L.A. Council Votes to Join Legal Fight to Block Trump on Immigration

January 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council took several actions Wednesday in opposition to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, including directing the city attorney to take legal action to try to stop the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The council voted 12-0 to authorize City Attorney Mike Feuer to file an amicus brief in support of the California Attorney General’s lawsuit against the termination of the DACA program. The motion was altered in an amendment from its original language that called on the city to file its own lawsuit or join the California lawsuit.

“It’s shameful and immoral that our federal government is debating this,” Councilman Joe Buscaino said before the vote. “Let’s send a message to the federal government and reiterate the importance that immigrants make this community and this country an amazing place to live and work.”

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have been working to negotiate a new DACA deal to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants who were brought to America as children, but the talks have stalled and a federal government shutdown is possible if an agreement cannot be reached.

DACA was rescinded by President Donald Trump in September, but he gave lawmakers six months to come up with a new deal. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a lawsuit by the attorneys general of the states of Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, as well as the University of California and other plaintiffs, and obtained a preliminary injunction last week against the Trump administration over the move to end DACA, which was created by then-President Barack Obama by executive order.

“As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion — but through the lawful Democratic process — while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve,” Trump said in a statement in September.

Councilman Gil Cedillo, who chairs the council’s Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights and Equity Committee, seconded the resolution introduced by Councilman Jose Huizar.

Cedillo took the opportunity to publicly criticize Trump, who during a recent meeting with congressional leaders about immigration issues, reportedly asked why the United States should accept immigrants from “shithole” countries like Haiti and in Africa rather than places like Norwa

“It’s embarrassing. The `s-hole countries’ and all the comments related to that indicate that the attacks on DACA and the immigrant community that were first expressed as he began his campaign still remain the underlying basis for the policy from the administration,” Cedillo said. “That is not a way to run a nation. That is not what we are about.”

The council also approved — on a 12-0 vote — a resolution asking the city attorney to report on litigation options against the termination of the Temporary Protected Status Program, which offers a provisional reprieve from deportation to citizens of some countries. The resolution, which was altered in an amendment, had originally sought to support legislative or administrative action that would extend the TPS Program.

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it was canceling the TPS status for immigrants from El Salvador in 2019, and the council voted 13-0 in approval of a second resolution officially opposing the move.

On a 13-0 vote,  the council approved a new immigration program that will facilitate a connection between lawyers and individuals interested in obtaining letters of representation to aid them when they are being questioned by immigration officials.

Concejales Reafirman Apoyo a Indocumentados con Nuevas Medidas

January 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Concejales de Los Ángeles aprobaron el miércoles cuatro medidas de apoyo a beneficiarios de los programas DACA y TPS, mediante cartas de representación para residentes indocumentados y una prohibición de negocios con empresas que construyan el muro fronterizo propuesto por el presidente, Donald Trump.

El objetivo de las medidas, aprobadas por unanimidad, es proteger a los angelinos en situación “irregular”, porque “sus vidas afectan a la ciudad y a todo California”, declaró a EFE Gil Cedillo, concejal del Distrito 1 de Los Ángeles.

“Estamos enviando un mensaje a Trump (expresando) que continuaremos en resistencia a sus medidas draconianas de inmigración”, manifestó Cedillo.

“Como ciudad, respaldamos a todos nuestros residentes, independientemente de su estatus migratorio”, aseveró el concejal de la llamada “Pequeña Centroamérica”.

Las cuatro nuevas normas fueron presentadas por él junto a José Huizar, concejal del Distrito 14, del este de Los Ángeles, través del Committee on Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights and Equity (Comité de Asuntos de Inmigrantes, Derechos Civiles y Equidad).

La primera medida busca unirse a la demanda contra el Gobierno federal, interpuesta por el Procurador General de California, Xavier Becerra, en oposición al cierre del Programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA).

Además, supone una segunda querella a favor de los “soñadores” por parte de la ciudad.

Otra medida viene a apoyar “cualquier acción legislativa o administrativa” que extienda el programa Estatus de Protección Temporal (TPS), que afecta a salvadoreños, nicaragüenses y haitianos residentes de Los Ángeles, a quienes la administración Trump canceló la protección legal.

También, el acuerdo abriga a los hondureños, que viven con la incertidumbre de qué pasará cuando termine la extensión de su amparo migratorio, válido hasta el 5 de julio.

“Sobre los asuntos de DACA y TPS tenemos el derecho de rechazar las (medidas) del Gobierno federal, debido a los efectos económicos negativos que la eliminación de esos programas tendrá en nuestra economía local”, aclaró Cedillo.

El concejal de Los Ángeles Gil Cedillo se unió a CARECEN y otras organizaciones de derechos de los inmigrantes para denunciar la decisión del presidente Trump de poner fin al Estatus de Protección Temporal (TPS) de 200,000 salvadoreños, siguiendo el mismo destino para Honduras y los Haitianos que viven en los Estados Unidos con TPS. / Foto por José Rodríguez

“Aunque el Gobierno federal supera la ley local y estatal, tenemos autoridad para ejecutar nuestras propias leyes”, indicó.

Otra medida aprobada el miércoles es un “programa” de redacción de misivas de representación legal “a personas en riesgo de deportación”.

“Las cartas de representación son una capa adicional de protección para aquellos (indocumentados) que entran en contacto con agentes del Servicio de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE)”, detalló el concejal del Distrito 1.

“No es una garantía de que ICE los deje en paz, pero (la carta) les dará representación legal asignada, que ICE necesitará consultar para cualquier interrogatorio”, adelantó.

La cuarta medida apoya la propuesta de ley SB30 del senado californiano, introducida por el senador Ricardo Lara, que prohibiría a California hacer negocios con empresas o individuos que participen en la construcción del muro en la frontera de California con México.

