. “Similar to constructing that much-needed park, implementation of these improvements took political will, plenty of community advocacy and city entities coming together to overcome bureaucratic obstacles. I thank all our partners for their help, especially the local residents, led by the El Sereno Arroyo Playground Vecinos and Concerned Neighbors of El Sereno.”

Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar (third from the left) joined El Sereno Arroyo Playground Vecinos and Concerned Neighbors of El Sereno to break ground on improvements near El Sereno Arroyo Playground. (Office of Councilman Jose Huizar/Facebook)

The planned improvements include a new traffic signal light at Lowell Avenue, a new sidewalk adjacent to the El Sereno Arroyo Playground, a new crosswalk with flashing lights at Alhambra and Hollister avenues, bike lanes between Alhambra’s city limit and Valley Boulevard, center left-turn lanes, and a future art wall welcoming all to the El Sereno community.

Construction is expected to continue through the end of May. The groundbreaking took place at El Sereno Arroyo Playground at Alhambra and Lowell avenues.

Councilman Proposes to House Homeless In Trailers on City-Owned Parking Lot

January 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Large encampments of homeless people living under ragged tents and tarps, surrounded by cardboard boxes, shopping carts overflowing with treasures that to others resemble trash, fill the streets overlooking the Hollywood 101 Freeway, in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall.

It’s not a situation unique to the area, these encampments exist in cities and neighborhoods all across Los Angeles County.

And it’s a problem growing faster than city and county have been able to handle.

On Tuesday, a Los Angeles councilman proposed that the city house about five dozen homeless people in trailers on a downtown parking lot next to a state historical monument and major cultural tourist center.

The proposal, outlined in a motion introduced by Councilman Jose Huizar, calls for installing five trailers on a city-owned parking lot at Arcadia and Alameda streets next to the 101 Hollywood Freeway. The plan is to house people who sleep on the sidewalks in the area around the historic El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, home to Olvera Street, the America Tropical Interpretive Center, the Chinese, Italian and Social Justice Museums, and some of the city’s oldest structures, all located steps from one of the city’s busiest transportation hubs, Union Station.

In addition to being an important historical landmark, El Pueblo is a major tourist attraction, drawing upwards of two million visitors a year.

Huizar’s motion says the shelters could be installed and operated for six months at a cost of $2 million. The councilman said the annual cost after that would be about $1.4 million to operate the site, and that more temporary shelters of a similar nature are in the works for other areas of the city.

“This is the first of its kind. We’re not necessarily calling it a pilot, because we’re hoping to work on others at the same time,” Huizar told City News Service.

The proposal comes from a task force formed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to brainstorm how to get thousands of unsheltered people off the streets. If approved by the City Council, the initiative to provide temporary shelter would mark a new strategy for the city, which has focused primarily on encouraging the construction of permanent housing

Homeless encampments near El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument have caused safety concerns among visitors. (EGP Archive photo by Mike Alvarez)

through $1.2 billion in voter-approved bonds under Measure H, which was passed in 2016.

Garcetti has said he hopes temporary housing can be placed on other city properties throughout Los Angeles to help serve the estimated 25,000 unsheltered homeless people in the city.

El Pueblo’s General Manager, Chris Espinosa, is a member of the mayor’s task force. He told EGP Tuesday that homelessness is an ongoing problem at the historical monument, which also happens to be the city’s birthplace.

El Pueblo’s staff and commission are sympathetic to the problem of homelessness and are very interested in working with the city on initiatives to improve their plight, Espinosa said, adding, however, that the large number of homeless encampments on Main Street, Arcadia, and Spring Street have raised security concerns at the state monument.

The parking lot where the trailers would be located is run by El Pueblo. Revenue generated from parking fees help cover the monument’s operating expenses, which have been on the rise as security and other costs related to the homeless population grows.

The monument includes Father Serra Park, a grassy area located off Los Angeles Street, between the monument’s main plaza and museums and Union Station. Every day, large numbers of homeless men and women, “some with mental illness and drug issues … some who are just poor,” use the park as a place to camp out, Espinosa told EGP.

Espinosa noted that the situation has been “concerning” for visitors, especially “foreign tourists and children.”

