Fig Traffic Safety Still an Issue for Cedillo

May 19, 2016 by · 3 Comments 

A ceremony was held last week in Highland Park to inaugurate the installation of a new traffic signal on Figueroa Street at Avenue 55, where residents have complained of speeding drivers and unsafe conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

First District Councilman Gil Cedillo represents the area and was joined at the May 13 installation ceremony by students, teachers and parents from Monte Vista Elementary School.

The new traffic signal is part of his effort to improve public safety in the district, Cedillo said.

“Accidents happen, there’s no question about it,” the councilman told the group. That’s why “we want to make a safe [North Figueroa] corridor,” he added.

Traffic safety on Figueroa is a hot button issue in Highland Park.

Lea este artículo en Español: La Seguridad del Tránsito Continúa Siendo un Problema para Cedillo

Some have sought to blame Cedillo personally for fatal accidents along the commercial corridor, such as those involving a speeding driver who struck Yolanda Espinoza Lugo in a marked crosswalk on Figueroa and Avenue 24, then sped away, and another involving a 17-year-old student from Montebello who was fatally hit by a city-operated semi-truck near his Highland Park school.

But according to Cedillo, since taking office in 2013 he has been actively working with the city’s transportation department to install safety enhancements – such as the  traffic lights between Avenue 50 and Avenue 60 that give pedestrians more to time to cross the street and now the signal on Avenue 55.

Another traffic signal is coming soon to Avenue 51 and rectangular rapid crosswalk beacons will be installed on Avenues 35, 41 and 60, according to Cedillo’s Communications Director Fredy Ceja.

“As the local government, public safety is our number one obligation,” Cedillo said last week.

Highland Park resident Jessica Sevillano is the mother of one of the second-graders at the ceremony. She told EGP she thinks Cedillo is doing a good job, but added he could have made the improvements a long time ago and prevented some of the tragedies.

“There have been too many accidents,” she said in Spanish, pointing out that her mother was nearly hit while crossing the street with her son.

“Maybe he has too much work and he didn’t notice before, but this light is much needed,” she told EGP.

Traffic safety work has been done as fast as possible, counters Cedillo’s chief of staff Arturo Chavez. He told EGP that from planning to installation, a new traffic light usually takes two years: “We did it in nine months,” he said about the signal on Avenue 55. “But when accidents happen, there’s nothing that anyone can do to prevent them. A light is not going to prevent them, a crosswalk is not going to prevent them,” he said.

It’s the same point the councilman made an article published by EGP earlier this year. Cedillo told EGP people must take responsibility for their actions. You cannot drink and drive or be texting while driving or walking, he said, explaining that distracted motorists and pedestrians are a safety hazard.

While Cedillo supporters tout his efforts to improve the district, citing his work to clean areas filled with debris and to remove bulky items and make streets safer, others complain that he’s more interested in what big donors to his campaign want. They say he needs to be more hands on and visible.

A local bike activist who often takes to social media to launch barrages of criticism at Cedillo, particularly on traffic safety, has decided to challenge the councilman in the next election. Josef Bray-Ali owns the Flying Pigeon bike shop in Cypress Park and says he has decided to turn his anger into activism.

About two weeks ago, Bray-Ali, 37, filed with the LA City Ethics Commission to start fundraising as a candidate for CD-1 in the March 2017 Primary Election. He hopes to open his campaign office a few doors down from his store by the end of the month.

Councilman Cedillo and students from Monte Vista Elementary cross the intersection of Figueroa and Avenue 55 where a new traffic has been installed. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Councilman Cedillo and students from Monte Vista Elementary cross the intersection of Figueroa and Avenue 55 where a new traffic has been installed. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

According to Bray-Ali, he tried for nearly two years to meet directly with Cedillo to discuss the safe-street plan, but could never get past his staff.

“I went from the chief of staff to the field rep to receptionist, and I wouldn’t pass from there,” he told EGP Monday. “We have become a bunch of nobodies in our own neighborhoods,” he complained.

Among his chief complaints was the councilman’s decision to halt plans to build dedicated bike lanes along Figueroa. The proposed “road-diet” would have run from Colorado Boulevard to San Fernando Road. It was shortened to run between York and San Fernando but was eventually completely cancelled per Cedillo’s request to LADOT, according to Bray-Ali.

“There’s a lot of negative emotions that I have towards him as a politician because of the fight that we put to try to get the bike lane along Figueroa,” Bray-Ali said, “and the councilman stopped this project for reasons that are not clear.”

