Future of El Sereno’s Mazatlan Theatre Uncertain

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Update:  Iris De Anda has confirmed that the Mazatlan Theatre foreclosure will proceed.

Last month, Iris De Anda launched a campaign on Indeigogo, an international fundraising website, and asked for help to bring the family’s mortgage payments on the Mazatlan Theatre in El Sereno up to date.

But the campaign failed, and De Anda now says the property could soon be foreclosed on and put up for auction, perhaps as early as next week.

Lea esta nota en ESPAÑOL: El Futuro del Teatro Mazatlán Esta Incierto

“This historical landmark building is on the verge of being auctioned to developers that may tear it down,” De Anda wrote in her plea for online donations.

While De Anda doesn’t know for sure that there is a developer out there waiting to tear down the one-time theater, she says it’s a fear that hangs over her family, which bought the building in 1982 when she was three-years-old.

De Anda and her siblings grew up helping to run the family’s business, which has included hundreds of quinceañeras, weddings and birthday parties held at the site, converted years ago into a banquet hall.

The Mazatlan Theatre in El Sereno (pictured) is facing foreclosure, according to the daughter of the property owner. The former movie theater turned banquet hall could be auctioned off early next week. EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo

Her father, Jose De Anda, owns the Mazatlan Theatre proprerty. His other business, De Anda Construction Co., is housed there as well. My father does not wish to comment on the situation, Jose’s daughter Iris told EGP.

She blames the bad economy for her family being $50,000 behind on their mortage payments. And while they had already scraped together $25,000, putting together the other half has so far eluded them, she said.

The Indeigogo campaign raised a little over $1,100, about 4 percent of what they need, De Anda told EGP on Monday.

“If the foreclosure goes through, I will refund the [donor’s] money,” De Anda told EGP. “It’s a humbling, vulnerable place to be and a learning experience. I don’t regret it,” she said.

The property could be auctioned off as soon as July 17, according to De Anda, who explained that the lender has already granted them one extension. The original auction date was in June, she said.

With her family’s privacy in mind, De Anda declined to provide information on the private lender that may foreclose on the commercial property. She also declined to say how much it would take to pay off the mortgage in its entirety, but did say, “It is worth more than we owe.”

Responses on the web have been supportive but also less than kind, De Anda said.

“Some people feel it’s been a blight to the community…‘We are all having hard times, why are you so special, why should we help you?’” are some of the comments De Anda says she has heard. “My response is: ‘if it does speak to you and you can dream, you are more than welcome to help.’”

She said the banquet hall business has fallen on hard times because the poor economy is pushing people to change how they celebrate their special occasions. At the same time, her father’s construction company has also seen a big drop in business, she said.

If De Anda had her way, she would try to repurpose the Mazatlan Theatre for use as a community space, like the Eastside Café collective in El Sereno or el Corazon del Pueblo in Boyle Heights. The Eastside Café collective supports this vision, according to Angela Flores, one of several of the café’s co-founders. Flores called Iris a friend and fellow activist.

De Anda believes the “landmark” building will be slated for development if auctioned off, and transformed into something ordinary, just like the other one-time theaters on Huntington Drive that are now discount stores.

It’s unclear, however, whether the Mazatlan Theatre building is actually deserving of the “historical” or  “landmark” designation. While the theater was built in the 1940s, it does not currently fall under any historical preservation protection guidelines, nor has it been designated a historical landmark, according to the nonprofit Los Angeles Conservancy, which keeps track of such things.

In the meantime, the De Anda family is continuing to rent out the Mazatlan Theatre for special events and concerts, even though the venue’s future remains uncertain.

Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office has met with De Anda and put her in touch with the Valley Economic Development Center, which helps small businesses, as well as historic preservationists, according to Huizar spokesperson, Rick Coca.

De Anda hasn’t ruled out taking a loan to keep the doors open, but admits she has little faith in the banking industry.

Lifelong El Sereno resident Mario Polendo, 51, hasn’t been a fan of the building’s use as a rental hall for parties. He can still remember when the Mazatlan Theatre was used as an American Legion Post during the 1960s. Today, he would like to see the building used for the community’s benefit, as a Boys & Girls Club or a place to offer drug and alcohol recovery support meetings.

But 45-year-old Hilda Fernandez, who has lived in El Sereno for 23 years, disagrees, and says there is not a need for another place providing community services. She said Barrio Action Youth and Family Center, located just down the street on Huntington Drive, already offers a lot of community programming and resources. Fernandez would rather see the Mazatlan Theatre used as a movie theatre once again.

Late Tuesday, De Anda told EGP by email that she is continuing to talk to the lender and hopes they will be able to come to an agreement that will allow them to keep ownership of the property.

