L.A. to Take ‘Hot Spot’ Approach to Trash

March 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Wednesday to begin creating a citywide approach to cleaning up trash and picking up couches, televisions and other bulky items illegally abandoned on streets.

City officials spent the past six months studying the issue, which included examining how other major cities such as San Francisco, New York City and Washington, D.C., handle abandoned waste.

City officials presented a proposal to the City Council that calls for a more proactive approach to tackling illegal dumping and trash-strewn streets, including deploying a team to scout for trash to pick-up and using data to target “hotspots” of abandoned trash.

The Public Works Commission would also have a greater role in managing the proposed trash pick-up and street clean-up program.

The proposal also calls for adding more trash cans to the streets. There are currently about 1,000 trash receptacles around the city, officials said.

The approach differs from the city’s current reliance on a complaint-based system in which residents are expected to dial 311 to report bulky items discarded on the streets. The strategy has fallen short, with some Angelenos not even aware of the existence of a telephone hotline for making complaints, officials said.

City Administrative Office Miguel Santana said it could take several more weeks to develop a plan for carrying out the new strategy. The costs have not been determined, but the hope is to find special funds and sources other than just the general fund, Santana said.

The latest strategy for tackling abandoned trash builds on efforts in City Councilman Gil Cedillo’s northeast Los Angeles district that he says has led to more than 2,500 tons of trash being cleaned up during the last 18 months.

Trash was cleared out of 286 alleys, and at least three dozen clean-up events were organized throughout his district, Cedillo said.

“This problem is one of the most vexing problems that we have in the city,” said Cedillo, who decided to make trash clean-up a priority after seeing refuse and abandoned bulky items cluttering up the district’s streets while he campaigned for a seat on City Council.

“It’s so important for us to have a clean city,” he said. “This large urban area … we’re more dense (than many other cities) and as a result we have more trash. What we don’t have is the infrastructure” that other cities have for tackling abandoned trash pickup.

The council also approved a motion by Cedillo and fellow council members, Joe Buscaino and Mike Bonin, that orders staff to produce reports on adding more trash cans, regulating illegal dumping, creating a public awareness campaign and targeting “chronic illegal dumping” in South Los Angeles, Watts and the Harbor area.

Mayor Eric Garcetti allocated $5 million this year toward cleaning up trash, after several years in which abandoned trash pick-up programs had been scaled back.

The city lost about 250 sanitation employees in recent years, and the cost of cleaning up abandoned trash has traditionally cost about $12 million, according to Sanitation Bureau Executive Director Enrique Zaldivar.

Judge Blocks Start of Immigration Actions

February 19, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Shouting “Shame on you” and “Si se puede” (Yes, we can), immigrant rights activists, elected officials and union leaders rallied outside Los Angeles City Hall Tuesday to decry a federal judge’s ruling putting the president’s executive immigration orders on hold.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas issued a ruling stalling President Obama’s executive orders, which would protect an estimated 4 million to 5 million immigrants living in the country illegally from deportation.

Hanen’s ruling was made in response to a lawsuit filed by 26 states to try to permanently stop the president’s orders.

Lea este artículo en Español: Juez Paraliza el Comienzo de la Acción Ejecutiva

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced it would delay implementation of the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program until further notice, putting the application process that was to have started Wednesday temporarily on hold. However, applications from people who qualify under the original DACA guidelines issued in 2012 will still be accepted.

“You know better, you are a judge, not the president,” Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo said during the press conference at City Hall. He said it’s been well established that the president’s actions are “within his powers.”

Cedillo said Hanen and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott should review “what part of legal” they don’t understand. “Shame on you for failing to recognize the laws and this president. You should not engage in partisan politics,” Cedillo said.

The DACA expansion, which was set to start Wednesday, removes the 30-year age limit, allowing immigrants who came to the U.S. before Jan. 1, 2010, and were 16 or younger when they arrived, to apply for relief from deportation and authorization to work in the country legally.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 330.000 undocumented immigrants would benefit from the expansion.

Pro-immigrant rights groups, supporters and immigrant families gathered at L.A. City Hall Tuesday to express discontent with a Texas court decision halting executive actions on immigration.  (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Pro-immigrant rights groups, supporters and immigrant families gathered at L.A. City Hall Tuesday to express discontent with a Texas court decision halting executive actions on immigration. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“We are really going to fight for our dreams, we are not giving up,” said Erica, who said expanding DACA would have allowed her to get in to the medical field.

The second part of the executive action, known as the Deferred Action for Parents Arrival (DAPA) —estimated to begin in May—also provides deportation relief and work authorization to parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents who have been in the country since 2010.

Norma Torres is undocumented and told EGP she was shocked by the judge’s action. She said she personally would have benefitted from DAPA, and she’s committed to keep fighting to make it happen.

“This is just an obstacle,” she said.

Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union noted that the judge did not rule on the states’ assertion that the president’s immigration actions were unconstitutional. The judge only issued an injunction blocking their implementation while the lawsuit was pending.

“The decision is very narrow, holding only that the federal government may have failed to follow procedural requirements before implementing” the orders, according to Cecilia Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

On Tuesday, the White House announced it plans to appeal the ruling. It will be heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

“It doesn’t matter if it goes all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles, “We know that history is on our side. We know the law is on our side.”

She called on parents who will benefit because of a child’s legal status, to get them to register to vote if they are 17 or older.

“Have them vote for you, [in 2016] so that Republicans understand that they cannot attack our families,” she said.

In the meantime, pro-immigrant rights groups said people eligible for legal status under either of the orders should continue to prepare to apply. Make sure you have all the right documents, said Martha Arevalos, executive director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN).

The 26 states that are party to the lawsuit are Republican strongholds. The plaintiffs claim Obama’s executive action “violates the United States Constitution and federal law, circumvents the will of the American people and affront families and people who follow the laws to legally migrate.”

Legislators from those states have tried to block implementation in Congress with amendments to the appropriations bill to fund the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) said she is confident that the Texas decision will not stand, “But if the Republican leadership in Washington truly believes this court case will go their way in the end, they should stop holding hostage the funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. There are only four legislative days left before funding runs out.”

Texas Gov. Abbott hailed the judge’s action.

“We live in a nation governed by a system of checks and balances, and the president’s attempt to bypass the will of the American people was successfully checked today,” Abbott said.

Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, said he was still confident the immigration orders would be ultimately upheld.

“Round one is in. But one round doesn’t make a fight,” Becerra said. “Immigrant families are accustomed to the tough fight. We’ll get up tomorrow, push hard, stay strong and put our faith in the Constitution. Mark my words: The human spirit will prevail.”

Information from City News Service was used in this report.


Twitter @jackieguzman


New Traffic Signal at Busy Intersection in Lincoln Heights

February 12, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

A new traffic light installed at the intersection of North Broadway and Hancock in Lincoln Heights will make the area safer for pedestrians, Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo said Monday.

(Office of Councilmember Gil Cedillo)

(Office of Councilmember Gil Cedillo)

The councilman was joined by a group of students from Gates Street School and local seniors for Monday’s installation ceremony.

According to Los Angeles police, 11 serious injury accidents involving vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians have occurred at the intersection during the last five years.

A traffic study of the area found that over 5,000 vehicles travel through that intersection daily. “Children and senior are one of our most vulnerable members of our community and should feel safe when they walk our streets,” Cedillo said in a news release. “This newly installed traffic signal light will assist in providing the necessary measures for pedestrians to cross the street in a safe manner,” he said.

Lea este artículo en Español: Nueva Señal de Transito es Instalada en Lincoln Heights

‘New Beginning’ for Southwest Museum

January 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Long time supporters of the Southwest Museum in the Mount Washington area of Los Angeles are hailing last week’s naming of the 100-year-old site as a “national treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Southwest Museum is now one of just 55 such designations across the country. What the designation means in practical terms is not yet clear, however, the news is expected to open the door to valuable resources and alliances that could aid in securing the museum’s future, and most importantly, its long term financial sustainability.

During last week’s public announcement, Barbara Pahl, Western Regional VP of the National Trust for Historic Preservation — one of the nation’s leading private historic preservation groups — said the national treasure naming recognizes “the historic, architectural and cultural values that have made the Southwest Museum site a beloved fixture in Los Angeles for the past century.”

Supporters of the Southwest Museum celebrated on Thursday the naming of the museum as a ‘national treasure.’ (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Supporters of the Southwest Museum celebrated on Thursday the naming of the museum as a ‘national treasure.’ (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“This is a wonderful new beginning for the future of this site,” said Mary P. Parker, a member of the Friends of the Southwest Museum coalition. The Friends group has long criticized the Autry’s management of the site, but now says it is willing to work with the Autry “to try to keep the museum open for more than one day a week,” according to Parker.

Likewise, Autry President W. Richard West Jr., reaffirmed the Autry’s commitment to work with the National Trust, Councilmember Gil Cedillo and the community as well as the growing group of interested experts of arts, philanthropy, education and native leaders in the important process and progress of the Southwest Museum.

“We at the Autry respect this site’s history, it is important to the local community and the region,” said West Jr.

The Autry had said it could not afford to operate the museum or pay the estimated $26 to $46 million cost to upgrade the Southwest to modern museum standards.

The partnership with the National Trust, however, could make the difference.

“We look forward to identifying a sustainable use that ensures that the Southwest Museum site actively contributes to the thriving
urban fabric of Los Angeles for the next 100 years,” explained Pahl.

This is “a very positive day” that has been long in coming, said several members of the community following the announcement.

Heinrich Keifer is one of those who has sought a resolution to the impasse with the Autry in hopes of seeing the museum reopened.

