EGP Associate Publisher Jonathan Sanchez Dies of Cancer

December 29, 2016 by · 3 Comments 

Surrounded by his family, Eastern Group Publications (EGP) Associate Publisher and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Sanchez passed away Dec. 23 at his home in Highland Park, California, his family has announced.

Jonathan’s death comes following a short battle with cancer. He was 64.

EGP Associate Publisher Jonathan Sanchez died Dec. 23, 2016. He was 64.

EGP Associate Publisher Jonathan Sanchez died Dec. 23, 2016. He was 64.

Jonathan was very private and never wanted to burden his family or friends with his illness, so his passing comes as a shock to many who knew and loved him all these years.

He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, friend and confident to many, an advocate for the Latino community he loved so much and for the Latino-owned small businesses he worked so hard to give a voice to.

Jonathan left us too early and will be sorely missed. the family said in its announcement.

One of nine children, Jonathan was born Aug. 31, 1952 to Juanita Beltran Sanchez and Jose Vicente Sanchez. He was a lifelong Angeleno who spent most of his childhood and adult life in the Northeast Los Angeles communities of Highland Park and Mt. Washington.

Together with his wife of three plus decades, EGP Publisher Dolores Sanchez, they established a highly respected chain of 11 bilingual (English/Spanish language) community newspapers serving East, Northeast and Southeast Los Angeles County. In 2015, the venerable Mexican-American Sun, ELA Brooklyn-Belvedere Comet, Wyvernwood Chronicle and Monterey Park Comet were folded into EGP’s flagship newspaper, the Eastside Sun. EGP’s other publications are the Northeast Sun, Bell Gardens Sun, Montebello Comet and Commerce Comet.

News of his passing spread quickly on social media, sparking an outpouring of both shock and loss by those who knew and worked with him over the years, including many in the nonprofit, political and business communities, as well as fellow journalists.

“Jonathan has been an important voice for the Latino community,” former State Senator and Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre told EGP.

“So so sorry to hear of his passing he was a great friend to the community and Centro de Ninos he will be missed by so many,” Sandra Serrano Sewell, executive Director El Centro de Ninos wrote on Facebook.

Patricia Perez, owner of VPE Public Relations, wrote, “Our community suffered a great loss. He was a steadfast champion of community newspapers and always sought to inform and educate his readers. Heartbreaking.”

“Jonathan and Eastern Group Publications has been a mainstay in the community that so many counted on and he and EGP delivered over and over again, day in and day out,” writes Diana Martinez. editor of the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol.

Jonathan is survived by his wife Dolores, daughters Deana and Bianca Preciado and her husband Arturo Preciado; brothers David, Miguel, Juan and Pedro and sisters Maria Teresa, Delia and Rose; Dolores’ children Gloria Alvarez and husband Mike Alvarez, their four children and two grandchildren; Michael Sanchez and wife Christine and their five children and four grandchildren; Sarah Ramos and her husband Jon Ramos and their three children and; Joe Sanchez III and his wife Carla, their 8 children, spouses and nearly two dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A Christian Memorial Service will be held Friday, Jan. 6 at 11 a.m. at Pillar of Fire Church: 4900 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA. 90042.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made in Jonathan’s name to the nonprofit Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club in Lincoln Heights: 2635 Pasadena Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90031, (323) 221-9111, or another program supporting children. For more information, visit http://www.labgc.org or email info@labgc.org. Additional information will be posted on the EGP website: www.EGPNews.com and/or Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eastern-Group-Publications/146212265407642 .

Please feel free to share your comment here or on the EGP News Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eastern-Group-Publications/146212265407642

For more information, email Gloria Alvarez at galvarez@egpnews.com or leave a message at (323) 221-1092.

EGP will publish more about Jonathan Sanchez’s life and contributions in the Jan. 5, 2017 edition.

Update 12/30/16: A quote by Diana Martinez, editor of The San Fernando Sun/El Sol was in correctly attributed to Richard Garcia.

Bell Gardens Forced to Sell Shopping Centers

February 4, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

Before Ross, Marshall’s, Starbucks and Petco opened their doors in Bell Gardens, the area around Florence Boulevard and Eastern Avenue was nothing more than a collection of vacant lots and rundown buildings.

Drugs and crime were prevalent in the area, which also happened to be home to one of the largest adult bookstores in the region. The city tried unsuccessfully for years to close the store down, but in the end, redevelopment money is what pushed out the store and it’s undesirable customers, Bell Gardens City Manager Phil Wagner told EGP.

Lea este artículo en Español: Bell Gardens es Forzada a Vender Centros Comerciales

Today, two busy shopping centers sit at the intersection of Florence and Firestone, drawing thousands of customers from Bell Gardens and surrounding cities to spend their money in the southeast city. It’s been a vast improvement on many fronts for the predominately working-class southeast city, from providing jobs to shopping convenience and revenue for city services.