“I’m taking it one day at a time step by step.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated the name of the construction company wass Ramirez Construction.

Caltrans Propone Ruta de Camiones para Autopista 710

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Se ha propuesto expandir la autopista de Long Beach (710) a 14 carriles, incluyendo un camino solo para camiones entre la autopista y el río de Los Ángeles, como un remedio temporal de la niebla tóxica que ahoga el corredor industrial y comercial entre Los Ángeles y los puertos principales de Long Beach.

El proyecto de ampliar la autopista se promueve como una manera de cortar las emisiones de diésel, incluyendo el ozono y las partículas de tamaño ultra fino en las vecindades de bajos recursos que rodean la autopista. Los expertos de la niebla tóxica dicen que las partículas de los camiones son los contribuyentes principales en la zona al riesgo de cáncer y las investigaciones universitarias indican que las vecindades alrededor de la autopista 710 son puntos de alta frecuencia de casos de cáncer y asma.

Read this story IN ENGLISH: Caltrans Proposes Truckway For 710 Freeway

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Caltrans y Metro han publicado el borrador del Reporte de Impacto Ambiental (EIR) para solicitar aportaciones del público durante 60 días, desde el 30 de junio. El proyecto de cinco billones de dólares podría reemplazar las rampas anticuadas tipo trébol y los puentes inadecuados construidos hace 60 años, y modernizar cinco intercambios desde el Este de Los Ángeles hasta el puerto de Long Beach.

Las comunidades que serán afectadas incluyen Boyle Heights, las ciudades de Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Vernon y South Gate entre otras.

Dependiendo de los diseños finales de los intercambios, aproximadamente 200 casas y apartamentos se podrían que demoler para construir la de la autopista de 14 carriles. Casi 200 negocios también se podrían eliminar. Parques y escuelas en la zona, como la primaria Bandini, también serán afectadas de acuerdo al reporte.

Bajo unas de las alternativas, la estación de bomberos No. 4 de Vernon se tendría que trasladar a otra ubicación.

Los planificadores del estado dicen que los 14 millones de camiones que actualmente utilizan los puertos de Los Ángeles y Long Beach, en solo dos décadas crecerían a 43 millones camiones, resultando en la sobrecarga de las vías del tren del corredor Alameda y las otras autopistas y calles.

La nueva propuesta pide que se construya una carretera de cuatro carriles, solo para camiones desde Ocean Boulevard en Long Beach a un lado de la autopista 710 existente y a lo largo del río de Los Ángeles.

La autopista elevada para camiones pasaría por encima de las avenidas que hoy forman puentes con la autopista y se extenderían hasta el extremo norte del bulevar Bandini en la ciudad de Commerce. Las propuestas también proponen actualizar las conexiones a los patios de ferrocarril intermodales de Commerce y Vernon.

La autopista 710 existente, que tiene seis carriles en Long Beach y ocho carriles al norte de la autopista 405, sería completamente reconstruida y ampliada para incluir hasta a diez carriles. El centro mediano de la autopista se desplazaría hacia las orillas del río—en terrenos que hoy tiene torres masivas de transmisión eléctricas y algunas granjas—para evitar la demolición de cientos de hogares para dar lugar a la autopista.

Docenas de torres de acero se tendrán que elevar sobre la nueva autopista y los nuevos carriles de acuerdo al estudio. Además, los bordos del Río de Los Ángeles se tendrán que mover o excavar en ciertas partes.

Una alternativa que se presentó limitaría el acceso de la nueva autopista a solo los camiones eléctricos operando con postes por arriba y un nuevo sistema de cables eléctricos integrados en la autopista. El estudio notó que ningún tipo de camión eléctrico existe.

La propuesta pide modernizar 42 intersecciones cera de la autopista 710, con ambos mejoras estéticas y mejoras a las señales de tráfico. Un nuevo intercambio se crearía en Slauson Avenue pero también se crearía un par de rampas en el bulevar Washington para reducir los conflictos con tráfico sobre la autopista de Santa Ana (5).

También se pide configurar el intercambio de las autopistas 5 y 710 donde las salidas al lado izquierdo permiten que los camiones diario entren a la autopista 5 por los carriles de la izquierda.

La salida muy utilizada del bulevar Washington es una de las rutas mas directas hacia la zona industrial de Commerce. Los residentes de Commerce, específicamente en las vecindades de Bandini y Ayers que están localizados junto a la autopista, por años se han quejado de la polución y los daños a las calles causada por los camiones que viajan en la zona.

