Candidates Discuss Northeast L.A. Issues

February 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The crowd at a city council candidate forum Monday in Lincoln Heights was a little more restrained than during a similar forum last week in Glassell Park, even though the candidates speaking and issues addressed were for the most part the same.

In Glassell Park, the First Council District Candidates’ Forum was often interrupted by loud heckling and shouts. On Monday, however, the forum organized by the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council and held in the auditorium at Sacred Heart High School was a little less raucous.

All five candidates vying for the council seat took part, including the incumbent, Gil Cedillo, and challengers Josef Bray-Ali, a community advocate; Giovany Hernandez, an education advocate; Jesse Rosas, a businessman; and write-in candidate Luca Barton, a graphic designer.

The City of L.A. ‘s Primary Election takes place March 7 and includes the races for mayor, city attorney, controller and several ballot measures, as well as an L.A County sponsored Measure H to raise the sales tax a quarter-cent to pay for services for the homeless. If a single candidate does not win 50% plus one of the vote, a runoff will be held in June.

Council District 1 covers multiple Central and Northeast Los Angeles communities, including, Cy-press Park, Glassell Park, Chinatown, Echo Park, Elysian Park, Highland Park, Koreatown, Lincoln Heights, MacArthur Park, Pico Union, University Park and a section of downtown.

The five candidates answered questions on issues ranging from the region’s housing shortage, traffic, public safety and the homelessness epidemic, with the focus being on the challenges those issues create for Lincoln Heights’ residents and businesses.

The format did not allow for a real debate, but instead limited each candidate to making short statements in response to questions posed by the moderator and later the public.

As the incumbent, Cedillo was often the prime target of criticism from the challengers, who each said the district needs new blood.

“We need new leadership in this district or we will continue to see failure,” said Bray-Ali, a former bicycle shop owner who has for years dogged the councilman at events and on social media for his part in stopping dedicated bike lanes from being installed along a portion of Figueroa Street running from Highland Park to Cypress Park.

Cedillo defended his record throughout the night, pointing to his 20-year record of accomplish-ments in elected office and 15 years in the labor movement, noting his long list of endorsements result-ing from that work.

“If you want to know what people are going to do in the future, look and see what they have done in the past,” Cedillo repeated several times throughout the night, pointing to 100’s of bills he’s au-thored that have been signed by three different governors.

“I have a record. It’s constant, consistent and it’s measurable.”

All five candidates running for Los Angeles City Council District 1 participated in a forum Monday in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

All five candidates running for Los Angeles City Council District 1 participated in a forum Monday in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Bray-Ali attempted to paint a different picture of the councilman’s leadership and accountability.

He and the other candidates claimed Cedillo has not done enough to improve safety for pedestrian and cyclists using local streets, and accused him of simply not listening to the community.

“Time and time again we have had the door slammed in our face and been shut out of city office,” complained Bray-Ali, who has in the past used his Twitter account to blame the councilman’s failure to install bike lanes on Figueroa for nearly every pedestrian and auto accident on the street, and in surrounding areas.

Barton and Hernandez said more attention must be paid to traffic issues in Lincoln Heights, especially along North Broadway, the community’s main commercial area, and near area schools.

Hernandez proposed greater use of lighted-crosswalk markings to slow traffic, which Cedillo said are just some of the safety measures he’s implemented since taking office.

Rojas questioned why streets lights are not synchronized to better control the flow of traffic. “Everyone has a right to be safe,” he said.

The challengers said crime and the number of homeless people in Lincoln Heights has risen under Cedillo’s watch.

Bray-Ali accused the councilman and his staff of not “showing up” to reassure the community when a murder happens, or making sure police are on patrol.

Cedillo pointed out that L.A. has the fewest police officers per capita in the country, and that’s a problem. He noted that he has the support of many of the city’s police and fire personnel.

Cedillo said he has long been an advocate for “fair share zoning,” and that the burden of new homeless shelters and services should be spread across the city, and that’s why he stopped a plan to build homeless shelters on city-owned parking lots in Lincoln Heights.

“I’m fed up with the lies and hype,” responded Bray-Ali, claiming the councilman only took ac-tion after getting complaints from the community.

