Thursday, March 31, 2005

News From Around the District: Hollywood

Losing her hair

Losing her hair.

By the time you read this, this woman will have no hair: she's shaving it off for St. PatBaldrick's Day. She's raised $11,000 to fight child leukemia so far. Congratulations and admiration go out to Anita Woerner from Paramount Studios. Check out for her whole story, and to help.

Celia's square

Celia's square.

In pouring rain that only salsa beats could chase away, we dedicated the corner of Hollywood and Argyle as Celia Cruz Square. Celia's husband Pedro Knight was on hand to represent the late salsa pioneer, whose recombinations of Caribbean, African and European sounds and defined a genre of music. There's no better place to have her honored than in Hollywood.

A square for a cowboy.

A square for a cowboy.

On the other side of the Boulevard, Gene Autry was recognized with his own square at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland. Adding the square to Autry's five stars in each of the Walk of the Stars categories of Television, Recording, Movies, Theater and Radio, Autry now has a larger real estate portfolio on Hollywood Boulevard than Shaul Kuba and Steve Ullman combined.

The Frances Goldwyn Branch library has closed for completion of a $1 million-dollar renovation, half of which was funded by a single grant from the Goldwyn foundation. Los Angeles' libraries are its oases for children, families, and anyone who wants to find either solitary study or community connections. With the Goldwyn funds, the library will be able to expand and improve its service to our dense, urban community.

News From Around the District: East Hollywood

The Dayton Heights greening will move ahead with a neighborhood matching funds grant. Congratulations to Deborah Ricketts and the Westmoreland Association on winning support for their project.

I visited Santa Monica Charter School in order to present the school and the Comité de Desfile y Festival Independencia Salvadoreña (DEFISAL) commendations for their work. Second grade instructor Sandra Campos has been especially instrumental in building bridged between the Salvadoran community and the school.

Thanks on behalf of the Braille Institute

Thanks on behalf of the Braille Institute.

I joined James Earl Jones (yes, that James Earl Jones) at the Braille Institute for a ceremony honoring Verizon's donation of $20,000 to this unique CD13 institution. On a related note, Verizon recently acquired MCI, which is a great victory for workers in telecommunications. Verizon has long had very good union relations and MCI has not.

The Lemon Grove Park Advisory Board needs members! Please contact Robert Yoneda at the park directly at (323) 666-4144, or contact Christina if you would like more information about your responsibilities and opportunities as a member of the PAB.

With the arrival of neighborhood councils to our civic universe, I have always been concerned that better-organized neighborhoods would have an advantage over neighborhoods with weaker traditions of participation. For the past few years, a large area of my district south of the 101 freeway has not been represented by a council. Fortunately, that's all changing. The Rampart United Group has scheduled meetings every third Tuesday at 6 pm at PATH on 340 N. Madison at Oakwood. Their proposed Rampart Village has boundaries of Vermont, 6th, the 101 freeway, and Benton Way. Tara Brown has more information and can be reached at (323) 644-2200.

On the campaign trail with Rita Stafford of the Catalina-Kenmore Association

On the campaign trail with Rita Stafford of the Catalina-Kenmore Association.

I met with the Industrial Areas Foundation-styled group ONE-LA at Immaculate Heart Elementary School to develop a plan to prevent evictions. Many groups have expressed concern about gentrification forcing people out of their homes. By enforcing strong housing laws, I believe we can capture the benefits of increased employment from economic development while we blunt the ancillary pain of gentrification.

Planting trees on Melrose Hill

Planting trees on Melrose Hill.

After a final tree-planting session decamping from Ed Hunt's house, fifty new trees of four different species now grace Melrose Hill. Thanks to all who came out to plant!

Check out the smooth new surface on Virgil Street between Melrose and Temple. That was a bumpy ride, but we found funds to restore it late last year.

News From Around the District: Silver Lake

The Silver Lake Gateway will be the local gold standard in underpass and median beauty before we're done with it. $10,000 in neighborhood matching funds will go towards planting more native plants at this already-impressive location.

We have requested a neighborhood traffic management study to analyze safety and traffic patterns and reduce “cut-throughs” between Glendale Boulevard, Silver Lake Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard.

The Silver Lake/Sunset underpass continues to receive focused attention Street Services and Senior Lead Officers confiscated 15 shopping carts and towed four abandoned cars from the area. Officials made sure not to confiscate any personal belongings, and LAHSA and PATH continue to provide regular outreach to homeless men and women who gather there.

Thanks go out to the Silver Lake Improvement Association for their clean-up last month.