CPUC’s Simon Receives NIU’s ‘El Promotor Award’

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

California Public Utilities Commissioner Timothy Simon was awarded the “El Promotor Award” during the 2012 One Million NIU (New Internet Users) Awards Luncheon held late last month.

The El Promotor Award is given to a person who helps further One Million NIU’s message and helps promotes the work the organization does in the community. They must also have a high level of influence and credibility in the field of technology and broadband Internet, according to NIU.

Simon was selected for the award because he “100 percent” supports NIU’s initiative to use technology and the Internet “to help more children graduate from college, while simultaneously getting more folks to use broadband technology,” One Million NIU Coalition Executive Director Larry Ortega told EGP in a written statement.

“Ultimately this meant the businesses that he has sphere of influence over, would benefit with more Internet users, a classic win-win scenario that he understood early-on as we began to launch NIU,” Ortega said.

While accepting the award, Simon called Ortega an “American treasure,” referring to the work NIU does to empower people in low-income communities.

The East Los Angeles-based One Million NIU program is part of a statewide coalition aimed at training parents and other adults in underserved communities how to use computers and other technologies to access information and resources as a way to improve their work, school and life skills.

Simon said he hopes the future for people in these communities will improve as they gain greater access to the Internet, and he is committed to continue to support NIU’s goal of achieving one million new Internet users.

Demonstrating the power of the Internet, Simon explained that he witnessed tele-medicine for the first time while in Japan — a surgeon in one room performed surgery on a patient in another room — and said he believes broadband Internet has transformative potential uses that can also be used here at home, not the least of which is creating new opportunities for people who previously had little access to resources.

“It is very important that we make it clear to our young people that they are not only the future, but the future will be a great future for them,” Simon said of the importance of teaching children and their families how to use technology to access information and resources through the Web.

According to Simon, computer literacy and internet access are important to self-esteem and confidence when striving to achieve: “That is what progress is about and that is what America is about,” he said, but added that America won’t continue to be that kind of country unless there is continued investment in underserved communities.

High-speed broadband can bring the best educators into our prisons and really rehabilitate male and female inmates, the CPUC commissioner said.
“So when they re-enter into society they not only have the technical skills but also the soft skills that are necessary to remain competitive in a global economy.”

He praised NIU’ Ortega for “the impact” he has had on families and for helping to bring about policy changes that will help ensure “broadband is accessible to all communities, in particular those communities we define as underserved or hard to reach.”

According to Simon, the work is even going to have “benefits for children not yet born.”

Other One Million NIU 2012 Awardees: AT&T President Ken McNeely received the Valentía Award; State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and his wife Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Statewide Office Manager Mae Torlakson, received the Power Couple Award; Pan American Bank President Jessie Torres received the El Padrino Award and State Assemblyman Steven Bradford (51st District) received the El Pionero Award.

One Million NIU is part of a coalition that receives some funding from the California Public Utilities Commission to carry out their work.
For more information on One Million NIU, visit onemillionniu.org

‘Hometown Heroes’ On Display in East LA

July 12, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Los Angeles County residents can honor family and friends serving in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan with a hometown banner, a county official announced last week.

“Our veterans have met the challenge of asking themselves what they can do for our country,” said Supervisor Gloria Molina. “Answering that question is what inspired me to get into politics and it is my hope the ‘Hometown Heroes’ military banners will become a Los Angeles County tradition.’’

The banners are already on display in Molina’s First Supervisorial District, along Hacienda Boulevard near Hacienda Heights. New banners will be displayed on several streets in unincorporated East Los Angeles and the Valinda Corridor.

“These banners salute the men and women of our military while simultaneously reminding all of us to honor them not just with words of gratitude but through action,” Molina said.

The “Hometown Heroes” banners in unincorporated East LA will be displayed on the following thoroughfares: North Mednik Avenue from Floral Drive to East First Street; East César Chávez Avenue from North Mednik Avenue to Vancouver Avenue; and East Third Street from North Mednik Avenue to South Atlantic Boulevard.

People who want to acknowledge friends and loved ones on banners in the First District can apply at http://molina.lacounty.gov.

MUSD Board Extends Interim Superintendents’ Contracts

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Though four candidates were schedule to be interviewed in May to fill the permanent position of superintendent for the Montebello Unified School District, the contracts for interim superintendents Robert Henke and Cleve Pell have been extended to Dec. 31 2012 and June 30 2013 respectively.

The amended contracts were approved at the June 28 board meeting.

Henke and Pell were appointed interim superintendents after serving as assistant superintendents to Edward Velasquez who left his position in MUSD to head the Lynwood School District two years ago. The appointment of Henke and Pell was considered a cost-saving measure during the search for a permanent superintendent. Each received a $25,000 pay raise, bringing their salary to $189,000 each. The $50,000 increase is substantially less than the cost of a new superintendent would receive in salary and benefits, according to the district.