“We really freaked out when we started hearing about the spread of hepatitis in the homeless population,” Espinosa said. “We started doing twice weekly cleanings, sanitizing the area,” he said, adding that although the practice helps stop the spread of the disease it does nothing to move the homeless into housing.

Trailers to house the homeless living near Olvera Street would be located on Parking Lot 5, on Arcadia and Alameda, according to a motion introduced by Councilman Jose Huizar. (EGP photo be Fred Zermeno)

On the security front, merchants and visitors have complained about the aggressive behavior of some of the homeless.

At El Pueblo Commission meetings, merchants complain that their employees and customers report being harassed and worse. They report drug activity in the public bathrooms, and the difficulty of keeping those areas clean for visitors.

“About a year ago, I had to hire an additional security guard for each shift, three shifts, and we had to put up specialty fencing and buy more security cameras” to help deal with the problem, Espinosa said of the added cost to the operating budget.

“Six months ago, LAPD added a dedicated foot patrol here, and that has been excellent addition,” he said.

According to Espinosa, the El Pueblo Commission has not yet voted to support or oppose Huizar’s motion, but he noted that some of the commissioners have been involved in discussions of the plan.

Huizar’s motion opens the public discussion about how the program will work, not just at El Pueblo, but other locations throughout the city, he said. The mayor was personally involved, engaged, and the goal is to look at city-owned sites with high concentrations of homeless, Espinosa said, noting that inclusion of wrap-around services for those temporarily housed at the site will be an added benefit.

“Taking people off the streets and putting them in housing changes the dynamic, and improves the chances that they will benefit from the services offered,” Espinosa said.

Councilman Huizar, who has been at the forefront of many of the city’s initiatives to address the homeless problem, agrees that permanent supportive housing is critical.

“Permanent supportive housing is a model that works,” because the individuals “don’t get lost.” In the meantime, we need “more immediate things” as the long-term solutions are developed, Huizar said.

The El Pueblo site would consist of three trailers for beds, one trailer to house administrative workers and case management services, and one hygiene trailer with restrooms, showers and laundry facilities. Huizar said the hope is that the people who stay there could be transitioned into permanent housing within six months.

Huizar also said the passage of Measure H, and the countywide Measure HHH that aims to raise $355 million per year for homeless services through a sales tax increase, was an indication that L.A. voters want their leaders to take aggressive action on homelessness.

“If there was a poll put on this, I think the support would be overwhelming,” Huizar said. “The public has been asking for our government officials to treat homelessness as the crisis that it is, and that’s why Measure H passed, that’s why Measure HHH passed. And what I hear, as well, which is reality, is that we’ve got to do something more immediate.”

Some recent city efforts to combat homelessness have been met with opposition, including a proposal to put up storage units in Venice for homeless people to use that was met with a lawsuit in 2016 by a group of local homeowners. Huizar said similar opposition to the El Pueblo plan is likely.

“We anticipate that there will be some NIMBY (not in my backyard) pushback,” Huizar said. “We don’t know in what form it will come, but we’re hoping that the neighborhood will realize that the homeless individuals in their neighborhoods are their neighbors, their friends, could be family members … “

Homelessness in the city of Los Angeles jumped by 20 percent in 2017 while the county saw a spike of 23 percent, according to the results of the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. In the city, the total number of homeless went up to 34,189 and the county number increased to 57,794.

With Help From City, Self Help Graphics to Buy Permanent Home

December 7, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

A nearly five decades-old nonprofit art institution in Boyle Heights is on the verge of being a first-time property owner, thanks in part to funds secured by Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar (CD-14).

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a request from Huizar to allocate $825,000 in CRA-LA excess bond proceeds to help Self Help Graphics and Art complete the purchase of the city-owned property it currently rents on East First Street in Boyle Heights.

“Established in 1970, when Chicano Art and culture was often marginalized, Self Help fought the good fight and has become one of the most influential arts organizations in the City of LA and US,” Huizar said. He added that the funding comes with a commitment from Self Help to continue to offer art services and programming to the local community.

: Councilman Jose Huizar, (pictured left-center) and Self Help Graphic staff and supporters gathered Tuesday before the vote at the nonprofit art institution's Boyle Heights’ headquarter. (Photo Courtesy Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

: Councilman Jose Huizar, (pictured left-center) and Self Help Graphic staff and supporters gathered Tuesday before the vote at the nonprofit art institution’s Boyle Heights’ headquarter. (Photo Courtesy Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

“Very few community driven spaces like Self Help Graphics survive four decades,” the organization said Tuesday in an “Open Letter to the Community.

