‘Industrial Cities’ Want Metro to Revamp its Funding Forumula

October 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Metro’s funding formula is unfair to cities with small residential populations but large numbers of workers and traffic congestion complain industrial cities like Vernon and Commerce.

Unless the formula is changed, officials in both cities say they don’t expect to see much more money coming their way even if voters approve Measure M, a new, permanent half-cent sales tax to pay for transportation projects that’s on the Nov. 8 ballot.

According to the cities, they generate millions of dollars in sales tax revenue yearly for transportation projects in Los Angeles County, but because Metro allocates money based on residential population they only get back a fraction of what other cities generating the same amount of revenue receive. They complain that no credit is given to the tremendous burden the goods movement has had on their streets and on their residents.

“The local return formula comes at a disadvantage to Vernon because of its low resident population,” says Vernon Spokesman Fred McFarlane. With just 120 residents, McFarlane says Vernon “doesn’t get back what it puts in.”

A coalition of cities in the Southeast and South Bay oppose Measure M on the grounds it will be decades before projects to relieve near gridlock conditions along the I-5 and 710 freeways see the light of day.

Supporters counter that the estimated $860 million generated each year under Measure M will reap benefits countywide, paying for highway and street repairs, transportation improvements and new rail and bus lines that will help alleviate traffic woes that will only get worse if not funded.

Similar to Measure R – approved by voters in 2008 – Measure M requires two-thirds voter approval. If it passes, consumers will start paying an additional half-cent sales tax in 2017. It will jump to 1-cent in 2039 when the Measure R half-cent sales tax expires.

According to Metro, 17 percent of all sales tax collected under Measure M will be returned to the County’s 88 cities and unincorporated areas on a per capita basis between 2017 and 2040, when the return amount jumps to 20 percent, which is higher than the 15 percent currently allocated under Measure R.

The funds are restricted and can only be used to pay for transportation-related projects such as local bus service, street, sidewalk and pothole repairs, traffic signal synchronization and bike lanes.

Metro officials claim the local return is a way for every city in the county to get something out of the ballot measure.

“Supporters of the measure say cities will be able to fix their streets but this is not a one-size-fits –all accurate statement,” Commerce City Administrator Jorge Rifa told EGP. “For cities with small resident populations but a large worker environment, it doesn’t come close.”

vernon-streets

City workers repair damaged roads in industrial cities. Photo by EGP News.

Commerce generates about $8 million a year in Measure R sales tax revenue, but because the local return is based on population, with just 13,000 residents, the city only gets back $150,000 a year. Under Measure M, Commerce would double its contribution to $16 million but still only receive about $300,000 a year, according to Rifa, who notes that the city’s daytime population swells to about 45,000 when the number of people working in the city is taken into account.

A couple miles down the road, highly industrial Vernon is also out of luck when it comes to the transportation funding. With just 120 residents, the city does not receive a dime in Measure R revenue, even though it generates millions in sales tax revenue for Metro. In the past, the city has opted out of receiving Measure R funding because the cost to apply is more than the approximately $2,300 the city would receive in funds.

In comparison, with 42,000 residents, nearby Bell Gardens receives nearly $480,000 a year in Measure R funding, after generating $1.5 million a year in sales tax revenue.

Vernon has not taken a formal position on Measure M but is one of the 23 cities that make up the Gateway Cities Council of Government, which is spearheading a campaign to “educate” voters on Measure M’s impact in their cities.

The Vernon City Council did, however, pass a resolution in May urging the Metro Board to adjust it’s formula for allocating funding.

Like Commerce, Vernon is impacted by heavy truck traffic traveling to and from its hundreds of warehouses and manufacturing plants that also bring as many as 50,000 workers a day to the city.

With 47-miles of street to maintain, Vernon is facing over $18 million in street repair costs over the next five years, according to city documents. Without transportation funding, the city must fund the projects using money from its general fund.

Yes on Measure M campaign spokesman Yusseff Robb says language in the measure allows the Metro Board to interpret the population based formula in a manner that includes daytime population.