While running for city council, Cedillo expressed support for the road diet, dedicated bike lane plan. But after taking office and holding community meetings on the topic, he dropped his support for the plan, citing the complaints of people who travel the corridor and businesses along the route that reducing lanes for cars will cause traffic tie-ups and increase emergency response times.

Bray-Ali’s and other bike lane supporters’ social media postings, using the hashtags #chaleconCedillo and #RoadKillGil, have blamed the councilman’s cancellation of bike lanes for accidents along Figueroa and in some cases for accidents in other parts of the district.

Chavez calls the postings offensive. He said a road diet alone would not stop people from speeding and questioned why for some people a road diet is a better solution than a street light.

Bray-Ali said the bike route is not his only reason for running for office. He says he wants to build stronger neighborhoods that are more connected.

“I want small incremental growth instead of the big buildings,” he said, emphasizing that renting and buying property nowadays has become almost impossible for residents of the area.

“What are we doing that is failing? Why were generations earlier getting property and we can’t?” he questioned, calling Cedillo’s representation of the district “incompetent.”

The problem of housing affordability, however, is a citywide issue. The city council is considering charging developers fees to pay for more affordable housing or to require that their projects include set-asides for those types of units.

Last August Cedillo announced a plan to use about $9 million available to his district through “excess bond proceeds” left over from the city’s former redevelopment agency, to subsidize some of the 15,000 affordable housing units in danger of being removed from the housing market.

“We are really doing a great job in this area and we are cleaning it up like we committed and making it safer,” Cedillo told EGP.

“Sometimes people who don’t live in our district want to come and criticize us.”


Twitter @jackiereporter

La Seguridad del Tránsito Continúa Siendo un Problema para Cedillo

May 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Una ceremonia se llevó a cabo la semana pasada en Highland Park para inaugurar la instalación de un nuevo semáforo en la calle Figueroa y la Avenida 55 donde los residentes se han quejado de vehículos que pasan a alta velocidad y las condiciones inseguras para los peatones y ciclistas.

El concejal del primer distrito Gil Cedillo representa el área y estuvo acompañado en la ceremonia de instalación del 13 de mayo por estudiantes, maestros y padres de la escuela primaria Monte Vista.

La nueva señal de tráfico es parte de su esfuerzo para mejorar la seguridad pública en el distrito, dijo Cedillo.

Read this article in English: Fig Traffic Safety Still an Issue for Cedillo

“Los accidentes ocurren, no hay duda al respecto”, dijo el concejal al público presente. Es por eso que “queremos hacer un corredor seguro [en Norte Figueroa]”, agregó.

La seguridad del tráfico en Figueroa es un tema controversial en Highland Park.

Algunos han tratado de culpar a Cedillo personalmente por accidentes mortales a lo largo del corredor comercial, tales como el que implicó a un conductor que iba a exceso de velocidad y huyó después de golpear a Yolanda Espinoza Lugo y matarla, y otro que implica un joven de 17 años de edad estudiante de Montebello que fue fatalmente golpeado por un camión de la ciudad que estaba cerca de su escuela en Highland Park.

Pero de acuerdo con Cedillo, desde que asumió el cargo en 2013 él ha estado trabajando activamente con el departamento de transporte de la ciudad para instalar mejoras de seguridad—tales como los semáforos entre la Avenida 50 y la Avenida 60 que dan a los peatones más tiempo para cruzar la calle y ahora el semáforo en la Avenida 55—para reducir la velocidad del tráfico a lo largo del corredor comercial.

Otra señal de tráfico llegará pronto a la Avenida 51 y faros de paso rápidos rectangulares para peatones se instalarán en las Avenidas 35, 41 y 60, de acuerdo con el director de comunicaciones de Cedillo, Fredy Ceja, quien añadió que todavía no hay una fecha para la instalación.

“Como gobierno local, la seguridad pública es nuestra primera obligación”, Cedillo dijo la semana pasada.

El concejal reunido con un grupo de estudiantes de la primaria Monte Vista inauguran el nuevo semáforo en la Avenida 55. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El concejal reunido con un grupo de estudiantes de la primaria Monte Vista inauguran el nuevo semáforo en la Avenida 55. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

La residente de Highland Park Jessica Sevillano es la madre de uno de los alumnos de segundo grado en la ceremonia. Ella le dijo a EGP que piensa que Cedillo está haciendo un buen trabajo, pero agregó que podría haber hecho las mejoras hace más tiempo evitando algunas de las tragedias.