“Community based cultural centers like Self Help Graphics are community pillars that reflect the existing community and provide a space for creative growth, gathering, incubation and training. Today marks a milestone in Self Help Graphic & Art’s history,” the letter states.

Self Help had secured $2.8 million in grants and loans for the purchase of the property appraised at $3.625 million. The money from the city will fill the funding gap.

“Today’s action puts Self Help over the finish line, and along with other funding they’ve secured, means they’ll continue to assist Latinx artists and our young people through art assistance and programming for years to come.”

The City Council is scheduled to vote Friday to approve the sale of the property.

Air Quality Regulators Adopt Rules to Limit ‘Stink’ Coming From Vernon

November 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Dealing with rancid smells from five rendering plants in Vernon may no longer be a regular fact of life for residents in and around the city after the South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted
new regulations aimed at reducing the odors.

“For years, if not decades, periodic strong odors from these rendering facilities have impacted the quality of life for residents of environmental justice communities in Boyle Heights, Maywood, Commerce, Bell and other communities,” SCAQMD’s Executive Officer Wayne Nastri said. “This new rule will require sensible measures already employed in other parts of the state and the country to minimize these odors.”

Rendering plants use animal parts and carcasses and turn them into a number of products, including soap, fertilizer, cosmetics and pet food, but the resulting smells from five plants in the Vernon area have caused complaints from nearby residents for years.

This Farmer John facility is one of five rendering plants in Vernon that will have to abide by tougher regulations on odors coming from the plants under new rules adopted Nov. 3, 2017 by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. (EGP Archive Photo)

This Farmer John facility is one of five rendering plants in Vernon that will have to abide by tougher regulations on odors coming from the plants under new rules adopted Nov. 3, 2017 by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. (EGP Archive Photo)

As previously reported by EGP, according to the SCAQMD, untreated emissions can be detected up to 20 miles away.

State regulators first proposed Rule (PR) 415 in November 2014, with a plan to schedule a vote on the regulations in July 2015.

The rendering plants and the city of Vernon opposed the rule change, and asked state regulators to delay the rulemaking process to give the facilities time to present “vital information” they felt the agency did not consider.

Vernon’s then director of health and environmental control, Leonard Grossberg, told EGP at the time that the city and area businesses had made odor control a priority for maintaining quality of life for their neighbors, but added that the new regulations would have costly ramifications for the businesses. A member of the city’s Green Vernon Commission, said he worried approval of the rule was a “slippery slope,” and would lead to other onerous regulations being imposed by outside regulators on businesses in the industrial city.

Businesses were given more time to take corrective action.

Last week, at the insistence of Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar, a public hearing on the proposed rule, which was to be voted on today, was held at Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights,. Once again, residents complained that odors coming from the plant are intolerable and the SCAQMD should approve Rule (PR) 415, which the agency did today.

The new rules – substantially the same as when they were first proposed in 2014 – require the plants to within 90 days cover incoming trucks, wash trucks out before they leave the plant, limit the time animal materials are allowed to be outdoors, repair cracks and holes in outdoor asphalt and concrete areas that can accumulate liquid materials and other measures.

The regulations also require the plants to within three years install either a total enclosure or a closed system for certain processes to keep odors from drifting out of their buildings.

“Boyle Heights has unfairly endured more environmental pollution than most neighborhoods in the city and county,” said Huizar, who lives in Boyle Heights with his family, before the meeting.

“And for decades, the smell pollution from nearby rendering plants has been part of our reality as Boyle Heights’ residents. That needs to change.”

The SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Information from City News Service used in this story.

 

 

 

L.A. Approves Network of Portable Restroom to Fight Spread of Hep A

November 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

With the city facing an outbreak of hepatitis A, the Los Angeles City Council approved a plan last Friday to create a system of portable restrooms to help address the problem.

Councilman Mike Bonin recently introduced a motion seconded by Councilman Jose Huizar that calls on the city to begin the steps of creating the system, and it was approved with a vote of 11-0.

“Without access to the basic right of a restroom, people living on the streets are at a significantly increased risk of contracting diseases like hepatitis A that are spread through human feces,” the motion states.

