Jose Huizar for Los Angeles City Council District 14

February 19, 2015 by · 2 Comments 

This endorsement has been one of the most difficult for EGP to make in along time.

The 14th Council District is lucky to have such a talented pool of candidates from which to choose, including two seasoned elected official who have each served residents of the district and the County well.

Many in the community have told us they too are torn, and believe that both former L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina and incumbent Councilman Jose Huizar each have strong records to stand on.

They say both have done an excellent job of getting things done for their constituents, of turning big ideas into big realities by breaking down the bureaucracy that often stands in the way.

We agree.

Molina deserves praise for her persistence on the Gold Line Extension to the eastside, development of the East Los Angeles Civic Center and for building transitional housing and more recently, her tough negotiations to get Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles funded and open, and to insist on a set aside for affordable housing in the Grand Park plan.

We also respect her determination to ensure that the history and culture of Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Latinos in Los Angeles be preserved and respected, opening LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes to Angelenos and visitors.

And who can forget her battle with her former fellow supervisors over more hospital beds at the planned County USC Hospital? Or her strident resolve to fund services for the undocumented and to keep the County budget balanced through hard times, even through angry threats from County employees?

But on the Board of Supervisors she was one of five, on the Los Angeles City Council she would be one of 15, a far more difficult arena to negotiate.

Much has been made of her temperament and public dressing down of county employees, and rightly so, especially given that to date she has not yet said whether she would seek a second or third term. She will need cooperation from her peers on the council and the bureaucrats who will still be working when she leaves office, to get anything done.

Huizar also has his share of accomplishments, both as a councilman and as former member of the LA Unified school board, where he spearheaded the successful effort to build the first new high school on the eastside in 85 years.

During his term on the city council he has had to work to gain support from his fellow members of the council on funding priorities for the 14th District. We believe he has made significant gains, from preserving open space to making improvements to parks and recreation centers, building affordable housing and spurring job creation by attracting more business to CD-14.

He’s been criticized for not getting enough accomplished since taking office, but the reality is that many projects take years to come to fruition, especially when there is money to be found and public input to be obtained.

Many of the district’s commercial corridors are more vibrant and booming with activity than when Huizar took office, in our view that’s important.

Have all the streets been repaired and trees trimmed? No, but we have heard from residents that they see an improvement despite the city’s lack of sufficient funding to get the job done.

Gentrification in East and Northeast Los Angeles is happening and will continue. But not all gentrification is bad and it can be respectful of the community, acting as a conduit to improved services and opportunities and greater pride in one’s neighborhood.

Huizar’s effort to rebuild downtown has been positive for the city, bringing entertainment, shopping, jobs and art closer to east and northeast neighborhoods and preserving some of the city’s most beautiful and significant architecture for future generations.

This experience is made more accessible by improvements to our Metro rail system.

We believe Huizar has contributed to the re-vitalization of many neighborhoods in the district, where families can now enjoy working and meeting their neighbors in a safer environment.

We are, however, concerned about the councilman’s over enthusiastic support for designating streets as bike lanes suitable.

We encourage him to give more attention to those opposed, such as fire, police and emergency vehicles, and businesses that sell products and not just food and drink.

Huizar has been no stranger to controversy, and we were disappointed by his actions involving a former member of his staff who sued him for sexual harassment, though he claims it was a consensual extramarital affair, which he has apologized for. The case was settled out of court but not before city taxpayers paid $200,000 to defend the councilman.

Two of the other three candidates in the race, Nadine Diaz and Mario Chavez have been good advocates for their community and we see potential as future leaders. They are to be commended for stepping up to the challenge.

But in our view, Councilman Jose Huizar has earned another term on the council and the opportunity to continue the progress underway. Therefore, we endorse Jose Huizar in the 14th District.

Vivienda es Tema de Prioridad en Debate de Candidatos en Boyle Heights

February 12, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

El ayuntamiento de Boyle Heights estaba repleto el sábado por la mañana durante el primero de varios debates entre los candidatos que compiten por el asiento número 14 del consejo de Los Ángeles.

Cuatro de los cinco candidatos –el Concejal titular José Huizar, la ex Supervisora del Condado de Los Ángeles Gloria Molina, la Trabajadors Social Nadine Díaz y el Activista Comunitario Mario Chávez—participaron en el foro organizado por el Pulso de Boyle Heights, un periódico bilingüe escrito por estudiantes de preparatoria. El Consultor Político John O’Neill no participó.