One Dead, One Wounded In East LA Shooting

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – A shooting in East Los Angeles Monday left a 22-year-old man dead and a 46-year-old man wounded.

The shooting in the 300 block of South Ditman Avenue, near East Third Street, was reported around 4:50 a.m., said Deputy Lillian Peck of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau. Because of the nature of the call, deputies ordered everyone inside the residence to step out.

As the occupants came out, deputies saw the 46-year-old suffering from a gunshot to his upper body. They then found the younger victim inside a trailer on the south side of the property. He was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.

The 46-year-old man was listed as stable. He was initially detained but is no longer being held. The relationship between the two shooting victims was not known, nor was a motive for the shooting.

There was also no suspect information. The investigation is continuing, said Deputy Mark Pope.

California Senate Approves TRUST Act

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(NAM) – The California State Senate on July 5 approved AB 1081, California’s TRUST Act, by a vote of 21-13. Introduced by Tom Ammiano, the TRUST Act would limit detentions for deportation in local jails for individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety.

Ammiano wrote the bill to counter the federal Secure Communities program which requires local police to share fingerprint data with federal immigration authorities. Although Secure Communities purports to prioritize deportations of criminals, seven in 10 of the 72,000 Californians deported under the program have no criminal record or have only committed minor offenses.

After summer recess, the bill will head to the State Assembly for a vote, and then to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brothers Shot During Mt. Washington Dispute: One Dead

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – A gang member armed with a shotgun fatally shot one man and wounded the victim’s brother Saturday in the Mount Washington area of northeast Los Angeles, a police officer said Sunday.

Pedro Morales died at an area hospital. His brother, whose name was not released, was listed in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the shoulder, said Los Angeles police officer Norma Eisenman of the Media Relations Section.

Police reports did not include any age for the Morales brothers. A representative from the Coroner’s Office said Sunday Morales’ body was still at an area hospital.

The shooting was in the 5300 block of Monte Vista Street about 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Eisenman said.

The brothers were involved in some type of dispute with the suspect, who hit the men with two shotgun blasts.

Police would not release any suspect description for the assailant.

El Futuro del Teatro Mazatlán Esta Incierto

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Actualización: Iris De Anda ha confirmado que sí se realizará la ejecución hipotecaria del Teatro Mazatlán.

El mes pasado, Iris De Anda lanzó una campaña en Indeigogo, un sitio de Internet de recaudación de fondos, donde pidió ayuda para actualizar los pagos de la hipoteca de su familia para el Teatro Mazatlán en El Sereno.

Pero la campaña fracasó y De Anda ahora dice que la propiedad podría enfrentar una ejecución hipotecaria y además peligra ser subastada tan pronto como la próxima semana.

Read this story IN ENGLISH: Future of El Sereno’s Mazatlan Theatre Uncertain

“Este edificio histórico está a punto de ser subastado a desarrolladores que lo quieren demoler”, escribió De Anda en su petición por donaciones en la Internet.

De Anda no sabe definitivamente si existe un desarrollador que quiere demoler el teatro, pero ella dice que ese es un miedo de su familia que compró el edificio en 1982 cuando ella tenía solo tres años.

Un letrero improvisado cuelga sobre el Teatro de Mazatlán, ubicado en la avenida Eastern Avenida en El Sereno. Foto por Gloria Angelina Castillo

De Anda y sus hermanos ayudaban en el negocio familiar donde hubo cientos de quinceañeras, bodas y fiestas de cumpleaños. Hace muchos años el sitio fue convertido en una sala de banquetes.

Su padre, José De Anda, es el dueño del Teatro Mazatlán. Su otro negocio, la compañía de construcción de De Anza también tiene su oficina allí. Mi padre no quiere comentar sobre la situación, dijo a EGP Iris, hija de José.

Ella culpa la mala economía por causar que su familia se haya atrasado por $50.000 en sus pagos de hipoteca. Y mientras que ya reunieron $25.000, recaudar la otra mitad se les ha dificultado, ella dijo. La campaña de Indeigogo solo recaudó $1.100, casi 4 por ciento de lo que necesita, dijo De Anda a EGP el lunes.

“Si la ejecución hipotecaria sucede, yo reembolsaré el dinero de los donantes,” dijo De Anda a EGP. “Esta es una lección de humildad, es una posición muy vulnerable y una experiencia de aprendizaje. Pero no me arrepiento,” ella dijo.