He says it’s no longer about whether the Autry failed to live up to its commitments, but finding the right equation “to make it a successful site” again. “This is a day to bring new partners into the scene,” Keifer said.

Pahl said the National Trust will hold public outreach meetings to gather opinions on how best to use the museum site, mostly closed since 2006, opening just one day a week on Saturdays.

According to the Autry, they have invested over $14 million since taking over. Two-thirds of the investment has gone to conserving the Southwest’s extensive collection of Native American and early California artifacts and art – which has been removed from the site – and the remainder to renovations to stabilize the museum structure.

West told EGP that it is unlikely the vast collection of art and artifacts removed from the Southwest will be returned, except for specific events such as an exhibition or educational program.

“But I don’t want to prejudge it because there are other parties in this process, not just the Autry,” said West.

A recent community-based survey showed overwhelming support for a fully functioning museum at the Mt. Washington site, and possibly a cultural community center with some commercial elements, such as a restaurant.

The National Trust will take the lead on planning and mediating the tense relationship between community stakeholders and the Autry, and could pursue government and private grant funding to support the eventual consensus on the museum’s future.

Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents the area where the Southwest Museum is located, hailed the national treasure designation.

“I applaud the National Trust for naming the Southwest Museum, a National Treasure,” stated Cedillo in an email; he was unable to attend the official announcement due to illness.

The “announcement confirms and validates the importance of preserving our historic resources,” Cedillo stated. “I am committed to working with the community and the Autry to help protect and ensure the next 100 years of the Southwest Museum.”

AB 60 Takes Effect with Some Glitches

January 8, 2015 by · 3 Comments 

After two decades of waiting, thousands of undocumented immigrants are showing up at California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices hoping to take advantage of a new law that could allow them to drive legally in California.

Assembly Bill 60 authorizes the DMV to issue driver’s licenses to residents of California who cannot prove they are lawfully present in the U.S., provided they can prove their identity and meet all other requirements, including passing written knowledge and behind the wheel driving tests.

The first day to apply was last Friday and on that day alone the DMV processed 17,200 AB 60 license applications statewide.

Lea este artículo en Español: Solicitantes de la AB 60 Enfrentan Problemas 

But the process did not go well for all applicants, as long lines and trouble passing tests dashed their immediate hope of getting a license. And while some applicants were unfamiliar with the computer technology used for the exam at some DMV locations, others had trouble with the questions on the written test.

The latter was the case for Jose Ayala who showed up early Tuesday at the DMV office in Lincoln Heights to take the written test, only to fail the exam.

“I got more than six answers wrong,” the frustrated Ayala told EGP.

Although he took the exam in Spanish and in paper form, he said he found the test very confusing.

Joel (who didn’t want to give his last name) also failed the knowledge portion of the driving test.


Since AB 60 went into affect Friday,  DMV offices  like the one in Lincoln Heights (pictured) have seen larger than usual lines. The state has already received 46,200 applications from undocumented immigrants applying for a driver’s license. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Since AB 60 went into affect Friday, DMV offices like the one in Lincoln Heights (pictured) have seen larger than usual lines. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“My mistake was that I chose the English version and I don’t understand much English,” he told EGP in Spanish. He said he was nervous just being at the DMV office.

DMV Public Information Officer Artemio Armenta told EGP that the knowledge exam in Spanish is in standard Spanish so people from different countries can understand it. The 36 multiple choice question exam is also available in 31 languages. People taking the exam in a language other than English, however, must also take the Road Sign Test, 12 additional questions testing the driver’s ability to read hazard and traffic road signs in English.

To pass the exam, an applicant must score 30 or better on the multiple-choice questions and 10 or better on the road sign questions.

According to Los Angeles resident Lucia Mora, technology was her initial obstacle.

Like thousands of other applicant hopefuls across the state, Mora headed to the DMV last Friday to take the written test. She was very confident she would pass due to her long hours of studying and because she could take the test in her native Spanish.

Soon after stepping inside the Lynwood DMV, however, Mora realized that the “written test” was in reality a computer touch-screen exam.

Mora, it seems, did not know the first thing about using a computer and was shocked when after touching the screen a few times the computer said, “Ha sido reprobado” (You have failed).

“I was very confused because I didn’t know what was going on,” Mora told EGP. “I decided to go for a second try,” she said, explaining she was able to get a security guard to show her how to use the computer.

She passed the test on her second try.

According to DMV’s Armenta, technology should never be a problem. He said people like Mora who are not comfortable using a computer can request to take the test in paper form. Although it is a very rare request, he said audio exams are also available.

While Mora was given a second chance to take the test on the same day in Lynwood, Ayala and Joel were out of luck because the Lincoln Heights DMV office is not equipped with the touch-screen computers, which saves a lot of time.

With the high volume of applicants, the Lincoln Heights DMV’s 13 stations processing the written tests were very busy, forcing both men to make appointments to return another day.