Bray-Ali said if elected, he was committed to ensure homeless veterans had a place to shower, go to the bathroom and wash their clothes.

Cedillo responded by once again pointing to his record, reminding the audience that he helped create the city’s committee on homelessness.

Measure S, a ballot measure that if approved would place a 2-year moratorium on new developments, put the controversial issues of “gentrification” and rising housing costs in the forefront.

Rosas said large developments are not good for the community, claiming they often come at the expense of affordable housing.

“Affordable housing for who?” Rosas asked. “We don’t want people to get displaced.”

Bray-Ali, Cedillo and Hernandez all said they oppose the measure.

“I don’t think it’s the cure,” said Hernandez, a renter himself. This will mean, “halting the construction of much needed housing units,” he said.

“It’s an effort to stop change…it will take zoning in Los Angeles back to the 1950s,” said Cedillo.

Bray-Ali said with significantly more people than housing, development is needed, but blamed failed leadership for allowing developers to build without consulting with impacted communities.

“You think Measure S is going to stop them,” asked Barton. “If they can’t do new development they’ll take existing [buildings] and covert them to luxury units.”

Martha, 66, said she was a victim of just that, and blamed Cedillo for failing to help her.

Bray-Ali offered to connect her to a landlord willing to rent out to seniors being displaced from her building, garnering applause from the audience.

Hernandez pointed out the woman’s story proved “displacement is not an urban myth,” and the need to for local officials to work with the state legislators to overturn the controversial Ellis Act. The 1985 Act has allowed landlords to legally evict their rent-controlled tenants if they sell or convert the building into condos.

Cedillo tried to offer reassurance that his office would help but was met with heckling from the audience, as he was much of the night and the previous forums.

“No change is going to happen in the already existing system,” argued Hernandez.

Hernandez, the youngest of the five candidates and self-proclaimed homegrown candidate, told the crowd election time is like a report card for the incumbent to find out if he or she has done a good job.

“I’m proud to give my community the option for something else,” said Hernandez.

Cedillo told the crowd they could heckle him all they want and even choose to vote for another candidate, but said he’s confident he will be reelected.

“This election is going go happen March 7 and we’re going to wake up on March 8 and I’m still going to be your council member,” he said. “We’ll see you at the election party.”


Northeast Los Angeles Bridge Opens

February 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Monday helped officially reopen the Riverside Drive Bridge that connects Cypress Park and Elysian Valley.

The work to replace the old bridge began in 2014 due to seismic deficiencies. It was rebuilt for $60 million, and has several new features, including the first protected bike lane on a city bridge.

The 1,200-foot span, which crosses the Los Angeles River near where the Glendale (2) and Golden State (5) freeways meet, also features the city’s first modern traffic roundabout.

“Bridges are more than infrastructure,” Garcetti said. “They are a symbol of the personal connections we make to destinations and to one another. This is a great day for Los Angeles. The bicycle lane and other innovations make it a place where people can travel safely and conveniently by bike, on foot and in their cars.”

(Office of Councilmember Gil Cedillo)

(Office of Councilmember Gil Cedillo)

City Engineer Gary Lee Moore said the bridge “is the safe, modern, multi-modal transportation link that the community deserves and one that they helped make a reality.”

The Bureau of Engineering was able to rebuild the bridge while keeping traffic flowing over it by first building two lanes of the new bridge and then demolishing the old bridge. The bureau then added additional lanes to the new bridge.

“Building infrastructure in an urban area has numerous challenges,” Moore said. “We worked to maintain this crossing as the vital link for cars, bikes and pedestrians that it is, and are grateful to the community for their patience and support throughout the project.”

Centro de Recreación en Highland Park se Convierte en Paraíso Invernal

December 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

El Centro de Recreación de Highland Park se convirtió en una maravilla invernal, el sábado, 10 de noviembre transformado con nieve y actividades para entretener a más de 500 niños locales, según un comunicado de prensa.

Los niños pudieron disfrutar de una zona de juegos de nieve, de un espectáculo de marionetas y pudieron decorar galletas, crear artes y artesanías y saludar a Santa Claus.