“Han habido muchos accidentes”, dijo, señalando que su madre estuvo a punto de ser golpeada al cruzar la calle con su hijo.

“Tal vez él [Cedillo] tiene mucho trabajo y no se dio cuenta antes, pero esta luz es muy necesaria”, le dijo a EGP.

El trabajo para la seguridad del tráfico se ha hecho lo más rápido posible, explicó a EGP Arturo Chávez, jefe de personal con Cedillo. Él dijo que la planificación de la instalación de un nuevo semáforo por lo general toma dos años: “Lo hicimos en nueve meses”, dijo acerca de la señal en la Avenida 55. “Pero cuando ocurren accidentes, no hay nada que nadie pueda hacer para prevenirlas. Una luz no las va a prevenir, un cruce de peatones no las va a impedir”, dijo.

Es el mismo punto, que el concejal hizo en un artículo publicado por EGP a principios de este año. En ese momento, Cedillo le dijo a EGP que las personas deben asumir la responsabilidad de sus acciones. No se puede beber y conducir o enviar mensajes de texto mientras se conduce o camina, dijo, explicando que los automovilistas y peatones distraídos son un peligro para la seguridad.

Mientras que los partidarios de Cedillo alaban sus esfuerzos por mejorar el barrio, citando su esfuerzo por limpiar las áreas llenas de escombros, eliminar los objetos voluminosos y hacer más seguras las calles, otros se quejan de que él está más interesado en lo que los grandes donantes de su campaña quieren. Dicen que él tiene que ser más práctico y visible.

Un activista local de bicicletas que a menudo bombardea los medios sociales con críticas en contra de Cedillo, en particular sobre la seguridad del tráfico, ha decidido desafiar al concejal en la próxima elección. Josef Bray-Ali es dueño de la tienda de bicicletas Flying Pigeon en Cypress Park y dice que ha decidido convertir su ira en activismo.

Hace unas dos semanas, Bray-Ali, de 37 años, presentó su documentación ante la Comisión de Ética de la Ciudad de Los Ángeles para iniciar la recaudación de fondos como candidato para CD-1 en la elección primaria de marzo del 2017. Espera abrir su oficina de campaña, localizada a unos pies de distancia de su negocio, a finales del mes.

Según Bray-Ali, durante casi dos años intentó reunirse directamente con Cedillo para discutir el plan de seguridad de las calles, pero nunca pudo sobrepasar a su personal.

“Me redujeron del jefe de personal al representante de campo hasta la recepcionista, y no pasaba de ahí”, le dijo a EGP el lunes. “Nos hemos convertido en un grupo de don nadie en nuestros propios barrios”, se quejó.

Entre sus principales quejas estaba la decisión del concejal para detener los planes para construir los carriles de bicicleta dedicados a lo largo de Figueroa. La propuesta de “Road Diet” correría del bulevar Colorado a San Fernando Road. Después fue reducida entre York y San Fernando, pero finalmente fue cancelado por completo a petición de Cedillo con LADOT, según Bray-Ali.

“Hay muchas emociones negativas que tengo hacia él como político debido a la lucha que pusimos para tratar de obtener el carril de bicicletas a lo largo de Figueroa”, dijo Bray-Ali, “y el concejal detuvo este proyecto por razones que no están claras”.

Mientras corría para concejal del ayuntamiento, Cedillo expresó su apoyo al carril de bicicletas. Pero después de tomar posesión del cargo y llevar reuniones de la comunidad sobre el tema, dejó de apoyar el plan, citando las quejas de las personas que viajan por el corredor y empresas a lo largo de la ruta que la reducción de carriles para los autos hará congestión de tráfico y aumentará los tiempos de respuesta de emergencia.

Bray-Ali y otros partidarios de las rutas de bicicleta utilizan los medios sociales con los hashtags #chaleconCedillo y #RoadKillGil, culpando a Cedillo por la cancelación de los carriles de bicicleta llevando a accidentes a lo largo de Figueroa y en algunos casos de accidentes en otras partes del distrito.

Chávez llama ofensivas las publicaciones. Dijo que una ruta de bicicleta por sí sola no podría impedir que la gente no vaya a exceso de velocidad y se preguntó por qué para algunas personas un carril de bicicleta es una mejor solución que un semáforo.

Bray-Ali dijo que la ruta de bicicleta no es su única razón para correr por el puesto de concejal. Dice que quiere construir vecindarios más fuertes que estén más conectados.