Prior to 1993, California allowed drivers to receive licenses regardless of their immigration status. Immigration rights activist labeled the change in law as “racist” and anti-immigrant.

People wait for their number to be called at the Lincoln Park DMV Tuesday. The location is one of 21 statewide that doesn’t have a touch-screen computers for testing. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

People wait for their number to be called at the Lincoln Park DMV Tuesday. The location is one of 21 statewide that doesn’t have a touch-screen computers for testing. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

A former State Assemblyman and Senator, Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo spent nearly two decades trying to pass legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, only to have measures approved by legislators vetoed by three different governors, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown.

Several legislators in the Assembly and Senate continued Cedillo’s effort and in 2013 Gov. Brown signed the legislation saying he was finally satisfied that language in the law would adequately comply with federal regulations.

The DMV estimates about 1.5 million undocumented immigrants in California will benefit from AB 60 in the next three years.

Cedillo told EGP the passage of AB 60, which he lobbied hard to pass, fulfills a promise he made to his late wife Ruby and his community.

“The community was my inspiration, they never gave up and always inspired me to continue,” he said.

Cedillo joined applicants at the DMV’s Granada Hills office at 4:30 a.m. last Friday.

“It was incredible — the turnout was brilliant,” he said. “Lines around the block. I have to commend the DMV because it was extremely well-organized. There was such a positive atmosphere. The applicants were very excited.”

California is the 10th state to adopt the licensing program designed to boost road safety. The DMV said between Friday and Tuesday, 46,200 people had applied at its 174 offices statewide, and 970 have already met all the requirements including passing the exams and are now waiting to receive their license in the mail.

Under AB 60, the special class license will contain text informing that it is “not acceptable for official federal purposes,” such as traveling.

Cedillo nonetheless encourages undocumented immigrants to apply as soon as possible. His office and other allies are distributing brochures explaining the process to people interested in applying.

He thinks people planning to wait until after they apply for the federal Deferred Action for Parents Arrival (DAPA)—a measure that will provide work permits and social security numbers to parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents— could be making a mistake. That process will not begin for several months and they could in the meantime be driving legally without the fear of their vehicle being confiscated, he said. The license is valid for five years, he noted.

Unlike the written exam, the behind the wheel driving test is only given in English, Armenta told EGP. He said applicants should spend time studying for the tests, adding that the DMV has help online, including course materials, practice tests and its YouTube channel.

He said the registration on the vehicle used for the driving test must be current, and the vehicle must be insured and in safe operating condition.

Her written test conquered, Mora is ready to take the driving test. She said she’s looking forward to finally be able to drive without fear.

People interested in knowing more about the AB 60, requisites and practice for the exam can visit: ab60.dmv.ca.gov.


Twitter @jackieguzman


Residentes se Quejan de la Seguridad y la Basura en sus Vecindarios

December 11, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

La asistencia fue escasa lunes en un taller sobre seguridad pública en Mount Washington organizada por la oficina del concejal Gil Cedillo. El ‘Taller de Calles Seguras en la Comunidad’ que se llevó a cabo en el Centro Recreativo Carlin G. Smith fue uno de cuatro eventos que realizó el Primer Distrito durante la última semana.

El objetivo de los talleres era dar a los residentes la oportunidad de discutir las mejoras de seguridad pública que les gustaría ver en sus comunidades—Cypress Park, Highland Park, Pico-Union y Mount Washington. El lunes, la atención se centró en cómo mejorar el corredor Marmion Way, desde la Avenida Shanley hasta Mount Washington Drive.

Read this article in English: Trash and Safety Top Residents Concerns

Mientras que preocupaciones como el incremento de carriles para bicicletas y señales de alto para mejorar la seguridad de ciclistas y peatones habían sido temas candentes en algunas áreas—con defensores de carriles de bicicletas en ocasiones asechando al concejal en público sobre el tema—solamente cerca de 15 personas asistieron al taller del lunes.

La Funcionaria de Proyectos Especiales de Cedillo, Sharon Lowe realizó los cuatro talleres y dijo que toda la información de las reuniones será recavada y analizada para determinar las áreas que necesitan más ayuda, con el fin de ayudar a la oficina del consejo a buscar y solicitar subvenciones o becas.

Desafortunadamente, la asistencia fue baja en los cuatro talleres. De acuerdo a la oficina de Cedillo; 23 personas asistieron a la reunión del pasado martes que se enfocó en la seguridad de la Avenida 26, entre la calle Lacey y N. San Fernando Road; alrededor de dos docenas de residentes y dueños de negocios llegaron a Highland Park para discutir el corredor North Figueroa y 24 personas llegaron a la reunión del jueves anterior en Pico Union/Westlake donde el tema de seguridad se enfocó en los pasos subterráneos de la autopista 110 de la calle Temple al Bulevar Venice.