The motion directs city staff to start developing a program of portable public restrooms possibly modeled after the “Pit Stop” program in San Francisco.

The motion also seeks a report on available funding sources for emergency portable restrooms, as well as the bathroom attendants required to operate them.

It also directs the city attorney to report on the city’s laws regarding the placement of portable restrooms in designated locations, including city-owned parking lots.

“Opening additional public restrooms faces two challenges: funding and proper locations,” the motion says.

“Best practices indicate public restrooms should be staffed by attendants to keep the facilities clean and free of criminal activity. And even if adequate funding were available, there remains a lack of adequate space in our dense neighborhoods to place restrooms without encroaching in the public right-of-way.”

The Pit Stop Program is a partnership between Bay Area Rapid Transit and the city of San Francisco that provides portable public toilets at 17 locations.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease that can spread easily through homeless populations because it thrives in unsanitary conditions and is primarily spread through contact with feces via surfaces or sexual contact.

Reports of the disease among the homeless have spiked in recent months in Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Cruz, causing Los Angeles County to declare an official outbreak in September.

The motion was approved two days after activists attempted to deliver a pair of toilets to the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti and also occupied stalls in two City Hall restrooms for several hours in an attempt to bring awareness to the lack of restrooms in Skid Row.

A report released in June found there are only nine public toilets available at night in the Skid Row neighborhood, where roughly 1,800 homeless people sleep.

The lack of toilets is worse than refugees in Syria are experiencing and violate the United Nations standards of hygiene, according to the “No Place to Go” report prepared by homeless advocacy groups, including the Los Angeles Central Providers Collaborative, Los Angeles Community Action Network and the Downtown Women’s Center.

City Gives Nonprofit Property to Shelter Homeless Students

November 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Jovenes Inc., a nonprofit that serves homeless youth, will build units designed to serve homeless students engaged in post-secondary studies on a city-owned property on East Fourth Street in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar has announced.

The site is one of several city-owned property in the neighborhood east of downtown the city is looking to develop as affordable housing.

“Jovenes, Inc. is one of our premiere homeless service partners in Boyle Heights serving one of the most vulnerable populations imaginable – our youth,” Huizar said.

“It is imperative that the city assist them to give kids hope and a future that they might not have otherwise,” he said. “Education is one of this country’s great equalizers, and this Fourth Street location and the College Success Initiative is going to be a place of inspiration — where, with the excellent support services that Jovenes Inc. and its partners provide, youth have the opportunity to go to college, have a place to call home, and succeed.”

Huizar’s office said that due to partnerships with Genesis LA, a community development financing institution, and Restore Neighborhoods Los Angeles, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, the project will utilize private capital and donations and move forward faster and cheaper compared to
traditional developments. The property has sat vacant for years.

“We must create stable housing opportunities that gives homeless students and youth an opportunity to create a new vision for themselves and leave homelessness behind,” said Jovenes’ executive director, Andrea Marchetti.

Huizar also said he wants to see Jovenes expand its services near its main site on 1304 E. Pleasant Ave. in Boyle Heights and has introduced a council motion directing city staff to use the so-called Aliso Triangle property nearby to help the organization grow its campus.

The city owns the Aliso site, which is surrounded by Jovenes’ headquarters and properties owned by the nonprofit, and Huizar said he wants Jovenes to secure it so it can expand its services.

Plans to Expand Homeless Outreach

September 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – City Councilman Jose Huizar announced an expansion of homeless outreach services in downtown Los Angeles last week, with a five-member team looking to replicate a similar program that has seen success in Skid Row.

The new team is operated by the non-profit The People Concern and is funded by the county. It consists of experts in mental health and substance abuse, a case manager, a medical provider and a peer with lived experience.

The program is based on the City-County-Community (C3) outreach program which began in Skid Row in January 2016 and will provide services throughout downtown. In the first half of this year, C3 has permanently housed 128 people directly from the streets of Skid Row, according to Huizar’s office.

“Like all of Los Angeles, downtown is in the midst of a homeless crisis and we have an incredible need — particularly for those suffering from mental illnesses — for increased services to get people real-time assistance,” Huizar said.

Huizar also called for a new approach in assisting the estimated one-third of the city’s homeless population who suffer from mental illnesses.