But now, Bell Gardens is being forced to sell off the Los Jardines and Village Square Shopping Centers and to give 91% of the money generated from the sale to the state. It’s part of a negotiated settlement reached in the aftermath of Gov. Jerry Brown’s and State Legislators’ disbanding of the 400 or so redevelopment agencies across California.

For decades, redevelopment agencies (RDA) helped cities like Bell Gardens revitalize their communities by providing funds for projects ranging from affordable housing to commercial developments and government facilities. Funding for RDA came from loans from the cities themselves, bonds and property taxes generated by the agency’s investments.

“If you look at these shopping centers [in Bell Gardens] there’s a possibility none of these would be here without the RDA,” Wagner points out.

Facing a crippling budget deficit, the governor and state leaders in 2011 decided to eliminate all of California’s redevelopment agencies and keep the in state coffers. “With the stroke of a pen,” cities, already struggling with tight budgets due to the recession, saw their funds to combat blight wiped out, Wagner said.

Brown argued that the state could no longer afford to finance the agencies and insisted the money would be better spent on school districts and county services.

An audit at the time by State Controller John Chiang found widespread accounting and reporting discrepancies at 18 RDAs across the state, fueling support for shutting down locally run redevelopment agencies. The audit found examples of spending abuses and Chiang questioned the effectiveness of RDA’s mission to combat blight.

The policy shift stopped new money from coming in for redevelopment and required that any money still in the redevelopment agencies and city-owned properties purchased with redevelopment funds be liquidated and turned over to the state.

Local municipalities criticized the decision and tried to stop the change, but failed.

In the years since, cities across California have been negotiating with the Dept. of Finance – charged with reviewing any transactions by the now defunct RDAs – to protect their investments.

Finally, “we’ve had to bite the bullet,” City Attorney John W. Lam told EGP.

Bell Gardens must now sell seven of its RDA-owned properties, including the two shopping centers and a cell tower located on one of the properties.

The shopping centers and cell tower generate $250,000 annually in ground lease revenue for the city.

“That number may not sound like a lot, but for a city of our size that will have an impact to our services,” said Community Development Director Abel Avalos.

The Los Jardines Shopping Center, located in the 7000 block of Eastern Avenue in Bell Gardens, is home to dozens of stores that draw thousands of shoppers to the area. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The Los Jardines Shopping Center, located in the 7000 block of Eastern Avenue in Bell Gardens, is home to dozens of stores that draw thousands of shoppers to the area. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Wagner told EGP the damage could have been a lot worse; “in the millions” of dollars, he said.

At one point the firehouse, police department parking lot and neighborhood youth center were all on the chopping block. In the end it was determined those properties and two additional city-owned parking lots are for governmental use, exempting them from the sell-off.

“The best case scenario would have been to keep all the properties, but we believe we protected the majority of our assets.”

“I believe Bell Gardens was a model for redevelopment agencies,” Wagner said, calling the loss of funds a “great loss” to cities like Bell Gardens that used its funds as intended, to build much-needed affordable housing and to replace blighted areas with thriving businesses.

Primestor Inc. developed the Bell Gardens shopping centers and will have first dibs on purchasing the ground leases.

Wagner says the city has a good relationship with Primestor and is confident the developer will purchase the property.

Avalos told EGP the city has received a few informal inquiries about an RDA property on the 5000 block of Shull Street, which could be used for either light manufacturing or higher density housing. The remaining properties would be sold for commercial development, he added.

Bell Gardens will get just over 9 percent of the sales revenue, but will continue to receive sales tax and property tax. The money being lost could have gone back to the community, Lam said.

Any ambitious plans the city had for revitalization may no longer happen, cautions Avalos.
There’s no more money for affordable housing, stressed Lam.

According to Wagner, the city will also take a big financial hit on the $30 million it initially invested as seed money for the redevelopment agency back in the 1970s, since it doesn’t appear that the state will reimburse municipalities any time soon for their loans to the agencies. That money is owed to the local taxpayers, he said.

A little over half of the city’s initial investment has been paid back over the years, but there’s still about $14 million owed to the city’s General Fund, according to city Finance Director Will Kaholokula.

The interest they originally agreed to will also not be honored, instead capped at 10 percent.

“The governor said ‘sorry cities, too bad…you’ll get your money last,’” said Lam, explaining it could take 50 years for the state to pay the entire amount back.

Now the city is tasked with bringing in developers to privately fund projects.
According to Wagner, it’s something the city has done before and will do again.

“The loss of tax money developments will not stop Bell Gardens from attracting business to the city.”

—-

Twitter @nancyreporting

nmartinez@egpnews.com

Man Wanted for Assaulting Woman in Vernon, L.A.