“It’s not a promise but the law,” Robb told EGP. “After Measure M is passed, exact local return allocations will be determined in partnership with each of the Gateway cities to ensure that everyone gets a fair share that reflects the reality in their communities.”

He told EGP that the benefits from Measure M go beyond local return allocations, including better transit and freeway traffic flow throughout the region and the creation of 465,000 new jobs.

Located along the I-5, SR-710 and heavy truck traffic, Commerce officials have repeatedly highlighted the city’s role as one of the country’s busiest “dry ports,” a point it has been making at a number of city sponsored town hall meetings on Measure M and in information distributed to educate city residents

A return of $150,000 would just cover a basic oil application on three to four blocks, says Rifa, explaining the poor condition of roads in industrial cities are due to heavy truck traffic.

“We are a trucking intensive city…trucks are what damage roads,” Rifa said. “We simply cannot keep up.”

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Chairperson Eric Garcetti attended a Commerce City Council meeting earlier this month hoping to change the council’s opposition to Measure M or at least get them to remain neutral. He told the council he had heard their concerns about the local return formula, and promised to look into ways to address the burden caused by the influx of large numbers of workers in the city during the day.

Rifa suggests the local return formula should not be based on population but rather the number of street miles in each city, which in Commerce’s case totals 65.5 miles.

“We are looking for fairness and equality,” said Rifa. “Our streets require significant street repair to provide for the transportation needs for our community and the region.”

Digging Way to Seamless Rail Rides

October 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A boring machine dubbed “Angeli” began its underground journey Wednesday to create tunnels for Metro’s regional connector project, which will link up the Blue, Expo and Gold lines in downtown Los Angeles when completed.

Metro board members, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, were on hand for a ceremonial lowering of the boring machine, which was officially named Angeli, the Latin name for angels.

Will Rogers Middle School eighth-grader Windsor McInerny came up with the winning submission in a naming contest.

“Building out a 21st century transportation system means creating links so that people can get around L.A. County with ease,” Garcetti said. “As ‘Angeli’ digs through the heart of Downtown, she is creating seamless connections for Angelenos from Azusa to Santa Monica.”

Garcetti added that Angelenos will benefit from even more connections soon after another boring machine named “Harriet Tubman” completes digging work on the Crenshaw/LAX line, which will connect stations in Crenshaw and Inglewood to the Green and Expo lines.

The $1.55 million regional connector project is scheduled to be completed in 2021, with Metro officials estimating it could shave off 20 minutes in traveling time for passengers.

The full length of the line including above-ground portions will run a total of 1.9 miles, and include three new stations.

Metro board Chair John Fasana, who is a Duarte city councilman, called the start of tunneling “a major milestone toward the completion of a vital project that truly connects the region by providing a one-seat ride to downtown Los Angeles for users of the Blue, Gold and Expo lines.

“The Regional Connector will reduce travel times for many Metro rail riders and make our system much more convenient and attractive to those who want a transit alternative to driving,” he said.

 

Garcetti y el LACCD Apoyan a la Medida CC y la Proposición 55

October 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Eric Garcetti, alcalde de Los Ángeles, apoya a una medida de bonos de $3.3 billones, la cual recaudaría fondos que cubrirían los gastos de construcción y reparación de edificios en los colegios comunitarios de Los Ángeles, anunciaron los proponentes de la medida el 5 de octubre.

La Medida CC permitiría a los bonos en ser emitidos para pagar por los nuevos edificios tales como bibliotecas, laboratorios de ciencias, edificios de atletismo, entrenamiento de trabajos, cuidado infantil y otras instalaciones para ser construidas en los nueve colegios parte del Distrito de Colegios Comunitarios de Los Ángeles (LACCD por sus siglas en inglés).

Garcetti dijo que la medida de bonos va conjuntamente con sus esfuerzos de instituir enseñanza gratuita en los colegios comunitarios.

“Anuncie recientemente el Plan De Promesa Universitaria de L.A., el cual pide por un año gratuito de enseñanza gratuita en nuestros colegios comunitarios”, dijo él. “Ahora que haremos a nuestros colegios comunitarios más accesibles para nuestros estudiantes, necesitamos asegurarnos que tendremos las instalaciones y el espacio apropiado para acomodar la demanda”, agregó.