Teen’s ‘Empowerment’ Mural Inspires Girls, Earns High Honor

August 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A mural painted to inspire young girls to reach for their dreams was unveiled Saturday in Boyle Heights. Titled “Empowerment,” it’s the first public mural created by 15-year-old Isabel Peinado, a student at Los Angeles County High School of the Arts (LACHSA).

Peinado has earned the praise of a local councilman and the Girls Scouts of America. On Saturday, dozens of people attended a ceremony celebrating her vision and hard work to create the mural located at Ray and Roy’s Market on the corner of 4th Street and Camulos Street. The teen spent over 600 hours this summer planning, fundraising and painting her mural.

15-year-old Isabel Peinado spent over 600 hours this summer planning, fundraising and painting her mural. (Photo courtesy Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

15-year-old Isabel Peinado spent over 600 hours this summer planning, fundraising and painting her mural. (Photo courtesy Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

Councilman Jose Huizar called the mural a “gift” to the Boyle Heights community and, in particular, “the young girls who will look at this mural and … find incredible inspiration to follow their dreams.”

The councilman and his wife, Richelle Huizar, helped Peinado secure the space for the large mural, which includes 16 portraits of women from throughout history who have made tremendous contributions in a variety of fields and endeavors. The young artist said she wanted to stress the important role women have played in society, noting that she consulted with her mother and a small team of friends to decide which women should be included to ensure equal representation.

The goal was to encourage young girls and women of all backgrounds to find their own inspiration, and to remind people of the importance of immigrants to the U.S., she said in a statement released by Huizar’s office.

“I hope this mural inspires little girls to choose any profession or calling that they decide on,” Peinado said Saturday. “I want them to know anything is possible if you are passionate, hard-working and dedicated to doing what you love.”

Peinado has been taking art classes since the age of five and hopes her mural will also help raise awareness about the importance of art education in public schools, “so more youth can have the opportunity to express themselves artistically.”

Peinado’s work has earned her the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award, the nonprofit’s highest recognition.

“The Gold Award is the highest honor that a Girl Scout can receive … and we will be awarding her the pin next summer as a part of the class of 2018,” said Kenya Yarbrough, marketing director for the Girl Scouts of the Greater Los Angeles. “We appreciate her courage to stand up, have conversations and share the stories of these very strong women.”

Included in Peinado’s mural are: US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; Mae Jamison, the first African-American woman astronaut to travel into space; labor leader and UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta; revolutionary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo; Malala Yousafzai, women’s educational rights activist who survived being shot in head by Taliban to continue her quest for women’s rights; Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, writer of “Farewell to Manzanar,” a novel depicting her experiences as a Japanese American in WWII internment camps; singer Selena Quintanilla; Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; Princess Diana of Wales, Susan B. Anthony, women’s rights activist during the suffrage movement, and others.

Councilman Jose Huizar and Girls Scouts of America pay tribute to first time muralist, Isabel Peinado (center) during unveiling ceremony at Ray and Roy's Market in Boyle Heghts. (Photo courtesy Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

Councilman Jose Huizar and Girls Scouts of America pay tribute to first time muralist, Isabel Peinado (center) during unveiling ceremony at Ray and Roy’s Market in Boyle Heghts. (Photo courtesy Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

On Saturday, Huizar shared that Peinado’s inspiration came from the murals she saw and admired while walking around downtown Los Angeles with friends.

According to Huizar, he and his wife learned of Peinados’ desire to paint the mural from his daughter Emilia. He said the couple decided to help get the project moving by finding a site for the mural. After seeing Peinado’s sketches, Angela Yolanda Diaz – Ray and Roy’s new owner – agreed to let the teen use her store as her canvass. Diaz even agreed to pay the licensing fee required under a city mural ordinance, according to Huizar.

The teenager’s mother and co-leader of her Girl Scout troop, Judith Peinado, said the mural project was a family affair, acknowledging younger brother Daniel for keeping the first-time muralist company during the long work days. The entire family was involved throughout the process, she said.

Judith also shared her appreciation for Peinado’s Girl Scout troop and supporters who helped raise the money needed by holding  “a continental breakfast and having dinners at their homes as well as other fundraising on their own.” Together they raised about $2,500 to pay for scaffolding, paint, and other supplies.

