City Attorney Cracks Down on NELA ‘Brothels’

February 11, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Wednesday the filing of a lawsuit against the operators of an alleged ring of brothels fronted by massage parlors in Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Wilmington and North Hollywood.

The nuisance abatement lawsuit targets Helen Haihong Huang and Mark Richard Vitatern, who operate MHWI Int’l Inc., and others believed to be associated with a ring made up of at least four businesses.

One parlor is located at 6630 N. Figueroa St in Eagle Rock and another at 5740 York Blvd. in Highland Park, near the We Tell Stories art school and the Highland Park Foursquare Church, according to the city attorney.

The other businesses in Wilmington, at 1037 Avalon Blvd., and North Hollywood, at 3214 De Witt Drive, are also near churches, he said.

The lawsuit seeks orders prohibiting the operators from running similar businesses and the property owners from allowing such activity.

The lawsuit alleges the massage parlors were covers for prostitution businesses that advertised their services on the Internet and used text messages to set up appointments.

Searches by Los Angeles Police Department officers on Jan. 7 turned up a condom bin at one business and about $80,000 in cash at the home of one of the operators, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

The alleged ringleaders operated four other businesses in Los Angeles that have since shut down, following several prostitution arrests, according to Feuer.

Street Improvement Projects in Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights Earmarked

February 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Street improvement projects in Eagle Rock and the Boyle Heights area were recently earmarked for almost $18 million in state and other funds, City Councilman Jose Huizar announced.

The funds will go toward “complete street” initiatives “that prioritize pedestrians and bicyclists as   much as automobiles, while also helping drive foot traffic to our main corridors,” Huizar said.

“I am extremely happy about the nearly $18 million we’ve recently secured,” he said. “I look forward to pursuing other funds to bring even more improvements to Council District 14.”

Eagle Rock is getting about $12 million, including a $9.8 million grant from the California Transportation Commission for a number of upgrades along Colorado Boulevard: pedestrian lighting between College View Avenue and Eagle Vista Avenue; curb extensions at 21 sites, including Townsend, Argus and Maywood; a flashing crosswalk at Eagle Rock Boulevard and Merton Avenue; a new sidewalk next to College View Avenue; street furniture; and bicycle striping.

A $2 million grant from the state’s Active Transportation Program was awarded to the Eagle Rock area, and will pay for medial islands on the westside of Eagle Rock Boulevard, a pair of new traffic signals at La Roda Avenue and Hermosa Avenue, and bus stop lighting.

Boyle Heights is receiving $6 million, including $5 million in Active Transportation Program grants for sidewalk work, pedestrian lighting between Pico Gardens housing and Sixth Street Bridge East Park, and a new signal at Fourth and Clarence streets.

Whittier Boulevard also will get $1 million in redevelopment funds for sidewalk repairs, though more funding is being identified.

In addition to the funding announced today, Boyle Heights had already received $2.55 million last year to build new sidewalks and bicycle amenities along Mission Road, from the Sixth Street Bridge to Seventh Street, and a roundabout.

These projects are set to begin construction early next year.

‘Doggy Gym’ Coming to Northeast LA Park

June 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

They love their dogs in the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Hermon.

The Hermon Dog Park — next to the Arroyo Seco Channel, along the 110 Pasadena Freeway — is a popular social gathering place, for people and dogs alike.

There’s even regular “Yappy Hours” and holiday fun like doggy Halloween parades and costume contests, and education sessions for dogs and dog owners, usually sponsored by the Friends of Hermon Dog Park.

Soon, there will even be a doggy gym of sorts at the park, where Northeast LA’s four-legged residents can get in shape.

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council approved the transfer of $10,000 from Councilman Jose Huizar’s discretionary funds to the city’s Recreation and Parks Department to help cover costs to build an agility course for dogs in the off-leash dog park area of Hermon Park, at 5566 Via Marisol.

The nonprofit, which also organizes pet adoptions and spaying and neutering events in the area, will work with city Recreation and Parks officials to install the course and two neighborhood councils to put up signs.

Huizar said he is a “huge supporter of providing more dog space.” The off-leash area at Hermon Park, surrounded by a “very strong and active dog community,” is one of the few dog parks in the Northeast Los Angeles area.

