L.A. Council Votes to Join Legal Fight to Block Trump on Immigration

January 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council took several actions Wednesday in opposition to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, including directing the city attorney to take legal action to try to stop the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The council voted 12-0 to authorize City Attorney Mike Feuer to file an amicus brief in support of the California Attorney General’s lawsuit against the termination of the DACA program. The motion was altered in an amendment from its original language that called on the city to file its own lawsuit or join the California lawsuit.

“It’s shameful and immoral that our federal government is debating this,” Councilman Joe Buscaino said before the vote. “Let’s send a message to the federal government and reiterate the importance that immigrants make this community and this country an amazing place to live and work.”

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have been working to negotiate a new DACA deal to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants who were brought to America as children, but the talks have stalled and a federal government shutdown is possible if an agreement cannot be reached.

DACA was rescinded by President Donald Trump in September, but he gave lawmakers six months to come up with a new deal. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a lawsuit by the attorneys general of the states of Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, as well as the University of California and other plaintiffs, and obtained a preliminary injunction last week against the Trump administration over the move to end DACA, which was created by then-President Barack Obama by executive order.

“As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion — but through the lawful Democratic process — while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve,” Trump said in a statement in September.

Councilman Gil Cedillo, who chairs the council’s Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights and Equity Committee, seconded the resolution introduced by Councilman Jose Huizar.

Cedillo took the opportunity to publicly criticize Trump, who during a recent meeting with congressional leaders about immigration issues, reportedly asked why the United States should accept immigrants from “shithole” countries like Haiti and in Africa rather than places like Norwa

“It’s embarrassing. The `s-hole countries’ and all the comments related to that indicate that the attacks on DACA and the immigrant community that were first expressed as he began his campaign still remain the underlying basis for the policy from the administration,” Cedillo said. “That is not a way to run a nation. That is not what we are about.”

The council also approved — on a 12-0 vote — a resolution asking the city attorney to report on litigation options against the termination of the Temporary Protected Status Program, which offers a provisional reprieve from deportation to citizens of some countries. The resolution, which was altered in an amendment, had originally sought to support legislative or administrative action that would extend the TPS Program.

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it was canceling the TPS status for immigrants from El Salvador in 2019, and the council voted 13-0 in approval of a second resolution officially opposing the move.

On a 13-0 vote,  the council approved a new immigration program that will facilitate a connection between lawyers and individuals interested in obtaining letters of representation to aid them when they are being questioned by immigration officials.

L.A. to Toughen Enforcement of Alcohol Sales at Gas Stations

October 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A Los Angeles City Council committee voted Tuesday in favor of adopting stricter enforcement of the sale of alcoholic beverages at gas stations in an effort to reduce drunken driving and the availability of alcohol to minors.

“Vendors such as gas stations that sell alcohol may be overlooked in city regulations governing alcohol sales,” said Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who wrote the motion. “This measure will make sure we are doing more to prevent drinking and driving.”

In California, the manufacture, distribution, storage and sale of alcohol is regulated by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, but the city is responsible for permits to operate gas stations and other businesses.

The motion approved by the Planning and Land Use Management Committee will ensure that every business that has a license from ABC is actually abiding by the state law before being issued a permit from the city, Blumenfield’s office said.

Port Contract Extends Local Hire Priority

September 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners approved a 10-year labor agreement last week that aims for the Port of Los Angeles to continue hiring workers from the harbor area and high-unemployment communities in the city.

The Project Labor Agreement between the port and the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council establishes wages, benefits and rules for employees working on designated port projects while guaranteeing they will earn prevailing wages outlined in the bargaining agreements of all participating unions.

The deal still needs to be approved by the Los Angeles City Council.

Under the terms of the agreement, the port must grant almost a third of the jobs generated by most major construction projects to residents of the harbor area and high-unemployment communities in L.A. The new contract doubles the time of the previous 5-year agreement.

According to the port, the new PLA covers 38 planned and proposed infrastructure projects totaling around $780 million, with more projects likely to be added.

Council Grapples With Issues In Franchise Waste System

August 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

With complaints rolling in about higher rates and poorer service related to the new franchise waste hauling system, a Los Angeles City Council committee Tuesday looked at ways to improve service while acknowledging the chorus of negative feedback.

The Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee did approve a motion that aims to reduce prices for some customers. But after its members questioned leaders of the Bureau of Sanitation, it seemed clear that higher prices will be a reality to some degree as long as the franchise system remains.

“We are moving more and more toward a landfill-free city, a landfill-free society. That brings with it significant changes, and important changes in behavior. Sometimes they do come with additional costs,” Bureau of Sanitation Director Enrique Zaldivar told the committee.

The franchise waste hauling system that went into effect July 1 is meant to expand recycling opportunities to thousands of businesses and apartment buildings while also cutting down on pollution by reducing the number of trucks on the street.

Before the change, recycling was only automatically available to single-family homes in the city.

Under the recycLA system — which was previously called the Zero Waste LA system — seven companies handle an estimated $3.5 billion in commercial waste hauling in Los Angeles. Each company is assigned as the sole trash hauler for commercial sites and multi-family complexes in one or more of the city’s 11 zones.

Since the new system began, many businesses and landlords have complained about hiked prices and reduced service, but because their trash collector now essentially operates a monopoly, they have no other option.

When the council approved the franchise system in December, some council members predicted it would reduce waste by 65 percent in the city and that the new standards would make rates that varied widely and sometimes were different for businesses on the same block farer.

“Today, we will change that and bring fair, predictable rates to customers without punishing people for doing the right thing and wanting to recycle,” Councilman Jose Huizar said then.

Only six weeks into the new system, council members on the committee spoke of a multitude of negative phone calls and feedback related to higher prices and poorer service. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said he had received four calls alone in the hours before the meeting.

Councilman Mitchell Englander also said his office was getting flooded with calls.

“We’re all getting the same phone calls each and every day. Our office is overloaded,” Englander said. “In fact, I don’t remember a time where we’ve gotten so many irate phone calls over one particular issue that’s directly impacting so many different people.”

Englander said the landlord of the building where his field office is located said his bill went from $3,400 a month to over $12,500 per month before being able to negotiate it down.

One motion the committee approved would allow business customers to share bins with neighboring businesses in order to maximize the use of each bin and reduce costs.

Dan Meyers, the franchise division manager for the BOS, said the department was also looking to develop an online tool which would allow customers to see how adjustments to service could improve their bill by reducing the size of their bin or frequency of their service.

Zaldivar said some of the high bills were the result of businesses not being aware of the franchise change and that they could reduce their charges by “right sizing” their service by reducing or altering their plan.

Councilman Paul Krekorian said he hoped that companies granted a monopoly were not “doubling down by increasing rates, by manipulating the bin handling in a way that will oversell their service to their customers. In fact, quite to the contrary, I expect those providers who have been given this monopoly to go the other way to bend over backwards and ensure that each and every customer’s needs are met.”

He added, “I, for one, will be looking at changes in this policy if I don’t see that result.”

L.A. Council Restricts ‘Car Living’ Near Homes, Schools, Parks

November 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval Tuesday to an ordinance barring people from living in cars near homes, parks, schools and daycare facilities.

Under the ordinance, which must be signed by the mayor before taking effect, parking for habitation purposes will be prohibited from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. along residential streets with both single- and multi-family homes.

The restriction will apply all day for any street that is within a block or 500 feet of a school, park or daycare center.

The ordinance will theoretically still allow people to live out of their vehicles in commercial and industrial zones. Those who violate the ordinance will receive citations requiring them to pay penalties ranging from $25 to $75.

The ordinance will end after about 18 months. City officials said they need that amount of time at most to come up with an alternative homeless parking plan, such as one modeled after a Santa Barbara “safe parking” initiative that allows the homeless to camp their cars in parking lots.

The ban will replace an existing one that was in effect citywide, but was deemed unconstitutional.

Several attorneys and advocates for the homeless have warned that the new ban could still run afoul of the rights of the homeless, raising concerns that the ordinance will be a financial hardship on homeless people and, in effect, make homelessness a crime.

Some council members have been critical of the ordinance. Joe Buscaino and Nury Martinez have said they represent communities with more industrial and commercial zones than other areas, so the ordinance would likely drive disproportionately more homeless people to their districts.

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