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.

—-

Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Atractivo Miembro se Une a Junta Directiva para Traer Juegos Olímpicos 2024

July 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

El panel que esta trabajando para traer los Juegos Olímpicos y Paralímpicos de verano 2024 a Los Ángeles añadió algo de poder de una estrella corporativa el martes, agregando al presidente y CEO de Walt Disney Co., Bob Iger, a su mesa directiva.

Iger se une a la cuatro-veces campeona olímpica Janet Evans, al campeón de la NBA y líder de negocios Earvin “Magic” Johnson, la nueve veces paralímpica Candace Cable y la líder sindical María Elena Durazo como vicepresidentes de la Junta Directiva LA 2024.

“Durante décadas, Bob ha sido pionero, forjando esa conexión y descubriendo nuevas formas de llegar a vastas, diversas audiencias en todo el mundo”, dijo el alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti. “Su experiencia será un gran impulso para LA 2024 ya que buscamos promover los valores que unen al deporte y el movimiento Olímpico”.

La presidenta de LA 2024 Casey Wasserman dijo que Iger “trae una trayectoria comprobada sobre cómo llegar a la gente joven y familias mediante la participación con contenido atractivo a través de la última tecnología digital. Es decir precisamente lo que la familia olímpica está buscando en este momento bajo la hoja de ruta del Programa Olímpico 2020, y lo que LA 2024 intenta proporcionar”.

De acuerdo a LA 2024, Iger trabajó con el fallecido ejecutivo de ABC Roone Arledge en la transmisión de los Juegos de Verano 1976 en Montreal, los Juegos de Invierno 1980 en Lake Placid, los Juegos de Invierno de 1984 en Sarajevo, los Juegos de Verano 1984 en Los Ángeles y los Juegos de Invierno de 1988 en Calgary.

Iger dijo que el movimiento olímpico sirve para celebrar “el indomable espíritu humano y une a las personas de todos los continentes y culturas en una experiencia poderosa compartida”.

“Es un esfuerzo importante, y estoy orgulloso de apoyar a LA 2024 para traer los Juegos de regreso a Los Ángeles y en re-imaginarlos de manera que involucre a la comunidad mundial, eleve el movimiento e inspire una nueva generación”, dijo.

Por su parte, el congresista Xavier Becerra, quien representa áreas del este y noreste de Los Ángeles apoyó una resolución—H.Con.Res.142—que respalda la oferta de LA 2024.

Becerra dijo que Los Ángeles sabe lo que se necesita para organizar los Juegos Olímpicos puesto que ya lo ha hecho en el pasado.

“Una economía dinámica, un sistema de transporte cada vez mayor, y lugares listos—Los Ángeles tiene eso y mucho más,” dijo el congresista en un comunicado. “Estoy orgulloso de haber introducido junto con varios de mis colegas esta resolución al decir que Estados Unidos hará todo lo que pueda para que Los Ángeles y nuestro país continúen una orgullosa tradición olímpica”.

 

 

Los Angeles Reacts to Dallas Attack

July 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Rappers Snoop Dogg and The Game led a peaceful demonstration today outside a Los Angeles Police Department recruit graduation in what they called an effort to promote unity in the aftermath of the deadly shootings of police officers in Dallas.

Several dozen people joined the rappers outside police headquarters in downtown Los Angeles where the graduation ceremony was held, featuring Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck as speakers.

After the ceremony, the rappers met with Garcetti and Beck privately.

Garcetti called it an “extraordinarily powerful meeting.”

Snoop Dogg told reporters at the gathering outside the Police Administration Building that they wanted to promote unity between the community and police, while improving communication.

Snoop Dogg said he wanted to ensure that rookie officers –like those who graduated today—“know who they’re dealing with.”

“A lot of times these officers hit the streets in communities where they have never encountered a gang member or someone who had a different kind of background,” he told KNX Newsradio. “Today it’s a bunch of guys up here who come from those communities who want to show them we’re cool, we’re peaceful. We’re here in love.”

He said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department does a better job of training its deputies for work on the streets, because they generally begin working in the county jail.

By contrast, LAPD officers are often sent into gang-plagued neighborhoods straight out of the academy.

“They’re scared, they’re nervous, and when they encounter someone, they automatically feel they must use violence as opposed to communication,” he said.

The Game echoed Snoop Dogg’s comments, saying the gathering outside the recruit graduation was a show of unity. The attendees wanted a chance to introduce themselves to the police and bring “message of love.”

Goal Set to Hire 15,000 Youth this Summer

July 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

City and county officials announced a goal Wednesday of helping 15,000 young people get jobs this year as part of the Los Angeles Summer Youth Employment program, which is available to people 14 to 24 years of age.