El Director de Comunicaciones de Cedillo, Luis Reyes dijo que la gente que asistió tuvo la oportunidad de discutir los temas que preocupan a la mayoría como el exceso de velocidad, seguridad de los peatones, carriles para bicicletas, falta de luz pública y el transporte público.

Agregó que hay una variedad de subvenciones disponibles para la ciudad y los distritos concejales y Cedillo quiere aprovechar para ayudar a los residentes de su distrito.

Residentes del Primer Distrito de Los Ángeles hablan sobre sus preocupaciones de seguridad en sus comunidades. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Residentes del Primer Distrito de Los Ángeles hablan sobre sus preocupaciones de seguridad en sus comunidades. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Por ejemplo, en enero es la fecha límite para la Convocatoria de Metro para Proyectos 2015. Reyes dijo que es un subsidio muy competitivo centrado en la seguridad de las calles, y CD-1 solicitará cuatro becas, una para cada una de las áreas donde se llevaron a cabo los talleres de ‘Calles Seguras’.

“Queremos cruces peatonales que parpadeen, como [los de] Glendale y Pasadena”, dijo uno de los residentes en el taller de Mount Washington del lunes.

“Queremos que más estacionamientos de bicicletas en la Línea Dorada”, agregó otra persona.

Con recortes de papel y pósters de mapas aéreos, los participantes identificaron punto específicos dónde ellos creen que se necesitan mejoras.

“Mi principal preocupación es que no hay una acera [sobre Marmion Way] de la calle Monte Vista a la estación de la Línea Dorada y la gente camina en la tierra ya veces hay lodo”, Lynette Kampe le dijo a EGP.

El residente Robert Brody dijo que esta cansado de ver tanta basura en el área norte del Museo Southwest en la Avenida 49 donde la gente constantemente tira su basura. “Hasta el anuncio de ‘No Tire Basura’ ha sido pintarrajeado”, dijo.

Reyes le dijo a EGP que la oficina del concejal tratará de acomodar los datos recolectados por los residentes a ciertas disponibilidades presupuestarias. “Si alguna vez encontramos una subvención relacionada con su preocupación, vamos a solicitarla”, dijo.

La basura y los vertederos ilegales continuarán siendo una de las principales preocupaciones en el distrito, dijo Reyes, quien destacó que el concejal ya ha asignado $1 millón para la recolección de basura y la eliminación de artículos voluminosos a través de su campaña “Mantenga Limpio”.

“Si los residentes quieren que un mueble voluminoso sea removido pueden llamar a la ciudad y serán retirados de su casa”, sin tener que dejarlos en la calle, dijo Reyes.

También señaló que la iniciativa de Cedillo está siendo replicada en toda la ciudad y el ayuntamiento recientemente aprobó $5 millones para la recolección de basura y artículos voluminosos.

Más cruces peatonales, aceras, carriles para bicicletas, estacionamientos de bicicletas, luz pública, recolección de basura, eliminación de graffiti y restauración mural fueron los temas más señalados por los residentes en los cuatro talleres.


Twitter @jackieguzman



Trash and Safety Top Residents Concerns

December 11, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Attendance was sparse Monday at a public safety workshop in Mount Washington hosted by the office of Councilman Gil Cedillo. The Safe Streets Community Workshop at the Carlin G. Smith Recreation Center was one of four such events held in the First Council District during the last week.

The goal of the workshops was to give residents an opportunity to discuss public safety improvements they would like to see in their neighborhoods — Cypress Park, Highland Park, Pico-Union and Mount Washington. On Monday, the focus was on improvements to the Marmion Way corridor, from Shanley Avenue to Mount Washington Drive.

Mount Washington residents discuss which areas should be improved in their community with staff from Councilman Gil Cedillo’s office (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Mount Washington residents discuss which areas should be improved in their community with staff from Councilman Gil Cedillo’s office (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

While issues like increasing bike lanes and stop signs to improve cyclists and pedestrian safety have been hot button issues in some areas — with bike lane proponents at times dogging the councilman in public over the issue — only about 15 people attended Monday’s workshop.

Cedillo Special Project Deputy Sharon Lowe conducted all four workshops and said all the information gathered at the meetings would be analyzed to determine which areas need the most help, in order to help the council office to search out and apply for grants

Unfortunately, attendance was low at all four workshops. According to Cedillo’s office: 23 people attended the Cypress Park meeting last Tuesday that focused on Avenue 26, between Lacey Street and N. San Fernando Road; about two dozen Highland Park residents and business owners attended a workshop last Wednesday at Monte Vista Elementary to discuss the North Figueroa corridor and; and about 24 people made it to last Thursday’s workshop in the Pico Union/Westlake area, where they discussed safety concerns related to underpasses along the 110 Freeway, from Temple Street to Venice Boulevard.

Lea este artículo en Español: Residentes se Quejan de la Seguridad y la Basura en sus Comunidades

Cedillo Communications Director Louis Reyes said the people who did attend had a chance to discuss the issues they worry most about, with speeding, pedestrian safety, bicycle lanes, street lighting and public transportation being common themes at all four workshops.