Huizar comentó a EFE que “en una nación fundada por inmigrantes debemos defender a nuestros angelinos de un presidente que basa su política de inmigración en la raza y los estereotipos”.

“La ciudad de Los Ángeles no se quedará de brazos cruzados mientras (Trump) hace el peor tipo de política con ‘soñadores’, beneficiarios de TPS e inmigrantes de todo el mundo que vienen a nuestras costas en busca del sueño americano”, apostilló.

En Los Ángeles, según estimaciones del censo nacional, residen más de 4 millones de personas, de las cuales el 49 por ciento es de origen latino.

Plan Para Construir Viviendas Asequibles en Lotes de Estacionamientos de la Ciudad Toma Fuerza

December 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los lugares de estacionamiento son preciados en la ciudad de Los Ángeles.

La amenaza de perder incluso algunos espacios de estacionamiento puede provocar pánico en vecindarios densamente poblados donde el estacionamiento disponible es escaso. Muchas empresas dependen de estacionamientos de propiedad pública para sus clientes, sin tener estacionamientos propios.

En la ciudad de Los Ángeles, los funcionarios electos han estado identificando activamente las propiedades de la ciudad “infrautilizadas” como sitios potenciales para nuevos desarrollos de viviendas asequibles. Es parte de un plan para apuntalar la escasez critica de viviendas en la ciudad y evitar que más personas caigan en la indigencia.

La semana pasada, el Ayuntamiento aprobó un plan para cobrar a los desarrolladores una nueva tarifa para construir en la ciudad. Los miembros del consejo dicen que los ingresos de la tarifa de “vinculación” se utilizarán para construir más unidades de vivienda para familias de ingresos bajos a medianos.

La construcción de una vivienda podría algún día reemplazar este estacionamiento, que es propiedad de la ciudad, en la avenida 24 en Lincoln Heights. (Foto por B. Preciado)

La construcción de una vivienda podría algún día reemplazar este estacionamiento, que es propiedad de la ciudad, en la avenida 24 en Lincoln Heights. (Foto por B. Preciado)

Mientras los funcionarios municipales, defensores de la vivienda, desarrolladores y la comunidad empresarial debatían sobre la viabilidad y el impacto que la tarifa tendría en el desarrollo, las oficinas locales del concejo y los planificadores urbanos estaban ocupados catalogando las propiedades de la ciudad con el propósito expreso de aumentar las despensas de casa.

También están buscando propiedades donde se puedan construir viviendas para personas sin hogar.

En los distritos del concejo 1 y 14, algunos de los sitios que están examinando son lotes baldíos; otros son estacionamientos públicos.

Durante las últimas dos semanas, el Ayuntamiento ha tomado medidas para formalizar el proceso de revisión publica, aprobando las mociones de los concejales Gil Cedillo (CD-1) y José Huizar (CD-14) para propiedades de la ciudad en Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights, cerca del centro de Los Ángeles, en área de Westlake adyacente al Parque MacArthur y en Lincoln Heights.

Las solicitudes de propuestas para que los equipos lideren la revisión publica, los acuerdos de adquisición de propiedades, la aprobación de equipos de desarrollo y la transferencia de una propiedad en Boyle Heights a una organización sin fines de lucro que utilizará el sitio para albergar a estudiantes universitarios de 18-24 años de edad, son algunas de las medidas que han sido aprobadas.

Huizar dijo que está “encantado” de seguir adelante con “proyectos para ayudar mejor a nuestros jóvenes sin hogar en Boyle Heights y proporcionar viviendas asequibles que tanto se necesitan en el distrito”. Se refería a la transferencia de una propiedad con forma de “triángulo” en la avenida Pleasant en Boyle Heights a la organización sin fines de lucro Jóvenes, Inc.

Según Huizar, las propiedades que son propiedad de la ciudad ofrecen “oportunidades únicas para desarrollar terrenos para personas sin hogar y viviendas asequibles más rápidamente sin el costo de adquisición de tierras”.

Dos estacionamientos públicos en Boyle Heights – en el bloque 318 del norte de la calle Breed y el bloque 249 del norte de la calle Chicago – también han sido identificados como posibles sitios de viviendas asequibles. También se está observando un lote vacío en la intersección de la avenida Genevieve y Monte Bonito Drive en Eagle Rock.

Cedillo también ve el desarrollo de propiedades de la ciudad como un plus. Él dijo: “La solución para combatir la crisis de la vivienda en Los Ángeles es continuar construyendo viviendas lo más rápido posible, en particular las viviendas asequibles”.

Debido a que el estacionamiento es tan importante en la ciudad, la posibilidad de perder espacios puede ser controversial y se sabe que detiene o al menos demora algunos desarrollos. Los planes para desarrollar estacionamientos públicos cerca de la estación de Metro Gold Line en Highland Park suscitaron fuertes críticas de residentes locales y empresas que no solo estaban preocupadas por la densidad adicional, sino también por el acceso a estacionamientos que son propiedad de la ciudad.

Los planificadores de la ciudad y el equipo de desarrollo del proyecto dijeron que uno de los lotes más grandes, fuera de la avenida 58 y entre la estación de Gold Line en Marmion Way y la calle Figueroa, estaba infrautilizado y casi vació. Los desarrolladores, Cedillo, y su predecesor, el ex concejal Ed Reyes, trabajaron arduamente para convencer a los interesados de que los nuevos desarrollos estarían obligados a incluir disposiciones de estacionamiento público.

Estacionamiento cerca del distrito comercial central del vecindario en North Broadway en Lincoln Heights. (EGP Foto por B. Preciado)

Estacionamiento cerca del distrito comercial central en Lincoln Heights. (EGP Foto por B. Preciado)

En cuanto a los estacionamientos bajo revisión en Boyle Heights, Huizar asegura que se reemplazará cualquier estacionamiento público que se usará para desarrollos habitacionales. Donde, o de qué manera, no estará claro hasta cuándo y si es que se aprueba un diseño de desarrollo.