“When you consider the hundreds of hours Isabel Peinado took to create this mural, with the help of a loyal group of family and friends, the heart and soul put into this mural is written in the dedication Isabel signs it with: ‘To you with love. Para ustedes, con mucho cariño y con todo mi corazon.’ Congratulations to all on a beautiful and empowering piece of art,” Huizar said.

Thanking her team and supporters, Peinado said they motivated her to “keep up the hard work” and to endure the long hours.

“This is an amazing community,” she said with excitement.

“Seeing the face of little girls passing by and asking questions about the mural gave me a sense of accomplishment.”

L.A. Council Committee Approves Fee on Developers

August 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A Los Angeles City Council committee Tuesday supported one of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s top priorities, requiring real estate developers to help fund the construction of affordable housing through a “linkage fee.”

Although two members had expressed some reservations about the proposal at a meeting in June, the committee approved without objection some new recommendations that would create a tiered fee structure depending on the market rate of the neighborhood.

“We are very proud here today to bring this very important proposal before the committee for action,” said Councilman Jose Huizar, who is the Planning and Land Use Management Committee’s chair, at a news conference before the meeting.

“We want to come away with as many dollars as possible with a committee and council vote and create what we have not had in the city of Los Angeles for a number of years now — a steady, funded revenue stream specifically earmarked for affordable housing.”

Garcetti first proposed the idea for a linkage fee two years ago and called on the City Council to pass it during his State of the City speech in April, but the fee has proven to be divisive.

“This is by far one of the most divided subject matters, depending on who you talk to that are in this space. Everybody’s got a different opinion,” Councilman Mitchell Englander said.

“This is like navigating a live mine field, that if we make it through it somehow, we’ll live. But if we misstep at all, we don’t, and the consequences are devastating.”

Some key business groups, including the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, have also come out against the linkage fee and argued it would slow the construction of affordable housing by increasing the cost of building.

“The business community strongly supports affordable and workforce housing, but this proposal will make low- and middle-class housing more expensive to build and more expensive to rent or own,” according to the chamber.

The fee approved by the city’s Planning Commission in February would have charged $5 to developers for every square foot of new commercial construction and $12 per square foot for new residential projects. On Tuesday, however, the committee instead voted to approve a tiered structure, ranging from $8 to $15 per square foot for residential and $3 to $5 for commercial, depending on the market value of the neighborhood.

The vote, if approved by the full council, directs the city attorney to craft an ordinance creating the fee. The ordinance would then need to be voted on and signed by Garcetti before it could become law.

When Garcetti first proposed the idea, he estimated the linkage fee could raise up to $100 million per year for affordable housing, but a staff report approved by the commission downgraded the estimate to $75 million to $92 million per year.

A Department of City Planning and Housing and Community Investment Department report estimated the fee could raise between $93.7 million to $114.3 million per year with the tiered structure.

Garcetti set a goal in 2014 for construction of more than 100,000 units in Los Angeles by 2021 as a way to combat a housing shortage that has contributed to rising rents and an increase in homelessness in the city.

However, not all city leaders are convinced the linkage fee will help affordable housing or that it won’t lead to other problems.

Englander in June expressed worry that the fee could end up harming low-income people because developers and landlords will just pass the cost on to tenants.

“Everybody wants to stick it to the developer,” Englander said. “Hey, that would be a great option. At the end of the day we are sticking it to the nurse, the teacher, the firefighter and they can’t afford it and they are moving out of Los Angeles and they are commuting two hours.”

Councilman Curren Price said at the same meeting that a “one size fits all” fee could end up harming low-income neighborhoods.

However, Englander and Price both ended up supporting the new tiered fee, and Englander said he has always supported a linkage fee, it has just been a question of finding the right “sweet spot” that doesn’t slow development.

The fee would have various exemptions, and the committee recommended adding a few more, including exemptions for all hospitals and nonprofits, although it asked staff to report back on what the fiscal impact would be.

Although he is not on the committee, Councilman Gil Cedillo, who chairs the Housing Committee, has also expressed doubts about the fee.

“If we think this is the whole solution we are really making a mistake,” Cedillo told City News Service in June

“There’s a sense — and I’ve said this publicly and in forums — I don’t want people to think we are solving the problem. And people get attached to process and to the battle and they’re not looking at how we should approach the war.”