La propiedad se podría subastar tan prono como el 17 de julio, de acuerdo con De Anda, quien explicó que el prestamista ya les dio una extensión. La fecha original para la subasta fue en junio, ella dijo.

Por la privacidad de su familia, De Anda declinó dar información sobre el prestamista privado que podría hacer una ejecución hipotecaria. Tampoco no quiso revelar cuanto se necesita para pagar la hipoteca en total, pero dijo que “vale mas de lo que debemos.”

Comentarios en el Internet han brindado apoyo, pero también ha habido comentarios menos amables, De Anda dijo.

“Unas personas sienten que [el edificio] ha sido una plaga para la comunidad… ‘Todos estamos en tiempos difíciles: ¿Por qué eres tan especial? ¿Por qué te debemos ayudar?’” son unos de estos comentarios, dijo De Anda. “Mi respuesta es: si te conmueve y si usted puede soñar, usted esta mas que bienvenido a ayudarnos.”

Ella dijo que el negocio de alquilar la sala ha perdido clientes debido a la lenta economía que ha motivado a las personas a cambiar su forma de celebrar las ocasiones especiales. Al mismo tiempo, la compañía de construcción de su padre también ha experimentado una gran caída en negocio, ella dijo.

De Anda quiere reutilizar el Teatro Mazatlán como un espacio comunitario, como la colectiva de Eastside Café en El Sereno o Corazón del Pueblo en Boyle Heights. La colectiva de Eastside Café apoya esta visión, de acuerdo con una de las fundadoras del café, Angela Flores. Flores considera a Iris una amiga y activista compañera.

De Anda cree que el edificio “histórico” podría ser desarrollado después de su subasta y transformado en algo ordinario como los otros teatros de Huntington Drive que ahora son tiendas de descuento.

Pero es incierto si el Teatro Mazatlán merece el título “histórico.” Aunque el teatro fue construido en los 1940s, actualmente no cae bajo las directrices de protección de preservación histórica, ni se ha designado un sitio histórico de acuerdo con la organización sin fines de lucro Los Ángeles Conservancy que mantiene este tipo de registros.

Mientras tanto se continua alquilando el Teatro Mazatlán para eventos especiales y conciertos, aunque el futuro del lugar esta incierto.

Representantes de la oficina del Concejal José Huizar se han reunido con De Anda y la informaron acerca de un centro de desarrollo económico que ayuda a negocios pequeños, así como con defensores de los recursos históricos, de acuerdo con el portavoz de Huizar, Rick Coca.

De Anda no ha eliminado la idea de solicitar un préstamo, pero ella dice tiene poca fe en la industria de bancos.

Mario Poleno, de 51 años de edad y residente de toda la vida de El Sereno, no ha sido un fanático del uso del edificio como una sala para fiestas. Él todavía recuerda cuando el Teatro Mazatlán fue utilizado como una sede de veteranos del ejército en la década de los 1960s. A él le gustaría ver que el edificio sea utilizado por el beneficio de la comunidad como un Boys & Girls Club o un lugar donde personas que intentan recuperarse de una adicción de drogas y alcohol pueden acudir por ayuda.

Pero Hilda Fernández, de 45 años de edad y quien ha vivido en El Sereno durante 23 años, dice que no hay necesidad de otro lugar para servicios comunitarios. Ella dijo que Barrio Action Youth and Family Center, ubicado en la calle Huntington Drive, ya ofrece una gran cantidad de programación y recursos comunitarios. Fernández prefiere ver que el Teatro Mazatlán sea utilizado como un cine de películas.

El martes, De Anda dijo a EGP por correo electrónico que sigue hablando con el prestamista y espera llegar a un acuerdo que les permite quedarse con la propiedad.

“Lo estoy tomando un día a la vez, paso a paso,” ella dijo.

Corrección: Una versión anterior de esta nota indicó que el nombre de la empresa de construcción era Ramírez.

Huntington Park Gunfire Leads to Arrest; Assault Rifle Find

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – Police recovered an assault rifle and arrested one suspect following an early morning disturbance that was followed by gunfire Monday at a Huntington Park tavern.

Officers were called to the Kitty Kat Bar in the 5700 block of Santa Fe Avenue about 1:30 a.m. to investigate an assault and battery complaint, according to Lt. Neal Mongan of the Huntington Park Police Department.

When they arrived, they heard gunfire and saw a vehicle fleeing the scene. A pursuit ended with the car crashing into a commercial structure in the 2200 block of South Alameda Street in Los Angeles, Mongan said.

Two suspects ran off. A 30-year-old man whose name was not immediately released was found nearby, but the other suspect escaped. An assault rifle and other evidence was recovered at the collision scene, the lieutenant said.

No injuries were reported.

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