En Lincoln Heights, la oficina de Cedillo ha dirigido cinco estacionamientos que son propiedad de la ciudad para revisión. Los cinco están cerca del distrito comercial central del vecindario en North Broadway: ubicados detrás o frente a negocios como CVS, la tienda 99 Cents Only, WSS Shoes y el Arroyo Vista Family Health Center, una clínica comunitaria cuyos pacientes son en su mayoría de bajos ingresos. El estacionamiento público de la avenida 24 ofrece estacionamiento para muchos de los pacientes de la clínica y en la mayoría de los días está lleno a su capacidad.

Mientras que un equipo de desarrollo ha sido seleccionado para construir viviendas asequibles en propiedades de la ciudad cerca de MacArthur Park en Westlake, (619, 623, 627, y 629 en la avenida Westlake), las ubicaciones de Lincoln Heights todavía están en la etapa de revisión temprana, Fredy Cejas, Director de Comunicaciones de Cedillo, le dijo a EGP en un correo electrónico.

Dijo que una moción aprobada a principios de este mes por el Ayuntamiento “solo autoriza a la ciudad a entrar en un Acuerdo de Negociación Exclusiva con un equipo seleccionado para comenzar un proceso de planificación para identificar planes de desarrollo alternativo”.

“El propósito de la Moción es comenzar la conversación con la comunidad sobre la propuesta de vivienda en los estacionamientos de la ciudad”, dijo Cejas.

Mientras “no se tomó una decisión real” sobre si se debe construir, Cejas enfatizo que se tomó la decisión de explorar cómo se pueden desarrollar los lotes con la vivienda y que tipo de proyecto puede ser factible.

La noticia sorprendió algunos negocios de Lincoln Heights. Irene Holguin de Arroyo Vista dijo que no podían hacer ningún comentario porque no sabían nada de la propuesta, que salió a la luz pública en una publicación reciente en Facebook y en el boletín de Cedillo.

El presidente y dueño de la propiedad de Lincoln Heights Business Improvement District, Steve Kasten, dijo que él tampoco estaba al tanto de los planes, pero que como empresario su primera reacción es que usted no puede tomar “todo el estacionamiento”.

“Pero si hay una manera de crear viviendas sin eliminar el estacionamiento para las empresas locales, lo hago por eso”, dijo, y agregó que quiere aprender más. Si se construyen nuevas viviendas, Kasten dijo que espera que los inquilinos tengan ingresos lo suficientemente altos como para permitirles apoyar a las empresas locales.

Es muy importante que la comunidad tenga aportes durante todo el proceso de desarrollo, Kasten le dijo a EGP.

En su correo electrónico, Cejas dijo que el Ayuntamiento y el alcalde reconocen que los angelinos enfrentan una severa crisis de vivienda. La renta sube y la construcción no se ha mantenido al ritmo del crecimiento de la población. Cejas dijo que una estrategia clave para lidiar con el problema “es considerar utilizar el espacio aéreo no utilizado sobre los estacionamientos que son propiedad de la ciudad”.

Durante la campaña de reelección de Cedillo en 2016, los retadores acusaron al concejal de tener un plan secreto para construir refugios para personas sin hogar en sitios de estacionamiento en Lincoln Heights. El concejal negó el cargo, y Cejas enfatizó esta semana que los sitios bajos revisión “no son todos para viviendas para personas sin hogar”.

“La comunidad tendrá una voz y se involucrará en la planificación para la reutilización de estos lotes como se especifica en la Moción”, dijo Cejas, y agregó que no se perderá el estacionamiento porque la ciudad requeriría que se reemplacen los espacios de estacionamiento en manera individual.

Según Cejas, Cedillo requerirá que el equipo de desarrollo seleccionado participe en un proceso sólido de participación de la comunidad para solicitar el aporte de las diversas partes interesadas del distrito.

Esta información, dijo Cejas, se utilizará para “definir los parámetros de un posible proyecto, incluidos, entre otros, que tipo de vivienda, el número de unidades, el diseño arquitectónico, los requisitos de estacionamiento y otros asuntos relacionados con la planificación urbana y el medio ambiente”.

Megan G. Razzetti contribuyó a esta historia.

Plan to Build ‘Affordable’ Housing on City-Owned Parking Lots Gains Steam

December 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Parking spots are a valuable commodity in the City of Los Angeles.

The threat of losing even a few parking spaces can lead to panic in densely populated neighborhoods where places to park a vehicle are in short supply. It’s an issue for businesses too, since many rely on publicly owned parking lots for their customers, not having parking lots of their own.

In the City of Los Angeles, elected officials have been actively identifying “under-utilized” city-owned properties – including parking lots – as potential sites for new affordable housing developments. It’s part of a plan to shore up the city’s critical housing shortage and to keep more people from falling in to homelessness.

Last week, the City Council  approved a plan to charge developers a new fee to build in the city. Council members say revenue from the new “linkage” fee will be used to build more housing units for low- to middle-income families.

As city officials, housing advocates, developers and the business community debated the viability and impact the fee would have on development, local council offices and city planners were busy in the background cataloguing city-owned properties with the expressed purpose of adding to the city’s affordable housing stock.

City-owned parking lot on Avenue 24 near the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center is one of 5 lots in Lincoln Heights the city is vetting as potential sites to build affordable housing. (Photo by B. Preciado)

City-owned parking lot on Avenue 24 near the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center is one of 5 lots in Lincoln Heights the city is vetting as potential sites to build affordable housing. (Photo by B. Preciado)

They are also looking for properties where housing for the homeless can be built.

In Council Districts 1 and 14, some of the sites being vetted are vacant lots; others are public parking lots.

Over the last two weeks the City Council has taken steps to formalize the public review process, approving motions by Councilmen Gil Cedillo (CD-1) and Jose Huizar (CD-14) for city-owned properties in Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights, near downtown L.A., in the Westlake area adjacent to MacArthur Park and in Lincoln Heights.