He said there are a variety of grants to the City and council districts that the councilman wants to take advantage of to help residents in his district.

For example, in January, Metro’s 2015 Call for Projects comes out. Reyes said it is a very competitive grant focused on street safety, and CD-1 will apply for four grants, one for each of the areas where they hosted a Safe Streets Community Workshop.

“We want flashing crosswalks, such as [those] in Glendale and Pasadena,” said one of the residents at Monday’s Mount Washington workshop.

“We want more bike racks on the Gold Line,” added another person.

Using paper cutouts and big aerial maps, participants were able to identify where they think specific improvements are needed.

“My main concern is that there is not a sidewalk from Monte Vista to the Gold Line Station [over Marmion Way] and people are walking in the dirt and sometimes it’s muddy,” Lynette Kampe told EGP.

Resident Robert Brody said he is tired of seeing so much trash on the north side of the Southwest Museum on Avenue 49 where illegal dumping is constant. “Even the ‘No Dumping’ sign has been defaced,” he said.

Reyes told EGP that the councilman’s office will try to match the data gathered by residents to available funding. “If we ever come up with a grant related to their concern, we will apply,” he said.

Trash and illegal dumping continue to be a top concern in the district, said Reyes, who noted the councilman has already allocated $1 million for trash and bulky item removal through his “Keep it Clean Campaign.”

“If residents want a bulky item to be removed they can call the city and it will be removed from their house,” they don’t have to dump it on the street, Reyes said.

Reyes pointed out that the councilman’s initiative is being replicated across the city and the council recently approved $5 million for trash and bulky item pick up.

More crosswalks, sidewalks, bike lanes, bike racks, street lighting, trash and graffiti removal and mural restoration were the areas most pointed out by residents at all four workshops.


Twitter @jackieguzman


Participantes Dicen Reunión Sobre Plan de Bicicletas Fue una ‘Táctica de Obstrucción’

June 19, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Cientos de personas asistieron la semana pasada a una reunión comunitaria en el noreste de Los Ángeles para opinar sobre las diferentes opciones que están siendo consideradas para carriles de bicicletas en North Figueroa entre la Avenida 22 en Cypress Park y la Avenida 60 en Highland Park. Sin embargo, alrededor de treinta minutos después de su inicio, la gente comenzó a irse, quejándose de que era una “pérdida de tiempo”.

La reunión del 12 de junio, organizada por el Concejal Gil Cedillo en la Preparatoria Franklin en Highland Park, fue un seguimiento a una reunión en mayo, que según varios informes de primera mano tuvo una hostilidad abierta entre participantes pro y contra carriles de bicicletas.

Participantes en pro y contra de los carriles de bicicleta se reunieron en la preparatoria Franklin para discutir el proceso. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Participantes en pro y contra de los carriles de bicicleta se reunieron en la preparatoria Franklin para discutir el proceso. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Ambas reuniones fueron oportunidades para que la comunidad proporcionara comentarios al Departamento de Transito de Los Ángeles (LADOT) para mejorar la seguridad de ciclistas a lo largo de North Figueroa.

En 2010, Los Ángeles aprobó un plan en toda la ciudad para aumentar el número de carriles especiales para bicicletas en la ciudad como una forma de crear oportunidades más seguras de ciclismo y para animar a más residentes a utilizar este medio de transporte en sus desplazamientos diarios.

Read this article in English: Northeast L.A. Bike Lane Meeting Draws Complaints

El plan se enfoca en varias áreas prioritarias de seguridad incluyendo el noreste de LA. La propuesta original de la ruta era a lo largo del Norte Figueroa de San Fernando Road a York Boulevard, pero desde entonces se ha reducido en más de 2 millas. Este tiene cuatro alternativas posibles, incluyendo una que pide la eliminación de uno de los dos carriles de tráfico en dirección sur—conocida como road diet—que parece estar atrayendo las respuestas más acaloradas en ambos lados de la cuestión.

Antes de su elección el año pasado, Cedillo expresó su apoyo al plan de road diet, pero desde que asumió el cargo ha optado por crear más reuniones comunitarias sobre la propuesta, diciendo que las personas que viajan por el corredor Figueroa y los negocios a lo largo de la ruta han expresado su preocupación de que la reducción de carriles para los autos cause tráfico y aumente los tiempos de respuesta de emergencia.

Pero los partidarios de alternativas para separar ciclistas físicamente de los autos y camiones, dicen que aumentar tráfico en 45 segundos no es mucho si evita lesiones de ciclistas y salva vidas.

“Estamos abogando por los carriles de bicicleta en NorthFig porque es parte del plan maestro de la ciudad que ya aprobó”, Alek Bartrosouf, miembro de la Coalición de Bicicletas del Condado de Los Ángeles, dijo a EGP antes de la reunión. “Hay una gran cantidad de ciclistas que apoyan este movimiento, tenemos como 1.500 peticiones firmadas en línea y la misma cantidad en el papel”, añadió.

