L.A. Expands Special Order 40 to Other Agencies, Departments

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday in support of federal legislation that would ensure individuals being held or detained at a port of entry or at any immigration detention facility would be guaranteed access to legal counsel.

The Access to Counsel Act was introduced by California Sen. Kamala Harris and comes after President Donald Trump issued two executive orders halting or limiting immigration from some Muslim-majority countries. Both of the orders have been blocked by federal judges.

The resolution was approved with an 11-0 vote

“As an immigrant, I’m appalled by the Trump administration’s blatant disregard for the values Americans hold dear,” Councilman David Ryu said.

The vote comes one day after Mayor Eric Garcetti signed Executive Directive 20 that prevents the city’s harbor and airport police and fire department from enforcing federal immigration laws, following a similar policy that has been in place by the city’s police department for decades.

It expands Special Order 40, the Los Angeles Police Department’s policy that prohibits officers from initiating any police activity for the sole purpose of identifying someone’s immigration status.

The mayor’s action Tuesday was part of the Cities’ Day of Immigration Action, which was organized by the United States Conference of Mayors. Sixty-five mayors from around the country took part in the day of action to help promote immigrants’ rights.

“This is a day I think when mayors are standing up for universal American values,” Garcetti said on a conference call with reporters and the 65 mayors. “We are standing alongside our police chiefs, our faith leaders, our legal advocates, our business leaders and community advocates to reaffirm our commitment to our immigrant residents.”

At a press conference later in the day at the Lincoln Height Youth Center, the mayor and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck emphasized that expansion of Special Order 40 is about ensuring public safety and keeping city resources from being used to do the work of federal immigration authorities.

Both the mayor and chief said recent ICE raids and the presence of ICE agents at courthouses have had a negative impact on crime reporting by Latinos.

Reports of sexual assaults and domestic violence in the Latino community have fallen this year significantly compared to last year, Beck said.

Sexual assault reports have fallen 25 percent, and domestic violence reports have fallen 10 percent.

Beck said there was a “strong correlation” between the decreases and fears in the city’s immigrant population about increased federal immigration arrests in the city. He also said the reduction “far exceeds the reductions of any other demographic group.”

“Imagine someone being the victim of domestic violence and not calling the police,” he said. “Imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend not reporting sexual assault because they are afraid the family will be torn apart.”

The vast majority of immigrants detained since Pres. Donald Trump’s executive order directing ICE to step up immigration enforcement actions and deportations have been from Mexico and Central America, leading activists to complain that Latinos are being profiled and targeted by immigration enforcement officers.

“Where are the arrests of people from Canada and Australia,” a woman in the audience who only wanted to use her first name, Ana, asked EGP following the press conference.

Councilman Gil Cedillo (CD-1) was with the mayor Tuesday in Lincoln Heights. He said Los Angeles has a long reputation of protecting immigrants, and said Garcetti’s signing of Executive Directive 20, means the city is not only “accepting of immigrants,” but also a city that “protects them.”

“Not too long ago, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was dropping off his kids at school, when ICE arrested him and detained him. For a child, that image of having your father taken away by an agent that has the words “POLICE” written on his jacket, goes against our efforts to instill trust and cooperation with our local law enforcement,” he told EGP in an email.

Both Beck and Garcetti expressed concern that immigrant families out of fear may be keeping their children home from school or from participating in after-school and other programs.

Cedillo said his office is “starting to see constituents call in for City services and being reluctant to give their name or address. This tells us that people are scared,” something he says is not only counterproductive to our service delivery efforts, but is also inhumane.”

Executive Directive 20 prohibits officers from initiating any police activity for the sole purpose of identifying someone’s immigration status. It also bars any city employee from assisting any federal agency where the primary purpose is federal civil immigration enforcement.

“All residents must feel safe and supported when accessing the vast array of city facilities, programs, and services available to them,” the order states.

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

Cedillo, Bray-Ali to Face Off in May 16 Runoff

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

About 140 votes shy of what he needed for an outright victory, incumbent City Councilman Gil Cedillo will now face challenger Joe Bray-Ali in a May runoff for his First Council District seat.