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Detectives were searching Saturday for a man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting women in Los Angeles and Vernon.

The suspect was described as Hispanic, 20 to 40-years-old, standing between 5 feet 11 inches and 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing between 190 and 220 pounds, according to a community alert issued by the Los Angeles police. He also has black hair and brown eyes.

The suspect has kidnapped and assaulted at least four women he apparently targeted along Figueroa Street, east of Highway 110, according to LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division.

During the most recent attacks, the suspect drove to a secondary location and sexually assaulted his victim inside his vehicle, according to police. The suspect uses bodily force, a knife and or verbal threats to subdue his victim.

One of his vehicles was described as a white or silver or beige Dodge or Toyota van with no seats in the rear compartment. He has also used a silver, four-door Kia with a double sunroof, according to RHD.

Anyone with information on this suspect’s identity or whereabouts was asked to call LAPD Detective Kim Fairchild at RHD’s Special Assault section at (213) 486-6910 or the LAPD’s 24-hour tipline at (877) 527-3247 or 911. Please refer to case number DR # 1501-17116. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS. All tips can be made anonymously.

She ‘Runs’ In Fight to End Human Trafficking

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Norma Bastidas started running out of desperation.

She needed to escape the pain caused by years of abuse as a child and later as the victim of human trafficking.

“I wanted to run and never stop,” Bastidas told the women taking part in last week’s “Café Con…” (Coffee with), a speaker series hosted by the East Los Angeles Women’s Center (ELAWC) focused on women’s issues. She’d been invited to discuss her experience both as a victim and a survivor in observance of Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Lea este artículo en Español: Ella ‘Corre’ para Terminar la Trata Ilegal de Personas

A native of Mexico who now lives in Canada, Bastidas currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest and fastest triathlon completed by a woman: 3,762 miles in 65 days.

Running triathlons was not her original goal, she said, explaining it wasn’t until she was about 38-years-old that she discovered she really enjoys what started out as a way to deal with “sleeping problems.”

Bastidas recounted for the group her experience growing up in a single parent home and the abuse she suffered as a child. She talked about how at age 19 she left her country to Japan to work as a model and hostess in a restaurant bar, but the promise of paid travel and accommodations were just a ploy to turn her into an escort. She told the women gathered that her abusers took away her visa and forced her to work for them for nine months to pay off those travel and living expenses.

Norma Bastidas currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest and fastest triathlon completed by a woman. (Courtesy of iEmphatize)

Norma Bastidas currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest and fastest triathlon completed by a woman. (Courtesy of iEmphatize)

Nonetheless, after regaining her freedom, Bastidas decided to stay in Japan to pursue her studies on a student visa. “I mastered Japanese and worked as a translator and model,” Bastidas told EGP. But the sexual abuse continued, she said, telling how police refused to help her when she was sexually assaulted twice on the streets of Japan because she was a foreigner and had once worked in a bar.

“The last time I was assaulted they almost killed me,” Bastidas recalled in a broken voice.

“I was afraid to speak about it because I was told my whole life that I was to blame if someone abused or raped me.”

Bastidas story is not unique. A recent study by the National Institute of Justice—an International Labor Organization—found that human trafficking, which includes commercialized sexual exploitation, forced labor, and domestic servitude, denies freedom to some 20 million people around the world, fifty-five percent of them women, and twenty-six percent children.

According to a 2014 Human Trafficking Assessment study conducted by the East L.A. Women’s Center, human trafficking, with the purpose of engaging in sexual acts for monetary gain has become a significant public health problem and human rights issue in Southern California, more specifically, in the city of Los Angeles.

The assessment states that the risks from women and girls trafficked for the sex trade includes “unprotected sex, physical trauma and multiple sex partners often heighten the transmission and spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.”

To fight human trafficking in Los Angeles, the organization offers support programs for victims and youth at risk. They work to create awareness about HIV/AIDS among Latinas by distributing information in strip clubs and bars, and by addressing the issue in public with speakers like Bastidas.

People assume human trafficking is an isolated tragic event that happens somewhere far away, Bastidas told EGP. In reality, it’s everywhere, affecting a large number of people, she said.

That’s why she decided to publicly identify herself as a human trafficking survivor: to change perceptions about the victims.

Bastidas has run thousands of miles advocating for the fight to end human trafficking. She also finished the famous 777 Run for Sight—seven-ultra marathons in seven continents in seven months—to fundraise for the blind and visually impaired in honor of her 22-year old son who in 2006 was diagnosed with an incurable disease that could make him go blind.

She runs for good causes, and those good causes have helped her heal, she says.
Her words are very “motivating,” ELAWC Board Chair Mercedes Y. Perez told EGP.