La Medida CC es una de las tres medidas relacionadas con impuestos en la balota del 8 de noviembre al que Garcetti apoya.

Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the Commerce City Council Tuesday during a presentation on Measure M. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Eric Garcetti, alcalde de Los Ángeles, se dirige al Consejo de la Ciudad de Commerce el martes, 4 de octubre durante una presentación acerca de la Medida M (Foto de EGP por Nancy Martínez).

El Consejo de Administración del LACCD también pasó una resolución, el mismo día que Garcetti anunció su apoyo, a favor de la Proposición 55 y la Medida CC, de acuerdo a un comunicado de prensa. La declaración llama al impacto de las iniciativas “positivas” y una ayuda hacia los “cerca de un cuarto de millón de estudiantes inscritos en el LACCD a lo largo de los nueve colegios”.

“Los colegios comunitarios son las mejores posibilidades de inversión para los dólares públicos, y la Proposición 55 y la Medida CC asegurarán que podramos ayudar a nuestros estudiantes a elevarse y a contribuir a nuestra economía”, dijo el presidente del consejo, Scott Svonkin en el comunicado.

La Proposición 55 extendería, por 12 años, los incrementos de impuestos personales y temporales, promulgados en 2012, hacia los salarios mayores de $250,000, de acuerdo al resumen oficial de la iniciativa.

Consiguiente, el 89% de los ingresos acumulados serían alocados hacia las escuelas elementales hasta las secundarias y el 11% remanente hacia los Colegios Comunitarios de California. Hasta $2 billones por año también serían alocados, durante ciertos años, hacia programas de salud.

East Los Angeles College-S1 Building

La Medida CC busca construir nuevos edificios en todos los colegios comunitarios de Los Ángeles, como el S1 en el Colegio del Este de Los Ángeles (Foto de Archivo: Cortesía de ELAC).

El uso de las fondos estarían prohibidos en ser usados para cubrir costos administrativos, bajo la proposición, pero le brindaría el poder de decidir en qué invertir el dinero a los consejos de las escuelas durante reuniones públicas, y serían sujetas a auditorías anuales.

“La Proposición 55 y la Medida CC trabajarán juntamente para asegurar que nuestros colegios comunitarios estén modernizados, seguros y nos ayuden a brindar la mejor educación posible a nuestros estudiantes y comunidad”, dijo el segundo vice presidente, Mike Fong.

Garcetti también está activamente empujando para que se apruebe la Medida M, una medida a lo largo del Condado de Los Ángeles que incrementaría los impuestos de venta por medio centavo para financiar proyectos de transportación pública. Él también apoya a la Proposición HHH, una medida de bonos de $1.2 billones para financiar los planes de viviendas para personas indigentes.

*Este reporte incluye información compilada por EGP de un comunicado de prensa.

Video Does Little to Calm Anger in Police Shooting

October 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Police Chief Charlie Beck Tuesday released security video of the chase that ended with the fatal police shooting of an 18-year-old man in South Los Angeles, but the move did little to satisfy activists who angrily shouted down the chief at a Police Commission meeting, demanding his ouster.

The video, which Beck said he released after consultation with Mayor Eric Garcetti and the District Attorney’s Office, shows Carnell Snell Jr. running with his left hand in a sweatshirt pocket, and at one point he removes his hand to reveal a handgun. He holds the gun at his side briefly, then tucks it in his waistband, turns and runs away from the camera, out of sight, with officers in pursuit.

The video does not show the actual shooting.

Beck said he decided to release the video to correct what he called competing accounts about Saturday’s shooting of Snell. He suggested that “dueling narratives” emerging about the shooting threatened to “further divide the community.”

The release of the tape came as the LAPD worked to quell protests sparked by the death of the black teenager, who was shot on 107th Street Saturday afternoon. The next day, police fatally shot another man in South L.A., a Latino. Beck said that suspect a replica gun at officers. The orange tip of the replica gun had been painted black to make it look real, the chief said.