According to the final March 7 Primary vote tally certified by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Tuesday, Cedillo’s initial lead dropped from a high of 51.2 percent to 49.39 percent – just below the 50 percent plus one votes needed to avoid a runoff with second place finisher Bray-Ali, who received 37.97 percent of votes cast.

In terms of actual numbers, Cedillo had 10,396 votes in his column while Bray-Ali finished with 8,000 votes.

Cedillo, a veteran politician who served in both the State Senate and Assembly before winning a seat on the city council, faced four challengers for his council seat.

The council district includes some of the city’s most densely populated and diverse neighborhoods in multiple Central and Northeast Los Angeles communities, including, Cypress Park, Glassell Park, Chinatown, Echo Park, Elysian Park, Highland Park, Koreatown, Lincoln Heights, MacArthur Park, Pico Union, University Park and a section of downtown.

This is the first run for office for Bray-Ali, a former bicycle shop owner and bicycle advocate, who has for years dogged the councilman for his part in stopping dedicated bike lanes from being installed along a portion of Figueroa Street running from Highland Park to Cypress Park.

Throughout the campaign, Cedillo touted his work on homelessness, immigration, and infrastructure improvements such as new sidewalks, streetlights and traffic signals in the district and across the city. He pointed to “innovative programs” that resulted in the removal of hundreds of tons of trash and bulky items, which Mayor Garcetti later adapted for citywide use.

During the lead up to the March 7 primary, Bray-Ali repeatedly called for new leadership. He accused Cedillo of neglecting the first council district and being unresponsive to residents.

Longtime Chicano activist Rosalio Munoz and Cedillo supporter said Tuesday he believes many Cedillo supporters failed to show up to vote, thinking their candidate would skate to an easy win.

“That won’t happen again, we’re going to work on getting people to the polls in May,” he said.

“Councilman Cedillo has deep roots and understands the needs of this community, everyone in the community, not just the newcomers,” Munoz said.

In a statement emailed Tuesday to EGP, Bray-Ali said, “There’s a reason why a young challenger and outsider candidate made it to where we did.

“But this is about more than just an upstart candidacy. This is about basic municipal services and a responsive council office. If you live in our community there are problems you deal with on a daily basis,” he said.

“We need someone in this district who is focusing on issues big and small to provide competent management to the residents of CD1.”

For his part, Cedillo remained resolute and confident Tuesday, telling EGP that he “will continue to reach out to voters, unify our district, and continue the work we have been doing to make the First District #1.”

The runoff election will be held on May 16.

 

Garcetti Logra Fácil Reelección Como Alcalde de Los Ángeles

March 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

El alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti, obtuvo este martes una fácil victoria al recibir el 81% de los votos, informaron las autoridades electorales locales el 8 de marzo , con datos que recogen el 100% de los precintos.

Garcetti obtuvo más de 200,000 votos, contra algo más de 20,000 de su inmediato seguidor, Mitchell Jack Schwartz, y evitó así participar en la elección general del próximo 16 de mayo.

El hispano David Hernández figuró tercero con cerca de 8,500 votos en una elección que se caracterizó por la baja participación, de los más de dos millones de electores registrados.

Cedillo IMG_9685 1

Bomberos del LAFD celebraron la victoria de Gil Cedillo el martes, 7 de marzo. (Foto: Cortesía )

La Medida H, que aumenta el impuesto a las ventas en medio centavo para recoger fondos para combatir la creciente población de desamparados, fue aprobada con el 67.4% de los votos.

Una propuesta contra la que Garcetti y los sindicatos se habían pronunciado, las Medida S, que buscaba una moratoria de dos años para los proyectos de construcción que requieran una enmienda al Plan General, fue rechazada por el 61% de los sufragios, con cerca de 172,000 votos.

El concejal Gil Cedillo logró su reelección, con el 51% de la votación, al igual que los concejales Bob Blumenfield, Paul Koretz, Curren Price, Mike Bonin, Mitch O’Farrell y Joe Buscaino.

La candidata Mónica Rodríguez obtuvo el 27.7% de los votos (cerca de 4,000) y deberá enfrentarse a Karo Torossian que logró 16.3% en la elección general de mayo.

