LAC + USC Master Plan To Be Narrowed Down

February 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Meeting attendants were asked to rate the four plans pictured here: Path & place, Central green, Urban cross axis, and Green ribbon. (LA County Department of Public Works)

Several residents and area stakeholders recently weighed-in on four scenarios created for the LAC+USC Master Plan—a hospital and medical facility site that serves and impacts the communities of Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno and Boyle Heights. The Jan. 31 meeting, held at the LAC + USC Medical Center, is the second in a series of planned meeting; the first took place in August.

The master plan meetings for the 90-acre campus — described as slightly bigger than Disneyland and which includes the historic General Hospital — are being held to gather input on potential land use and zoning issues as well as ideas on how to make the site a community asset, according to speakers.

The master plan will be used as a guideline for future developments at the campus. It will specifically address ways to achieve a community-friendly campus; promote healthy lifestyles and wellness; maximize access to the Medical Center by the community; provide opportunities for appropriate education and job training; incorporate on-campus business opportunities; and plan for future program development, according to  people who attended last week’s meeting listened to a presentation, (which will be available at a future date online), then rated four proposed plans based on whether they encourage community friendly gathering spaces and healthier behavior by local residents, create strong linkages to the surrounding community, better reinforce the historical legacy of General Hospital and whether the plan creates a campus that is easier to get around.

The meeting was a open house, with display stations where people could examine the plans before breaking into discussion groups where suggestions were collected.

The Four Options

Path & Place: a loop system that connects a series of courtyards and public spaces, with direct connections to the community and the campus of USC and decentralized parking within each zone.

Central Green: a large public space in the center of the campus, incorporating State St.; each area of the site has direct access to the central public space, with parking options centralized and decentralized.

Urban Cross Axis: a design with axial connections north and south, and east and west, creating separate areas of the campus. It has direct connections to the community and the campus of USC and decentralized parking within each zone.

Green Ribbon: a pedestrian friendly campus with vehicle access and parking on the perimeter, an organic flowing network of public spaces that creates a contiguous area of health care along Marengo Street.

The flexible land use options included research, education, community and public service areas. The General Hospital landmark, which has been replaced by a new hospital, is being considered for adaptive reuse.

During the meeting, residents expressed an interest in improved security, more public transit, widening of paths, integrating bike lanes on the campus, adding residential buildings for medical center staff and providing mixed-use space. They also expressed concerns about vandalism and homelessness, among other recommendations to be taken into consideration during the planning process.

A date for the next community meeting has not been scheduled, but the Master Plan is expected to be completed this spring.

To view the land use options and other project information visit http://lacusc.lblarch.com

The comment period has been extended from Feb. 14, to Feb. 22. Comments and questions can be emailed to Project Manager Clarice Nash at cnash@dpw.lacounty.gov

Northeast LAPD Airs Newscast-Style Videos

February 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The webcast resembles a newscast with images and graphics changing over the Captain’s shoulder. (Facebook)

A local Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) station that is leading the way in law enforcement social media outreach has added a new tool to its arsenal. The Northeast LA Division, located in Glassell Park, is broadcasting videos featuring one of their area captains on the Internet to let people know what’s going on in their area.

While crime updates in the form of written newsletters and e-blasts are common in the LAPD, the videos put a face and voice to the local law enforcement agency whose jurisdiction includes East Hollywood and communities east of the Los Angeles River, but north of the Hollenbeck police division.

In a recent five-minute TV broadcast news style video, Captain William Murphy discusses the reassignment of senior lead officers and recent crime data. Murphy tells EGP that he stopped writing newsletters months ago because they took four or five hours to complete.

He said the videos are more time efficient, lasting 7 minutes or less. Produced once or twice a month, they at times also feature Northeast area detectives giving out information. That’s not to say written communication has gone away altogether, according to Murphy, who said residents can still expect to get their e-blasts from senior lead officers.

Murphy told EGP that his background teaching classes as a training commanding officer helped prepare him for his role in front of the camera. He said he is able to tape the video segments with few hesitations or retakes, but did admit to using notes when being filmed.