Despite release of the video, anger still boiled over at a Police Commission meeting Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles, where activists repeatedly shouted at Beck as he tried to give an update to the panel.

One woman sneered as Beck tried to announce that department members are available to speak with members of Snell’s family.

“You’re a disgusting person,” the woman shouted at one point. “You’re a horrible leader. … You should quit for the good of the city.”

With order somewhat restored, Beck went on to decry the “amount of guns that are out on our streets.” He said 450 people have been shot so far this year in just four LAPD divisions, where more than 500 guns have been recovered.

“Handguns are far too prevalent,” Beck said. “… Until we address the core issue of violence in our communities … primarily young men with guns, we are going to be doomed to this cycle.”

Tensions later ramped up again, with the mother of Richard Risher, a man police fatally shot earlier this year in Watts, said she felt revenge on officers was the only option, saying Beck has so far failed to give her an adequate response about her son’s death.

“From today, (expletive) this protesting (expletive), I’m going to start taking your lives,” Lisa Simpson said.

Eddie H. of the Los Angeles Community Action Network attempted to put Simpson’s words into context, telling the commission that “when we cry out saying no more blood in the streets of our young men and women, our sisters, our mothers, our fathers, we’re serious about this.”

“It’s getting to the point where we really do feel that the only way this is going to change is by revolution,” he said.

He added that he was not “advocating for violence by any stretch of the imagination,” but it would not surprise him if things do turn violent.

“To all who are in this room today, we all should be held accountable,” he said. “For you are complicit if you allow your voice to continue to be impotent while we are slaughtered in the streets … if you can’t see the hurt and pain that we experience on a daily basis — so we’re saying right now, stand up and be counted.”

During the meeting, about a dozen protesters turned their backs on the chief and police commissioners.

Beck later told reporters that he understands that Simpson “grieves, but Los Angeles police officers have a very dangerous job.”

“They are courageous people,” he said. “They want to make a difference in society and they want to do the right thing. Occasionally they fall short, but the vast majority of the time they do not.”

“To have somebody target an individual just because of their profession is certainly no better than targeting somebody because of their race,” he said.

Activists Tuesday also accused Beck of selectively releasing a video that showed Snell in a bad light, while refusing to release others.

“It (the video) does not negate what the public says,” Melina Abdullah, a member of Black Lives Matter, said. “You’re trying to assassinate the character of Carnell Snell after you assassinate his body.”

She added that if the police department has the “discretion to release that tape, you can release every tape” that members of the public have been asking for.

Activists have repeatedly asked the police department to release videos of use-of-force cases, as well as footage that provides more details as to what happened to Wakiesha Wilson, a woman who was found unconscious in her jail cell on Easter Sunday and later died at the hospital.

Beck said that releasing the video footage, which was captured by a business security camera and did not belong to the department, does not obligate him to release body and in-car digital camera footage belonging to the police department.

Police Commissioner Matt Johnson said efforts are underway to develop a system for deciding whether to release videos from incidents of police force.

L.A. Mayor Asks Commerce Council to Support Measure M

October 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Hoping to garner support for a November ballot transit measure, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made a trip to Commerce City Hall Tuesday to ask the city council to drop its opposition to Measure M, which if approved by voters will authorize a permanent one-cent increase in the sales tax to fund transportation project.

“I’m here to ask for your support,” Garcetti told the council in what turned out to be a one-way dialogue with Garcetti doing all the talking.

Commerce is among a group of East and Southeast area cities opposed to the passage of Measures M on grounds that their constituents will be paying in to the fund for decades before any of their transportation woes are addressed.

The tax hike would generate at least $860 million annually for highway and street repairs, new rail and bus lines and transportation improvements.

Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the Commerce City Council Tuesday during a presentation on Measure M.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the Commerce City Council Tuesday during a presentation on Measure M. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Proponents of the transit tax claim it will help solve the region’s traffic congestion problems, improve air quality and create jobs.

