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LATINO PRESPECTIVE--Forget everything you saw on The Hills. Here’s a different view of the City of L.A brought to us by Norberto Briceno from BuzzFeed. 

  • Your introduction to Pizza was from La Pizza Loca “La Gigante” which is still the largest delivered pizza in Los Angeles, and the world. 252 E Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
  • You were fluent in Spanglish. “I went to the store to buy los zapatos that I like pero estaban gone. 
  • You will always remember the classic Mariachi mural at El Mercadito in Boyle Heights, and also the shrine of the Virgin Mary in the parking lot.com  
  • For your cousin’s Quinceanera, your family hired a musician from Mariachi Plaza in East LA. 
  • The chefs from Nina’s Food on Breed St. in East LA made the greatest quesadillas this side of the boarder. 
  • La La Favorite Bakery is the place to go for the freshest pan dulce in Los Angeles. Get there by 8 p.m. when the bread comes straight out of the oven. This is how all bread should taste. And they provide some awesome limo service, that’s right Limo Service. 
  • Before there was Best Buy, there was Dearden’s, and LA Curacao. 
  • Who needs to go to a mall when you could go to Los Callejones? You can hone your bargaining skills at the Santee Alley, or he Alameda Swap Meet. 
  • During hot summers, street vendors gave you exactly what you needed. 
  • If you were waiting for the bus near MacArthur Park, the Guatemalan-style tamales would do the trick. 
  • When you got home from school, OG news anchors Eduardo Quezada and Andrea Kutyas from KMEX 34 delivered the six o’clock news. 
  • You got all your medical advice from Dr. Pacheco from Noticias 62 
  • There was two degrees of separation between you and a cholo. Every family has a black sheep. Don’t judge. 
  • If you went to public school, you heard about the legend of the greatest math teacher of all time Jaime Escalante. He even had his own mural, posing with Edward James Olmos. Painted on the side of a building near MacArthur Park, at the intersection of Alvarado Street and Wilshire Boulevard. Olmos played Escalante in the Oscar-nominated film Stand and Deliver
  • You will remember the unbelievable cemitas from the food truck Cemitas Tepeaco in Boyle Heights. 
  • But if were in the mood for some pupusas, Las Cazuelas in Highland Park was the place to go. 
  • You cheered for the Oakland Raiders at the LA Coliseum before they abandoned their Angeleno fanbase. And we will never forget. 
  • You were at the Rose Bowl to watch the LA Galaxy’s first game.
  • Fernando Valenzuela gave you a reason to cheer for the Dodgers. If you don’t remember, ask your parents. 
  • If you couldn’t go to the game, you would listen to the Spanish voice of the Dodgers on the radio. Jaime Jarrin, making the Dodgers sound good since 1958 
  • If you needed a lawyer, you always had Los Abogados or Los Defensores. 
  • You went grocery shopping at Food4Less, Top Value, and Superior. 
  • The uncontrollable joy of having el paletero stroll through your hood. We all scream for a paleta de tamarindo con chile. 
  • The feeling you had when you saw the EBS Message on your TV. 
  • Your parents listened to Humberto Luna Por La Manaña on the now defunct TenQ 1020 AM. Humberto was the first Latino radio personality to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 
  • Waking up to the sound of crowing ROOSTERS! Yes, this was a thing in some LA neighborhoods. It became such a problem that the LA city council voted to limit one rooster per household
  • You attended the groundbreaking May Day rally in 2006. The LA Timesestimated around 500,000 peopleattended the massive protest. 

Los Angeles really is a city rich in cultural heritage let’s be proud and celebrate it!

 

(Fred Mariscal came to Los Angeles from Mexico City in 1992 to study at the University of Southern California and has been in LA ever since. He is a community leader who serves as Vice Chair of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition and sits on the board of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council representing Larchmont Village. He was a candidate for Los Angeles City Council in District 4. Fred writes Latino Perspective for CityWatch and can be reached at: [email protected])

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THIS IS WHAT I KNOW--The San Fernando Valley Audubon Society Conservation Committee has been laser-focused on halting the permitting of a Coachella-like music event proposed for October 7-9, 2016, which will be held in Woodley Park and the entire eastern area of the Sepulveda Wildlife Area. The committee is concerned about the impact 200,000 attendees, pyrotechnics, high-volume acoustics, and broad, intense lighting might have on area wildlife. 

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HERE’S WHAT I KNOW-The Los Angeles River runs from the Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains through the San Fernando Valley, meandering nearly 48 miles to its mouth in Long Beach. The River also runs through the history of our city, as a source of food and water for the native Tongva before the arrival of the Spanish, eventually serving as the primary fresh water source for Angelenos until the opening of the LA Aqueduct, as well as a popular film location for dozens of movies, from Grease and LA Story to Transformers and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The usually dry concrete-covered river bed is used for cinematic car chases, gang rumbles, and to represent a post-Apocolyptic Los Angeles in not only films but numerous video games and music videos. 