Requests for Proposals for teams to lead the public review, property acquisition agreements, approval of development teams, and the transfer of a property in Boyle Heights to a nonprofit that will use the site to house 18-24-year-old homeless college students are some of the measures that have been approved.

Huizar says he’s “thrilled” to be moving forward with “projects to better assist our homeless youth in Boyle Heights and provide much-needed affordable housing in the district.” He was referring to the transfer of a “triangle” shaped property on Pleasant Avenue in Boyle Heights to nonprofit Jovenes, Inc.

According to Huizar, city-owned properties offer “unique opportunities to develop land for homeless and affordable housing more quickly without the cost of land acquisition.”

Two public parking lots in Boyle Heights – on 318 N. Breed St. and 249 N. Chicago St. – have been identified as potential affordable housing sites. A vacant lot at the intersection of Genevieve Avenue and Monte Bonito Drive in Eagle Rock is also being looked at.

Cedillo also sees developing city-owned properties as a plus. He said: “The solution to combat the Housing Crisis in Los Angeles is to continue building housing as fast as possible, particularly affordable housing.”

Because parking is such a premium in the city, the possibility of loosing any spaces can be controversial and has been known to stop or at least delay some developments. Plans build housing on public parking lots near the Metro Gold Line Station in Highland Park drew loud criticism from local residents and businesses not only concerned about the added density and traffic, but also access to city-owned parking lots.

City planners and the development team for the project said one of the larger lots, off Avenue 58 between the Gold Line Station on Marmion Way and Figueroa Street, was under-utilized and often nearly empty. Developers, Cedillo, and his predecessor, former Councilman Ed Reyes, worked hard to convince stakeholders that the new developments would be required to include public parking provisions.

As for the parking lots under review in Boyle Heights, Huizar assures that any public parking taken for housing developments will be replaced. Where, or in what manner, will not be clear until when and if a development design is approved.

In Lincoln Heights, Cedillo’s office has targeted five city-owned parking lots for review. All five are near the neighborhood’s central commercial district along North Broadway: located behind or across from businesses such as CVS, the 99 Cents Only Store, WSS Shoes, and the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center, a community clinic whose patients are mostly low-income. The public parking lot off Avenue 24 provides parking for many of the clinic’s patients and on most days is filled to capacity.

While a development team has been selected to build affordable housing on city-owned properties near MacArthur Park in Westlake, (619, 623, 627 and 629 Westlake Avenue), the Lincoln Heights locations are still in the very early review stage, Fredy Cejas, Cedillo’s communication director  told EGP in an email.

He said a motion passed earlier this month by the City Council “only authorizes the City to enter into an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with a selected team to begin a process of planning to identify alternative development schemes.

“The purpo

Housing could one day replace this parking lot near the 99 Cents Only store in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by B. Preciado)

Housing could one day replace this parking lot near the 99 Cents Only store in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by B. Preciado)

se of the Motion is to start the conversation with the community about proposed housing on City parking lots,” Cejas said.

While “no actual decision” on whether to build has been made, Cejas emphasized a decision has been made to explore how the lots can be developed with housing and what type of project may be feasible.

The news caught some Lincoln Heights businesses by surprise. Arroyo Vista’s Irene Holguin said they could not comment because they did not know anything about the proposal, which came to public light in a recent Facebook posting and Cedillo’s newsletter.

Lincoln Heights Business Improvement District President and property owner Steve Kasten said he too was unaware of the plans, but that as a businessperson his first reaction is you cannot take “all of the parking.”

“But if there is a way to create housing without eliminating parking for local businesses, I am for that,” he said, adding he wants to learn more. If new housing is built, Kasten said he hopes tenants will have incomes high enough to allow them to support local businesses.

It’s very important for the community to have input throughout the development process, Kasten told EGP.

In his email, Cejas said the city council and mayor recognize that Angelenos are facing a severe housing crisis. Rents are skyrocketing and building has not kept up with population growth. Cejas said a key strategy to deal with the issue “is to consider utilizing the unused air-space above City-owned parking lots.”

In some neighborhoods, that has meant building multi-story complexes with underground or roof top parking.

During Cedillo’s 2016 reelection campaign, challengers accused the councilman of having a secret plan to build shelters for the homeless on parking lot sites in Lincoln Heights. The councilman denied the charge, and Cejas this week emphasized that the sites under review “are not all for homeless housing.”

“The community will have a voice and be involved in the planning for the reuse of these lots as specified in the Motion,” Cejas said, adding that no parking would be lost because the city would require parking spaces to be replaced on a one-to-one basis.

According to Cejas, Cedillo will require development team selected to engage in a robust community participation process to solicit input from the district’s diverse stakeholders.

That input, Cejas said, will be used to “define the parameters of a potential project – including but not limited to what type of housing, the number of units, architectural design, parking requirements and other related city planning and environmental matters.”

Megan G. Razzetti contributed to this story.

 

L.A. City Council Approves Controversial Affordable Housing Fee

December 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday unanimously approved the creation of an affordable housing linkage fee — one of the most hotly debated proposals to come through City Hall in recent times.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who championed such an ordinance two years ago, immediately signed the ordinance following the City Council’s approval.

“Ending the housing affordability crisis is essential to securing Los Angeles as a place where every Angeleno — no matter their income — has an opportunity to build a life in our community,” Garcetti said. “Everyone in L.A. deserves a place to come home to, and the affordable housing linkage fee is a critical investment in making that future possible for all of our families.”

Although some council members and key business leaders expressed hesitation while the proposal was dissected at four Planning Committee meetings, the council ultimately came together in unison to approve the fee as a way to help fight the housing crisis and rising rents in the city.