Read this article in English: Housing Center Stage at Eastside Debate

Este puesto en el consejo que cubre el lado este también abarca la mayor parte de los barrios del centro de LA y noreste como Highland Park y Eagle Rock.

El sábado, la atención del debate se centró en Boyle Heights, uno de los barrios más densamente poblados de la ciudad donde el 94% de los residentes son latinos – 54% de ellos extranjeros. Aproximadamente el 75% de los residentes son de clase trabajadora en viviendas de alquiler en lugar de ser dueños de sus propios hogares y con el ingreso promedio de $20,000 menos de un año que el ingreso medio en toda la ciudad. Boyle Heights es también una plaza fuerte para el activismo político sobre cuestiones que van desde la contaminación a la educación.

Como era de esperarse, el foro se centró en cuestiones candentes como la vivienda, gentrificación, la legalización de vendedores ambulantes, inmigración, reparación de aceras y servicios de la ciudad como recolección de basura.

Molina, quien fue por 24 años supervisora del condado, dijo que está corriendo porque el distrito 14 necesita un miembro del consejo que preste más atención a la zona este y está dispuesta a trabajar en temas tan básicos como la fijación de las aceras y la limpieza de basura y muebles abandonados.

“Necesitas ser un líder desde el primer día” … no sólo cuando se acercan las elecciones, dijo Molina.

Residentes de Boyle Heights tuvieron la oportunidad de hacer preguntas a los candidatos. (EGP foto por Nancy Martínez)

Residentes de Boyle Heights tuvieron la oportunidad de hacer preguntas a los candidatos. (EGP foto por Nancy Martínez)

Huizar, quien busca su tercer y último término de cuatro años, contradijo la acusación de Molina diciendo que su Iniciativa de Comunidades Limpias está mejorando y que su oficina ha asegurado millones de dólares en mejoras a las instalaciones de parques locales, la fijación de las calles y aceras, así como la creación de viviendas asequibles para veteranos y personas mayores. También promocionó la apertura del primer Centro de Búsqueda de Trabajo en el área para ayudar a los residentes a mejorar sus habilidades y encontrar empleo. Él no cree que ha habido un momento en la historia de Boyle Heights que ha visto tantas mejoras, dijo.

El debate giró varias veces ante los problemas de vivienda. Los barrios cerca del Centro de Los Ángeles se han convertido en un objetivo prioritario de los desarrolladores, tanto que algunas personas temen que Boyle Heights pueda llegar a ser inasequible para sus residentes de bajos ingresos.

Uno de los problemas de vivienda más polémicos en la historia reciente es el proyecto propuesto de los Apartamentos Wyvernwood Gardens, un complejo de uso mixto de reurbanización, que espera demoler y reemplazar 1,187 unidades de apartamentos de la era de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, que se encuentran en 70 acres justo al lado del Bulevar Olympic East, con 4.400 unidades de alquiler y condominios en varios edificios nuevos con alturas hasta de 18 pisos.

El apoyo en la comunidad ha sido desigual, unos pocos ven el proyecto como una medida para forzar la salida de las familias de bajos ingresos y otros creen que el proyecto creará vivienda necesaria y puestos de trabajo.

El sábado, Huizar reiteró que el proyecto según la propuesta actual es demasiado densa para la zona y que el envejecimiento infraestructural de la zona no puede soportar una gran evolución. Dos veces instó a Molina para tomar una posición sobre el tema.

Si bien ella no respondió a la pregunta directamente, Molina dijo que cree que ya hay demasiados inquilinos de la zona. “Tenemos que tener más propietarios de viviendas” en Boyle Heights, dijo. “No debemos permitir a que los desarrolladores [sólo] hagan sus proyectos”.

Díaz acordó que la vivienda es un tema crítico y dijo que los residentes de Wyvernwood deben tener “un lugar en la mesa”. Ella dijo que la línea roja (que más tarde se convirtió en la línea Dorada al este) “empujó familias afuera”. Eso no puede volver a ocurrir, dijo el residente de Boyle Heights. “Tenemos el derecho a permanecer y a quedarnos …”

Chávez dijo que la mayor participación de la comunidad requiere que las reuniones y audiencias sean más accesibles para los residentes. Dijo que las reuniones de la comisión de vivienda económica del Ayuntamiento se llevaban a cabo los miércoles a las 12pm, por lo que era inconveniente para los residentes de la clase trabajadora asistir, por lo tanto eran excluidos en cualquier cosa que quisieran decir. “La gentrificación esta quitando a los pobres por los ricos”, dijo Chávez.