Eager to volunteer? Pilar Reynaldo is leading the installation of a beautiful mosaic at Mayberry Elementary School, to be completed by June. (The fabulous mosaic tiles, by the way, were funded by neighborhood matching funds.) Tile cutting happens from 9:00 to 11:00 am every Saturday with the exception of rain and Easter week (March 18th through the 27th). Just walk on through the front door and head for the cafetorium or at the outdoor lunch area. If you want to work with the kids, Fridays are available too, during the school day from 8:30-3:30. An hour or two can make a big difference, and the results are already astounding. E-mail Pilar for more details.

Resurfacing has been completed on Effie Street between Bates and Fountain and on Manzanita between Fountain and Wit Place.

Noah is the small one.

Noah is the small one.

And lastly, a shout-out and hurrah go to Noah David Lyon-Hartley, born 12/14/04 at 8:52 AM, 8 lbs., 7 oz. And 21 inches long—though not for long, says his father about Noah's propensity to pack on the pounds and inches since then.

News From Around the District: Historic Filipinotown

Putting roots down in Filipinotown

Putting roots down in Filipinotown.

The beautification of Temple Street proceeds! On February 12th we planted 23 purple orchid trees along the Hi-Fi thoroughfare, the first to come of 160. SIPA, the Historic Filipinotown Improvement Association, and Pacific Media Expo all deserve credit for their support, and Jocelyn Geaga-Rosenthal, Joel Jacinto, Environmental Affairs worker Julie Van Wagner, Paula Angeles all deserve special commendation for getting those trees in the ground.

Not far away, Belmont High School will be adding a mural soon, with help from neighborhood matching funds.

The Lake Street Skate Park has only been open for six months and it's already enormously popular, as we demonstrated at the Punk Skate Fest in February. Pro skaters showed off their tricks, American Apparel showed off their wares, and a few local punk bands showed off their shredding.

Make the park safe for the kids

Make the park safe for the kids.

Also last month, Lake Street Park got the first installation of safety cameras in our parks. We were joined by a group of neighborhood children for the announcement. Many of you have said that you would use your neighborhood parks if you felt safer in them.

We have managed to take care of the homeless encampment on Lake north of Beverly. The Street Trees division removed a pair of unsafe trees that shielded the encampment from view. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority also helped provide services for the individuals who were staying there.

News From Around the District: Echo Park

A shout goes out to Friends of Logan Street Elementary and Friends of Elysian Heights Elementary for winning neighborhood matching funds to support beautification projects at the respective schools. Elysian Heights, I know, is planning a “Making State History” mural. Can I paint the Pobladores?

Also using NMF funds is the Lemoyne Beautification Team, who will be panting native plants on the Lemoyne median.

The boat house renovation has begun! The restoration will not be visible to landlubbers, but the fish will get a good look at the strengthened support structure underneath our popular Echo Park Lake attraction. Also, Nike has contributed $50,000 for improvements to Echo Park Lake (and no, it won't be called “Nike Park Lake” either).

Resurfacing is wrapping up at LaVeta Terrace and Academy Road, so expect a smoother ride there.

Construction has resumed on the Glendale Corridor project! Bureaucratic obstacles between CalTrans, DWP, and SBC had interfered with the operations schedule. CalTrans had required LADOT to resubmit a permit application, DWP had dragged heels on relocating fire hydrants, and we needed to get SBC to relocate its power lines on Alvarado, but now we're back on target.

Once again, the annual Dodger Job Fair filled the parking lot at the stadium, with 125 employers represented and 3,000 job seekers combing through their offerings.

News From Around the District: Elysian Valley

Drawing down $19,000 from our limited street furniture fund, we were able to purchase five bus benches for placement along Riverside Drive. We inquired about placing bus shelters in those locations, but shelters require a greater degree of right-of-way for installation.

With neighborhood matching funds, North East Trees will be able to continue their greening of the Los Angeles River.

The Elysian Valley Neighborhood Council has won funding to install banners along Riverside Drive promoting the neighborhood’s unique character. I can't wait to see some banners.

News From Around the District: Glassell Park

Top row, left to right: Ronald Sires, Virgil San Juan Sy, Jose Vargas. Bottom row, left to right: Cynthia Harrington, Eric Garcetti, Shae Seward

Mouse-over the picture for names.

The Glassell Park Chamber of Commerce installation took place at Ribet Academy, formalizing the accomplishments of a terrific group of people in putting together a real business community in one of L.A.'s underrated business districts. Ribet Academy. They followed up with a February mixer at Glendale KIA, which is really in Los Angeles, despite the name.