“This is an important moment. I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield said.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who chairs the Planning Committee, told City News Service, “It’s a long process, but again it reminds us of how much work we still have to do. I think this council has paid so much more attention to affordable housing issues in these last couple of years, and it’s an issue that
has been long neglected, to speak quite frankly.”

Under the ordinance, commercial and residential developers will have to pay a fee for every square foot of new construction, generating an estimated $100 million per year to be used to provide affordable housing units.

Skeptics fretted that the fee could discourage development overall or that poor tenants would suffer as landlords passed the cost of the fee onto them.

Groups that argued that the fee will slow down housing include the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, which said the “business community strongly supports affordable and workforce housing, but this proposal will make low- and middle-class housing more expensive to build and more expensive to rent or own.”

The L.A. Chamber acknowledged the city has a “housing supply crisis at all levels,” but said solutions that increase housing overall is what’s needed.

Huizar said before the vote that the fee is lower than what some studies had shown developers could absorb, which helped reduce the level of opposition in the business community.

Councilman Jose Huizar (center) and affordable housing advocates at City Hall Wednesday morning called for support for a linkage fee on developers to fund the building of affordable housing. (Photo courtesy Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

Councilman Jose Huizar (center) and affordable housing advocates at City Hall Wednesday morning called for support for a linkage fee on developers to fund the building of affordable housing. (Photo courtesy Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

“We could have charged more in this fee, but we chose not to, and we did that purposefully so that we have a large buffer there that will not discourage any development,” he said.

A report by the Department of City Planning and Housing and Community Investment Department estimates the fee could raise between $93.7 million and $114.3 million per year, with a tiered structure ranging from $8 to $15 per square foot for residential projects and $3 to $5 for commercial ones, depending on the market value of the neighborhood.

Council members Mike Bonin and David Ryu introduced an amendment to the motion that directs city staff to present an analysis within 60 days of the market impacts of increasing the residential fee in high market areas to $18. The amendment was seconded by Councilman Paul Koretz.

The three council members represent some of the pricier neighborhoods in L.A., including Bel-Air, Brentwood, Toluca Lake and the Hollywood Hills, indicating that there likely will not be opposition on the council to the increased fee because the trio collectively represents most of the high-market areas.

Huizar said he was supportive of looking at raising the high market fee.

“This is bringing it up a little bit more in those high demand areas, where they could probably absorb more of a fee than other areas,” he said.

“Because you want to encourage more development in low-income areas and those areas that don’t have much development, but where there’s such a huge demand and people’s portfolios are working out, they could absorb this a lot easier.”

Huizar pointed out that the city’s affordable housing trust fund contained around $100 million in 2010, but has nearly dried up as state and federal contributions plummeted.

“… We are one of the last large cities in the country that doesn’t have (a) consistent revenue stream to build affordable housing,” Huizar said.

Councilman Mitchell Englander expressed some criticism of the fee at one meeting, but later said he had always supported a linkage fee, and that it had just been a question of finding the “sweet spot” that doesn’t slow development.

The ordinance does include some exemptions for the fee, including for schools, grocery stores, hospitals and developments that include a certain level of affordable units, including where at least 40 percent of the total units are for affordable to moderate-income households making between 80 percent and 120 percent of the area median income.

There are also exemptions where at least 20 percent of the total units or guest rooms are dedicated for low income households, at least 11 percent is for very low income households, or at least 8 percent are for extremely low income households.

The Planning Committee considered for a time exempting nonprofits but ultimately decided against the move out of concern that developers would abuse the option.

Councilman Gil Cedillo over the summer suggested he wasn’t necessarily against the fee, but cast some doubt on how effective it could be.

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

But last week, Cedillo waived consideration of the linkage fee from his Housing Committee, which cleared the path for it to be voted on before the end of the year. The council also approved a motion by Cedillo that looks to amend the ordinance by creating a linkage fee exemption for middle-income households making between 120 percent and 150 percent of the AMI.

“Today’s council action is a historic move for the permanent development and preservation of affordable housing in Los Angeles,” Cedillo said following Wednesday’s vote. “As the chair of Housing, I will support any measure that gets us closer to our goal of building 100,000 units of housing by 2021.”

He added, “When creating a linkage fee, some cities have made certain exemption to the linkage fee, including exemptions for nonprofits and 100 percent affordable housing developments. Today, the City Council also approved my motion that asks for a similar exemption to extend homeownership opportunities for middle-income households, given the increasing price and shortage of housing. We have to attack the housing crisis at every level.”

The proposed amendment, however, must still be vetted through the City Council review process before it can be finalized, which will likely begin in January and take two months to complete, Cedillo’s Communications Director, Fredy Cejas, told EGP Wednesday.

The L.A. Chamber has expressed support for Cedillo’s motion, saying in an editorial Tuesday that it “could lessen the detrimental impact of a linkage fee on middle-income housing.

“This exemption would incentivize the construction of housing designed for middle-income Angelenos who are finding our city more and more unaffordable as a place to live and raise families,” Toebben said. “Without this exemption, the linkage fee would add $12,000 to $24,000 per unit to the cost of building middle-class housing.

Other California cities such as Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco have a linkage fee, as do other cities around the country.

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

EGP Managing Editor Gloria Alvarez contributed to this story.

 

El Día del Centroamericano Declarado en Los Ángeles

November 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

El concejal del Primer Distrito Gil Cedillo honró a la comunidad centroamericana al declarar el 22 de noviembre de 2017 “Día del Centroamericano”. (Foto Cortesía de Jay Cortez)

El concejal del Primer Distrito Gil Cedillo honró a la comunidad centroamericana al declarar el 22 de noviembre de 2017 “Día del Centroamericano”. (Foto Cortesía de Jay Cortez)

En los talones de la decisión de la administración Trump de terminar con el Estatus de Protección Temporal (TPS) para Nicaragua y decisiones pendientes para Honduras y El Salvador, el concejal del Primer Distrito Gil Cedillo honró a la comunidad centroamericana al declarar el 22 de noviembre de 2017 “Día del Centroamericano”. Al concejal se unieron los cónsules generales de Nicaragua, Honduras y El Salvador, así como a los miembros de la junta del Comité de Festejos Centroamericanos (COFECA).

