Monday, August 31, 2009

Boyle Heights Arts District: An Artistic Place to Call Home

I encourage you to read this great article in the L.A. Times about an effort put forth by a group of Boyle Heights’ artists and me to create an Arts District in Boyle Heights. After seeing an organic blossoming of local art and theater at CASA 0101, First Street Studios Gallery, as well as the Brooklyn and Boyle Gallery, I asked UCLA Professor Leo Estrada if he and his Urban Planning grad students could come up with a plan. Their comprehensive, community based report provided the groundwork for the efforts currently underway. But it’s really the artists and the community that is driving this effort. And Boyle Heights is going through quite a revitalization that will no doubt improve lives for the better. The Mendez Learning Center will open this fall. The Gold Line is almost completed, and Mariachi Plaza will also soon reopen. Boyle Heights has a rich history in the arts and culture, and these renovations bring a positive infusion to the community that will improve the corridor and really bring Boyle Heights into the 21st century. The collective of Boyle Heights artists that formed A.R.T.E.S. (Artist Revitalizing The East Side) are working very closely with my office to ensure that community needs are met first and the organic feel of this revitalization remains intact. It is an exciting time for our community, and as a resident and the Councilmember for the district, I am proud to see Boyle Heights doing more to offer opportunities to local community artists.

Friday, August 28, 2009

El Super Opens and Brings Jobs to Highland Park

Today I had the distinct honor of welcoming El Super to the Highland Park community. For some time now, the lot on York Ave. and Ave. 56 has sat empty and isolated, weakening the value of the neighborhood. In these hard economic times, a grand opening for a business is rare. El Super showed interest in the community of Highland Park and has worked closely with my office to make sure that community needs were met. El Super brings 100 local jobs and has employed local residents, offering opportunities in a time when not many companies can. At today’s Grand Opening celebration, I was happy to join Carlos Smith, President and CEO of El Super, vendors, community leaders, and the newly hired staff to celebrate the grand opening of this new supermarket that will offer fresh and affordable produce to residents. I think I can safely say that many residents are thankful for the investment being made in Highland Park and I look forward to the many positive benefits El Super will bring.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Volunteers Show up in Force for CD 14 Community Cleanup

This Saturday, over 1,000 volunteers, City workers and contractors came out to beautify El Sereno, Boyle Heights and Northeast Los Angeles in our effort to improve Council District 14. Collectively, we worked on 40 separate projects, including removing graffiti, bulky items and overgrown weeds in pathways, schools and parks. It was refreshing to see so many hard working people (especially all the young people) who gave up their Saturday morning and showed real community pride. To highlight just a few of the many projects, in the Northeast, members of two local Girl Scout troops and Victory Outreach came out in full force and swept up streets and cleaned major corridors; in El Sereno, our award-winning cheerleading squad, Pride All Stars, cleared weeds and picked up trash outside Farmdale Elementary School and El Sereno Middle School; and in Boyle Heights, students at Roosevelt High School repainted benches around the trees in the school’s quad area. I painted over some graffiti on Blueberry Hill (under the supervision of Graffiti Busters!) and joined several young students collecting trash around the Evergreen jogging path. Also, we trimmed trees as part of my effort to fund the trimming of more than 1,500 trees throughout the district and we placed 110 additional trash receptacles throughout CD 14, improving the overall quality of life in our community.

Reminder: Besides City’s regular Bulky Item program, CD 14 Bulky Item pickup:
El Sereno: every 2nd Saturday
Boyle Heights: every 3rd Saturday
Northeast: every 4th Saturday

Please call any of my district offices or 311 to report potholes, graffiti or bulky items. A big thank you to everyone who came out and supported the Community Clean Up, including the following agencies, organizations and concerned residents who lent a hand. My apologies if I miss anybody. You all did a wonderful job!

Enjoy the pictures!

City of Los Angeles and partners:
Department of Public Works Commissioner Cynthia Ruiz, Enrique Saldivar, General Manger Bureau of Sanitation, Nazario Sauceda, Assistant General Manger Bureau of Street Services, Urban Forestry, Office of Community Beautification, Department of Transportation, Northeast Graffiti Busters, Clean and Green and the Los Angeles Conservation Corp.

Community groups and organizations:

Northeast Los Angeles
Victory Outreach, Girl Scouts (Troops 216 and 330), Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, Glassell Park Improvement Association, Mt. Washington community members, Eagle Rock Kiwanis Club, San Pascual Neighborhood Watch and the North Highland Park Neighborhood Watch.