It’s the same sentiment shared by Brad Riley, founder and president of iEmpathize, a nonprofit group fighting crimes against children and a supporter of Bastidas’

Guinness World Record triathlon attempt. People should ask themselves, “If Norma [Bastidas] can swim, bike and run 3,762 miles to fight human trafficking, ‘what can I do?’ he wrote on the group’s website.

“For so long it seemed impossible that I would ever break the cycle of abuse in my life,” Bastidas told EGP. “But I continued to ask for help and found a way.”

“We need to be the voices behind this issue.”

For more information about Norma Bastidas visit: www.normabastidas.com

To know more about human trafficking programs visit East Los Angeles Women Center

—-

Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Jan. 31: Last Day to Avoid Health Coverage Tax Penalty

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

There are just four days left to avoid being hit with a big tax penalty for not having health insurance coverage as mandated under the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare.

A recent report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the average household penalty in 2016 will be $969, which is a 47 percent increase from 2015. The report also estimates that “75% of people who are eligible for premium subsidies” could be subject to the penalty, according to the state-run health insurance exchange, Covered California.

The law requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty known as the “shared responsibility payment.” Individuals with insurance coverage provided through their employer are covered under the law.

Failure to sign up in time could lead to a big tax bill. The deadline to apply for coverage to avoid paying a penalty on 2016 taxes is Jan. 31.

“We want to make sure everyone understands the new connection between health care and taxes,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said.

The amount of the fine a person will pay depends on one of the two methods used to calculate it, but in either case, the uninsured consumer will pay the higher amount.

The first calculation is 2.5 percent of household income, with a maximum of the total yearly premium for the national average Bronze health insurance plan premium. The second calculation is $695 per adult plus $347.50 per child under the age of 18, with a maximum of $2,085.

On Saturday, Health Net’s East L.A. Community Resource Center will offer free assistance between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to those who need help understanding their options and applying before the Sunday deadline. Spanish-speaking enrollment counselors will be available to help, according to a Health Net statement.

Whether applying at Health Net Resource Center (5047 E. Whittier Blvd.) or through some other method, consumers will need to have proof of current income for all family members, such as tax returns, W-2s or recent pay stubs; Social Security numbers or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINS) and date of birth for each household member.

Consumers can sign up online at www.CoveredCA.com or by calling (800) 300-1506 to enroll over the phone or to find in-person help in their communities. In-person enrollment assistance can be found by visiting http://www.CoveredCA.com/get-help/local and searching for enrollment help by ZIP code.

Jerry Brown, Where Are You? It’s Time to Step Up on Exide

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

California’s “environmental governor” has been missing in action in the fight to stop the devastating damage being done to east and southeast Los Angeles residents by state regulator’s failures to stop years of toxic chemical dumping in those communities.

Those residents – most of them Latino and working class – are mad as hell, and rightfully so.

For more than a decade, this newspaper has been publishing stories on the dangerous polluting of these same neighborhoods – from unincorporated East Los Angeles to Boyle Heights, to Maywood, Commerce and cities nearby. The number of community meetings and protests we’ve covered over the years are too many to count. Yet, the illegal health and environmental damage for the most part went unabated.

The most recent revelations — if you can call three years recent — that the Exide Technologies battery recycling plant in Vernon was allowed to operate for decades on a temporary permit despite repeated violations of state toxic chemical emissions is inexcusable.

So is the lack of urgency and action not only by state regulators, but also by the state, national and local officials elected to serve, and to protect them.

If it weren’t for the people in the impacted neighborhoods unrelentingly beating the drum on the crisis in their community, Exide would likely still be in business today.

Sadly, it’s taken the catastrophe at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Porter Ranch to stir up awareness by state official to what east and southeast residents have known along: There’s a double standard in California when it comes to protecting people of color and limited means from environmental injustice.

On Tuesday, the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Assembly finally held a hearing on the Exide debacle and plans to clean up the toxic pollution it has left behind. The meeting was held in Sacramento, not where the problem is.

In more affluent Porter Ranch, officials brought the hearing down to the people. Gov. Brown personally went to Porter Ranch and declared a State of Emergency, but couldn’t be bothered to drive two-miles from where he was attending the opening of casino in Bell Gardens to peek in at the Exide damage.

Residents in the areas contaminated by Exide had expressed doubt about former Supervisor Gloria Molina’s assertion that the governor had not responded to her calls to him to discuss Exide. How could it possibly be true that the governor had refused to call back a supervisor from the largest county in the state? We now know it wasn’t just one supervisor, but two. Sup. Hilda Solis says she has received the same treatment.

Is it any wonder the people living in neighborhoods polluted by Exide are angry? We think not.