“Quiero un pequeño crecimiento gradual en lugar de los grandes edificios”, dijo, haciendo hincapié en que el alquiler y la compra de la propiedad en la actualidad se ha convertido en casi imposible para los residentes de la zona.

“¿Qué estamos haciendo que está fallando? ¿Por qué las generaciones anteriores pudieron obtener propiedad y nosotros no podemos?”, Se cuestionó, diciendo que la representación de Cedillo en el distrito es “incompetente”.

El problema de la accesibilidad a la vivienda, sin embargo, es un problema de toda la ciudad. El ayuntamiento está considerando cobrar tarifas a los desarrolladores para pagar por más vivienda asequible o exigir que sus proyectos incluyan reservas para esos tipos de unidades.

En agosto pasado Cedillo anunció un plan para usar $9 millones de dólares disponibles para su distrito a través de “exceso de ganancias de bonos” dejada por la agencia de desarrollo urbano anterior de la ciudad, para subvencionar algunas de las 15.000 unidades de vivienda asequible en peligro de ser retiradas del mercado de vivienda.

“Nosotros realmente estamos haciendo un gran trabajo en esta área y estamos limpiando como nos hemos comprometido y la estamos haciendo más segura”, Cedillo le dijo a EGP. “A veces las personas que no viven en nuestro distrito quieren venir a criticar”.


Twitter @jackiereporter

Plaza de la Raza Celebrates Parking Re-Opening

May 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A new parking lot at the Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center will official open this weekend, in time for summer programming at the Lincoln Park community arts venue, city officials said Friday.

The 30 parking spaces replace a dirt lot, adding to existing street and overflow parking near the performing arts and cultural center, and features fencing decorated with panels by artist Sonia Romero.

Councilman Gil Cedillo will join recreation and parks officials on Saturday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m.

The facility hosts hundreds of art classes and workshops each season, as well as art shows, cultural events and performances, according to Recreation and Parks officials. It was also the site of a fan gathering for pop artist Selena last month.

This month, Plaza de la Raza is running an original youth theater production, Y.E.L.L. (Your Electronic Lifeline’s Lifeline), a play about a
dystopian future co-written by CalArts grad Sarah Louise Wilson and youth participants, with music composed and performed with former The Airborne Toxic Event band-member Noah Harmon.

Reyes Honored With Lummis’ ‘Noicemaker Award’

April 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Former Los Angeles councilman Ed Reyes was honored by the Lummis Day Community Foundation at the groups’ annual awards dinner earlier this month at the 104-year-old Highland Park Ebell Club.

Reyes received the Foundation’s prestigious “Noisemaker Award,” presented to a person whose work and contributions to the community are consistent with the mission of the Lummis Day Community Foundation “to celebrate the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles through educational and cultural events and to promote cooperation among people of all ages and backgrounds.”

The award was presented to Reyes by Councilman Gil Cedillo, who now represents the council district formerly represented by Reyes.

(Lummis Day Community Foundation)

(Lummis Day Community Foundation)

“I applaud Ed’s expertise and his vision in helping to draw up plans for the Los Angeles River and his long service to the community,” Cedillo said when presenting the award.

This year’s Lummis Day Festival, the 11th annual event, will take place on June 3, 4 and 5 at four Northeast L.A. locations: Occidental College in2 Eagle Rock the Southwest Museum in Mt Washington, Sycamore Grove Park and the area surrounding the York Boulevard & Avenue 50 park in Highland Park.

As always, admission to all festival events will be free of charge. Full festival schedule will be posted at

Vin Scully ‘Overwhelmed’ By Street Dedication

April 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A street leading to Dodger Stadium was dedicated today as Vin Scully Avenue, prompting the longtime Dodger broadcaster to say he was “overwhelmed” by the honor he once declined.

Scully began his nearly 6 1/2-minute acceptance speech like he would a broadcast, saying “Hi everybody and a very pleasant good afternoon to you,” drawing cheers from the crowd of fans estimated by a team official as “a few hundred,” just inside Dodger Stadium’s main entrance.

Elysian Park street re-named Monday for legendary Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully. (EGPNews photo by Fred Zermeno)

Elysian Park street re-named Monday for legendary Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully. (EGPNews photo by Fred Zermeno)

“I had to get that out because in all honesty, if you asked me this very minute how do you feel about what’s going on, I would have to say overwhelmed,” Scully said. “I really am.”