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EASTSIDER-When we last left CalPERS they had just hired a sleazebag Florida lawyer named Robert Klausner as their outside fiduciary counsel in an exceedingly tawdry process orchestrated by their CEO, Anne Stausboll. As near as I can tell, he’s still in that position, which raises some ongoing questions about the smarts of their officers and governing board. 

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EDUCATION POLITICS--Recently the alarm was raised about an LA Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) directive that would disempower any Neighborhood Council (NC) from funding any Neighborhood Purpose Grant (NPG) that would go to any public school attended by any director’s child. Never mind the usual recusal process but in this instance the entire matter was to be barred from consideration by the entire NC. 

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PLATKIN ON PLANNING-What exactly do we mean by “business-as-usual” when it comes to city planning in Los Angeles? After all, LA has a long history of recurrent lawsuits, external government mandates and voter initiatives that periodically push back against the ordinary slipshod planning. 

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BALLOT BATTLE TAKES ON NEW DYNAMIC--One very interesting (and overall great) thing about the Trump/GOP and the Sanders/Clinton feuding is the heightened interest that the average American has in our federal and electoral processes.  Apathy is a terrible thing, and bad political processes occur as a result.

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GUEST WORDS-Recently I spent two hours in my car and on the subway to travel 40 miles from Agoura Hills to Downtown to attend a transportation conference sponsored by the LA Times at the Los Angeles Central Library. My return trip (not at rush hour) took me one and a half hours. The irony that this journey once took 45 minutes each way did not escape me while I sat listening to numerous heavy hitters on transportation policy talk about the challenges our city will face over the next 10 years. 

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DEEGAN ON LA-- Citing “an overcrowded November election with a least 20 ballot measures” the Coalition to Preserve LA has announced that they are pushing back their Neighborhood Integrity Initiative from November to the Spring 2017 City election. Campaign Director Jill Stewart and AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein jointly presented their new plans at a media conference on the steps of City Hall Tuesday morning. 

“We are going to shift gears”, said Weinstein. “The November ballot is very crowded, with many state issues and the Presidential race. The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative is a city issue, better suited for a city election, which we will have in March 2017”. 

The Mayor and some city councilmembers will also be on the same ballot, and that will help amplify the debate, and extend the conversation about development in Los Angeles. It will also force politicos hoping to hold onto their seats into making a public declaration how they stand on development, and identifying which developers are helping to finance their campaigns. This will be a unique and an unexpected benefit of the change in ballot dates. 

With this shift to the Spring City election, anti-development candidates interested in running may have an opening in contested districts to attract attention to themselves in stark contrast to many incumbents that have benefitted from their linkage to developers. This is a strategy that helped to get David Ryu (CD4) elected. 

An unhappy-with-development electorate may be expected to be enthusiastically against any politico running for reelection that does not favor some sort of review and roll back of the out of control building schemes that are dwarfing LA’s residential neighborhoods and robbing them of their character. 

Stewart added that they have resubmitted a petition to the City Clerk that is now “Eight pages … down from 23 … which makes it easier for the public to understand when being asked to sign and support the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative”. 

While stressing that “90% of the goals remain the same”, Stewart revealed that “One change is if a project is 100% affordable housing, it would be allowed to go forward during the moratorium in most cases." 

The reschedule, from the November to the Spring 2017 election, will allow for better understanding and greater buy-in of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a ballot measure that makes City Hall: 

  • Obey the Law
  • Play by the Rules
  • Do their job - update the City’s Plans
  • Respect the Character of the Neighborhoods
  • Stop Traffic Density Gridlock
  • Stop City Planning Lawlessness
  • Curb Undue Influence by Developers

Once approved by for circulation by the City Clerk, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative will need 61,486 signatures by the end of August to qualify for the Spring 2017 City election.

 

(Tim Deegan is a long-time resident and community leader in the Miracle Mile, who has served as board chair at the Mid City West Community Council and on the board of the Miracle Mile Civic Coalition. Tim can be reached at [email protected].)

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WHAT LOSS OF PRIVACY COST FERGUSON’S WILSON--Just weeks ago, California State Senator Mark Leno introduced SB 1286 that he purports will “improve transparency, accountability and trust between law enforcement and the public.” 

Leno’s words, and those of his supporters, seem only to target police officers by making statements that are relative to them and the communities they serve. To further this notion, reports in the last month have touted SB 1286 as a reaction to the high profile and racially motivated officer involved deaths in Ferguson, Baltimore, Staten Island and San Francisco. 