Sin embargo, la mayor controversia en la reunión de la semana pasada no fueron los cambios propuestos, pero el formato de la reunión que incluyó un largo discurso por parte Sharon Lowe, Funcionaria de Proyectos Especiales de CD-1 sobre cómo los participantes debían comportarse, una presentación y agradecimiento de Cedillo para amigos y personal por su apoyo y la discusión de varios temas no relacionados con los carriles de bicicleta. A la reunión también estuvo invitado Nat Gale de la oficina del alcalde para hablar sobre la Iniciativa del plan ‘Great Streets’ que incluye North Figueroa entre la Avenida 50 y la Avenida 60.

En respuesta a la reunión escandalosa de mayo, Lowe advirtió a los asistentes a ser civiles y abstenerse de aplaudir, abuchear o hacer cualquier otro tipo de ruidos molestos, o podían ser expulsados del auditorio.

Algunos participantes inquietos se volcaron a los medios sociales para ventilar su frustración: “Han pasado 45 minutos desde que esta reunión comunitaria comenzó y es sólo Cedillo hablando de sí mismo”, tuiteó HLP90042.

“Si yo tuviera un personal de 20 personas y un presupuesto de $2 millones, estoy seguro que no habría tratado con tan poco respeto público”, twiteó Flying Pigeon LA, una tienda de bicicletas en Cypress Park cuyo propietario Joseph Bray-Ali es un ardiente partidario de carriles de bicicleta.

Decenas de personas salieron temprano de la reunión, diciendo a EGP que sentían hubo “una falta de respeto” y estaban descontentos que Cedillo eligió “utilizar tácticas dilatorias” en la reunión en lugar de escuchar sus comentarios.

Sin embargo, el director de comunicaciones de Cedillo, Fredy Ceja, dijo a EGP vía email que el concejal “se tomó el tiempo que sentía necesario conectar con el público” y para responder a las preocupaciones planteadas durante la reunión de mayo. “El concejal consideró que la reunión fue un éxito”, ya que abordó el plan actual y otras alternativas para hacer frente a la seguridad pública en Figueroa, dijo Ceja.

“Estamos muy contentos con el resultado, fue una mejora con respecto a la primera reunión”, agregó Ceja.

En sus 15 años asistiendo a cientos de reuniones de la comunidad, Bray-Ali dijo que “nunca se ha visto algo tan ridículo e insultante … Y eso no aplaudir, si estamos juntos, como grupo, no pueden enforzar eso. Ya sea que este a favor o en contra, piense en todas las horas puestas que se han despilfarrado”, dijo.

Cuando la discusión finalmente se enfocó en los carriles de bicicleta, el representante de LADOT Tim Fremeaux explicó que se estaba pidiendo a los residentes a votar en una de las cuatro opciones bajo consideración:

-No cambio

-Opción 1: Instalar carriles para bicicletas protegidos-remover un carril de trafico yendo al sur,

-Opción 2: Instalar Carriles compartidos—2 carriles de trafico en cada dirección (con el signo de una flecha y una bicicleta para recordar a los conductores a compartir el camino con los ciclistas) o,

-Opción 3: Carril compartido hacia el sur y dos carriles de trafico en cada dirección.

Sin embargo, problemas de audio hicieron que fuera difícil para muchos en la audiencia escuchar las partes de la presentación, incluido el período de preguntas y respuestas, que aumentó la frustración para defensores y opositores gritando a los presentadores que no podían oír nada. “Tengan paciencia” Michelle Mowery de LADOT suplicó a la audiencia.

Pero no todo el mundo se fue molesto el jueves pasado. “Lo que el Concejal Cedillo escuchó fuerte y claro en mayo es que la seguridad es un gran problema en la calle y se reflejó en [esta] presentación,” Erick Bruins le dijo a EGP.

“Al final del día, nadie va a recordar una o dos reuniones de extensión mal gestionadas”, dijo Bruins. “En este punto, Cedillo tiene toda la información que necesita para tomar una decisión”.

LADOT y la oficina del consejo seleccionarán una de las alternativas, con el plan obtenido para comenzar la construcción en algún momento en julio.


Twitter @jackieguzman


Northeast L.A. Bike Lane Meeting Draws Complaints

June 19, 2014 by · 6 Comments 

Hundreds of people attended a community meeting in Northeast Los Angeles last week to weigh in on the different options being considered for bike lanes on North Figueroa between Avenue 22 in Cypress Park and Avenue 60 in Highland Park. Thirty minutes into the meeting, people began to walk out, complaining it was a “waste of their time.”