The police station’s Crime Analysis Detail (CAD) produces the webcasts in-house with equipment fundraised and donated to the station by the B.L.E.N.D. (Business Law Enforcement Northeast Division) police booster association, according to Officer Curtis Davis and Murphy.

“[Capt. Murphy] He’s a big supporter of social media in law enforcement, he’s a big driver of this,” Davis told EGP. “This is part of the goal we are trying to achieve: speaking directly to the community in the northeast… Interaction is a big part of our goal.”

According to LAPD Media Relations Officer Rosario Herrera, the LAPD does not require police stations to use social media, however Facebook, Nixle and Twitter are some options available to them to inform the community, to put out a crime alert, or seek more information from the public.

The Northeast station does not receive any special grants or funding from the city for their social media efforts, which Murphy said have become a valuable educational component aimed at changing people’s behavior in order to keep crime rates down.

In each video, viewers are reminded to “Lock it, Hide it, Keep it” as part of a campaign to create awareness about auto-related crime prevention: Keep valuables and electronics out of sight in order to prevent break-ins and theft, is the message.

Social media is also helping residents help the police. Over 100 tips have been submitted through social media to the Northeast Police Officers, according to Murphy.

In his Feb. 2 webcast, Capt. Murphy responds to concerned residents who don’t want their local senior lead officers (SLOs)—police who serve as liaisons in specific communities—to be reassigned. Murphy said the recent changes were made because two SLOs were retiring and others wanted to be transferred.

Murphy said Northeast Division’s reassignments are their first in five-years. The new SLOs are from the division and have been filling in for a while, so their faces should be familiar to many local residents, Murphy said.

“None of them are leaving northeast,” said Murphy referring to the SLOs. “They may move to an adjacent neighborhood, they may go from Eagle Rock to Highland Park, or maybe Atwater to Cypress Park but they are not leaving Northeast… I know you’re going to love your new senior lead officer so give them a chance,” he says on the video.

He goes on to say that the Northeast Los Angeles division has been leading the city in violent crime reduction, a trend that he said had continued during the last four weeks. Violent crime is down 46 percent in this short time frame, though grand theft auto and theft from motor vehicle continues to be a problem, accounting for 50 to 55 percent of all crime. Last year, grand theft auto and theft from motor vehicle was about 65 percent of all crime, his webcast informs local stakeholders.

Murphy went on to tell his online audience that strategic use of overnight patrols, when most of the car-related crimes were occurring, may have also impacted those types of crime. Criminals are now more active during the daytime to early evening hours instead of the middle of the night, (midnight to 6 a.m.), when these crimes were previously occurring, he said.

The Northeast LAPD Station can be found at Facebook.com and Twitter.com under the name “Northeast Area LAPD.” Videos can also be seen under the name “LAPDNortheast” on Youtube.com

BLEND’s next fundraiser is a golf tournament scheduled for April 26, Murphy encourages the public to participate or donate, proceeds will go toward the station’s youth programs, the Northeast Boxing Program and the station’s social media outreach effort. For more information on the tournament, contact Sgt. Ruben Arellano at 323338@lapd.lacity.org or Officer Fernando Ochoa at 25743@lapd.lacity.org, or call them at (323) 344-5712.

The Northeast LAPD division oversees the communities of Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Cypress Park, Glassell Park, Mount Washington, Garvanza, Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Elysian Park, Elysian Valley, Franklin Hills, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Solano Canyon.

Local Students Take Financial Literacy to the Street

February 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

(Photo courtesy of Pan American Bank)

Armed with information and good intentions, a group of local students took to the street last Saturday to inform families about the importance of saving for the future.

The students from Esteban Torres High School, Ramona Opportunity High School, and Youth Build High School, joined Pan American Bank for what was billed as a  “financial literacy community canvassing event.”

The 20 student volunteers walked the neighborhood to inform residents of the importance of financial literacy and to promote youth savings accounts as a tool to improve college attendance. “Studies have found that youth with a savings account in their name are 7X more likely to go to college,” they said in a press release about the event.