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DOWNTOWN AND SKID ROW- In September 2013, Metro Charter Elementary School first opened its doors as a result of the desperate efforts from a group of frustrated parents in Downtown Los Angeles who saw that this needed resource had apparently been overlooked by City planners and the leaders of Downtown’s now-booming revitalization. 

With so much focus on constructing luxury lofts, high-rise office towers and adaptive reuse projects, single parents and families with small children have found themselves suffering from a lack of quality schools for grades kindergarten through fourth grade. Enter Metro Charter as a solution. 

Amazingly, these parents raised the necessary $250,000, found 16 dedicated teachers (as a start) and even found a qualified and passionate principal in order to open Metro Charter Elementary School. They have increased the number of students each year and now have an extremely long waiting list to get in. This feat is nothing short of a Downtown success story. 

These parents knew, however, that their initial location was temporary and now, the time has come to move. They are looking for a 30-year lease -- seemingly appealing for any property owner desiring a successful long-term tenant -- but have instead met with lots of resistance. 

Metro Charter is experiencing a “step-child locked in the closet” moment because developers and property owners are more focused on projects than n schools. Parents worry they might have to move away from Downtown if something doesn’t change and quickly – as in, within the next school year. The thought of this frustrates people who bought into the excitement and hype connected to Downtown’s massive resurgence. Business growth and high-density residential interests are seeing unlimited potential for widespread expansion; plans abound for many other development options such as hotels, sports stadiums and more. 

As other doors close in its proverbial face, could Metro Charter possibly end up with a permanent home in Skid Row? 

Skid Row is stereotypically known as not being a safe place for children, but it must be noted that several successful schools have existed for decades well within its borders. 

For instance, School on Wheels, which used to be on 5th and San Pedro, now provides afterschool studying for homeless children on 7th and San Pedro. They moved to be closer to LAUSD’s newly-remodeled 9th Street Elementary school which is only a short distance away. 

Also, Para Los Ninos (For the Children) has a Skid Row location on 6th and Gladys Avenue, cattycorner to the popular Gladys Park, deep in the heart of Skid Row. PLN even provides a mental health division to assist children and their families who may struggle to process their families’ struggles to overcome poverty – something that can have a direct effect on the child’s ability to learn. 

Then there’s Las Familias de Pueblo on 7th and Maple, which is directed by Alice Callaghan, who co-founded Skid Row Housing Trust decades ago. This school provides necessary schooling for children of the many Spanish-speaking, working-class families whose parents work in the Downtown area. 

Finally, Inner City Arts, on 7th and Kohler (also in Skid Row), provides arts education for elementary, middle and high school children and was visited a few years ago by Prince William and Duchess Kate (photo above) from England’s Royal family. 

So many children have walked to school in Skid Row over the years and one would have to think long and hard about the last time a child was harmed there. It can be argued that Skid Row is much safer for children than many other parts of Los Angeles. 

It’s feasible that Metro Charter could join the long list of successful, quality schools in Skid Row. I’m confident that the Skid Row Neighborhood Council would support this notion. Recently, School on Wheels celebrated not one but two students who were accepted at UCLA. Metro Charter Elementary School could contribute to the successful learning of children in Skid Row. 

If the rest of Downtown doesn’t want them, we’ll take ‘em!

 

(General Jeff is a homelessness activist and leader in Downtown Los Angeles.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

GELFAND’S WORLD--This is the 15th year of the neighborhood council system, and is therefore the year that people will be asking, "Are the neighborhood councils a failure? If so, why? If they are at least partial successes, then why?" 

I offer the beginnings of an answer. It has to do with a specific error that makes it impossible for many of our so-called leaders to exert leadership. Coincidentally, my answer applies to other groups outside of the neighborhood council system. 

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UTILITY OVERHAUL-The Los Angeles City Council is preparing to vote on new water and power rate ordinances that will raise DWP rates annually for the next five years. If Mayor Eric Garcetti signs the ordinances, they will start jacking up your bills within months. 

The city has received over 2,000 angry letters of protest about the rate hikes. That may be why Council Member Felipe Fuentes introduced a motion for DWP governance reform to be put on the ballot later this year. 

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EDUCATION POLITICS--Once upon a time a “test” assessed a student’s comprehension of a subject, or perhaps a student’s relative degree of comprehension compared with his classmate’s; even occasionally a teacher’s professional realization of her intended curriculum. Even this last variant was ultimately grounded in the student’s goals as a learner. The student was the object.

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DEEGAN ON LA-Very quickly, what has been historically clean is on the verge of becoming very dirty. California, especially our Los Angeles region, has just taken two big hits to its environment, both aimed directly at our quality of life. These twin impacts involve air pollution and density pollution and should be of concern to everyone. The air we breathe may now become compromised by less control over emissions. And there is danger to our coastline because developers that may have had their shackles loosened might be allowed to increase building on our beach fronts. 

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