Body Found In LA Riverbed

September 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Authorities on Wednesday identified a man whose body was found in the dry riverbed of the Los Angeles River in the Los Feliz area.

The discovery was made at 12:40 p.m. Tuesday near the 3200 block of Hyperion Avenue, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The man was identified by the coroner’s office as Jose Tejada, 27, of Los Angeles. An autopsy was pending.

Proposals for Old City Jail Include Mix of Housing and Retail

August 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Close to 200 people attended a community meeting last Thursday to hear presentations from the three finalists hoping to win city approval for their vision to bring new life to the dilapitated but historically significant Lincoln Heights Jail.

The city received nine proposals in response to its Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Lincoln Heights Jail Adaptive Reuse Project, but narrowed the list down to three. The RFP required respondents to include ideas that would serve the community and also provide economic growth within Lincoln Heights, along with other criteria.

“The city has really been looking at its assets through a different lens,” explained Gerald Gubatan, planning deputy for First District Councilman Gil Cedillo at the start of the meeting.

“There’s now a process where we can look at city properties, not necessarily as surplus,” but as major economic opportunity sites for the city, he said, adding that the City Council has declared the Lincoln Heights Jail one of those sites.

The three finalists include real estate investor and developer CIM Group, the nonprofit WORKS (Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Services), and real estate developers Lincoln Properties and 15 Group.

Located on Avenue 19 near the Los Angeles River, the Lincoln Heights Jail is conveniently located within five to 10 minutes of six major freeways. Built in 1931, it boasts an Art Deco design. In 1993, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission designated the building City Historic-Cultural Monument (No. 587), giving it local “Landmark Status.”

The city stopped using the facility as a jail in 1965. It would go on to house a number of nonprofit groups before being closed in 2014 due to safety and environmental concerns.

While each of the finalists has a distinct vision for how to redevelop the site, all three proposals call for a mixed-use approach that includes housing, retail space and green space, among other uses.

CIM’s proposal for “The Linc” envisions a multi-functional space incorporating commercial space and housing, some of which would be low-income. The plan also features restaurants, retail stores and a community garden to serve the residents of the area.

Three finalists hoping to win the bid to redevelop the vacant Lincoln Heights Jail, presented their projects during a public meeting on Aug. 13. (photo by Jay Cortez)

Three finalists hoping to win the bid to redevelop the vacant Lincoln Heights Jail, presented their projects during a public meeting on Aug. 13. (photo by Jay Cortez)

There are also plans to partner with L.A.-based Alma Backyard Farms, a social enterprise “focused on food education, job training for the formerly incarcerated and fresh food access to the local community,” said Helen Leung, co-executive director of LA Mas, a nonprofit group working with CIM.

“Las Alturas,” the proposal from WORKS, a nonprofit organization that supports women and affordable housing, has the support of former CD-1 councilman Ed Reyes. It features low-income housing, an art center, daycare, and gardens along the L.A River to accommodate seniors and children. The facility would also include 47 moderate-income homes and 66 permanent supportive housing units.

“What you see here today is a change of image, when you remove the iron bars and put them outside to allow green to grow, you’re talking about rebirth,” Reyes said in response to questioning from panelists. “We talk about access for the people who can afford to live here, that’s what this building needs. So yes, we want more development along the river, but we can’t forget for who.”

The final project, presented by the Lincoln Properties/Fifteen Group team and titled “The Makers District,” illustrated the developer’s vision for a more accessible district for pedestrians and bicyclists. The’ plan includes direct connections to the L.A. River and would create a “festival street,” where a part of adjacent Avenue 19  would be closed off and traffic rerouted for special events.

Many of those in the audience who spoke during public comment appeared to favor the WORKS’ proposal. Residents also expressed their concerns about gentrification and housing for the homeless.

The WORKS’ project gives more value to the community, said Northeast Los Angeles resident Eunissess Hernandez. “This project really values human life … there are retail opportunities but there’s also daycare,” Hernandez said. “Think about all the people that don’t see their families because they work two or three jobs to maintain their house.”

Each team was questioned by a Community Advisory Panel appointed by First District Councilman Gil Cedillo. The panel, according to Gubaton, includes a diverse mix of representatives from the Lincoln Heights community and public sector.

It includes Laura Acalla with city of Anaheim Community and Economic Development Dept., three members of the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council, Richard Larsen. Mario Marrufo and Mike Montes, John Menchaca, president and CEO of nonprofit El Arca, and educator and resident Leslie Olmos.