Scully later said he was overwhelmed by the kindness and excitement of fans.

“Just to hear you, your enthusiasm, the voice that comes roaring out of the stands, there’s nothing like it,” the 88-year-old Scully said.

Following his opening remarks, Scully recounted his youth in Manhattan during the Great Depression, playing stickball on the streets, and said, “I have to thank almighty God, first of all, to be this old and to continue to do something that I loved all my life.”

Scully then praised his wife Sandi, discussing “the lonely days and nights that a wife has while her husband is working in the ballpark or for that matter, spending over 100 days on the road away from her.”

“If you are fortunate enough to have a wife without complaint you have been blessed and I have been blessed with Sandy,” Scully said.

Scully has said this will be his final season after a record 67 seasons with the team. He said he will most miss “the roar of the crowd,” which brings him back to when he was 8 years old, listening on his family’s radio to college football games that would later spark his interest in becoming a broadcaster.

Mayor Eric Garcetti recalled going to games as a child with his father Gil, who would be elected district attorney in 1992, and asking why fans at the games would bring transistor radios with them.

“My dad had a two-word answer — Vin Scully,” Garcetti said. “He said they understand the game more, they understand the players and the history and the context.” Scully has been “the voice and the heart and the soul of this city,” and “an angel in the City of Angels,” Garcetti said, using a phrase frequently used by former Councilman Tom LaBonge, who was also in attendance.

First District Councilman Gil Cedillo spearheaded effort to bring about the name change and on Friday  the City Council gave their final approval to the changing the name of what had been Elysian Park Avenue. The stadium’s new address, 1000 Vin Scully Avenue, was on a new sign welcoming fans to the stadium that was unveiled last week.

When Garcetti made a similar street-naming proposal in 2013 in response to a viewer question on a public affairs television program, Scully said he would prefer for a street near Dodger Stadium to be renamed after Walter O’Malley, who brought the team to Los Angeles from Brooklyn following the 1957 season, or O’Malley’s son Peter, instead of himself.

“The mayor of Los Angeles has a great deal more important things to do than name a street after me,” Scully said at the time. “And if he is considering that idea, better the street should be named after Walter or Peter O’Malley than myself.”

Peter O’Malley succeeded his father as the team’s chairman of the board upon the elder O’Malley’s death in 1979. The O’Malley family continued to own the Dodgers until the team’s sale to the Fox Group in 1997.

“The city is thrilled to be honoring such a legend in Los Angeles. Dodger fans span beyond the First District and beyond the city of Los Angeles, with everyone knowing the voice of Vin Scully,” Cedillo said today. “When Angelenos attend a Dodger game, they will now say, ‘turn on to Vin Scully Ave.’ Vin will be immensely missed, but we wish him well as he kicks off his final season in broadcasting. We would also thank the Los Angeles Dodgers for planting more than 40 new trees and repairing much needed sidewalks along the street.”

Scully has been a Dodger broadcaster since 1950, the longest tenure for a broadcaster with a team. He has been the Dodgers’ No. 1 announcer since 1954, succeeding his mentor, Red Barber, who had become a broadcaster with the New York Yankees.

Either on the team or NBC broadcasts, Scully has called such memorable moments by the Dodgers (or their opponents) as Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, New York Yankee pitcher Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and Hank Aaron’s record- setting 715th home run.

Scully’s many honors include the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for “major contributions to baseball” and being named the greatest sportscaster by the American Sportscasters Association.

A ranking system devised by author Curt Smith for his 2005 book “Voices of the Game” determined that Scully was baseball’s greatest announcer, giving him a perfect score of 100, based on such factors as longevity, language, popularity and persona.

Updated 6:30 p.m.

L.A. Law Will Allow Homeless to Keep Belongings

March 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday tentatively approved revisions to a law that prohibits the storage of property in public areas such as sidewalks, making it so that at least for now, transients will be allowed to keep 60 gallons worth of belongings.

The move came over the objections of advocates for the homeless, who say the law essentially makes homelessness a crime.

The council voted 13-1 to sign off on amendments – including the 60- gallon provision – to the city law known as 56.11 that prohibits tents and other living space to be set up between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. and currently does not allow any storage of personal property in public areas.

Because the vote was not unanimous, the ordinance will return for a second and final vote on April 6.

Councilman Gil Cedillo voted against the revisions. He said there was no need to adopt such a measure because there are other laws that could address concerns raised today by homeowners and others about criminal activity, obstruction of accessibility in public areas and unsanitary conditions associated with homeless encampments.