The June 12 meeting, hosted by Councilman Gil Cedillo at Franklin High School in Highland Park, was a follow up to a meeting in May, which according to several first-hand reports dissolved into outright hostility between pro-bike lane and anti-bike lane participants. Both meetings were billed as opportunities for the community to provide feedback on the Los Angeles Department of Transit’s (LADOT) proposals for improving bike safety along North Figueroa.

Attendees at a second community meeting to discuss a proposal for bike lanes in Northeast L.A., grow frustrated as time goes by without the topic being discussed. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia )

Attendees at a second community meeting to discuss a proposal for bike lanes in Northeast L.A., grow frustrated as time goes by without the topic being discussed. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia )

In 2010, Los Angeles approved a citywide plan to increase the number of dedicated bike lanes in the city as a way to create safer cycling opportunities and to encourage more residents to use this form of transportation in their daily commutes.

The plan highlighted several priority areas, including Northeast L.A. The original proposed route ran along North Figueroa from San Fernando Road to York Boulevard, but has since been cut by more than 2 miles. It includes four possible alternatives, including one that calls for removing one of two southbound traffic lanes — referred to as a road diet — which appears to be drawing the most heated responses on both sides of the issue.

Lea este artículo en Español: Participantes Dicen Reunión Sobre Plan de Bicicletas Fue una ‘Táctica de Obstrucción’

Prior to his election last year, Cedillo expressed support for the road diet plan but since taking office has opted to hold more community meetings on the proposal, saying people who travel the corridor and businesses along the route have expressed concern that reducing lanes for cars will cause traffic tie-ups and increase emergency response times.

But supporters of alternatives to physically separate cyclists from cars and trucks, say slowing traffic by 45 seconds is not too much to ask if it prevents injuries to cyclists and saves lives.


“We are advocating for bike lanes on NorthFig because it is part of the master plan that the city already approved,” Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition member Alek Bartrosouf told EGP before the meeting. “There are a lot of cyclists supporting this movement, we have like 1,500 petitions signed online and about the same amount on paper,” he added.

However, the biggest controversy at last week’s meeting was not the proposed street changes, but the meeting format which included a lengthy lecture by CD-1 Special Projects Deputy Sharon Lowe on how participants should behave, Cedillo introducing and thanking friends and staff for their support and discussing several topics unrelated to the bike lanes, and Nat Gale of the mayor’s office speaking on the Great Streets Initiative that includes North Figueroa between Avenue 50 and Avenue 60.

Responding to the raucous May meeting, Lowe warned attendees to be civil and to refrain from clapping, cheering or making any other disruptive noises, or risk being ejected.

Some of the restless participants turned to social media to air their frustration: “It is now 45 min since this community meeting was scheduled to start and it is just Cedillo talking about himself,” tweeted HLP90042.

“If I had a 20 person staff and a $2 million budget, I sure wouldn’t have treated public so disrespectfully,” tweeted Flying Pigeon LA, a bike shop in Cypress Park whose owner Joseph Bray-Ali is an ardent supporter of bike lanes.

Dozens of people walked out early, telling EGP they felt “disrespected” and were unhappy Cedillo chose to “filibuster’ the meeting rather than listen to their feedback.

However, Cedillo’s communications deputy, Fredy Ceja, told EGP via email that the councilman “took the time he felt he needed to connect with the audience” and to address concerns raised during the May meeting. “The councilman felt the meeting was a success” because it addressed the current plan and other alternatives to address public safety on Figueroa, Ceja said.

“We are pleased with the outcome, it was an improvement over the first meeting,” Ceja added.

In his 15 years attending hundreds of community meetings, Bray-Ali said he has “never seen something this ridiculous and insulting … And that not clapping, if we are together as a group they cannot enforce that. Whether you are opposing or in favor, think of all the man hours that have been squandered” here, he said.

When discussion did finally turn to the bike lanes, LADOT representative Tim Fremeaux explained that residents were being asked to vote on one of the four options under consideration:

  • No change,
  • Option 1: Install buffered bike lanes—removal of one-southbound traffic lane,
  • Option 2: Install bike sharrows (arrow and bicycle signage used to remind drivers to share the road with cyclists) – 2 lanes each direction, or
  • Option 3: Install a climbing bike lane—southbound sharrow—two traffic lanes in each direction.

Audio problems, however, made it hard for many in the audience to hear parts of the presentation, including the question and answer period, adding to the frustration and both proponents and opponents yelling at the presenters that they couldn’t hear anything. “Bare with us,” LADOT’s Michelle Mowery pleaded with the audience.

But not everyone left upset last Thursday. “What Councilmember Cedillo heard loud and clear in May is that safety is a huge issue on the street and that was reflected in [this] presentation,” Erick Bruins told EGP.

“At the end of the day, no one is going to remember one or two poorly run outreach meetings,” Bruins said.

“At this point, Cedillo has all the information he needs to make a decision.”

Moving forward, LADOT and the council office will select one of the alternatives, with the plan being to begin construction sometime in July.


Twitter @jackieguzman


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