Pan American Bank, headquartered in East Los Angeles, has made financial literacy the hallmark of its mission, going so far as committing to provide free savings accounts with no opening deposit required, no minimum balance and no monthly fee to 14,000 eastside youth. The Bank opens accounts for non-citizens with a Matricula Consular. Interested parents and students should contact Rosario Osornio at (323) 264-3310.

Council Gives Final Approval to 3rd Medical Marijuana Measure

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The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval Tuesday to placing its own proposal on the May 21 ballot to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, bringing the total number of ballot measures on the topic to three.

If approved by voters, the measure would increase a tax on the sale of medical marijuana and allow only a limited number of dispensaries to remain open. It would allow roughly 100 dispensaries that opened prior to the city’s imposition of a 2007 moratorium on the facilities.

A loophole caused the number of storefront pot shops to balloon shortly after the moratorium took effect.

“This is a step in the right direction,” said Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who has cancer and uses medical marijuana as a pain reliever.

The latest ballot measure — proposed by Councilman Paul Koretz — is billed as a compromise between two petition-driven initiatives that will also be on the ballot in May.

One would increase the tax on marijuana from $50 to $60 for every $1,000 in sales but does not limit the number of dispensaries. The other would allow only the original group of about 100 dispensaries operating prior to the city’s 2007 ban on new shops.

The backers of the second proposal — United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, and Americans for Safe Access L.A. — announced earlier they were abandoning support of their initiative in favor of Koretz’s proposal, although it will still appear on the ballot.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who is running for re-election in the March primary, threw his support behind the Koretz measure.

“I believe this is the most sensible regulation we can come up with in this era of turmoil,” he told the council. “… This gives our city the opportunity to regulate medical and give medical marijuana to those people who truly need it, some sensibility. Let the voters speak… let’s put it in the hands of the public.”

Councilman Jose Huizar, who said he has received multiple complaints from constituents about marijuana dispensaries, voted against the ballot measure.

“It will not protect neighborhoods from the proliferation of marijuana,” he said, adding “whether over the counter or on the street, a sale is a sale. It’s illegal under California state law.”

Council members Jan Perry, Mitch Englander, Joe Buscaino and Bernard Parks also dissented.

Tuesday’s vote coincided with the first day of a state Supreme Court hearing on a case stemming from Riverside over the ability of cities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Use of marijuana for medical purposes is allowed in California, but is still illegal under federal law.

Latino Biz Group to Hold Awards Luncheon, Matchmaking Event

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The Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles will hold its 4th Annual Latino Business Awards Luncheon on Feb. 21 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The awards luncheon program has been expanded this year to include a business matchmaking event prior to the awards luncheon, according to Jorge Corralejo, LBCGLA’s chairman.

The matchmaking event is an opportunity to make new business contacts and develop relationships with Fortune 500 corporations and federal agencies, Corralejo said.

As part of the program, participants will be able to engage in 15 minute face-to-face meetings with buyers and procurement executives, where they can share information about their company, perhaps getting on a company’s radar for the very first time, he explained. Interested participants can register either as a buyer or supplier, according to the LBCGLA website. The cost to attend is $20 for LBCGLA members and $45 for non-members.

During the luncheon portion of the program, LBCGLA will once again honor Latino owned businesses that are innovative and making a difference in their field or their community, according to Corralejo.

There are 150 nominees vying in 7 different categories: Small Business, Medium Business, Large Business, Public Business, Innovation, Fastest Growing and the Honorary Legacy Award.  The Legacy Award will recognize a lifetime achievement of community development and Latino empowerment, Corralejo said.

Luncheon tickets are $100 for both members and non-members.

Proceeds from the event benefit the non-profit group’s core programs and mission of advocating for and providing services to small and medium sized businesses. For more information or to register for the awards luncheon or matchmaking event, go to www.latinobusinesschamber.org or call (213) 347-0008.

Baca Travels to Washington for Immigration and Law Enforcement Discussion

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Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and other law enforcement officials from across the nation were in Washington, D.C., Wednesday for discussions with federal officials on border security and immigration reform.

Among those scheduled to join Baca at the White House were officials from the National Sheriffs’ Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police and former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton.

They will discuss immigration-related issues with such officials as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Alan Bersin, Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West and Director of White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Munoz, according to the sheriff’s department.