A 40-year resident of Lincoln Heights, Montes complained that the projects did not show enough concern for area youth.

“One of the biggest problems we have is engagement of 16-20 year old youth that don’t feel like they’re apart of the community,” Montes said during his questioning of Lincoln Properties’ proposal. “What actual plans do you have to make them feel that they are a part of something and that this isn’t just going to be a new island in Lincoln Heights, but an actual part of Lincoln Heights?” he said.

In response, the representative from Lincoln Properties said the developer is committed to working with community organizations, adding that the project wouldn’t be successful without a partnership with the community.

Meeting participants were able to fill out and submit comment cards which the panel will take under advisement when it makes it final decision on which project it will recommend to the city council for approval.

In an email Tuesday, Friends of the L.A River Executive Director Marissa Christensen said FOLAR has reviewed all three proposals to determine which is best aligned with criteria in the ARBOR Study and the LA River Revitalization Master Plan, as well as FOLAR’s recently developed set of river-adjacent development criteria.

“In viewing these proposals through that lens, we were elated to see that at least one of the proposals was strong in these categories,” Christensen said.

However, according to FOLAR communications and impact manager Michael Atkins, the group is not yet ready to say which proposal it prefers, but will be releasing a statement in the next few weeks giving more details.


Update 11/15/2017 to include Lincoln Properties’ partner in the proposal, real estate developer Fifteen Group.

Public to Get First Look at Lincoln Heights Jail Development Proposals

August 10, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

Three development team bids selected as finalists to restore and adapt the graffiti-covered city-owned Lincoln Heights Jail for a new use will get their first public airing during a meeting Thursday at the Goodwill Industries Auditorium in Lincoln Heights. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

The top three development teams – selected through the City of Los Angeles’ formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process – will present their proposals to a Community Advisory Panel appointed by the councilman for the area, Gil Cedillo. The panel is “comprised of diverse stakeholders representing the Lincoln Heights community and public sector,” according to an email from the councilman’s office. The public will be able to ask questions and submit comments at the meeting, which the advisory panel will use to make its final selection, according to Cedillo’s office.

A favorite canvass of taggers and graffiti vandals, the Lincoln Heights Jail is located on a prime patch of land off Avenue 19 near the Los Angeles River. It was built in 1931 and boasts an Art Deco design. In 1993, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission designated the building City Historic-Cultural Monument (No. 587), giving it local “Landmark Status.”

The city stopped using the facility as a jail in 1965, eventually making it available to house non-profit groups, including the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts (BFA) and Lincoln Height Boxing Gym.

But the years have were not kind to the facility and it fell into serious disrepair. Besides the graffiti, there is lead and asbestos and potentially other contaminants in the building and surrounding land. The city permanently closed the facility in 2014, but is now hoping to breathe new life into the facility through its bidding process.

“A City technical panel comprised of city department representatives vetted the proposals based on RFP scoring criteria, and has identified the top three proposals,” according to the email from Cedillo’s office, which identified CIM Group, Lincoln Property Company and WORKS (Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Services) as the three top development teams.

While the councilman’s office said they were unable to oblige EGP’s request to review the proposals ahead of Thursday’s meeting, they did say the “three proposals offer a different mix of uses for the jail property – including live-work units, commercial retail space, creative office, a mix of market-rate and affordable housing,” and put the private investment to be made in the multi-million dollar range.

Goodwill Industries Auditorium is located at 342 N. San Fernando Rd, Los Angeles 90031. For more information, contact CD1 Senior Planning Deputy Guy Gubatan by calling (213) 453-7001 or email him at

Donation Fund Set Up to Pay for Elias Rodriguez’ Burial

March 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A body found on an island in the Los Angeles River in Los Feliz was officially identified Tuesday as that of 14-year-old Elias Rodriguez, who had been missing for more than a week.

With the body identified, his family established a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising money for funeral and other expenses.

“We the family of (Elias’ mother) Pahola Mascorro would like to extend our gratitude to everyone that has been asking to donate for expenses,” according to a statement posted on the page. “We felt after receiving confirmation, it would be appropriate to create this account. Please continue to keep our family prayer, as this has been very difficult on everyone.”

The website — — had raised more than $3,200 as of mid-afternoon Tuesday, with a goal of $10,000.

Rodriguez went missing on the afternoon of Feb. 17 after leaving Cesar Chavez Learning Academies in San Fernando during a powerful rainstorm, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The teen had borrowed someone’s cellphone to call his mother at work before he headed to his grandmother’s house to wait for her, but she missed the call, police said.