We did it! After a long public negotiating process (and a dozen e-news announcements), the Glassell Park Community and Senior Center broke ground the second week of the year. Thanks to Public Storage and the community members who joined the process to create an invaluable neighborhood resource: a 7400-foot community center that will include a senior center and kitchen, a field office for my district council staff to use for community office hours, and a large general-use community space. Public Storage will make approximately 40 parking spaces available for use in connection with the community space. And climate-controlled storage spaces are right around the corner! In the picture above of the Public Storage Community/Senior Center groundbreaking ceremony, featured from left to right are: Anne Wheeler,president of Glassell Park Seniors; Jim Fitzpatrick, vice president of operations, Public Storage Corp; me; George Brauckman, incoming co-president of the Glassell Park Improvement Association; Helene Schpak, Chair of the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council; and Helen Jacobs, president emeritus of the Glassell Park Seniors. And kids!

Career day with the Dodgers

Career day with the Dodgers.

Go Dodgers! The Dodger Caravan came to Washington Irving Middle School in January. I joined Jeff Kent, Odalis Perez, Jim Tracy, Steve Garvey, Pepe Yniguez, and Al Martinez to give the students a look at Dodger Blue.

Along with L.A.'s other northeast communities including Atwater Village, Highland Park and Eagle Rock, KTLA celebrated Glassell Park live on the air from atop the Southwest Museum.

News From Around the District: Atwater Village

The Atwater Village Residents Association has been busy planning the Atwater Street Festival. To get involved, contact AVRA or Field Deputy Jim Omahen in my office. The festival itself is planned for Sunday June 12th, at 3100 Glendale Boulevard. Previous years have seen attendance of well over a thousand and I can't wait to kick off summer at the upcoming festival.

Ferncroft Park is moving toward realization! The Bureau of Street Services has cleaned out the overgrown undergrowth of ivy from the small street easement at the end of Ferncroft over by the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. Northeast Trees has put down mulch and planted several new trees. They will put paths through the small park and install benches. Friends of Atwater Village have proposed a Red Car themed mural to adorn the pylons under the bridge. Also, the Friends deserve congratulations on their successful application for neighborhood matching funds for their “Respect, Reclaim, Revisit” project.

Many of you have helped me get rid of nuisance pay phones (especially the Atwater Village Chamber of Commerce). When they are installed in the public right of way, it's relatively easy to have them removed when they attract problems. But on private property we have to negotiate with the owners; many have been responsive. In order to maintain safety and quality-of-life on Fletcher Avenue, we are currently asking for cooperation in the removal of five phones. If you have a phone that's a location for trouble, contact Jim.

Farmer's Market update: The parking lot of the Wells Fargo Bank on Glendale Blvd has been proposed as a site for a Sunday farmer's market. Got more ideas? Go to to complete an online survey.

Fletcher's getting a trim! Street Trees has pruned back some leafy obstructions at Larga and Fletcher per your requests. And U-Haul has put up vining to deter taggers.

Is it ever too early for a sandwich from the Tam?

Is it ever too early for a sandwich from the Tam?

Also, did you see the Tam O'Shanter and other unique members of the Atwater Village community on KTLA's morning show?

Luis Lopez sends this to my attention: Friends of Atwater Village is having a "Neighborhood Clean-Up" Event. Be a Friend and join Friends of Atwater Village to help clean-up our community by picking up litter, painting out graffiti, and removing weed overgrowth. Make sure to sign-in and get supplies and bottled water; please bring work gloves, lots of energy, and community pride. For more information please visit us online at Saturday, March 26th, 2005, from 8:00am to 12:00pm. Sign-in Location: Atwater Ranch Market, 3111 Glendale Blvd.

City Hall Update: Human Rights

Three years ago, I passed a significant expansion of the city's Equal Benefits Ordinance, which requires city contractors to provide the same health benefits package to domestic partners, often same-sex, as they do to married partners. Just last month, with the help of Mayor Hahn, we completed another major expansion of the ordinance: it now applies to contractors with the city's three proprietary departments, the airport, the harbor, and DWP. The commissions of each body voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance; the effort was inspired by a worker from Nissan, who has a contract with DWP but does not offer domestic partner health benefits. If they want to renew their contract, they'll have to do the right thing!

City Hall Update: Cable

The $12/month “life-line” package from Adelphia has been activated! I was very encouraged to learn that Ken Zavana was able to get the service for his mother after over a year of searching for a low-cost cable alternative with my office.