Councilman Mike Bonin said he was not completely happy with the ordinance, but considered it an improvement over the one now on the books, which only allows homeless individuals to keep as many belongings as they can carry.

The City Council has been under pressure to strengthen the law against legal challenges from advocates for the homeless, and to avoid being seen as criminalizing them.

Top homeless services officials for the city and county also urged the city to change the law to remove any aspects that would criminalize homelessness, saying that failing to do so would jeopardize about $110 million in federal funding needed to provide housing and other services to the homeless.

The City Council voted last November to amend the law to remove aspects that could be seen as criminalizing homelessness. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the first chunk of the funding – $84.2 million – to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

But the City Council did not move until today to approve the actual language of the amendments promised last fall, and advocates for the homeless say the revisions still contain criminal penalties and provisions that would punish the homeless for being forced to live on the streets.

Under the revisions, it would be unlawful for homeless individuals and others who refuse to take down their encampments during the day or prevent a city employee from doing so.

It would also be a misdemeanor if an individual delays, resists or obstructs a city employee from moving, removing, impounding or discarding personal property stored in a public area.

Homeless individuals would be allowed to store a 60-gallon bin’s worth of belongings – including deconstructed tents, bedding, clothes, food, medicine, documents and other personal items – on the sidewalk as long as they are attended.

The city could still impound property that is left unattended and any property that is in excess of the 60 gallons, under the revised ordinance.

City attorneys said earlier this month the amendments are aimed at giving the city a way to keep sidewalks clear and accessible while allowing homeless individuals to keep some belongings if there are no other places to store them.

Assistant City Attorney Valerie Flores told the Homelessness and Poverty Committee that the 60-gallon provision was included in the hope of striking “the right balance,” but added that “this is sort of uncharted territory” in terms of whether the courts would accept it.

She said the provision is an improvement over the existing law, which “did not allow anything a person couldn’t carry.”

“We do believe this is a lawful ordinance and a court would appreciate the dueling interests that we’re trying to serve and hopefully uphold the ordinance,” Flores said.

The proposed ordinance could cost the Los Angeles area the remaining $24 million in HUD grants being sought by the city and county’s joint homelessness services authority “at a time when the city and county can scarcely afford to lose a single dollar in federal funding for the homeless,” , according to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

L.A. City Staffer Pleads Not Guilty to Misdemeanor Charges

March 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

One of two Los Angeles City Council staff members arrested in separate weekend incidents for allegedly driving under the
influence pleaded not guilty today to two misdemeanor charges.

An April 20 pretrial hearing is scheduled for Fredy Ceja, 36, a spokesman for First District City Councilman Gil Cedillo.
Ceja was arrested at 12:06 a.m. Saturday at Sixth and Spring streets in downtown Los Angeles.  He was released on bond early Wednesday.

Fed Ceja, communications director with Councilman Gil Cedilla. (Facebook)

Fredy Ceja, communications director for Councilman Gil Cedilla. (Facebook)

According to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Ceja is charged with driving under the influence with a prior DUI conviction and driving with a blood- alcohol level exceeding 0.08 with a prior DUI conviction, both misdemeanors. Both charges include an enhancement of refusing to submit to a blood-alcohol test.

A Los Angeles Police Department source told the Los Angeles Times that Ceja’s car collided with a Metro bus.

Cedillo’s chief of staff, Arturo Chavez, said Ceja was cited for DUI during his off-work hours while using his personal vehicle, but declined to comment further, calling it a personnel matter.

Records cited by The Times suggest Ceja and Torres may have had earlier brushes with law.
A man matching Ceja’s name and date of birth was arrested by the LAPD near the southbound 101 Freeway in December 2009 on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to jail records reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. He was later charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving, and he pleaded no contest in 2010 to reckless driving, according to court records. At a May 3, 2010, sentencing, he was given 36 months probation and 30 days in L.A. County Jail, according to court records.
In 2006, a man matching Ceja’s name and date of birth pleaded no contest to driving under the influence of alcohol and was sentenced to six days in L.A. County Jail, according to court records cited by The Times. In 2003, a man matching Ceja’s birth date and name pleaded no contest to driving under the influence of alcohol and was sentenced to a three-year probation term, the
newspaper reported.

Dos Empleados de la Ciudad Son Arrestados por DUI

March 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Dos miembros del personal del Ayuntamiento de Los Ángeles fueron detenidos en incidentes separados por presuntamente conducir bajo la influencia, dijeron las autoridades.