Cities opposing the tax hike are unhappy that improvements to transit projects in their region, such as the 1-5 and 710 freeways, will be delayed under Measure M. They claim the distribution of projects favor the western and northern parts of the County.

Garcetti pointed out projects in some parts of Los Angeles will also not see funding for 30 years.

Surprisingly, council members did not use the opportunity to reiterate their opposition to the Measure, or to get the visiting mayor and Metro chair to agree to work with the city on transportation issues in the future.

In August, the 23 cities that makeup the Gateway Cities Council of Government, including Commerce, spearheaded an educational outreach campaign to specifically inform voters what Measure M’s impacts would or would not have. That same month, Commerce and a handful of cities unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit claiming Measure M was misleading when it failed to state the proposed tax would be permanent.

“We’re friends no matter what, before or after,” Garcetti assured Commerce council members.

“I urge you to support Measure M, if not, can you stay neutral?”

Garcetti acknowledged that the city of Commerce, home to 13,000 residents but a daytime working population of 80,000, did have a good argument when they questioned what the return would be to their city.

“But if nothing passes it will be more than 30 years” before transportation issues in the region are addressed, Garcetti told EGP following his presentation.

Currently, Commerce generates about $8 million a year in Measure R sales tax revenue for the county, but annually only gets back about $150,000. The city’s contribution would double to $16 million under Measure M, but it would only receive around $300,000 a year based on its population.

Commerce previously supported Measure R, a temporary half-cent tax that will sunset in 2039 unless it is made permanent under Measure M, which adds an additional half-cent to the sales tax. A two-third margin is required for Measure M to pass. In 2012, a similar ballot measure failed to pass by less than 1 percent.

“We all know it takes a few to defeat this, why not come together to solve our traffic woes,” Garcetti told council members, who did not respond to his statement, instead voting to just receive and file his presentation without action.

 

DWP Board Toughens Turf Replacement Rules

August 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Board of Water and Power Commissioners Tuesday tightened up the criteria for granting turf removal rebates, under which synthetic turf and mulch will  no longer be allowed and more rainfall capture features and plant coverage will be required.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power gives out $1.75 for each square foot of grass lawn that is removed. To be eligible for the incentive under the new rules, projects must:

—not include synthetic turf or mulch;

— feature rainfall capture elements such as infiltration and on-site storage for re-use;
— have landscaping in which native or climate-appropriate plants cover at least 50 percent of the converted area when mature; and
— limit rock, gravel and decomposed granite to no more than 25 percent of the converted area.

The changes also include a recommendation for rebate recipients to use natural or organic weed barriers.

Councilman Paul Koretz pushed for the changes.

“As we continue our essential water conservation rebates, we absolutely need to maximize the bang for our bucks,” he said. “The watershed approach achieves multiple benefits and, spread widely, can help the city reduce its $8 billion stormwater compliance bill.”

The changes are aimed at helping the city reach Mayor Eric Garcetti’s goal of cutting imported water use by 50 percent, and attaining other sustainability goals, according to Koretz’s office.

‘Black Lives Matter’ Petitions Demand LAPD Chief’s Ouster

August 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Black Lives Matter activists who have been camped outside Los Angeles City Hall since early last month delivered a petition with more than 8,000 signatures to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office Monday to demand that he fire police Chief Charlie Beck.

The activists were joined by the mother of a woman who died in a detention cell earlier this year, actor Matt McGorry and representatives of the Asian American, Latino and faith communities.

The delegation handed over two boxes of signatures, gathered through an online petition at Color of Change, to Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell, Garcetti’s adviser on public safety issues.

Gorell said he will pass the signatures on to Garcetti, who has been out of town for most of the 28 days that Black Lives Matter activists have staged a sit-in outside City Hall. The sit-in began after the Police Commission upheld the actions of officers involved in the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Redel Jones, a black woman.

Over the past several weeks, Garcetti has attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, taken a four-day vacation and is now observing the Olympics in Rio as part of a delegation seeking to host the 2024 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Before leaving on his trips, Garcetti expressed strong support for Beck. He said he offered to meet inside City Hall with a small delegation from Black Lives Matter, while suggesting that he does not want to be met with shouting. The activists have responded by calling for a public meeting with the entire group.