El evento fue presentado por Gil Cedillo, concejal de Los Ángeles en asociación con el Departamento de Parques y Recreación, la Escuela Intermedia Burbank en Highland Park, Soledad Enrichment Action y El Centro del Pueblo.

El Parque MacArthur también fue trasformado el viernes 9 de diciembre al igual que el Desarrollo de Viviendas William Meade el miércoles, 14 de diciembre. Estos son esfuerzos para brindar alegría durante las fiestas a los niños de las comunidades de pocos recursos en el Distrito 1.

Foto: Oficina de GIl Cedillo

Foto: Oficina de GIl Cedillo

Congreso Latino Calls for Anti-Trump Action On Multiple Front

December 15, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

Close to 200 activists from nearly two-dozen organizations met in Inglewood Saturday to assess the potential impact of a Donald Trump presidency in areas raging from immigration to civil rights to the economy and workers’ rights.

The Willie C. Velasquez Institute – a nonprofit, non-partisan public policy analysis organization – called for the Congreso Latino (Latino Congress), which drew activists from social justice, veteran, community, political and labor groups from Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties to the Dec. 3 summit at La Huasteca Restaurant.

Participants discussed strategies for responding “to the potential dark impact of federal and executive actions by President-elect Trump and a majority Republican Congress on the American public, on labor, immigrants and Latinos in particular,” according to a post-Congreso statement.

Participants at the Dec. 10 Congreso Latino in Inglewood. (Photo by Mario Beltran)

Participants at the Dec. 10 Congreso Latino in Inglewood. (Photo by Mario Beltran)

The Congreso passed several resolutions that included “condemning Trump’s hateful racist statements against Mexicans and affecting all Latinos, support for the growing number of city councils, school boards and state legislatures nationwide passing sanctuary resolutions for immigrants,” as well as calling for large-scale participation at anti-Trump protests planned for Inauguration Day.

Co-hosts and conveners included: L.A. Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Herb Wesson, UC Riverside Prof. Armando Navarro, Congressmembers-elect Nannete Barragan (D-44) and Lou Correa, (D-47), Nativo Lopez of Hermandad Mexicana, ANAHUAC Youth Soccer Federation, Veteran, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Southeast Leadership Network, Red Mexicana and WCVI.

Pledging to continue to work collaboratively, the organizations will hold a planning meeting for a future California summit on Jan. 7. For more information, contact Maria Ana (951) 743-7173.


Jazz It Up Latin Style This Weekend

August 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Now in its third year, the 2016 Latin Jazz and Musical Festival returns to Northeast Los Angeles this weekend, with two days of great live outdoor performances, all free to attend.

The music festival will take place at Sycamore Grove Park on Figueroa Street, and is once again spearheaded by Councilman Gil Cedillo, with help from a slew of sponsors ranging from Metro to Walmart.

When Cedillo introduced the Latin Jazz and Music Festival back in 2014, he said he wanted a festival that matched Highland Park’s “authentic character and vibe.” He also wanted to make sure that the festival would appeal to the area’s young people and take into account the local area’s large Latino population.

(Office of Councilman Gil Cedillo)

(Office of Councilman Gil Cedillo)

The two-day event opens Saturday with the Plaza De La Raza Youth Ensemble at 11:45 a.m. followed by the Heart of Los Angeles Youth Big Band. Headlining Saturday night are the Latin jazz and salsa sounds of Oscar Hernandez and Alma Libre.

Sunday opens at noon with Renancimiento Trio followed by the Bravo High School Latin Jazz Ensemble. Andy Vargas and the Souleros headline Sunday; their show starts at 7 p.m.

Festivalgoers will also enjoy delicious offerings from a variety of food trucks and for those 21 and over, Highland Park’s Greyhound Bar & Grill is hosting a beer garden. This is a wheelchair accessible event for all the family, and organizers suggest bringing a chair, umbrella and sunscreen,

There’s off-street parking and shuttle service available. So walk, bike, skate or take public transportation to the Southwest Museum Metro Station.

Sycamore Grove Park is located at 4702 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park 90042. For more information, call (323) 550-1538.


Plans for Apartment Complex Leave Tenants Scrambling

July 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti reminded renters last week that they have rights under the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, but as one group of tenants in Highland Park has found out, those rights don’t apply to everyone.

