Special Olympics Athletes Help Open Lincoln Heights Summer Pool Program

June 11, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

The calendar may still say it’s spring, but at Downey Recreation Center in Lincoln Heights Monday, summer was in full swing with the start of the annual swim season and Operation Splash, a free summer swim program for low-income children and adults available at some City of Los Angeles public pools.

Lincoln Heights — a neighborhood on the city’s eastside — is one of several local hosts sites for next month’s 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles and on Monday some athletes competing in the Special Olympics were on hand to kickoff the free summer program.

Among them was Joshua Fontelera, a twenty-three-year-old athlete with autism who for the last 12 years has been a regular at city pools, taking full advantage of the city’s free swim programs. This summer he will be an alternate at the Special Olympics Games.

Children get ready to jump in the pool during the kick off event in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Children get ready to jump in the pool during the kick off event in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“I feel really good [being here] because I like to swim,” Fontelera told EGP as his mother proudly showed the gold medals he has won in past competitions. On Monday, he had the added job of leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the event.

Operation Splash —which runs from June to August — is a Kaiser Permanente program run in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and LA84 Foundation, a legacy of the 1984 Olympic Games.

“Operation Splash gives money to the pools so we can come here,” said Fontelera, adding that being in the pool is the “best therapy.”

Kaiser has given the L.A. Dept. of Recreation and Parks Aquatics Division a $240,000 grant to promote physical activity; another $85,000 was awarded by LA84 to help cover program costs at 34 public pools across the city.

“Last week we opened seven pools and on June 13, all 34 pools will be open,” recreation and parks General Manager Michael Shull said.

Lea este artículo en Español: Atletas de las Olimpiadas Especiales Inauguran Programa de Natación

The grants will pay for free swim lessons for 6,000 low-income children and adults, 780 Junior Lifeguard Training scholarships for youth ages 10-17 and for “Rethink Your Drink Campaign” ads to increase awareness about the link between sugary beverages and obesity.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4,000 people die from drowning each year: It is one of the leading unintentional but preventable causes of deaths in the U.S.

About 60% of African American children and 70% of Latino children don’t know how to swim, according to the USA Swimming Foundation.

Many people go to local pools and beaches to cool off during the summer, so it’s important to ensure that everyone is safe and learns to swim, said Gabriela Tovar, manager of grants and programs for LA84.

“With programs like ours, we hope to make changes to these statistics,” Tovar said, explaining LA84 has been funding city of L.A. programs “to provide swim lessons as well as introduce youth to swim team, dive, synchronized swimming and water polo” for 30 years.

Mothers like Fontini Revivo say the free programs are extremely important for all children, bit especially those with disabilities.

Not everyone can afford to have a pool at home, nor do they have the skills needed to teach children with disabilities, she said.

Revivo’s 14-year-old daughter Ariel will compete this summer at the Special Olympics in the free-style swimming category. “It is fabulous to have my daughter in the [free swim] programs because she doesn’t get to participate in a lot of regular activities,” the proud mother told EGP.

“Now the facility will be able to accommodate children with special needs” like her daughter, she said.

Ariel said she loves swimming because it gives her the chance “to be alone” and to at the same time “work with a team.”

On Monday, Councilman Gil Cedillo (CD-1) recalled going to the public pool while growing up on the eastside. “Back in my day, I think it was a quarter or a nickel to go into the pool at Costello” Recreation Center, he said. “For young people, it’s an incredible place to put all their energy, positively and constructively,” he said.

Joshua Fontelera, 23, proudly wears medals he has won in past competitions during Operation Splash kick-off event Monday. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Joshua Fontelera, 23, proudly wears medals he has won in past competitions during Operation Splash kick-off event Monday. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

There are still plenty of scholarships available for free lessons, according to Patricia Delgado,principal recreation supervisor I of the Aquatics Division with the Dept. of Recreation and Parks. “Registration will be conducted on June 14, 2015 at 10 am [at each pool site], sponsorships are available on a first come, first serve basis.”

Operation Splash is part of Kaiser Permamente’s Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) program, focused on reducing obesity in the community by encouraging more safe physical activity and healthy, affordable food.

The Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports competition for people with intellectual disabilities, will be held this year in the Los Angeles area from July 25 to Aug. 2.