Cuando el tema volvió a la delincuencia, Huizar dijo que la tasa de criminalidad en Boyle Heights es la más baja desde hace muchos años, dando crédito a la policía de Los Ángeles y a más programas para ayudar a mantener a los jóvenes fuera de problemas.

Se necesita hacer más todavía, replicó Molina. “Tenemos que eliminar el graffiti y rayones en un periodo de 48 horas, necesitamos una posición más agresiva por parte del consejo”, dijo ella.

Chávez dijo que un grafitero es un “artista frustrado que no tiene los recursos” necesarios. “Tenemos que aumentar los fondos para nuestros servicios para la juventud”, dijo.

En lo que respecta a la creación de empleo, Molina dijo que apoya los esfuerzos para revitalizar los negocios en áreas zonificadas para la actividad comercial. Agregó que el permitir a la gente que solamente pongan “mesas de barbacoa enfrente de sus casas” y empiecen a vender es un enfoque equivocado. “Tenemos que respetar” las zonas residenciales, dijo.

Huizar dijo que el Centro de negocios de Los Ángeles ha ayudado a nuevos negocios como La 1st Street Taqueria y la Panadería La Monarca a obtener los recursos y la ayuda financiera que necesitan para abrir cerca de Plaza del Mariachi en Boyle Heights. CD-14 está alentando el crecimiento de las empresas locales, dijo Huizar.

Tras el foro, varios de los asistentes le dijeron a EGP que estaban satisfechos con lo que escucharon y esperan quien resulte electo el 3 de marzo preste mucha atención a los problemas del vecindario.

“Queremos que la próxima generación pueda tener oportunidades para el éxito”, dijo Concepción Hernández, señalando que después de graduarse de la universidad, su hijo regresó a Boyle Heights para trabajar como maestro.

Juaquín Castellanos sintió que el foro fue informativo, pero dijo que le hubiera gustado escuchar más detalles acerca de cómo los candidatos mejorarían los servicios públicos en la zona del este.

Agregó que los candidatos deberían empezar a pensar en la creación de más recursos para jóvenes educados, nativos de Boyle Heights que quieren volver a la comunidad, pero que quieren mejores opciones de vivienda como nuevos condominios.

Los candidatos estuvieron programados para enfrentarse de nuevo ayer por la noche en el centro de Los Ángeles. Un tercer debate está programado para llevarse a cabo en la escuela intermedia Luther Burbank en Highland Park a las 6pm y otro en el Centro de Personas Mayores de El Sereno el viernes a las 6pm.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Housing Center Stage at Eastside Debate

February 12, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Boyle Heights City Hall was packed Saturday for the first of several debates between candidates vying for the 14th district council seat in Los Angeles.

Four of the five candidates – incumbent Councilman Jose Huizar, former L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina, social worker Nadine Diaz and community activist Mario Chavez – took part in the forum hosted by Boyle Heights Beat, a bilingual newspaper written by local high school students. Political consultant John O’Neill did not take part.

Despite being more ethnically and economically diverse today due to redistricting, the eastside council district — which also encompasses much of downtown L.A. and northeast neighborhoods such as Highland Park and Eagle Rock — is one of the most coveted seats among Latino politicians who see it as the heart of the Chicano movement and Latino empowerment. It is also tends to be among the most competitive races in the city, this year being no exception.

(Left to right): Jose Huizar, Nadine Diaz, Mario Chavez and Gloria Molina during a candidate debate Saturday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(Left to right): Jose Huizar, Nadine Diaz, Mario Chavez and Gloria Molina during a candidate debate Saturday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

On Saturday, the focus was on Boyle Heights, one of the city’s most densely populated neighborhoods where 94% of residents are Latino – 54% of them foreign born. Approximately 75% of the area’s working-class residents rent rather than own their own homes and the median income is $20,000 less a year than the median income citywide. Boyle Heights is also a stronghold for political activism on issues ranging from pollution to education.

As expected, the forum focused on hot button issues such as housing and gentrification, legalization of street venders, immigration, sidewalk repair, city services like trash pick up.