Black Lives Matter member Jasmine Abdullah Monday characterized Garcetti’s absence as part of a pattern that began when he appeared to “run away from us” at other protests and encounters with the group.

Abdullah warned there will be “political consequences” if Garcetti continues to ignore them.

“We are not sitting out here just to sit out here,” but are taking actions such as circulating the online petition and amassing more support from the community, she said.

“If you really care about this city like you say you do, and you want to win in this next election, you better come home,” Abdullah said, directly addressing Garcetti in what she jokingly described as a “love letter.”

She acknowledged that Garcetti has offered to meet with five of the Black Lives Matter members in his office, but she such an arrangement puts their group at a disadvantage.

“They are doing what they do best, which is divide and conquer, and try to pick their leaders,” she said. “We decided he needs to come downstairs.

“It’s all right, he can come downstairs, these are his stairs, and ours, he can come talk to everybody as a whole.”

After being pursued from public event to public event by Black Lives Matter members, and since being shouted down at a South Los Angeles town hall by the group’s members, Garcetti has had minimal engagement with Black Lives Matter members.

He has instead increased his interactions with other faith leaders, nonprofit organizations, activists and even hip hop artists like The Game and Snoop Dogg, often referring to these relationships as evidence black leaders are working with his office and the Los Angeles Police Department to improve policing and public safety.

Despite LAPD’s roll-out of community policing and other programs to enhance relations with black and minority communities, Black Lives Matter activists contend LAPD still has the highest number of police shootings of any department in the country. They also allege Beck has been too lenient on officers who have fatally shot residents, and is unresponsive to families regarding the deaths of people in police custody.

Lisa Hines, the mother of Wakiesha Wilson, a 36-year-old black woman who was found dead in her cell on Easter Sunday, spoke during the news conference Monday about her experience trying to find her daughter after she failed to show up for a court hearing.

Hines said the police department unnecessarily delayed telling her of her daughter’s death, and that she had to make several phone calls to the LAPD before she was given a phone number – without any further explanation – to the coroner’s office.

“If this was your child and you were looking for her, and somebody gave you a number to call … and when you do call the number, the coroner’s office answers, what would be going on in your body mind and soul?” she said.

Hines said she is “still devastated” and has so far not gotten any more information about how her daughter died, which she blames on Beck.

“He’s the leader of the police station, and all he can do at the Police Commission meetings is sit there with a blank stare on his face when I’m talking,” she said.

The Black Lives Matter activists’ demand for Beck to be fired was echoed by representatives of other groups who also expressed dissatisfaction with the chief.

McGorry, who stars in the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black” and the ABC drama “How to Get Away With Murder,” said he was there “in solidarity with White People 4 Black Lives,” a group of white people who support the Black Lives Matter movement.

McGorry, noting that Black Lives Matter activists “have been camped out here for nearly a month now and have been requesting a meeting,” said Garcetti’s absence comes off as “incredibly disrespectful.”

He added he was recently “disgusted” by an encounter with an officer who casually assured him that he shouldn’t “worry,” because “we beat him up,” apparently referring to a person involved in a police incident in his neighborhood.

“A police chief that has an environment that allows that to be OK, a police community where that can thrive … is not okay,” McGorry said.

Audrey Kuo, from API for Black Lives, said, “We are rising in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and we are demanding that Eric Garcetti fire Chief Beck.”

Mayor Pushes L.A.’s Olympic Bid in Rio

August 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Mayor Eric Garcetti touted Los Angeles Tuesday as the safest bet for organizers of the 2024 Olympic Games to make in choosing a location, with many of the sports venues needed for hosting the event already built in the city.

Los Angeles is competing against Paris, Rome and Budapest for the opportunity to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The city has been getting ready “since the Olympic flame was extinguished at the closing ceremony of the 1984 L.A. Games,” which were held in Los Angeles, according to Garcetti.