Authorities sought public help to find him, and Los Angeles police were joined by the FBI in the search.

The body was found at 1:15 p.m. Saturday on the island near the Golden State Freeway and Los Feliz Boulevard.

According to the coroner’s office, Elias drowned, and his death was ruled accidental.

His family members held a news conference Tuesday at the spot where the boy presumably was swept away by a rushing water, and they thanked people who helped look for Elias and supported the family during the ordeal.

“During this time, when there is so much political strife in our country, we know that there is so much good in people and we want to continue that kind, caring spirit of love,” Elias’ aunt Jessenia Vega said, adding that the family is still seeking answers they may never get about what exactly happened to their loved one.

The family will hold a candlelight vigil for the boy at 7 p.m. Friday. They plan to light the path the boy likely took from Cesar Chavez Learning Academies before he went missing.


Stretch of L.A. River Bike Path Closed

July 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A one-mile section of a bike path along the Los Angeles River will be closed through November 2019 for construction, L.A.’s department of public works has announced.

The closure will impact cyclists using the LA River Bike Path east of Riverside Drive. The entrance to the bike path and the 134 Freeway will be closed, and bike path users will be instructed to exit at Zoo Drive and Western Heritage Way, according to the city.

The bike path is within the Riverside Bridge construction zone and the city is closing the path as a safety precaution. The bridge is being widened on the downstream (eastbound) side by 19 feet to make room for 4 more traffic lanes, medians, shoulders and sidewalks.

Other improvements include construction of an underpass along the south channel and an additional 400 feet of bike path.

Homeless Man Shot in River Adjacent Encampment

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A homeless man was shot twice Wednesday morning inside an encampment near the L.A. River, but the victim was not cooperating with authorities, police said.

The shooting took place about 12:20 a.m. on Perrino Place, east of the L.A. River near Washington Boulevard, said a desk officer at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Division.

“The victim was shot twice in the leg,” the desk officer said. “He was transported to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.”

The victim was not being cooperative with police, according to the officer.

“He said he didn’t see anything; doesn’t know anything and doesn’t know why he was shot,” the officer added.

Anyone with information on this shooting was asked to call the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Division at (323) 342-4100. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS. All tips can be submitted anonymously.

L.A. River: What About the Southeast?

August 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Efforts have been in full force to revitalize the Los Angeles River that once ran freely from Los Angeles to Long Beach but is now partially covered by concrete and graffiti.

As Mayor Eric Garcetti touted his $1.3 billion plan in Washington D.C. to restore natural elements to an 11-mile stretch of the river between Griffith Park and downtown, legislation has been making its way in Sacramento to address the southern portion of the 51-mile long river.

Assemblyman Anthony Rendon represents the 63rd District, which includes Southeast communities along the river: Bell, Cudahy, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood, North Long Beach, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount and South Gate.

State bill would add Lower L.A. River to revitalization study. (Photo by Nancy Martinez)

State bill would add Lower L.A. River to revitalization study. (Photo by Nancy Martinez)

Rendon hopes his latest bill, AB 530 will allow the communities south of Los Angeles and north of Long Beach to have a voice in developing a plan to restore the river along their borders.

If approved, Rendon’s bill would authorize the Secretary of Natural Resources, in coordination with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, to appoint a local group to develop a revitalization plan for the Lower LA River. The group’s members would come from southeast communities,

“Southeast cities are very dense, lack open area and the river affords the opportunity to create outdoor recreation space for these communities,” says Rendon.

In 1996, Los Angeles County adopted a Master Plan for the entire L.A. River. Since then, the City of Los Angeles has developed its own revitalization plan for the upper portion of the river within city limits. In the Southeast, however, revitalization efforts have languished for nearly two decades, going nowhere.

“I am very supportive of the efforts to revitalize the upper region of the river but I believe the lower area, through Southeast Los Angeles County deserves some consideration,” Rendon told EGP.

Mark Lopez, director of East Yard Communities says large cities like Los Angeles and Long Beach have larger, more sophisticated staff to move their agendas forward, which is not the case in smaller Southeast communities.

“Our communities are home to low-income, people of color with language barriers,” he said. “There is not a lot of perceived political power in the Southeast, especially with all the corruption that has occurred.”

Rendon’s legislation urges state representatives to update the Master Plan in order to focus attention and resources to the lower portion of the river. This month, AB 530 was unanimously approved by Assembly and is expected to go before the State Senate next month.