The program is open to all youth in the county, but the priority is on young people in the foster system or from low-income neighborhoods.
Youth workers will each receive wages totaling about $1,100, as well as training in financial literacy and workplace skills. Assistance with work clothes and bus tokens are also provided if needed.

Lea este artículo en Español: 15.000 Trabajos Disponibles para Jóvenes Durante el Verano

Partners include the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, 7-Eleven, Starbucks, Marshalls, Target, Sony and Disney, with jobs varying depending on the young person’s goals and interests. Positions are also being made available in county and city departments, including the fire departments.

“Jobs empower young people,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “They give them the success they need. They experience what it feels like to support their families … And that is such a meaningful down payment on their futures.”

County Supervisor Don Knabe also said helping young get employed is a worthwhile endeavor.

“Investing in our young people has a great return,” he said. “For them having a job — that helps them develop skills, good work habits and to realize their potential.”

The county put in about $25 million, with the city contributing $8.5 million, to the program.

The summer youth program has been around for more than three decades, but has expanded greatly in recent years. Previously, officials had committed to between 5,000 to 12,000 jobs for youth around the county.

For more information: http://www.hirelayouth.com/intro.html

Bill to Expand Metro Board Introduced

June 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A bill to increase the number of Metro board members was re-introduced last week by Sen. Tony Mendoza, who cites the need for a board that more fairly represents all of Los Angles County, specifically southeast communities along the 710 Long Beach and I-5 Santa Ana freeways in great need of traffic relief.

Senate Bill 522 would add 10 more members to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, increasing the number of seats to 24, ensuring the county’s 10 million residents are equally represented, said Mendoza.

Currently, the board is made up of the five county supervisors, four representatives of Los Angeles including Mayor Eric Garcetti, Metro’s CEO, and one councilmember each from the cities of Duarte, Glendale, Inglewood and Lakewood.

“With the exception of Lakewood, everything east of the 710 [freeway] lacks representation,” pointed out Mendoza.

Under SB 528, three of the 10 new seats would go to the city of L.A. and one each to the city of Long Beach and appointees of the Senate Pro Tem and Assembly Speaker. The remaining four would be filled by other municipalities.

Critics fear the bill will diminish the voting power of Los Angeles, the county’s largest city. But with 7 seats on the 24-member board, Mendoza says L.A.’s influence will not decrease.

Transportation agencies in surrounding areas have significantly larger boards than Metro. The San Bernardino Associated Governments has 31 members, Riverside Transit Agency 22 and the Orange County Transportation Authority has 18 members on its board.

“They keep numbers low to keep control,” said Mendoza, referring to outsized influence of L.A. and cities on the Westside. “We need to create balance so that everyone has a voice and a fair vote.”

The Board is opposed to any legislation that would change its makeup, Metro spokesman Rick Jagger told EGP.

The I-5 Santa Ana and 710 Long Beach freeways is an area in the County in need of traffic relief. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The I-5 Santa Ana and 710 Long Beach freeways is an area in the County in need of traffic relief. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“Any discussion or change in the Board should take place in L.A. County not through a mandate from Sacramento,” he said.

Last week, Metro’s board approved a ballot measure that if approved would levy a special half-cent sales tax to pay for more than $120 billion projects in the county’s new transit improvement plan, which includes a new subway line from the San Fernando Valley to LAX, new extensions from Claremont to Culver City and San Fernando to the South Bay.

Unlike previous transit funding measures that expire, such as Measure R, the new tax would be permanent.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement that the “bold transportation plan will relieve congested roads, connecting our region with robust, comprehensive transportation systems we need and deserve.”

Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León and representatives from other municipalities had asked Metro to postpone approval of the plan and proposed ballot measure until the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee had a chance to review it at a public hearing.

De Leon authored SB767 last year, which authorized Metro to place a transportation and use tax on the ballot.

“Given the involvement of the state on this matter and feedback Senators have received directly from local stakeholders, we believe it is appropriate to hold an oversight hearing to discuss how Metro evaluated proposed projects … and also to assess the fairness and equity of the plan,” de Leon wrote in a letter to Metro.

The public hearing was set for June 24; one day after Metro approved its plan.

The refusal to postpone the vote prompted Mendoza to re-introduce legislation to change the board’s makeup. A previous bill authored by Mendoza was shelved by the senator in the hope that Metro would consider coming up with a plan that did not postpone projects in the eastside and southeast communities.

“They just don’t care about this side of the town,” Mendoza told EGP. “They chose to expedite projects that serve the wealthier population.”

One of the projects delayed under the county’s new transportation plan includes a light rail line from Union Station to Artesia with stops in Vernon, Huntington Park, Bell, South Gate, Downey, Paramount and Bellflower. After decades on the shelf, the Eco Rapid transit rail, which serves Mendoza’s constituents, would be pushed back another 20 years to 2047.