“Our Olympic infrastructure is already in the ground, not on the drawing boards, “ he said. “We are virtually risk-free because we only have to build one venue to host the Games.”

Garcetti is part of a delegation of Los Angeles 2024 bid committee members who have been in Rio de Janeiro for the past week to observe this summer’s Olympic Games and meet with sports officials in Brazil.

The pitch, delivered at a news conference in Rio, was geared toward the perception that past Olympic host cities have had to scramble to build new venues at great cost, just to host the massive sports undertaking.

Garcetti threw out another practical reason for the International Olympics Committee to host the event in 2024, noting that Los Angeles’ ties to the entertainment industry ought to help the IOC better reach out to a younger audience, a group that’s needed to carry on the Olympics tradition.

“Our entertainment and technology companies speak to young people every day on their own terms and by their own means,” he said. “With L.A.’s ability to imagine and engage the world with new content and with new technologies, I believe L.A. is ideally suited to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games and inspire the next generation.”

Garcetti Calls for More Latinos In Next President’s Administration

July 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, said Tuesday he feels more Latinos need to be appointed to top-level positions in the next presidential administration, and not just to positions focusing on immigration and labor.

During a panel discussion and briefing on Latino political participation, Garcetti noted that recognizing the power of the Latino vote is not enough, and more Latinos need to be placed in positions of power in the federal government.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, which organized the panel discussion, projects that the number of Latinos expected to vote in November is expected to grow by more than 30 percent to 13.1 million, up from the 9.7 million who voted in the 2008 presidential
election.

“I think that we still have (presidential) candidates who are getting comfortable with the Latino community,” said Garcetti, who recently joined the NALEO board. “There’s not anybody really speaking with the fluency that I think we need to see.”

With appointments made under the recent two Democratic presidential administrations, “there’s like this ceiling,” he said.

“We have to figure out a way to make that very clear … when President Clinton, the next President Clinton is in place, that you know, a cabinet position or two isn’t enough.”

Garcetti added that those who have the power to make the appointments often complain there are not enough qualified Latinos for the positions, but he feels they are not searching hard enough.

“I think they’re looking for Latinos with big names,” said Garcetti, whose paternal grandfather was born in Mexico. “Latinos don’t have big names, and so it becomes a vicious cycle.”

Garcetti added he is concerned that, especially with Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump’s stance on illegal immigration, Latino leaders will again be relegated to dealing with issues like immigration or equal employment, and not be considered for positions in other areas.

“We’re put back into a box,” he said. “If you’re silent that’s unacceptable, we let that happen, but if you speak out, we’re speaking out to, again, just be defending ourselves on issues of immigration.

“We can’t get to education, we can’t be the leaders on national security, we can’t be the U.N. ambassador, we can’t do the things that was the next step. He pushed us back into playing an old game.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a former Los Angeles City Councilman, was also part of the panel with Garcetti. He painted a more optimistic picture, saying that Trump could galvanize Latino voters in the same way as California’s Proposition 187 in 1994 — which sought to restrict access to public services for immigrants who entered the country illegally — by drawing more Latinos into the political arena at a national level.

Garcetti, noting that he is slated to speak at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, said he wants to use his speech to steer the election from just responding to Trump, and from treating the convention merely as an audition for the 2020 election.

“It’s actually about what is the work the two of them are going to do, because it’s not about an election,” he said. “We fixate on national elections and I guarantee you, I ran into somebody, you know, who was already talking about candidates for 2020, and we haven’t even held this election …
it’s not what can we do for this country for four years. So how we govern in between is how we get millennials and how we get our community activated.”

Garcetti’s campaign adviser Bill Carrick said the mayor’s convention speaking time has not been confirmed.

Garcetti on Monday also took part in a news conference with labor groups to promote raising the minimum wage. In addition to the NALEO panel, Garcetti also joined a luncheon of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

On Thursday, he is scheduled to attend the breakfast hosted by the California delegation and a panel by the Brady Campaign on the use of guns in hate crimes.

Plans for Apartment Complex Leave Tenants Scrambling

July 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti reminded renters last week that they have rights under the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, but as one group of tenants in Highland Park has found out, those rights don’t apply to everyone.