Developer Group Approved for Lincoln Heights Jail Revival

November 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council has signed off on a development team for the longtime empty and dilapidated Lincoln Heights Jail, but it could be two or more years before construction actually begins.

The winning bid is from the joint venture team of Lincoln Property Company and Fifteen Group. The developers’ proposed Lincoln Heights Makers District beat out two other finalists vying to develop the site on the east bank of the Los Angeles River off Avenue 19 in Lincoln Heights, which is also conveniently within 5 to 10 minutes of six major freeways and a Metro rail station.

A favorite canvass of taggers and graffiti vandals in recent years, the Lincoln Heights Jail was built in 1931 and boasts an Art Deco design. In 1993, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission designated the building City Historic-Cultural Monument (No. 587), giving it local “Landmark Status.”

Lincoln Heights Jail in earlier times. (Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library)

Lincoln Heights Jail in earlier times. (Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library)

The city stopped using the facility as a jail in 1965, eventually making it available to house nonprofit groups, including the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts (BFA) and Lincoln Height Boxing Gym. The building was permanently closed in 2014, with the city citing structural and other potential hazards as the reason.

The Lincoln Heights Makers redevelopment proposes an ambitious mix of live-work housing, creative office space, commercial and manufacturing and retail space, a public market, green space that includes an amphitheater, recreation space and a communal rooftop space.

The area is zoned “Urban Innovation,” a relatively new classification intended to revitalize underutilized areas and spur job creation through truly mixed-uses, though housing and retail density quotas are significantly more limited than in some nearby areas.

Heavy industrial uses, from manufacturing to auto wrecking yards are prohibited.

Fifteen Group Vice President Rogelio Navar told EGP they propose to incorporate two properties they already own across the street from the jail into the overall project plan, adding over 3-acres to the overall development. The Lincoln Heights Makers District will run west to east from the L.A. River to San Fernando Road, and from the city yard north of Humbolt to just south of where Avenue 19 and Riverside Drive and Figueroa Street merge.

La cárcel de Lincoln Heights en la Ciudad de Los Ángeles. (Foto por Gloria Alvarez)

The Lincoln Heights Jail was decommissioned as a jail in  1965, and permanently closed for all activities in 2014. It is a favorite target of graffiti vandals.   (EGP photo by Gloria Alvarez)

The combined sites will create a destination community, incorporating a variety of uses, Navar said. There will be open space, green space for recreation and for community gatherings, he said, adding that the live-work units could be used by artists.

While no specific tenants have been named, Navar said the building identified as Makers Hall would include 40,000 square-feet of light manufacturing, such as craft beer makers or coffee roasters.

“Our plan respects the goals of the CASP (Cornfield Arroyo Seco Plan) and the Urban Innovation zoning,” said Navar, adding that other industries such as those in the bio-tech field could find a home at the site.

The Lincoln Heights Makers plan includes 57,000 square-feet for residential use on the Lincoln Heights Jail site, and proposes over 200,000 square-feet of residential space on the former MAGA building and Anhing properties – identified in the plan as the 405 Site – on the opposite The side of Avenue 19. Over 200,000 square-feet has been slated for commercial use and another 15,000 would go to retail uses, according to developers’ bid. It includes community amenities such as youth sports fields and community gardens.

The developer is also proposing the creation of “Festival Street,” a section of Avenue 19 that could be closed from time to time for community events, such as festivals, farmers market and the like.

At a community meeting earlier this year where the three finalists presented their proposals to a specially convened community advisory group and the community, some residents expressed concern that the projects could lead to more gentrification in the northeast area neighborhood.

According to Navar, however, the push back from the community over fears of gentrification has been less than in other areas of the city. He thinks it’s because the site has been vacant for so long and is not surrounded by housing, so there is no affordable housing to be lost.

“This project will bring the area into the Lincoln Heights community, connecting it to the neighborhood,” he said.

The Lincoln Heights Maker District would include mixed-use development from Avenue 19 to San Fernando Road. The development team of Lincoln Properties and Fifteen Group propose to create "Festival Street" among the many recreational amenities. (Rendering courtesy Fifteen Group)

The Lincoln Heights Maker District would include mixed-use development from Avenue 19 to San Fernando Road. The development team of Lincoln Properties and Fifteen Group propose to create “Festival Street” among the many recreational amenities. (Rendering courtesy Fifteen Group)

“I want to point out that Councilman (Gil) Cedillo did a tremendous job of informing and engaging the community in the process,” Navar said, noting that Cedillo had “appointed a special advisory panel” made up of people from the community, including residents, businesses and the neighborhood council to evaluate the proposals and make recommendations to the city council, ensuring the community had voice, he said.

Details of the development contract, including fees to be paid, the disposition of adjacent city-owned property currently in use by the transportation and sanitation departments, still have to be finalized. Once that is complete, the actual permitting process will get underway.

“It will probably be two years before building begins,” Navar said.

Arroyo Vista Dedica el Centro Ruby Cedillo Para el Cuidado de Mama e Imágenes

October 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

La fallecida esposa de un concejal de Los Ángeles fue reconocida el lunes como la inspiración detrás de la legislación que ha resultado en que decenas de miles de mujeres de bajos ingresos, en su mayoría latinas, tengan acceso a tecnología potencialmente salvadora de vidas y tratamiento contra el cáncer de seno.

El concejal Gil Cedillo y la directora ejecutiva de Arroyo Vista, Lorraine Estradas, en la dedicación del Centro de Cuidado de Mama e Imágenes de Ruby Cedillo en Highland Park el lunes.