 

East and Northeast L.A. area Operation Splash Public Pools:

Lincoln Heights: Downey Pool, 1775 N. Spring St., (323) 304-0828

Glassell Park Recreation Center: 3707 Verdugo Rd., (323) 226-1670

Highland Park Recreation Center: 6150 Piedmont Ave, (323) 226-1669

Eagle Rock: Yosemite Recreation Center, 1840 Yosemite Dr., (323) 226-1668

Boyle Heights: Pecan Pool, 120 S. Gless St., (323) 526-3042 and Roosevelt High School, 456 S. Matthews St., (213) 485-7391

East Los Angeles: Costello Recreation Center, 3121 E. Olympic Blvd. (323) 526-3073

El Sereno: Richard Alatorre Indoor pool, 4721 Klamath St., (323) 276-3042

 

For more information visit: www.laparks.org or call (323) 906-7953.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Ground Broken On New Veteran Housing Project

May 21, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Just in time for Memorial Day, ground was broken on the site of a new project to house homeless veterans in Northeast Los Angeles.

The Marmion Way Apartments, located adjacent to the Heritage Square Gold Line Station in Cypress Park, will house 24 homeless veterans with special needs and 24 low-income families, with preference being given to the families of veterans.

“This is a very concrete way to bring our veterans home,” said Councilman Gil Cedillo (CD-1) last Friday morning during the groundbreaking ceremony for the project being built in his district.

The recent homeless count conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found 2,991 homeless veterans, including 218 female veterans, living on the streets of Los Angeles. Of those, 203, including three of the female vets, live in the first district, which encompasses part of Northeast Los Angeles, Chinatown, University Park and MacArthur Park.

Councilman Gil Cedillo (CD-1) stated that 24 veterans and 24 low-income families will have housing by 2016 in Cypress Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Councilman Gil Cedillo (CD-1) stated that 24 veterans and 24 low-income families will have housing by 2016 in Cypress Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Also at Friday’s ceremony were the various partners working to bring the housing project to fruition: Affording housing developer Palm Communities; social service provider PATH Ventures; the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Los Angeles Housing Department.

Once built, the Marmion Way housing project, with subterranean parking, will include social service programs to support residents gain financial stability and to maintain their health. PATH Ventures, which will oversee the social service element, will offer a variety of literacy and skill building programs, such as computer training, adult education, money management. They will also provide nutrition and wellness programs, after-school programs, individual counseling and case management.

Veterans will have access to job training, veteran-specific legal assistance and healthcare services provide by the VA.

“When we build this, we will see less encampments. When we fill up the units, we will see less homeless,” said Cedillo, referring to growing number of homeless encampments in the city. “This is the solution,” Cedillo told the crowd of about at the event.

PATH Ventures Executive Director Amy Anderson told EGP they will use government subsidies to pay for the services being offered.

“Homeless veterans as a priority,” she said.

It was a sentiment echoed by Cedillo who said he has a bias for the men and women who place their lives on the line “to protect our quality of life.” They deserve “the very best that we have to offer for all their service and their commitment” from our government and the private sector, the councilman said.

The Marmion Way Apartments will be located at 3500 Marmion Way and are expected to open in October 2016.

A larger housing project planned for the first district in Highland Park is awaiting a judge’s approval, according to Cedillo. If approved, the 60-unit development will include housing for low-income families and veterans.

The controversial Highland Park Transit Village project, which would be built on two large public lots adjacent to the Gold Line stations in Highland Park, has been in the works for years. Residents and local businesses have complained the projects are too dense for the area, and will add to local traffic congestion and reduce parking in the area.

“A group of local residents challenged the adequacy of the city’s environmental review and at this point, a final ruling by the judge is pending,” explained Cedillo’s Senior Planning Deputy Gerald G. Gubatan.

The city favors building housing adjacent to transportation corridors, including rail lines.

Let’s Clean Up the Place

April 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

You don’t have to tell most Angelenos that the city of Los Angeles is getting dirtier and dirtier; they can see it every time they step outside.

The trash that litters street curbs and alleys is shameful, but it didn’t get there by itself.

Mayor Erick Garcetti has set aside $9.1 millions for the Clean Streets Initiative, and that’s a good start. But will it be enough? Not likely.

Especially since the Bureau of Sanitation has been given four years to install the 5,000 new trashcans called for in the clean streets plan.

That’s right, it will take four years for all the trashcans to be in place!