Gov. Brown owes these communities an apology for the lack of respect he has shown them. Tell us Jerry, what would it have taken to stand up and say to the community, ‘I’m on it and I’m making sure my administration is doing everything to ensure your safety?’

We have to wonder how the governor’s friend Cesar Chavez would have reacted to this very obvious slight. But let’s face it, Brown isn’t the only official whose been missing in action. Why aren’t the legislators who represent these communities banding together to pressure the governor and their fellow legislators to put up the money needed for the cleanup?

In the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer have both been very out spoken in their criticism of SoCalGas’ handling of Porter Ranch. Boyle Heights is in the city of angels, but you don’t hear them talking about bringing lawsuits or demanding that these constituents, whose children can’t even play in their own backyards, be relocated until their homes are decontaminated.

Yes Angelenos, it’s painfully clear: If you are poor, and a person of color, there is a double standard in the Golden State.

It’s time that changes and for the state to come up with the initial $70 million needed to get the clean up of residential properties moving.

Health Officials Warn Travelers, Pregnant Women of Zika Danger

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

County health officials Tuesday urged travelers to Latin America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, especially pregnant women, to take precautions to protect themselves from contracting a mosquito-borne virus that can cause birth defects.

The Zika virus outbreak is ongoing in 21 countries, including Mexico and Puerto Rico.

No transmission of the disease has been reported in the United States. However, there has been one confirmed case of the virus in Los Angeles County — in an adolescent girl who traveled to El Salvador in late November. Health officials said she has recovered.

The species of mosquito that can transmit Zika is present in the San Gabriel Valley and the eastern part of the county.

“At this time, local transmission is unlikely,” according to a Los Angeles County Department of Public Health statement issued Tuesday. “It would require an Aedes mosquito biting a Zika infected person and then biting others.”

Local health officials said they are continuing “surveillance to identify any potentially infected travelers returning to the county.”

The county’s top health official advised travelers to use bug spray approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants or clothing specially treated to avoid mosquito bites.

“Pregnant women should avoid travel to the areas where the outbreak is ongoing, if possible,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county’s interim health officer.

The disease has been linked to miscarriages and microcephaly — which can cause serious developmental delays and babies born with abnormally small heads — though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website notes that additional studies of such reports, initially out of Brazil, are needed.

As of Jan. 22, Zika-affected countries included Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

“Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, including the U.S., it is anticipated that outbreaks will spread to new countries,” the DPH statement says.

For those who are not pregnant, about one in five will get sick, according to the CDC. Symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, typically begin two to seven days after being bitten. Some people experience no symptoms.

People can reduce the spread of the Aedes mosquito — and the risk of other mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya and dengue — by eliminating standing water around their homes where mosquitos may breed.

Updates of affected countries and traveler health notices are posted on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov and more information on the virus can be found at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov.

Community Calendar: Jan. 28, 2016 – Feb. 3, 2016

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Today, Thursday, Jan. 28
5pm – LA County Park Needs Assessment Workshop Jan. 28 at the Montebello Senior Center & Bell Gardens Veterans Park. Sessions are an opportunity to provide input into future improvements & changes to local parks. Montebello Senior Center (6:30pm) 1700 W. Victoria, Montebello; Bell Gardens Veterans Park (5pm), 6662 Loveland St. For more info, visit www.lacountyparkneeds.org.

5:30pm – Free Book Reading & Signing With U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera Jan. 28 at the Cal State LA 2016 Jean Burden Poetry Reading. Herrera is the first Mexican American to serve as a U.S. poet laureate. From 2012 to 2014, he was poet laureate of California. Herrera is a performance artist and an activist on issues affecting migrant and indigenous communities & at-risk youth. Location: CSULA Golden Eagle Ballroom, 5151 State University Dr. LA 90032. For more info, call (323) 343-4140.

6:30-8pm – ‘Noche de Boleros’ with Margarita Luna at the East Los Angeles Library. Enjoy a evening concert with the multi-talented singer/musician who will perform Latin Boleos and classic songs. Light refreshments will be provided. Library is located at 4837 E. 3rd St. L.A. 90022. For info, call (323) 264-0155.

Friday, Jan. 29
10:30am. Free Citizenship Workshop. This citizenship workshop will provide lawful permanent residents with free naturalization application assistance by professional and trained volunteers.  Services are available in Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Russian and English. Location: 3621 Brunswick Ave. 90039. Registration is recommended. To register contact IRIS staff at 213-819-1890.

Saturday, Jan. 30
10am-9pm – Monterey Park Two-Day Lunar New Year Festival. Celebrate the year of the monkey with traditional new year lion and dragon dancers, dancers, fireworks and live entertainment. Event will also feature vendors, food booths, and amusement rides. Free admission. Festival will continue Jan. 31. Location: Garvey Avenue between Ramona and Alhambra Avenues.  For info, visit www.lunarnewyears.com.