El concejal Gil Cedillo y la directora ejecutiva de Arroyo Vista, Lorraine Estradas, en la dedicación del Centro de Cuidado de Mama e Imágenes de Ruby Cedillo en Highland Park el lunes.

El Centro de Salud Familiar Arroyo Vista (Arroyo Vista Family Health Center) en Highland Park el lunes se dedicó formalmente y renombro su Centro de Cuidado de Mama e Imágenes en honor a Ruby Cedillo, la esposa del concejal Gil Cedillo quien murió de cáncer de seno en 2002.

Octubre es el mes de concientización sobre el cáncer de mama y las cintas rosadas que simbolizaron la lucha contra el cáncer en todas partes. El nombramiento del centro después de Ruby llama la atención sobre las innumerables mujeres que han perdido la vida por la enfermedad y los avances en el tratamiento y la detección temprana que podrían salvar muchas vidas.

La directora ejecutiva de Arroyo Vista, Lorraine Estradas, le dijo a la multitud reunida que la legislación co-redactado de Cedillo durante su tiempo en la asamblea resultó en una subvención de $284,000 para comprar la costosa mamografía y otros equipos de diagnóstico en el centro de imágenes y cuidado de senos de la clínica.

El equipo, dijo, está salvando las vidas de mujeres como Olga Hernández de Lemus, una paciente cuyo cáncer de mama fue descubierto por una mamografía de rutina tomada en la clínica comunitaria y que ahora está llegando al final de su exitoso tratamiento contra el cáncer.

AB 2875 o el Programa de Subvención de Cedillo-Alarcón, autorizó la financiación de clínicas comunitarias que a menudo son la primera línea y la red de seguridad en la prestación de servicios de atención médica a las mujeres sin seguro de salud.

El equipo sofisticado disponible hoy en Arroyo Vista no estaba disponible para mujeres sin seguro de salud o con recursos financieros limitados, dijo Estradas.

Arroyo Vista fue la primera clínica en ofrecer mamografías en el lugar, dijo Estradas, agregando que todavía hay solo dos o tres clínicas comunitarias en el condado de Los Ángeles que brindan la detección diagnostica importante a mujeres de bajos recursos.

Mientras que Ruby no era paciente de Arroyo Vista, al igual que muchos de sus pacientes, luchó para encontrar la atención y el tratamiento que necesitaba. En el momento en que fue diagnosticada, los Cedillos no tenían seguro médico porque su esposo acababa de perder su trabajo en el sindicato en donde trabajaba. La pareja lucharía por obtener atención medica de Ruby, pidiendo favores y referencias de amigos y utilizando los servicios de clínicas comunitarias como Arroyo Vista, según el concejal.

El concejal Gil Cedillo y la directora ejecutiva de Arroyo Vista, Lorraine Estradas, en la dedicación del Centro de Cuidado de Mama e Imágenes de Ruby Cedillo en Highland Park el lunes.

Ruby estaba llena de vida, era una ávida aficionada a los deportes y le gustaban los LA Lakers y los UCLA Bruins, y los Bulldogs de la preparatoria Garfield. Apasionada por cuestiones que afectan a las personas, se involucró en las campañas políticas de personas que pensaba que podrían marcar una diferencia y visitó y asesoró a niños en situación de riesgo en instalaciones juveniles locales, según el concejal.

Dirigió la escuela bíblica de vacaciones en la Iglesia Cristiana Cuadrangular en Garvanza, donde había sido miembro durante años.

Al final, Ruby perderá su batalla contra el cáncer de mama.

La lucha por lo que ella pasó fue la inspiración detrás de AB 2875, dijo Cedillo.

Derek Oye, de la Sociedad Estadounidense del Cáncer, dijo el lunes que los servicios prestados en el ahora llamado Ruby Cedillo Cuidado de Mama e Imágenes (Ruby Cedillo Breast Care and Imaging Center) son “únicos y especiales”.

Una de cada ocho mujeres será diagnosticada con cáncer de mama y el 16 por ciento perderá su lucha contra la enfermedad, dijo Oye. Hoy en día, hay más mujeres que sobreviven, pero muchas más sobrevivirán si tienen mejor acceso a exámenes de detección temprana como los que se ofrecen en Arroyo Vista.

Como grupo, las latinas tienen la tasa más baja de mamografías, solo 46 por ciento, dijo Oye. La pobreza, el no acceso al seguro de salud es un gran problema, es por eso que el trabajo que hace Arroyo Vista es tan importante, dijo Oye, felicitando a Estradas, al personal del centro y a la junta directiva por el trabajo que hacen.

Desde el 2004, Arroyo Vista ha administrado 26,000 exámenes clínicos de senos y 21,000 mamografías, según el presidente de la junta, Roger Estrada. El equipo dedicado del centro brinda administración de casos y seguimiento a los proveedores de atención primaria de los pacientes en las cinco Clínicas Vista de Arroyo. Arroyo Vista brinda atención médica a pacientes sin importar su estado migratorio.

Olga Hernández de Lemus es una de las pacientes que puede dar fe de la calidad de la atención que Arroyo Vista ofrece a sus pacientes.

El concejal Gil Cedillo cerró sus comentarios al sorprender al personal y la junta de Arroyo Vista con un cheque de $25,000 para su cuidado continuo de las mujeres. (Foto por Steve Weingartn)

El concejal Gil Cedillo cerró sus comentarios al sorprender al personal y la junta de Arroyo Vista con un cheque de $25,000 para su cuidado continuo de las mujeres. (Foto por Steve Weingartn)

Lemus fue a Arroyo Vista en 2015 para un chequeo después de haberse desmayado. Durante el examen, ella mencionó que no se había hecho una mamografía en más de un año y la clínica inmediatamente arregló una para ella. Pronto recibió una llamada informándole que la mamografía había detectado algo y que se necesitaban más pruebas.