Fredy Ceja, 36, director de comunicaciones para el Concejal Gil Cedillo quien representa al Primer Distrito fue detenido el sábado a las 12:06am en las calles Sexta y Spring en el centro de Los Ángeles, según el Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles.

Ceja estaba programado para escuchar su lectura de cargos el martes, sin embargo fue pospuesta para hoy jueves, según el portavoz de la Corte Superior de Los Ángeles.

De acuerdo con la Oficina del Abogado de la Ciudad, Ceja está acusado de conducir bajo la influencia con una convicción previa por DUI y conducir con un nivel de alcohol en la sangre superior a 0,08 con una convicción previa por DUI, ambos delitos menores.

Ambos cargos incluyen la negación de Ceja a someterse a una prueba de alcohol en la sangre.

Fed Ceja, director de comunicaciones con el concejal Gil Cedillo.

Fed Ceja, director de comunicaciones con el concejal Gil Cedillo.

Una fuente de LAPD le dijo a Los Angeles Times que Ceja golpeó a un autobús de Metro con su auto personal.

Ceja se encuentra en custodia bajo una fianza de $50,000 de acuerdo con la base de datos interno del Departamento del Alguacil del Condado de Los Ángeles.

El jefe de personal con Cedillo, Arturo Chávez, dijo que Ceja fue citado por supuestamente conducir bajo la influencia del alcohol (DUI) fuera de sus horas de trabajo, y durante el uso de su vehículo personal. Chávez se negó a hacer más comentarios, llamándolo un “asunto personal”.

También el sábado, otro miembro del personal del Ayuntamiento, Fredy Torres, de 27 años, fue detenido alrededor de las 1:15am bajo sospecha de conducir bajo la influencia en la calle 43 y la avenida McKinley, de acuerdo con LAPD. Alrededor de medio día del sábado fue puesto en libertad después de pagar una fianza de $15,000, de acuerdo con registros de la cárcel.

Torres, diputado de campo en el Octavo Distrito para el Concejal Marqueece Harris-Dawson, conducía un automóvil propiedad de la ciudad cuando fue detenido, según la oficina del concejal.

Fredy Torres, diputado de campo con el concejal Marqueece Harris-Dawson del octavo distrito.

Fredy Torres, diputado de campo con el concejal Marqueece Harris-Dawson del octavo distrito.

Torres fue puesto bajo licencia, según el jefe de personal de Harris-Dawson, Salomón Rivera.

“Tan pronto como nos dimos cuenta del incidente en el que Fredy Torres, el concejal Harris-Dawson indicó a su personal a llamar a LAPD y al departamento de personal de la Ciudad para expresar su preocupación y comprometer a nuestra oficina a completa cooperación. Hemos descansado a Torres, mientras se investiga este asunto”, dijo.

Los registros citados por el Times sugieren que Ceja y Torres pudieron haber tenido problemas con la ley anteriormente.

Un hombre con nombre y fecha de nacimiento iguales a los de Ceja fue detenido por la policía de Los Ángeles en diciembre de 2009 en la autopista 101 hacia el sur bajo sospecha de conducir bajo la influencia, de acuerdo con registros de la cárcel revisados ??por el Times. Después fue acusado de conducir bajo los efectos del alcohol y conducir sin precaución y no refutó cargos en 2010 por conducir de manera imprudente, según documentos judiciales.

En una sentencia del 3 de mayo de 2010, recibió 36 meses de libertad condicional y 30 días en la Cárcel del Condado de Los Ángeles, de acuerdo con documentos de la corte.

En 2006, un hombre que tenía el mismo nombre y fecha de nacimiento de Ceja no refutó cargos por conducir bajo los efectos del alcohol y fue condenado a seis días en la Cárcel del Condado, según documentos judiciales citados por el Times. En 2003, un hombre con la misma fecha de nacimiento y el nombre de Ceja no refutó por conducir bajo la influencia del alcohol y fue condenado a una pena de libertad condicional de tres años, informó el diario.

Un hombre con el mismo nombre y la fecha de nacimiento de Torres fue acusado por intoxicación pública en 2009, pero el cargo fue posteriormente rechazado, de acuerdo a registros de la corte citados por el Times.

Two City Staffers Arrested for Alleged DUI

March 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Two Los Angeles City Council staffers were arrested in separate incidents for allegedly driving under the influence, officials said Monday.