The report from the departments of planning and housing and community investment concluded that the fee would not result in a significant increase in housing prices.

The report also concluded that developers are unable to pass on the costs of new housing impact fees to tenants and home buyers because most developers are introducing a relatively small number of units into a community, where the price has already been set by the marketplace.

The idea for a linkage fee to fund affordable housing is not new. Other California cities such as Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco have one, as do other cities around the nation.

“I’m from New England. I went to school in Boston,” Councilman Mike Bonin said at the news conference.

“When I was in college, Boston established an affordable housing linkage fee. When they were talking about it, I remember the headlines in The Boston Globe — the sky was going to fall and the world was going to end, housing would stop and the boom in Boston would end. It didn’t happen.”

Community Calendar August 10 – August 12

August 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Today, Thursday August 10

4:30-6pm–Meeting of the Teen Volunteer Board at East Los Angeles Library. Join the board and help shape future of teen activities. Ages 12-17. Library is located at 4837 E. 3rd St. LA 90022. For more information contact Teen Service Librarian  (323) 264-0155.

6:30pm–Public Hearing On Proposals for the Lincoln Heights Jail. The city’s Community Advisory Panel will present information on three proposals received during the RFP process and under review. Time for an open discussion with members of the panel and the public will be assigned. Hearing will take place at Goodwill Industries Auditorium, 342 N. San Fernando Rd. Los Angeles 90031. For more information contact Gerald Gubatan at (213) 473-7001 or via email at gerald.gubatan@lacity.org

Friday, August 11

7:30pm–El Centro Del Pueblo presents outdoor of showing of Willoughby in Los Angeles. Directed by Ruben Soto and Herbert Megurk enjoy this thriller based on a true story. Donations will be accepted to benefit Arturo Aguayo Jr. and the Boxing Club at El Centro Del Pueblo. Showing will take place at El Centro Playground, 1155 Lemoyne Street, Los Angeles 90026. For more info contact Ruben Soto at (213) 393-4215 or Robert Aguayo at (213) 483-6335.

Saturday, Aug. 12

2-6pm–100% Solar Powered Art & Music Festival- Eastside Sol. Enjoy live music, entertainment and giveaways as your learn about energy saving alternatives. Fun for all ages. Festival will take place at Mariachi Plaza, 1817 E 1st St, Boyle Heights, 90033. For more information, follow Eastside Sol on Twitter @EastSol.

3:30 & 5:30pm–Arroyo Arts Collective and Teatro Arroyo present world premier of Alicia in Arroyoland at the Audubon Center at Debs Park. The classic story of Wonderland is re-imagined with the merging of colorful characters and local icons including Tongva medicine woman Toypurina, Charles Lummis, and Chicken Boy in this free-to-attend rollicking music and dance-driven salute to the diverse people of Highland Park. Additional performances on Aug. 13, 19 and 20th. Center is located at Debs Park, 4700 North Griffin Ave, LA 90042. For free ticket info, go to http://www.brownpapertickets.com. For more info, visit www.teatroarroyo.com.

8pm–Casa 0101 Theater presents Flamenco Flavor in Boyle Heights. Indulge in the exciting heel stomping rhythms of flamenco dancers and the cry of the Spanish guitar. General admission is $25; students, seniors & local residents pay $20. Location: Little Casa, 2009 E. 1st, LA 90033. For more info, call (323) 263-7664 or visit www.csa0101.org.

Upcoming

Councilmember Jose Huizar’s Monthly Boyle Heights Bulky Item Program on Sunday, Aug. 20. If you have furniture you don’t want, come in dump in containers.City containers will be in the following locations 6th & Euclid Ave., Fickett & Malabar St., 3rd & St. Louis St. and in Gabriel Garcia Marquez St. & Park Paseo. For more information contact the Boyle Heights office at (323) 526-9332.

Play Music on the Porch Day Sat., Aug. 26 from 5-7pm in Highland Park. All are invited to take part in a free family event filled with music & activities for kids of all ages. Event will take place at the Highland Park Senior Center, 6152 N. Figueroa St. LA 90042. For more information or if you’re a musician, contact monica@playmusicontheporchday.com or checkout their Facebook page @playmusicontheporchday.

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