Along with councilmembers Wendy Greuel and Jack Weiss, I introduced a motion to have the city transition where possible to open source software. “Open source” is a movement in the creation of software that allows all users to view the programming code and make changes; the best changes are incorporated into a version that users can download, usually for free. Other state, local and national governments from Brazil to Austin, TX have experimented with open source software, which can be more innovative, more flexible and more secure than proprietary software—and have a lower price tag. The story made national news on NPR and in the technology trade press, as well as igniting comment on blogs and on tech websites.

Speaking of Open Source, many of you may be familiar with the Firefox browser, which allows you to search multiple sources from its multiple-engine search window. I asked the Los Angeles Public Library to provide a browser search engine. The result is not available from yet but is making it available.

City Hall Update: Neighborhood Empowerment

Los Angeles's longtime Chief Legislative Analyst Ron Deaton has started his new job as chief of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. One of Deaton's initiatives at LADWP is to promote better interactions with the neighborhood councils (right, Rusty?). From the DWP's monthly update:

Deaton views neighborhood councils as an important bridge to a more open road with community members. He cited a special briefing on LADWP’s budget process in early December for neighborhood councils as an example of how the Department wants to increase “transparency” in making future policy decisions.

“I think that was a good start toward an era of more openness at the LADWP,” said Deaton, who has cited improving communications as one of his top priorities. Among his other priorities are improving contracting practices and increasing the amount of renewable energy sales as a percentage of LADWP’s power mix.

City Hall Update: Open Space and the Environment

The passage of revisions to the city's Landscape Ordinance(.pdf) came and went without much hullaballoo, but its effects will change the way Los Angeles looks and feels. The new regulations reduce water waste in commercial landscaping and protect the city’s rivers and the ocean from polluted run-off. They will make L.A. a cleaner, greener city, with more trees in parking lots cooling down our heat islands.

City Hall Update: Economic Development

Promoting the EITC.

Promoting the EITC.

We could inject $1 billion into our local Los Angeles economy if only everyone who was qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit would apply for it. I joined elected officials like State Board of Equalization member John Chiang and County Supervisor Yvonne Braithwaite Burke at a downtown press conference to promote the EITC and to remind families who apply for it that they may also qualify for other programs in our ACCESS portfolio(.pdf), such as Healthy Families and Cal Grants.

City Hall Update: Housing

The winter rains made this year the second-wettest in L.A. weather's recorded history, causing loss of life in some instances. Many homes were damaged in CD13, and more than eighty were red-tagged citywide. I set up an emergency fund of $500,000 to assist property owners and tenants who were forced from their homes due to structural problems caused by the rains. The Housing department is administering the fund, primarily as zero-interest loans. Contact L.A.H.D. via 3-1-1 if you or someone you know still needs emergency relocation assistance.

Gentrification can be a double-edged sword, improving neighborhoods but forcing out those who should benefit from improvements. The Major Rehabilitation Ordinance passed by the council in February allows for property improvements but, crucially, protects against evictions. An outdated policy allowed some unscrupulous landlords to take advantage of a loophole allowing the eviction of a tenant from a rent-stabilized apartment for major systems work such as plumbing or wiring. Under the new policy, there can be no more such evictions. Landlords may recoup investments they make to improve property with a rent increase of up to 10% over two years. The increase must be justified by the investment into the property, and the tenant must be accomodated while the work is done.

Ready to hit the streets and count.

Ready to hit the streets and count.

More than 1100 homeless men and women participated in February's Homeless Census, the largest mobilization of homeless people for a street enumeration ever. While the results of the census will not be known until June, the census was a massive effort that will be vital to shaping policy around homelessness in the years ahead.

City Hall Update: Public Safety

In my first term, I worked with many of you on reducing gang activity, whether it was by supporting programs like L.A. Bridges II and the Aztec Firefighters to give young people alternatives to violence and crime, or through our community effort to eliminate graffiti, UNTAG. Going into my second term, I've embarked upon a concentrated effort to address gangs and graffiti by bringing together the groups that work on different aspects of the problem, such as Bridges, Central City Action Committee, and the Rampart LAPD Gang Unit.

I was devastated to learn of the death in a car accident of a young girl who was crossing Santa Monica Boulevard with her mother. A request had previously been made to install a crosswalk on that stretch of the boulevard near Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but it had been denied due to wrangling with CalTrans, the controlling agency for Santa Monica Boulevard where it is State Route 2. Sadly, state legislation enabled a transfer of jurisdiction to the city was not passed in time, but we now have the opportunity to make changes to the street there. With the imminent opening of a school on that block, it is crucial to make the area safe for pedestrians.