El Sereno:
L.A. 32 Neighborhood Council, Semillas del Pueblo Charter School, Rose Hills residents, El Sereno Stallions Football Program, Wilson High School Football team, Hollenbeck PALS, Barrio Action, Calvary Chapel, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Monterey Hills Federation, Club Deportivo, Hillside Village Homeowners Association, University Hills Homeowners Association, Pride All Stars, Mi Casita Parent Organization and Plaza de La Raza.

Boyle Heights:
El Centro de Ayuda, Youth Opportunity Movement, Aliso Pico Girl Scouts , East Los Angeles Community Corporation, YMCA Camp Whittle Volunteers, Gang Alternatives Program, Roosevelt High School (including Football and Basketball Drill teams), People who Care, Salesian Boys and Girls Clubs, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, La Purisima Neighborhood Watch, LA Voice at Talpa Church and Abuelitos de Boyle Heights.

And special thanks to our sponsors: Charlie’s Trio Restaurant, Jarritos Sodas, El Mercado Restaurant, Cafe De Leche, CVS Pharmacy, Ellis Paints/Pacific Resource Recovery, Italiano’s Pizza and Occidental Plaza.

Moving Forward on Behalf of Southwest Museum Despite Autry’s Announcement

The Autry abandoned plans to expand its Griffith Park Museum last week. I am surprised and disappointed the Autry did not fully engage in negotiations with me, which is what the City’ Board of Referred Powers recommended so that both the Autry and the Southwest Museum in Mt. Washington (the City’s oldest museum), could be up and running as world-class museums. I am still committed to getting the Southwest Museum reopened as a fully accredited museum so we can continue the tradition of honoring Native American and Southwest culture started by Charles Lummis at the Mt. Washington site some 95 years ago.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Los Angeles Welcomes Bollywood Actress Mallika Sherawat !

Today, it was my honor to be able to recognize Mallika Sherawat, as the first Indian star from Bollywood acknowledged by the city of Los Angeles. Ms. Sherawat's talent as a Bollywood actress has gained her recognition as the "original Bollywood bombshell" and has even garnered her a song dedication by international recording artist Yanni! She stared in India's 2004 box office hit, "Murder", and will soon hit the big screen again with Irrfan Khan of "Slumdog Millionare" in the upcoming film "Hisss." Ms. Sherawat was recognized in Council today for her work in charitable efforts, as an advocate of woman's issues, the environment and nutrition. I feel very honored to recognize her work on the eve of Indian Independence Day, when Los Angeles, one of the most diverse cities in the world celebrates the contributions of Indian Americans in the United States. Congratulations Mallika!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August 15th Community Clean Up!

Take pride in your neighborhood by volunteering to help keep Los Angeles beautiful.

WHEN: August 15, 2009

Boyle Heights: 7:30 AM - 1:00 PM
456 S. Mathews Street
Program and Roosevelt pool plaque unveiling at 12:00 Noon

Eagle Rock: 8:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Occidental Plaza
4430 York Blvd. (Near Eagle Rock Blvd.)
Parking on Lincoln St.

El Sereno: 8:00 AM - 1:00 PM, Program
begins at 8:45 AM
El Sereno Park, 4721 Klamath St.

Boyle Heights District Office - (323) 526-3059
Eagle Rock/Northeast District Office - (323) 254-5295
El Sereno District Office - (323) 266-1646

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

L.A Streetcar: One Step Closer!

I take a lot of pride in the efforts we have made to move forward my Bringing Back Broadway initiative. Downtown Broadway’s Historic Core is home to 12 classic theaters all located within nine blocks of each other. My vision to incorporate a Streetcar within the area is starting to come to fruition and will bring much needed transportation to the Downtown corridor. The Streetcar is projected to begin operating in 2014 and would connect South Park, Bunker Hill and the Historic Core. The newly launched website of the Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc., is currently accepting opinions about the Streetcar project. Let them know what you think.

Last week, I did a live interview on KPCC’s AirTalk with Larry Mantle, regarding Bringing Back Broadway and the Streetcar. During the show I took calls from listeners, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Listen HERE!

Photo Credit: Eric Richardson for BlogDowntown

Monday, August 10, 2009

Evergreen Child Care Center Opens!