Molina, who spent 24 years as a county supervisor before being forced out by term limits, taking a jab at Huizar, said she’s running because the district needs a council member who pays more attention to the eastside and is willing to work on basic issues such as fixing sidewalks and cleaning up trash and abandoned furniture.

“You need to be a leader from day one”…not only when elections are approaching, she said.

Lea este artículo en Español: Vivienda es Tema de Prioridad en Debate de Candidatos en Boyle Heights

Huizar is seeking his third and final four-year term and countered Molina’s accusation saying his Clean Communities Initiative is improving conditions and that his office has secured millions of dollars in improvements to local park facilities, for fixing streets and sidewalks and to create more affordable, veteran and senior housing. He also touted the opening of the area’s first WorkSource Center to help residents improve job skills and find employment. He doesn’t think there’s been a time in Boyle Heights history that has seen so many improvements, he said.

The debate repeatedly turned to housing issues. The neighborhoods close proximity to downtown L.A. has made it a prime target of developers, which some people fear could make Boyle Heights unaffordable for its low-income residents.

One of the more controversial housing issues in recent history is the proposed Wyvernwood Garden Apartment complex mixed-use redevelopment project, which would demolish and replace 1,187 World War II era apartment units, located on 70 acres just off East Olympic Boulevard, with 4,400 rental units and condominiums in several new buildings as tall as 18 stories.

Support in the community has been mixed, with some seeing the project as a move to force out low-income families and others contending the project will create needed housing and jobs.

On Saturday, Huizar reiterated that he believes the project as currently proposed is too dense for the area and that the area’s aging infrastructure cannot support such a big development. Twice he pushed Molina to take a position on the issue.

While she did not answer the question directly, Molina did say she believes there are already too many renters in the area. “We need to have more homeowners” in Boyle Heights, she said. “We shouldn’t allow developers to [just] do their projects.”

Residents question candidates running for Los Angeles city council during a forum at Boyle Heights City Hall.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Residents question candidates running for Los Angeles city council during a forum at Boyle Heights City Hall. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Diaz agreed that housing is a critical issue and said the community should have a say in local developments. She said Wyvernwood residents should have “a place at the table.” She said the Red Line (which later became the Gold Line Eastside Extension) “pushed out families.” That cannot happen again, said the Boyle Heights resident. “We have the right to stay and remain…”

Chavez said greater community participation requires making meetings and hearings more accessible to residents. He said meetings of the city council’s affordable housing commission were held Wednesdays at 12 pm, making them inconvenient for working-class residents, thereby excluding them from having a say. “Gentrification is taking out the poor by the rich people,” Chavez said.

When the topic turned to crime, Huizar said Boyle Heights’ crime rate the lowest it’s been in many years, giving credit to Los Angeles police and more programs to help keep young people out of trouble.

More still needs to be done, retorted Molina. “We need to remove graffiti and tagging within 48 hours, we need a more aggressive position from the council,” she said.

Chavez said a tagger is a “frustrated artist that doesn’t have the resources” and more youth programs are needed. “We need to increase the funding for our youth services,” he said.

In regards to job creation, Molina said she supports efforts to revitalize business in areas zoned for commercial activity. She said allowing people to just set up “barbecue tables in front of their house” and start selling is the wrong approach. “We need to respect” residential zoning, she said.

Huizar said the Los Angeles Business Center has helped new businesses like La 1st Street Taqueria and La Monarca Bakery get the resources and financial help they needed to open near Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. CD-14 is encouraging the growth of local businesses, Huizar said.

Following the forum, several attendees told EGP they were for the most part satisfied with what they heard and hope whoever is elected March 3 pays close attention to the issues in their neighborhood.

“We want the next generation to have opportunities to succeed,” said Concepcion Hernandez, pointing out that after graduating from college his son returned to Boyle Heights to teach.

Juaquin Castellanos felt the forum was informative but said he would have liked to hear more details about how the candidates would improve services in the eastside neighborhood.

He said the candidates should start thinking about creating more resources for young, educated Boyle Heights natives who want to return to the community, but want better housing options such as new condominiums.

The candidates were scheduled to face off again last night in downtown L.A. A third debate is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. tonight in Highland Park at Luther Burbank Middle School and another at 6 p.m. Friday at the El Sereno Senior Center.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Copyright © 2019 Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews, Inc. ·