“Sentí mi pecho y no podía creer que tuviera un bulto”, contó Lemus en español. “Estaba asustada”.

Las pruebas revelaron que Lemus tenía cáncer de mama.

Arroyo Vista hizo arreglos para que se sometería una mastectomía y radiación. Registraron sus tratamientos y proporcionaron el estímulo que tanto necesitaban, dijo Lemus.

Fue muy duro, muy doloroso, dijo ella.

“A veces solo quería darme por vencida, pero me dije que podía hacerlo, no puedo darme por vencida”, dijo ella, diciendo a la audiencia que Arroyo Vista le había salvado la vida.

Dirigiéndose a Cedillo, con lágrimas en los ojos y la voz quebrada, agradeció al concejal por su participación en su supervivencia.

“Sin un líder como usted, las mujeres no tendrían un centro como Arroyo Vista”, dijo Lemus.

Visiblemente emocionado, Cedillo calificó de “agridulce” el nombre del centro para su esposa fallecida.

Dijo que Ruby se habría sentido muy orgulloso y que está a su lado mientras trabaja para llevar a buen término a lo que querían hacer para ayudar a los trabajadores pobres.

El cáncer puede pasarle factura a una familia, dijo Cedillo. Es uno de los momentos más horribles en su vida, dijo.

“No entiendo por qué a la gente le gustan las películas de terror, la vida es lo suficientemente aterradora”.

Cedillo cerró sus comentarios al sorprender al personal y la junta de Arroyo Vista con un cheque de $25,000 para su cuidado continuo de las mujeres.

“Este dinero nos ayudará a brindar servicios a muchas más mujeres”, dijo Estradas.

Council Adopts Protections for L.A. Renters

October 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday took action to provide protections for tenants facing relocation due to condominium conversion projects.

On a 12-0 vote, the panel approved Ellis Act amendments to the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

The state’s Ellis Act allows landlords to exit the rental market, but has guidelines on how it can be done and can require landlords to provide relocation assistance to tenants who must move out.

“Today’s council action cements our place as a leader in tenant protections. Los Angeles has one of the strongest Rent Stabilization ordinances in the nation,” said Councilman Gil Cedillo, who introduced the motion that led to the amendments. “These amendments make it harder to displace tenants using the Ellis Act, and guarantees the rights of those tenants are adhered to under the law.”

The amendments clarify that a property owner must provide relocation assistance to tenants that are displaced as the result of a condo conversion and that property owners wishing to re-rent units within 10 years from the date the property was withdrawn from the residential rental market shall give the tenants who were displaced a right of first refusal to rent or lease the unit they were previously displaced from.

The amendments also clarify that in any legal action brought by the property owner to recover possession of a rental unit withdrawn from the residential rental market pursuant to the city’s Ellis Act provisions, the tenant may raise as a defense the failure on the part of the property owner to comply with one or more of the requirements set forth under the Ellis Act provisions and/or the Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

Latin Jazz and Music Fest Returns to Sycamore Park

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Now in its fourth consecutive year, the annual Latin Jazz and Music Festival returns to Sycamore Grove Park in Northeast Los Angeles this weekend for two days of music that fuse the artistry of jazz with the warmth and vitality of Latin rhythms and soul.

Afro-Latin Jazz master Arturo O’ Farrill comes to Highland Park this weekend.

Afro-Latin Jazz master Arturo O’ Farrill comes to Highland Park this weekend.

The festival, hosted by L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo, opens at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23rd with a showcase performance by the Plaza de la Raza Youth Ensemble and concludes on Sunday, the 24th with a highly anticipated performance by Los Coyotes Blues Band, featuring members of the legendary, multiple Grammy Award-winning Los Lobos.

According to Fredy Cejas, Cedillo’s communications director, the festival is an opportunity for the community to enjoy great local musical acts in a relaxed outdoor setting.

“We want to continue the tradition of bringing diverse bands and our diverse constituents together,” says Cejas, who adds that including community-based youth performances helps ensure the festival is “being inclusive of our own local talent and giving them exposure.”

 Los Coyotes - (led by Cesar Rosas and David Hidlago of Los Lobos) will close out the festival, Sunday, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

Los Coyotes – (led by Cesar Rosas and David Hidlago of Los Lobos) will close out the festival, Sunday, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

On top of two days of free, live performances, an onsite community resource fair will bring city departments and non-profit groups together for the community to explore, Cejas adds.

Festivalgoers will be treated to a range of nationally and internationally prominent acts, from the Susie Hansen Latin Band, led by the renowned electric violinist and Saturday headliner Joe Bataan, a legendary New York salsero whose distinctive “salsoul” blend of salsa and R & B has packed dance and concert halls on both coasts and in Europe for decades.

On Sunday, Cold Duck, an eight-piece Southern California orchestra with a sterling reputation for versatility and musical showmanship will take the stage at 2:50 p.m. They are followed by the Arturo O’Farrill Quartet, fronted by the pianist, composer and director of the acclaimed Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. The son of famed Latin jazz musician, arranger and bandleader Chico O’Farrill, Arturo is a leading exponent of Latin Jazz worldwide.

Introduced by Cedillo in 2014 as a festival designed to reflect Highland Park’s “authentic character and vibe,” the celebration was also intended to appeal to the area’s young people and the local area’s large Latino population.

Event sponsors include Paramount Pictures, Coca-Cola, nonprofit El Centro del Pueblo, Big Belly Smart City Solutions, Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

The festival is accessible to mobility challenged guests and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, umbrellas, and picnic blankets to sit on.

Off-street parking is available, but guests are strongly encouraged to take the Metro Gold Line to the Southwest Museum Station with access directly across the street from the park.

Sycamore Grove Park is located at 4702 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park 90042. For a complete list of performers and the two-day schedule, visit www.GilCedillo.com.

Megan Razzetti contributed to this story.

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