“It’s important for the public to trust their local law enforcement and to be able to call on them when needed. That relationship is compromised when otherwise law-abiding people are afraid of deportation,” Baca said in a statement announcing his Washington visit.

The discussions come a little more than a week after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposed a framework for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country.

“We need help in Washington so that we can focus on catching criminals, rather than sacrificing priorities to play the role of immigration agent,” Baca said. “Immigration reform will strengthen security in communities across the country.”


US Postal Service to Stop Saturday Delivery

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The United States Postal Service (USPS) on Wednesday announced it will stop delivering first class mail on Saturdays beginning in August, but will continue to deliver packages. The service change is an effort to save $2 billion a year.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said it is part of an overall strategy “to return to long-term financial stability.”

The Postal Service has a deficit in the billions attributed to the combined effects of the economic crisis, the collapse of traditional mailing, the Internet, and compulsory contribution to its retiree health benefits.

In 2012, for the first time in the company’s history, USPS defaulted on its payments to the Treasury Department and through last November, recorded a record annual net loss of $15.9 billion.

The Saturday mail cuts will affect about 22,500 employees, according to Donahoe, who underscored there would be no layoffs.

During the past year, the USPS has cut thousands of hours of work in post offices around the country and merged some sites, resulting in a 28,000 workforce reduction through retirements and layoffs.

Police Warn About Utility Bill Phone Scam

February 7, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Authorities on Wednesday warned Southlanders about criminals who have been telephoning people and falsely telling them they must pay their utility bills with a pre-paid cash card or face immediate service termination.

The phony calls have been increasing in frequency in the last few months, according to the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. Department of Water and Power.

“The scam involves imposters posing as utility personnel, contacting customers by telephone, and informing them they are behind in payment of their bill,” the LAPD said in a statement.

Scammers threaten to cut off service unless the customer buys a pre-paid cash card and then calls a telephone number staffed by criminals who receive card information to “pay” the fictional utility bill, according to police.

“The LADWP offers customers numerous options to pay their bills,” police said, adding that the only way to pay by phone is through an automated payment system.

LADWP employees never call customers to ask them to pay a bill over the phone, nor are they allowed to accept payment information verbally over the phone, according to police.

“It is unlikely a customer will be facing immediate service termination without prior knowledge,” police said.

Any customer with questions about being contacted by the LADWP should call (800) DIAL-DWP to confirm that the person contacting him or her is an actual employee of the utility, according to police.

Also, people suspecting they are victims of a crime can call Crime Stoppers, (800) 222-TIPS, according to police.

L.A. County to Accept Water Quality Fee Protests by Mail, Email

February 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Property owners who want to oppose the Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure can now mail or email their protests to the LA County Flood Control District.

The Measure aims to raise $295 million a year to pay for cleaning the “region’s rivers, lakes and beaches, protect public health and safeguard local sources of drinking water” for cities and unincorporated areas in LA County by imposing a fee on property owners.

All protests must be received by March 12, 2013 and must include the parcel site address, Assessor’s Parcel Number, the name of the parcel owner, as well as the signature of the parcel owner or an authorized representative.

Protest forms are available at LACountyCleanWater.org or parcel owners can email a protest letter to WQFI.Info@dpw.lacounty.gov. Only scanned or photographed email protests with a handwritten signature will be accepted. Protests can also be mailed to the Executive Officer of the Board of Supervisors, P.O. Box 866006 Los Angeles, CA 90086. A ballot box for hand-delivered protests is located on the 3rd floor of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple Street, Room 383.

For more information on the Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure, call (800) 218-0018.

One Person Pronounced Dead in East LA Commercial Building Fire

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One person was pronounced dead Monday at the scene of a suspicious fire at a two-story commercial building in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles city firefighters were called to the structure at 3521 E. Whittier Blvd, south of Boyle Heights and just west of unincorporated East L.A. at 12:09 a.m. and found flames shooting through the roof when they rolled up, said LAFD spokesperson Katherine Main. The fire was knocked down at 12:50 a.m., she said.

The nature of the fire was suspicious, and an arson investigator was called to the scene, according to Main.

The deceased person’s name was not immediately available.

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