“This project would help people who are transit dependent,” Mendoza said. The southeast has not seen any new transit projects since 1995 when the Green Line opened.

“It seems the poor communities will continue to struggle with congestion, pollution and traffic,” he criticized.

At the Commerce City Council meeting last week, City Manager Jorge Rifa said he too is disappointed with Metro’s plan, which would push back much-needed traffic improvements along the I-5 and 710 freeways that wrap around the city.

“We can’t wait another 20 years for this part of the freeway to be fixed,” he said. “That’s a big deal for us because this is an economic corridor.”

If approved in November, revenue from the added tax is expected to be at least $860 million a year. Some cities, including Commerce, would see their sales tax increase to 10 cents on every dollar.

“If we don’t have input it will impact the future decisions on how Metro spends money,” warned Mendoza. “So far they are taking us for granted and don’t take us into consideration.”

Homeless Bond Measure Approved for Nov. Ballot

June 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to place a bond measure on the November ballot aimed at raising money to address the city’s homelessness problem, and postponed consideration of a related parcel tax measure until Friday.

The council agreed to ask voters to authorize $1.2 billion in bonds to be issued over 10 years, but is also considering an alternative parcel tax measure that could raise $90 million per year until 2027 for homeless housing and services.

The council has yet to decide which revenue-raising strategy to advance and is being asked to place both the bond and tax measures on the ballot, at least for now. The council would have until Aug. 12 to withdraw one of the measures.

At least two City Council members — Jose Huizar and Marqueece Harris- Dawson — are pushing for the bond proposal, with both pointing to recent polling indicating the public would be more receptive to it over a parcel tax measure.

Harris Dawson, who chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, said the goal is to help get 10,000 units built to house the homeless. The revenue from the bond measure would be used to spur such housing projects, with the city acting as partner and the purchaser of the property where the housing is to be built.

“The council has decided to put before the voters an opportunity to make an investment in dealing with the homelessness crisis that we see in our city,” Harris-Dawson said. “Every indication that we have is that people are eager for a solution and are willing to pay for it.”

Huizar, who also sits on the homelessness committee, said in a statement that the vote to put the bond measure on the ballot was a “huge leap forward in addressing homelessness.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he is leaning toward supporting the bond, rather than the parcel tax measure. He cited polling numbers and the amount of revenue that would be brought in to explain his preference.

The parcel tax would be calculated based on the square footage of improvements, while the bond measure would be paid back through taxes based on a property’s assessed value.

City officials estimate that under a $1.2 billion bond measure, property owners would generally need to pay an additional $4.50 to $17.50 per year for every $100,000 of assessed value, with the payments lasting for as many as 28 years.

The parcel tax measure calls for levying $0.0348 per square foot of a property’s improvements until 2027. City officials estimate the tax would bring in $90 million per year for the city to use in addressing homelessness.

City leaders last year vowed to tackle homelessness and to put about $100 million toward the effort. They estimate it will cost about $1.85 billion over a decade to adequately house and provide services to homeless individuals and families in Los Angeles. A recent count put the city’s transient population at about 27,000.

While city leaders point to polling, the president of an apartment owners group said members will likely be against the measures.

“We’re taxed to death already,” said Dan Faller, president of the Los Angeles-based Apartment Owners Association of California. “The city of Los Angeles already puts a cap on our income with our rent control, harass us with property inspections, and now they want to put more tax on us.”

He added that “apartment buildings have a lot more square footage than single-family houses, so they’re asking us to carry a lot more of the load.”

Faller said the council members should focus on what they are personally doing to help the homeless, rather than forcing property owners to put up the money.

“If they have this feeling for the homeless, let me see their tax returns and how much each of them … contribute now to the homeless and people who are not fed?” he said.

Faller said his group will likely look to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to fight the proposed measures.

Councilman Mike Bonin said this week — prior to a preliminary vote on the bond measure — said the city is moving forward despite a countywide proposal to put a “millionaires” tax on the ballot that would have high-income earners helping to pay for homeless housing and services. That proposal is stalled because Gov. Jerry Brown is “stubbornly not allowing the county to pursue” the measure, Bonin said.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said that with the bond measure, the individual bonds would only be issued when “projects surface.”

“We’re trying to avoid a situation where we’re borrowing more than what we need,” he said.
The money from either the parcel tax or the bond measure would be spent on housing for people who are homeless or in danger of being pushed onto the streets. The funds would also be earmarked for facilities that provide mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment and other assistance.

City leaders are hoping to submit the proposed measure or measures by July 1 so that they can be placed on the November ballot.

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