2-3:30pm – Celebrate the New Year with Tierra Blanca. Enjoy a special dance performance by the Tierra Blanca Dance Company. Light refreshments will be provided. Light refreshments will be provided. Library is located at 4837 E. 3rd St. L.A. 90022. For info, call (323) 264-0155.

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Personal  Development Workshop Series. Do you know what is anxiety and depression? This workshop will provide an overview of the different types of anxiety and the symptoms/behaviors of depression. Learn the basics of health care providers, treatment plans, support systems and self care tips. The Roybal Foundation has created workshops dedicated to college students and young professionals. Location: Roybal Community Center 5251 East Beverly Blvd. 90022.  For info. contact Manuel Gonez at (323) 725-3960 or mgonez@roybalfoundation.org.

5-11pm. Night on Broadway 2016. Celebrating the 8th anniversary of Councilmember Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway initiative by highlighting entertainment, food and nighttime fun along Broadway from 3rd Street to Olympic Blvd. Night on Broadway began in 2015, entertaining more than 35,000 people. Location: on Broadway Avenue between 3rd Street & Olympic in DTLA. Free event. For more info visit nightonbroadway.la.

3pm—Get there from Northeast LA on a Group Bike Ride! Join a group of bike riders to Night on Broadway in DTLA, leaving from Eagle Rock around 3:00PM with meet-up points along the route until we reach the event. There will be complimentary Bike Valet on 5th & Broadway. For more info: nightonbroadway.la.

 

Monday, Feb. 1.

9am-5pm – Free Clinic Tours at the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center in Lincoln Heights . Arroyo Vista turns 35 and will be providing health screenings, health exams, enrollment assistance, health education and childhood vaccines and family planning free in the month of February for those who qualify. The event will feature face painting, balloons and giveaways. Center is located at 5411 N. Broadway LA 90031. For info, call (323) 987-2028.

 

Tuesday, Feb. 2

9am-5pm – Free Clinic Tours at the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center in Highland Park . Arroyo Vista turns 35 and will be providing health screenings, health exams, enrollment assistance, health education and childhood vaccines and family planning free in the month of February for those who qualify. The event will feature face painting, balloons and giveaways. Center is located at 6000 N. Figueroa St. LA 90042. For info, call (323) 987-2028.
7-8:30pm. 1st & Boyle CRA Site Community Workshop. The City of LA will be issuing a request of proposal for development of the vacant site and Councilmember Jose Huizar and the Economic and workforce development dept. want the community’s input on feasible concepts for how the parcel could be developed. Location: Community Room 2130 E. 1s Street 90033. For more info: (323) 526-9332.

 

Wednesday, Feb. 3

9am-5pm – Free Clinic Tours at the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center in El Sereno-Huntington. Arroyo Vista turns 35 and will be providing health screenings, health exams, enrollment assistance, health education and childhood vaccines and family planning free in the month of February for those who qualify. The event will feature face painting, balloons and giveaways. Center is located at 4837 Huntington Dr. LA 90032. For info, call (323) 987-2028.
Public Hearing on Exide’s Draft Closure Plan and Environmental Impact Report. Dept. of Toxic Substance Control taking comments on the draft closure plan for Exide battery recycling facility in Vernon. Public comments must be submitted by Feb. 12. Approval of a closure plan would begin cleanup and deconstruction of the building. Location: Commerce City Hall, 2535 Commerce Way. For info, call (916) 255-3883 or email waybe.loretzen@dtsc.ca.gov.

Upcoming

Free Clinic Tours at the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center in El Sereno-Valley (Feb. 4) and Loma Drive (Feb. 5). Arroyo Vista turns 35 and will be providing health screenings, health exams, enrollment assistance, health education and childhood vaccines and family planning free in the month of February for those who qualify. The event will feature face painting, balloons and giveaways. Centers are located at 4815 E. Valley Blvd. and 303 S. Loma Drive #202. Time: 9am-5pm. For info, call (323) 987-2028.
Celebrate Chinese New Year at Bell Gardens Veterans Park. Learn about the ancient Chinese holiday and celebrate the year of the monkey. Ages: 5-14. Cost: $2. Park is located at 6662 Loveland St. For info, call (562) 806-7650.

Ongoing
Recycled Resources for the Homeless Donation Drive & Free Distribution through Feb. 27. Recycled Resources is collecting items to help the homeless survive El Niño winter: clothing, jackets, blankets, tents, sleeping bags, shoes, socks, first aid & hygiene supplies, and lunches. (While supplies last.) Items can be dropped off every Saturday, 8-11am at 4104 N. Figueroa (meets on sidewalk in front of Public Storage) LA 90065. Items (while supplies last) will be distributed at same time & location. All donations are tax deductible. For more info: www.recycledresources.org.