Tanto el fiscal de la ciudad, Mike Feuer, como el contralor, Ron Galperin, no tenían rivales y repetirán en el cargo.

Part 2: EGP Ballot Recommendations for March 7 Primary Election

March 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

City of Los Angeles

 Mayor of the City of Los Angeles – Eric Garcetti

In the race for mayor, Eastern Group Publications (EGP) endorses the reelection of Eric Garcetti. Garcetti has proven that it’s possible to be a mayor for all Angelenos by his constant attention to the needs of all the city’s neighborhoods, while still giving special attention to the homeless, the poor and immigrants.

As mayor, Garcetti has continued to press for action to reduce pollution and to make the need to conserve water a shared responsibility.

Garcetti has been a strong voice for continuing the building of a world-class transit system and a world-class airport, making progress in each of those areas by gaining the support of both Angelenos and neighbors in other cities.

His endorsement of a livable wage for low-income workers has won our admiration, as has his support for protecting undocumented immigrants in the city. Most of all, we appreciate the fact that in Los Angeles, one of the most diverse cities in the world, our mayor can move around this city with the ease and comfort and demeanor only officials that are well liked and trusted are able to do.

Vote Eric Garcetti for Mayor of Los Angeles.

 

City Council District 1 – Gil Cedillo

Our endorsement goes to the incumbent, Gil Cedillo. For the most part, we have been pleased by changes in the First District, including cleaner streets in areas once heavily littered, and the faster cleanup of trash and items illegally dumped. No small task, given that the district is one of the city’s most densely populated.

While there are still many upgrades and improvements needed across the district – and all across the city, for that matter – Cedillo has made progress on improving the district’s infrastructure, including installing new streets signs and street lights along neighborhood thoroughfares.

Yes, we understand that bicycle activists are unhappy with Cedillo’s decision not to support a bike lane along North Figueroa Street, but as this newspaper reported at the time, there were many in the community who agreed with him, and many have told us they still do.

Gentrification will continue to be a hot button issue across the district and the city.

And while we agree that the building of more affordable residential units is needed, we disagree that the loss of affordable and rent control units can be blamed solely on Cedillo or any single city council member. There are limits – under current city regulations and ordinances – to the control the city has over what an owner can do with his or her property, and on who is allowed to buy property in the city.

In our view, Cedillo and his staff need to do a better job or articulating what they have done when it comes to development, why he has approved certain developments, and how he intends to protect neighborhoods from over development. But that’s not to say that we believe the councilman has neglected the communities in those areas, rather to emphasize that a little more face-to-face discussion and consultation could go a long way to reduce distress and dissention.

We give our endorsement to Gil Cedillo for Council District 1.

 

Previous EGP Ballot Recommendations:

City of Los Angeles

Measure S is Not the Solution – Vote No

Measure S – The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative – asks Los Angeles voters to approve a two-year moratorium on developments that don’t conform to the city’s current, but outdated General Plan, but the intended and unintended consequences will do more harm than good and deserves a no vote.

 Yes on Measure M, No on Measure N

Measure M is a sensible step to ensuring the city can responsibly regulate enforcement and taxation on the commercial production, cultivation and sale of marijuana, now that California voters have approved its legalization.

Vote No on Measure N – which is no longer even supported by the cannabis industry.

 

Los Angeles County

 We Need to Invest in Services for the Homeless – Vote Yes on Measure H

Measure H will authorize the County to hike the sales tax a quarter-cent to pay for much needed services for the homeless population in Los Angeles County. Funding includes services for mental health, substance abuse treatment, health care, education, job training, housing subsidies, outreach and other supportive services for homeless adults, families. Vote Yes.

 

Candidates Discuss Northeast L.A. Issues

February 23, 2017 by · 1 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, Cypress 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 accomplishments in elected office and 15 years in the labor movement, noting his long list of endorsements resulting 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 authored 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 said. 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 action after getting complaints from the community.

Bray-Ali said, if elected, he is committed to ensure homeless veterans have 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 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

jgarcia@egpnews.com

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