The city ordinance provides protections against eviction and rent hikes to some tenants living in older apartment dwellings, but not to the nearly 60 families living at the Marmion Royal apartment complex at 5800 Marmion Way, across the street from the Highland Park Gold Line Station. The tenants are facing eviction by the property’s new owners, Skya Ventures and Gelt Ventures, who purchased the property from Azusa Pacific University for $14.3 million.

In May, Skya’s president, Gelena Skya-Wasserman, told real estate news site The Real Deal that they plan to renovate the building’s façade and apartment units, and to upgrade security and add new amenities to the complex, which according to The Real Deal was 91% leased when the property changed hands.

Residents and housing advocates on Tuesday denounced the evictions as another example of families being displaced by gentrification of the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood.

Theresa Andrade, mother of three, told EGP about a year ago she was forced to leave her apartment located on Avenue 51, near Monte Vista Street, because they were increasing her rent.

“Now I’m being evicted from this apartment too,” she added worried.

Flor Ventura and her husband and son have lived at the Marmion Royal for 10 years. On May 16, they received a notice informing them they had 60 days to vacate their apartment.

Ventura told EGP she was at first confused, but soon realized she wasn’t alone. Many of her neighbors had received the same notice.

Not knowing what else to do, she told EGP they reached out to their local councilman, Gil Cedillo, who chairs the city council’s housing committee.

According to Ventura, staff in Cedillo’s Highland Park Field Office told them the problem was out of their hands because the property doesn’t fall under the rent stabilization ordinance, and therefore there was nothing the council office could do for them.

Residents and activists protest the eviction of tenants from the Marmion Royal apartments in Highland Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Residents and activists protest the eviction of tenants from the Marmion Royal apartments in Highland Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“Basically, they told us the people who bought the building have a lot of money and there’s nothing we can do but leave,” Ventura told EGP in Spanish.

Protections under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance or RSO, apply to multi-unit buildings built before 1978; the Marmion Royal was built in 1987.

The lack of protections for tenants like those at the Marmion Royal has allowed landlords to raise rents as high as they want and has led to a flood of no-fault evictions at the same time that the demand for housing is on the rise, claims the NELA Alliance, a group of local activists documenting gentrification in Northeast L.A.

The majority of tenants living in the units are working-class Latinos. Several tenants receive Section 8 housing subsidies.

“Tenants have asked why we [Los Angeles] do not offer an extended rent control policy,” Cedillo spokesman Fredy Cejas told EGP. According to Cejas, under the 1995 Costa Hawkins Act, “no law can interfere with an owner’s ability to establish the rental rate for his/her property.”

“The Marmion Royal complex does not fall under RSO protection, which means there is little room for us to intervene,” he told EGP.

Ventura said tenants attempted to come to an agreement with the owner that would allow them to return to their apartments once the remodel is complete, but while he was amenable to allowing them to return, their new rent would be nearly double what they now pay.

There’s also the additional cost of finding a new place to live while construction is going on, making the deal unaffordable.

The tenants have formed the Marmion Royal Tenants’ Union, a new entity under which they will fight their displacement.

About 50 tenants have so far signed a petition to fight their evictions, according to John Urquiza, a NELA Alliance activist.

Attorney Elena Popp with the Eviction Defense Network of Los Angeles is helping to protect the tenants from retribution by the landlord.

“When we get to the eviction process, the attorney will kick in and defend tenants,” Urquiza said.
In the meantime, tenants claim the landlord, who already has crews to begin working on the building, is harassing them.

“They have cut the water several days without previous notice,” Marylyn Zamaniego told EGP during Tuesday’s protest. “My daughter is afraid of the constant noise crew workers make,” she added.

EGP reached out to the new owners for comment, but they had not responded as of press time.

However, in May, The Real Deal reported that Skya-Wasserman boasted the “walkability of the up-and-coming neighborhood.”

“The owners prized the adjacency to the [Gold Line] station, which was built in 1911,” according The Real Deal.

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Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

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