It was my pleasure today to celebrate the grand opening of the Evergreen Child Care Center in Boyle Heights and to commemorate the official dedication of the Willy Corona Multipurpose Room. Willy Corona was a great man who is sorely missed in the community. When I was a young kid playing baseball at Evergreen Park, Willy motivated me to do well in sports, as well as life. He was a great coach to me and countless other kids in the community. When I became Councilmember, lots of parents and community members told me about the importance and need for the Evergreen Child Care Center. At the time, the area was little more than a pile of dirt. The Evergreen Child Care Center had not been built, even though it was approved and planned. I worked with the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Bureau of Engineering and secured about $3.13 million in funding. After the state froze funding because of the budget shortfall, I worked with our departments to find the additional funding needed to complete this worthwhile project, which will benefit the children in our community for years to come. And there is nothing more fitting than to see Willy Corona’s name in a roomful of children who will be inspired by his work in the community.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

R.O.C.K. Teen Center Opens Eagle Rock Coffee House

A couple of people have asked me on Facebook about the new Eagle Rock coffee house, “Eagles Landing Coffee House”. Here’s the address:

4808 Townsend Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90041
(323) 257-6102

The great thing about Eagles Landing Coffee House is that it is part of The R.O.C.K Teen Center, which is located right next door. R.O.C.K stands for “Reach Our Community Kids” and was opened in 2001. The non-profit center offers after-school activities, college resources, guidance, mentorship, volunteer opportunities and a safe space for local teenagers. It’s just blocks away from Eagle Rock High School and just two miles from Franklin High School, Burbank Middle School and Irving Middle School. I was there for the coffee house’s grand opening and I wish them much success. Go buy their coffee. It’s delicious and 50 percent of their sales go directly to R.O.C.K.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

National Night Out – America’s Night Out Against Crime

Tonight is National Night Out – America’s Night Out Against Crime.
NATIONAL NIGHT OUT is designed to:
  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

National Night Out is a great opportunity for all of us to show our solidarity with law enforcement and to strengthen our commitment to peace in our neighborhoods.

There are three events happening in our District and I encourage you to come out, bring your families and get to know your neighbors and community.

Boyle Heights: 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
March from Dolores Mission: 170 S. Gless St.
Hollenbeck Police Station: 2111 E. First St. (1st & Chicago)
Join the march or meet us at the station at 6:30 p.m.

Eagle Rock: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Parking Lot of Target, Upper Level
(East side of Eagle Rock Plaza)
2626 Colorado Boulevard

Downtown: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
El Pueblo Historical Monument (Olvera Street)
125 Paseo de la Plaza
Featuring live bands: “The Remods” and “Carlos Guitarlos”

Sunday, August 2, 2009

SLOs Fast to the Task in Northeast L.A.

Last Wednesday, I joined community members and LAPD officers at the LAPD Northeast Senior Lead Officer Summit that took place at the Dodger Stadium Club. About 100 people attended from all sections of the Northeast. I am thankful that Senior Lead Officers Mark Allen from Highland Park, Craig Orange from Eagle Rock, Nina Perciado from Highland Park/Mt. Washington and Sgt. Danny Roman provide such outstanding service to Council District 14. These SLOs really do put a face to the department. Their efforts in creating a trusting and collaborative environment in fighting crime make us all safer. Northeast Division Commanding Officer, Captain Bill Murphy provided a great overview of the department and his commitment to public safety is demonstrated in his leadership.
[Pictured L-R: Sgt. Danny Roman, Councilmember Ed Reyes, Capt. William Murphy and me]

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Let’s Tighten State Regulation of Medical Marijuana While Ending Raids

Recently, I introduced a resolution that the City of Los Angeles include in its 2009-2010 State Legislative Program sponsorship of legislation that would clarify the intent of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Prop.215), which allows qualified medical patients to use marijuana as part of a treatment regimen approved by a physician. While I support the spirit of Prop. 215 and believe that those who have a true medical need should have access to medical marijuana, the state needs to further define needs, distribution and use criteria to better regulate access to medical marijuana. I also introduced a city resolution that the City of Los Angeles support California Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 14, introduced in June by State Senator Mark Leno, which calls on the federal government to end raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states such as California where voters have approved its use. The bill also urges the U.S. Congress to develop a comprehensive federal medical marijuana policy that ensures safe and legal access for any eligible patient who would benefit from this treatment. I believe that both these resolutions go hand in hand and strike a fair balance between regulation and enforcement issues in states with medical marijuana policies.