“We wanted to enhance it, support it and make it a lot more fun for our dogs,” Huizar told City News Service, noting that the Hermon Dog Park currently is “a lot of just vacant sand.

“It’s great that the dogs have a place to run around, but the agility course will provide additional exercise for the dogs, activities for the dogs,” he said. “It creates hoops and ramps and obstacles, and they are able to do more than just, ‘Hey you, a blank open space, go run around.’”

The money from Huizar’s office is being taken out of the Central Los Angeles Recycling and Transfer Station (CLARTS) Community Amenities Trust Fund, which receives a portion of the tipping fees from companies that use a nearby recycling center, and can be earmarked for projects benefiting the district’s residents, Huizar said.

Huizar acknowledged there has been “pushback” on such enhancements for dog parks from Recreation and Parks Department officials, who are concerned about funding the maintenance and operation of the dog-oriented amenities.

“Rec and Parks has mentioned that there are few funds to maintain the dog parks, and so therefore it’s hard for them to convert certain areas of parks into dog parks,” he said.

Huizar said he is working to identify other “funding streams that allow for a better use of park space,” adding that city officials are now reviewing how Quimby funds which are state money set aside especially for parks could be better used.

Information from City News Service used in this report.


Man Shot Dead In Cypress Park

April 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A man was fatally wounded today in a shooting in the Cypress Park area, authorities said.

The attack — it was not immediately determined who carried it out — took place in the 600 block of San Fernando Road near Figueroa Street about 2:30 a.m., said Sgt. Tiffany Ljubetic of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Station. She said the victim, who was wounded, was found by officers, then transported to a hospital.

The man, who was in his 20s, was later pronounced dead at the hospital, said Officer Drake Madison, an LAPD spokesman.

A man wearing a dark hoodie was seen running from the shooting site through a nearby mobile home park, police said.

The motive for the homicide was not known.

An LAPD command post was being set up at the intersection of West Avenue 27 and McClure Street as the shooter was being sought.

Southwest Museum Named ‘National Treasure’

January 22, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

The city of Los Angeles’100-year-old Southwest Museum was named a “national treasure” today by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The announcement was made at the museum’s Mount Washington location, making it one of just 55 such designations across the country.

What the designation means for the Southwest Museum in practical terms is not yet clear, however, it will 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.

(EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

(EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)


The National Trust for Historic Preservation — one of the nation’s leading private historic preservation groups — said today it plans to hold public outreach meetings to gather opinions on how best to use the museum site.

The Southwest Museum has been at the center of a near decade long feud between museum supporters and the Autry National Center of the American West, which took over management of the financially failing museum in 2003 as part of a merger agreement.

Southwest supporters say the Autry has not lived up to its “promise” to restore the facility so it could continue to operate as a fully functioning museum.

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. But they say they cannot afford to operate the museum or pay the estimated $26 to $46 million cost to upgrade the Southwest to modern museum standards.

Friends of the Southwest Museum, a coalition of individuals and organizations that has tried for years to pressure the Autry – and city officials – to reopen the museum, has long contended that the value of the Southwest’s collections could provide a path to securing the revenue needed for operating the historic facility, but that the Autry has been more interested in using the collections to bolster its status and to build patronage of its Griffith Park campus.

The museum has been mostly closed since 2006, only opening for a few hours on Saturdays, to the ire of many museum supporters.

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 says it plans to hold public outreach meetings to gather opinions on how best to use the museum site and its collection.

Barbara Pah, Western Regional VP of the preservation group, said designating the museum site as a national treasure recognizes “the historic, architectural and cultural values that have made the Southwest Museum site a beloved fixture in Los Angeles for the past century.

“With the collaboration and enthusiasm of the Autry, the city of Los Angeles, and individuals and organizations both in the neighborhood and throughout Los Angeles, 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,” Pahl said.

Autry president, W. Richard West Jr., said Autry officials are “honored to partner with the National Trust to identify a proud and viable future for the site that will respect its important legacy and bring value to the community and Los Angeles area.”

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.

The “announcement confirms and validates the importance of preserving our historic resources,” he 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.”


4:30 p.m. This article has been updated to note that the “national treasure” designation has been made; National Trust for Historic Preservation’s plans to hold public meetings; quotes and background information from the National Trust and the Autry.

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