The city ordinance provides protections against eviction and rent hikes to some tenants living in older apartment dwellings, but not to the nearly 60 families living at the Marmion Royal apartment complex at 5800 Marmion Way, across the street from the Highland Park Gold Line Station. The tenants are facing eviction by the property’s new owners, Skya Ventures and Gelt Ventures, who purchased the property from Azusa Pacific University for $14.3 million.

In May, Skya’s president, Gelena Skya-Wasserman, told real estate news site The Real Deal that they plan to renovate the building’s façade and apartment units, and to upgrade security and add new amenities to the complex, which according to The Real Deal was 91% leased when the property changed hands.

Residents and housing advocates on Tuesday denounced the evictions as another example of families being displaced by gentrification of the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood.

Theresa Andrade, mother of three, told EGP about a year ago she was forced to leave her apartment located on Avenue 51, near Monte Vista Street, because they were increasing her rent.

“Now I’m being evicted from this apartment too,” she added worried.

Flor Ventura and her husband and son have lived at the Marmion Royal for 10 years. On May 16, they received a notice informing them they had 60 days to vacate their apartment.

Ventura told EGP she was at first confused, but soon realized she wasn’t alone. Many of her neighbors had received the same notice.

Not knowing what else to do, she told EGP they reached out to their local councilman, Gil Cedillo, who chairs the city council’s housing committee.

According to Ventura, staff in Cedillo’s Highland Park Field Office told them the problem was out of their hands because the property doesn’t fall under the rent stabilization ordinance, and therefore there was nothing the council office could do for them.

Residents and activists protest the eviction of tenants from the Marmion Royal apartments in Highland Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Residents and activists protest the eviction of tenants from the Marmion Royal apartments in Highland Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“Basically, they told us the people who bought the building have a lot of money and there’s nothing we can do but leave,” Ventura told EGP in Spanish.

Protections under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance or RSO, apply to multi-unit buildings built before 1978; the Marmion Royal was built in 1987.

The lack of protections for tenants like those at the Marmion Royal has allowed landlords to raise rents as high as they want and has led to a flood of no-fault evictions at the same time that the demand for housing is on the rise, claims the NELA Alliance, a group of local activists documenting gentrification in Northeast L.A.

The majority of tenants living in the units are working-class Latinos. Several tenants receive Section 8 housing subsidies.

“Tenants have asked why we [Los Angeles] do not offer an extended rent control policy,” Cedillo spokesman Fredy Cejas told EGP. According to Cejas, under the 1995 Costa Hawkins Act, “no law can interfere with an owner’s ability to establish the rental rate for his/her property.”

“The Marmion Royal complex does not fall under RSO protection, which means there is little room for us to intervene,” he told EGP.

Ventura said tenants attempted to come to an agreement with the owner that would allow them to return to their apartments once the remodel is complete, but while he was amenable to allowing them to return, their new rent would be nearly double what they now pay.

There’s also the additional cost of finding a new place to live while construction is going on, making the deal unaffordable.

The tenants have formed the Marmion Royal Tenants’ Union, a new entity under which they will fight their displacement.

About 50 tenants have so far signed a petition to fight their evictions, according to John Urquiza, a NELA Alliance activist.

Attorney Elena Popp with the Eviction Defense Network of Los Angeles is helping to protect the tenants from retribution by the landlord.

“When we get to the eviction process, the attorney will kick in and defend tenants,” Urquiza said.
In the meantime, tenants claim the landlord, who already has crews to begin working on the building, is harassing them.

“They have cut the water several days without previous notice,” Marylyn Zamaniego told EGP during Tuesday’s protest. “My daughter is afraid of the constant noise crew workers make,” she added.

EGP reached out to the new owners for comment, but they had not responded as of press time.

However, in May, The Real Deal reported that Skya-Wasserman boasted the “walkability of the up-and-coming neighborhood.”

“The owners prized the adjacency to the [Gold Line] station, which was built in 1911,” according The Real Deal.


Twitter @jackiereporter

Fig Traffic Safety Still an Issue for Cedillo

May 19, 2016 by · 5 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

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