This legislation will start a much-needed dialogue, Rendon said.

“People in these communities are very interested in revitalizing the river beyond Boyle Heights,” he said.

Though no direct funding is attached to the bill, Rendon’s District Director Raul Alvarez told EGP that the group in charge of the revitalization plan would be eligible to apply for funds from Proposition 1, a 2014 voter-approved water bond – authored by Rendon – that allocated $100 million for an L.A. River study. Alvarez said the hope is that the group would apply for the funds to pay for needed studies and outreach.

Rendon’s staff began talking to the community about plans for the river during a bike ride in Cudahy organized earlier this year by the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition. Residents expressed a need to connect biking paths in the region; with the L.A. River being the place to do it, Rendon said.

“The L.A. River is a natural resource that all communities in our region should have access to,” he said.

Lopez told EGP the eastside environmental group has already started to put together a list of amenities they would like to see in their backyard.

The group is advocating for more green space, pedestrian bridges, bike routes, parks and access to water for recreational use such as kayaking that would provide “real benefits for these communities,” he said.

“The north portion has access to more water, we don’t have that option,” Alvarez said.

Ultimately, Rendon hopes the bill will lead to a riverbed that is not covered in graffiti or a magnet for drug use and homeless encampments.

“It’s not just about green space lots, it’s about maintaining the river and cleaning it,” Alvarez clarified.

Rendon’s legislation has received support from elected officials and organizations in the Southeast communities, as well as County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard and the Los Angeles Conservation Core.

“Stakeholders from across the county will have the opportunity to participate and envision a revitalized river,” said Solis after the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to support the bill. “When different levels of government work together, the community benefits.”

[An earlier version of this article misnamed the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition]

Congresistas Piden Restaurar el Río de L.A.

November 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Más de una docena de miembros del Congreso que representan distritos del sur están instando al presidente Barack Obama para financiar la fase de planificación y diseño de un proyecto de restauración de $1 billón para el Río de Los Ángeles, dijo el lunes el Rep. Xavier Becerra.

En una carta a Obama, Becerra y otros 12 miembros de la delegación del Congreso de Los Ángeles hicieron un llamado al presidente para incluir en su presupuesto de 2016 “ingeniería previa a la construcción y el diseño de los fondos para el proyecto de Restauración de Ecosistemas del Río de Los Ángeles en previsión de la autorización del Congreso.”

El Army Corps of Engineers está recomendando que el Congreso apruebe esa cantidad para el cambio de imagen de 11 millas del Río de Los Ángeles que se ampliaría el río, restauraría los humedales y crearía parques y caminos para bicicletas.

Alrededor de la mitad del costo del proyecto vendría del gobierno federal, con la otra mitad de fuentes locales.

El proyecto de restauración afectaría a una zona del río que pasa por la “segunda región urbana más grande de la nación y las comunidades históricamente marginadas … que carecen de acceso a los espacios abiertos naturales y recreación al aire libre”, y crearía “cerca de 17.000 puestos de trabajo generando $4,68 billones en ingresos laborales”, según la carta de los legisladores que data del 21 de noviembre.

Al comprometer los recursos necesarios para mover el proyecto de Restauración de Ecosistemas del Río Los Ángeles del concepto a la acción, podemos revitalizar nuestras comunidades locales, construir nuevos espacios públicos, crear oportunidades de recreación, proteger los ecosistemas naturales, mejorar la salud pública, e impulsar nuestra economía regional”, dice la carta.

Las agencias locales han acordado proporcionar $590 millones al proyecto de $1 billón, de acuerdo con la delegación.

Becerra se unió en la firma de la carta por sus compañeros Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Karen Bass, Julia Brownley Tony Cárdenas, Judy Chu, Janice Hahn, Alan S. Lowenthal, Linda T. Sánchez, Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman, Maxine Waters y Henry A. Waxman.

La mayor parte de los 51 kilómetros de largo del río de Los Ángeles, que se extiende desde el Valle de San Fernando hasta el Océano Pacífico en Long Beach, fue pavimentado y convertido en un canal de inundación hormigón durante la primera mitad del siglo pasado.

Mientras que el canal prevenía que el río se desbordara, la transformación destruyó gran parte del hábitat para las aves, anfibios y otros animales salvajes a su alrededor. El plan de restauración intentaría revertir el daño al reintroducir campas de la hábitat natural a lo largo de la vía acuática.

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