Sixth Street Bridge Closes Ahead of Demolition

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Sixth Street Viaduct, a Los Angeles landmark famous for its appearances in films such as “Grease” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” was closed to traffic Wednesday in preparation for its demolition next week.

Bureau of Engineering crews are preparing the bridge for the demolition work, which is set to begin Feb. 5 and will necessitate a 40-hour closure of the Hollywood (101) Freeway.

Lea este artículo en Español: La Comunidad Se Despide del Icónico Puente de la Calle Sexta

A crowd of about 100 people gathered on the bridge Tuesday night to take photos and view a car club meet-up in advance of the bridge’s closure. The spontaneous gathering was dispersed after Los Angeles police officers turned out in force to move the people off the bridge so city crews could begin putting up fencing to keep the span clear.

At least one person was arrested, but most of the people who came out to see the bridge were peaceful and just wanted to get pictures, police said.

The Sixth Street Viaduct was closed to traffic Wednesday in preparation for its demolition next week. (Courtesy of Sergio Infanzon)

The Sixth Street Viaduct was closed to traffic Wednesday in preparation for its demolition next week. (Courtesy of Sergio Infanzon)

Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes the bridge, took a “final walk” along the bridge Wednesday morning with City Engineer Gary Lee Moore and the designer of its replacement, Michael Maltzan.

For Eastside residents who used it to commute to jobs in downtown Los Angeles, the bridge “represented opportunity,” Huizar told City News Service.

Huizar said that like many residents, he is “a bit sad, nostalgic, but at the same time optimistic about the new bridge,” built in 1932.

The new bridge design includes “beautiful vista points” as well as a community plaza underneath that will make it “a destination point, not only a means to get over the river,” he said.

One arch from the old bridge will be preserved during demolition and used in the community space beneath the bridge, according to Rick Coca, an aide to Huizar.

Huizar urged the public to adjust their traffic habits now that the bridge is closed and a 40-hour freeway closure is set to begin next week.

To accommodate the demolition, a 2.5-mile segment of the 101 Freeway will be closed from the Santa Monica (10) Freeway split to the interchange of the Golden State (5), 10 and 101 freeways south of downtown Los Angeles from 10 p.m. Feb. 5 until 2 p.m. Feb. 7.

Drivers going west on the Pomona (60) Freeway out of Pomona will not be able to get onto the 101.

Mayor Eric Garcetti dubbed the planned closure as the “101 Slow Jam.”

“We all love slow jams and this one will be a little tough to get through,” Garcetti said during a news conference at the bridge. “But you’ve hopefully by now heard about the 101 Slow Jam because a major freeway closure is coming here to Los Angeles, and we showed during ‘Carmageddon’ and ‘Jamzilla’ … that we know how to deal with these moments.”

Demolition work is expected to last about nine months. The new bridge is expected to be completed by 2019 at the earliest. The replacement project will cost about $449 million.

Maltzan’s design of the new bridge includes references to the current bridge, including 10 pairs of arches.
The bridge, which joins Boyle Heights with downtown Los Angeles, is being replaced due to deterioration caused by a chemical reaction in the concrete.

The bridge was built in 1932 and has been seen in dozens of movies, including two “Terminator” films, “Horrible Bosses,” “The Mask,” “Furious 7,” “The Mask,” “Point Blank” and “To Live and Die in L.A.” It is featured prominently in a classic race scene in “Grease.” A number of musicians have filmed videos on or around the bridge, including Madonna, Chris Brown, Kanye West, Avril Lavigne, Foo Fighters and Pharrell Williams.
Meanwhile, the Mayor’s Fund announced Wednesday a $1.9 million donation from developer Leonard Hill to help build a stage and organize programming for the arts plaza under the bridge.

The fund is a nonprofit set up by Garcetti to receive private donations from philanthropists and other groups.
Funding has also been identified for a potential soccer field below the bridge, according to Coca.

Assembly Questions Actions on Exide

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Years of public outrage over the Exide Technologies’ contamination of cities and neighborhoods in the east and southeast Los Angeles area finally appears to be getting the attention of state legislators, likely in response to growing accusations that California has a double standard when it comes to how it handles environmental and health emergencies in low-income Latino communities.

On Tuesday, the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials held a hearing in Sacramento on plans to decontaminate the site of the now shuttered battery-recycling facility in Vernon believed to have contaminated as many as 10,000 homes and business with lead and arsenic, putting over 100,000 people at a higher-risk for neurological diseases and cancer.

Lea este artículo en Español: Asamblea Cuestiona las Acciones de Exide

It was the first hearing by state elected officials since protests over the plant’s repeated violations of toxic chemical emissions standards became public in 2013.