The city, with only 1,000 trash cans today, already lags far behind most other big cities in this area and taking four years will likely result in the city just keeping up with what is now a quickly worsening condition. EGP believes the mayor should speed up the trashcan roll out time frame.

It really frustrates us when we see city employees who daily pass by dumped couches, TVs and furniture, but the dumped items remain because city employs have not been specifically directed to report the dumped items either by phone or on their Ipads, which many employees now have.

Now, the Mayor’s initiative, modeled on a program started in Councilman Gil Cedillo’s first district, calls for the sanitation department to deploy a strike team to conduct targeted clean ups in areas of heavy dumping; it’s about time.

The initiative also calls for the city to develop a data-driven system to measure street cleanliness, or on the flip side, the dirtiest streets by the end of the year.

We hope city workers will get on board and take time to volunteer on strike teams in our neighborhoods.

That includes police officers who too often look away when someone litters, seeing it as a low-priority crime. The accumulation of trash created by these seemingly unimportant actions, have an expensive and detrimental impact on quality of life in neighborhoods already suffering from overcrowding, lack of open space and other dwindling resources. It’s been well documented that neglect and trash are too often precursors to crime in low-income areas.

The city should also prohibit residents from leaving their trashcans on the street after collection day.

Los Angeles residents also need to do their part, and we don’t mean by complaining. Take the time to call the city’s 311 number if you have a bulky item to be picked, or to report when items have been illegally dumped in your neighborhood. The city should step up outreach to explain the program to residents.

And in case you think you are off the hook because you don’t live in the city of Los Angeles, think again. Most cities have similar programs and residents should take full advantage of them and become active in keeping their neighborhoods clean. In unincorporated areas of the county, the number to call is 211.

So now, let’s all get together and clean up the place.

Concejo de Los Ángeles Pide Protección Para Inquilinos

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

El Concejo Municipal de Los Ángeles ordenó reportes el miércoles sobre dos propuestas encaminadas a proteger a los inquilinos de la ciudad de ser desalojados injustamente de las 650,000 unidades de rentas controladas, incluyendo un informe que pondría más presión sobre los propietarios para mantener las propiedades adecuadamente.

El concejo encargó al personal municipal que informe sobre una medida que requeriría que propietarios de unidades de alquiler controlado reporten cualquier cambio sobre las tarifas de renta, y otra que reforzaría la ejecución de la aplicación del código en las propiedades para asegurarse de que los propietarios están haciendo las reparaciones necesarias.

El concejal Gil Cedillo (CD-1) impulsó las medidas, diciendo que están diseñadas para asegurarse de que “nuestros inquilinos ya no tendrán que vivir en condiciones de calidad inferior aquí en la ciudad de Los Ángeles” y monitorear las tasas de alquiler para disuadir a los propietarios de elevarlas ilegalmente en un esfuerzo por desalojar a los inquilinos.

Cedillo dijo que alrededor del 60 por ciento de los residentes de la ciudad son los inquilinos, con el número creciendo a 75 por ciento en su propio distrito en las áreas del noreste de Los Ángeles y Chinatown.

Los informes fueron ordenados mientras cientos de inquilinos de bajos ingresos y su defensores se reunieron en Los Ángeles City Hall para pedir protección, con algunos diciendo que la cantidad de viviendas asequibles en la ciudad se ha reducido, pero ha habido un aumento en el abuso por los dueños que están desalojando incorrectamente a inquilinos.

Mike Dennis del Este de Los Ángeles Community Corporation, dijo que las medidas que se consideraron el miércoles son “pasos muy importantes … pero acciones más agresivas se deben tomar para hacer frente a la crisis de la vivienda, sin demora, porque la crisis de la vivienda es real y es devastadora en vecindarios de clase trabajadora”.

Dennis dijo que su grupo también ha pedido a los líderes de la ciudad que se encarguen de la Ley Ellis, una ley estatal que permite a propietarios a desalojar a los inquilinos con el fin de hacer trabajos de renovación, el cual sirve como un incentivo para que los propietarios permitan que sus propiedades se deterioren.

Una vez que los residentes se salgan de las propiedades de alquiler controlado, estas se convierten en propiedades a precio de mercado, bajo el programa de control de renta de la ciudad.

 

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

jgarcia@egpnews.com

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.

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

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.

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

 

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