Fredy Ceja, 36, communications deputy for First District Councilman Gil Cedillo was arrested Saturday at 12:06am at Sixth and Spring streets in downtown Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

An LAPD source told the Los Angeles Times he hit a Metro bus with his private car.

Ceja is in custody in lieu of $50,000 bail even though the charge he faces is a misdemeanor, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department inmate database.

Ceja was due in court this morning.

Cedillo’s chief-of-staff, Arturo Chavez, said Ceja was cited for alleged DUI during his off-work hours, and while using his personal vehicle. Chavez declined to comment further, calling it a “personnel matter.”

Also on Saturday, another City Hall staffer, Fredy Torres, 27, was arrested about 1:15am on suspicion of driving under the influence at 43rd Street and McKinley Avenue, according to LAPD. He was released around noon that day, according to jail records.

Torres, a field deputy for Eighth District Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, was driving a city-issued car when he was arrested, according to the councilman’s office.

Harris-Dawson’s chief of staff, Solomon Rivera, confirmed that officials in the councilman’s office received “information from LAPD and have spoken to the employee.”

“We take this very seriously, however, this is still under investigation so we have no further comment,” Rivera said.

Updated 12:20 p.m. to correct headline misspell.

Drivers Have A Role In Arroyo Seco Parkway Safety

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Arroyo Seco Parkway or State Route 110 is hailed as the first freeway of the west and a vital artery that connects Los Angeles to Pasadena. Despite being seen as an engineering feat in the 1940’s, today its design is considered outdated, and to many, a winding series of safety hazards.
“We have to understand that when it was built, cars were not going that fast. Old Model T’s would usually get up to 30 mph at the max,” said Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents some of the communities adjacent to Arroyo Seco Parkway.

The safety concerns experienced today can be seen at hairpin exits like the one at Avenue 43, which inspired a group of local residents to start a petition drive in December 2014 to urge Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leòn to secure state funding for Caltrans — the state agency charged with maintaining freeways and highways — to make improvements and add more exits to the parkway to make it safer.

“I know there are concerns about it and heard about it at different meetings,” acknowledges Cedillo, who adds that management of the parkway is not the city of Los Angeles’ responsibility, but the state’s.

“I’ve taken these concerns to the  senator [Kevin de Leon] who is very powerful and can have an impact and influence on those matters.” Cedillo told EGP.

There has been some action by Caltrans to make the Arroyo Seco Parkway a safer place to drive. In 2012, Caltrans released the Arroyo Seco Corridor Partnership Plan, which among other things included the goal of preserving the parkway’s historical value and usefulness to the surrounding communities while making it safer.

Four years later, safety issues remain, prompting Cedillo to say more needs to be done to figure out “what mitigations can be implemented” to improve safety, and “how it relates to the important arteries that bring people into the city.”

He points out, however, that design changes alone to make the Arroyo Seco Parkway more suited to handle modern day traffic will not make the parkway accident free; motorists also need to take it upon themselves to be safe.

“Driving a two-ton vehicle is inherently dangerous. That’s why there’s rules and regulations like seatbelts and not driving under the influence,” Cedillo said.

“We have a very skilled department of transportation that works with Caltrans and the LAPD, but so much of the safety is dependent on the people. We can make all the rules and regulations, but if people don’t comply, particularly when it’s raining and people don’t pay attention to what they’re doing, that’s where accidents happen.”

“I was talking about this with the LAPD [Los Angeles Police Department],” he said, “when people use their cellphones it takes their focus away from the road.”

The councilman recommends people try to drive less in rainy weather and not rely so heavily on cellphone and navigation apps to get them where they are going.

“We have bad cultural practices in our community that makes us lazier and we need to exercise more self help and responsibility,” he said. He noted that many accidents can be attributed to “poor decision making” by motorists and pedestrians, and cited crossing the street in the middle of the block instead of at a crosswalk that might just be a few feet away, or texting or talking on a cellphone while driving as examples of bad behavior.

So while many of the problems experienced on the Arroyo Seco Parkway can be blamed on its outdated design, which many residents argue must change, the effort to make the Arroyo Seco Parkway a safer place for everyone will require cooperation from both residents, the city, and the state to make a real difference.

Martin Baeza is a senior at Academia Avance Charter School in Highland Park, He is interning at Eastern Group Publications as part of the school’s “Work Educational Experience Project.”

Next Page »

Copyright © 2016 Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews, Inc. ·