As EGP first reported, residents from East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, Bell and Huntington Park have grown increasingly frustrated and angry over the “double standard” they’ve observed in the treatment of the mostly-white, affluent Porter Ranch gas leak and the blue collar, and the predominately Latino communities affected by Exide’s lead contamination.

“Maybe we should call ourselves Boyle Heights Ranch, maybe we’ll get more attention,” Rev. Monsignor John Moretta of Resurrection Church told the committee on Tuesday.

At a press conference before the hearing, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Speaker-elect Sen. Anthony Rendon and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago called for the state to allocate $70 million out of next year’s budget to pay for cleaning up the most contaminated residential properties.

“An invisible disease has affected these communities, this is a case of environmental injustice,” said Solis, decrying state regulators slow progress in removing soil polluted with lead from east and southeast homes. She suggested the money could be recovered later from Exide. A lawsuit could be required.

“DTSC has not done a good job on the cleanup,” said Rendon. “We need to make sure Exide cleans up the mess it has left in our communities.”

Joining the officials at the press conference and for the hearing was a busload of residents from the impacted areas. They’d traveled to the Capitol to demand the same level of action from the state that is being given to the Aliso Canyon gas leak in Porter Ranch. They told committee members that state regulators need to speed up the removal of lead tainted soil from their homes.

So far, the Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has cleaned about 200 or so properties in the designated contamination zone.

During Tuesday’s committee meeting, Assemblyman Santiago repeatedly asked DTSC Director Barbara Lee whether there are obstacles they can address to increase the number of homes being cleaned every week. She did not respond directly to his inquiries, but said DTSC is cleaning three properties per week. At that rate, it will take seven years to clean 1,000 properties, complained other speakers.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, center, speaks before the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials in Sacramento Tuesday. (Los Angeles County)

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, center, speaks before the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials in Sacramento Tuesday. (Los Angeles County)

“We have a death sentence, we can’t wait any longer” said a tearful Terry Cano of Boyle Heights who traveled the long distance to testify. She alleged that members of her family have died of cancer caused by Exide’s polluting of her community.

Cano also expressed her frustration with the state agency’s focus on the contamination at the now vacant Exide facility instead of focusing on places where people still live.

“This is the equivalent to responding to a burning building and firefighters respond to the fire and not the dying family,” she criticized.

Resentment is growing over Gov. Jerry Brown’s failure to personally address the Exide “catastrophe,” something he has done in Porter Ranch, where he has declared a State of Emergency.

“We can blame DTSC for the handling and enforcement of Exide and for taking so long, but we can’t blame them for the governor not giving them the money to clean up the contamination,” Mark Lopez of East Yards for Environmental Justice told EGP before the hearing.

Lee defended the agency’s actions, pointing out that 22,000 hours of staff time has already been spent working on the Exide closure. She also said the Brown Administration has been very supportive of their work, allocating $7 million in state funding for testing and cleanup.

“I can assure you the governor has us all committed to this site, it’s a priority for us.” echoed Matt Rodriguez of the California EPA,

Local elected officials, however, seemed unconvinced.

“DTSC has failed our community,” Santiago said.

Concern that money is behind the state’s slow response to the clean up.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia called the $8 million in the governor’s budget for the Exide Cleanup “insulting.”

“It feels like the government is just throwing pennies at brown people to keep us quiet,” she said.

She urged the committee to recommend the state dig into the reserves if it has to, to ensure the governor allocates $70 million in this year’s budget.

“We must do the right thing and show the residents from low income communities who are predominately Latino that that they are just as important as our counterparts from affluent communities.”

Jane Williams, executive director for California Communities Against Toxics, suggested state legislators consider a battery tax to help offset costs associated with the cleanup instead of waiting for Exide to allocate funds. She told the committee the battery recycler had a long history of contamination at their plants across the country.

“Exide has a pattern and practice of contaminating communities and leaving contamination behind,” she said.

Huntington Park Mayor Karina Macias testified she has spoken to many residents who are frustrated with the process and just don’t see any clear financial plan or commitment. She also expressed frustration that the committee waited until the end of the four-hour long meeting to hear from the public, the victims in the crisis.

Nearly all of those residents who traveled to Sacramento had to leave the meeting to catch their bus home, only one was left to testify.

“They’ve been waiting for too long,” she said before handing over letters from the community for the record.
Maywood Councilman Eduardo de la Riva said he did not appreciate Exide representatives at the meeting trying to shift the blame for the high levels of lead to other sources, including lead paint, nearby freeways and the industrial setting. He asked that the state agency recognize the cleanup should be their priority.

“We applaud DTSC for the steps they are now starting to take but the damage has been done,” he said. “We must act now.”

A video recording of the hearing can be viewed online at http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=3327

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Twitter @nancyreporting

nmartinez@egpnews.com

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