Keeping an electronic eye out for crime.

Keeping an electronic eye out for crime.

I'm proud of how many new parks we've been able to open in Council District 13, but what good is a new park if people are too scared to use it? One cost-effective solution is to give police the ability to survey parks at a distance with cameras. I was able to allocate nearly $400,000 in CDBG funds to pay for the installation of safety cameras in eleven district parks. The cameras will be monitored by police and are set up to only view public space; the first one was installed in Lake Street Park in Historic Filipinotown. Captain Charlie Beck of Rampart Division compares the transformative power of cameras on community policing to that of police radios. His father was a police officer before the advent of radios and remembers when he had to return to the station in order to be dispatched to the scene of a crime.

Penelope Cruz

Public Storage Community/Senior Center Groundbreaking
Also ... Penelope Cruz couldn't keep away from me on the red carpet. Well, not too far away./p>

Public Storage Community/Senior Center Groundbreaking

Public Storage Community/Senior Center Groundbreaking
A picture this good, you have to send out big. See Glassell Park below to find out why these people look so happy.

Coalition for Clean Air

Coalition for Clean Air
I'll walk the catwalk if it means raising funds for the Coalition for Clean Air. Behind me, L.A. Times columnist Patt Morrison officiates.

Judging Amy

Judging Amy
On the set of Judging Amy with the Mayor to promote keeping production in Los Angeles.

Public Works Heroes

Public Works Heroes
We honored our Public Works Heroes at an off-site board meeting in February. Thanks to all who came, especially our heroes!

A Word from Eric

Two days after my re-election to serve the 13th District for a second term, I headed to Washington, D.C. for the annual lobbying conference of the National League of Cities. Los Angeles was one of the founding cities of the National League, formed last century to give municipal governments a united and powerful voice in Washington, D.C. Now, at a time when local government seems neglected or overlooked by both state and federal governments, the NLC is needed more than ever. Each March, about 3000 local officials from around the country gather to advocate for you as urban residents and for the issues that affect us, from road repairs to housing.

Fighting against cuts to anti-poverty programs with Congressmember Diane Watson.

Fighting against cuts to anti-poverty programs with Congressmember Diane Watson.

The top theme of the NLC conference was saving the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), which along with 17 other programs, was proposed for elimination in the President's 2005 budget. This would be a reversal of years of Republican and Democratic presidential and congressional support for CDBG funding. As chair of the Housing, Community and Economic Development committee of the City Council, I care deeply about this issue, and I recently wrote about the attack on CDBG on the opinion page of the Los Angeles Times (PDF).

CDBG funds provide about $100 million a year to the lowest-income areas of our city. In the 13th District, they have helped us expand our gang-intervention youth programs, build badly-needed housing, bring after-school programs like LA's BEST and LA Bridges to our local primary and middle schools, fund repairs of the Echo Park boathouse, build new parks from East Hollywood to Historic Filipinotown, and repair sidewalks and roads.

No city in the United States is more partisan than Washington D.C., but in a single morning this past week, NLC members from either party went arm-in-arm to almost every member of Congress with a unified message: Don't cut CDBG! Our call reverberated through the halls of Congress, leaving me optimistic that support for CDBG and the other HUD programs can be retained. Still, don't hesitate to let members of Congress know where you stand on the issue. (Our local members are very supportive of reinstating the program.)

In Washington, I also met with each of the members of Congress that represent parts of the 13th District: Xavier Becerra, Diane Watson, Lucille Roybal-Allard, and Henry Waxman. Each is working hard to coordinate with our office to obtain federal funding for projects like revitalization of the Los Angeles River and streetscape improvements in Hollywood, Atwater Village and Echo Park. I also joined California delegations to meet with Senators Boxer and Feinstein and with Governor Schwarzenegger's Washington office.

Heading toward the airport to catch my return flight to L.A., I passed the new World War II monument. My own grandfather, a Mexican-born Angeleno, fought in that war in the Philippines; he was rewarded for his courage with U.S. citizenship. At Lake Street Park, we are working now to install a memorial to the Filipino war veterans, many of whom live in the 13th District.

Compared to how those men and women sacrificed and suffered for our freedoms, the struggles of local government ask far less of us. But the heroes we honor fought to preserve freedom and opportunity for the generations that would follow them. To abandon those who are now in greatest need—seniors fighting poverty, youth struggling to overcome violence, families on the brink of homelessness—would dishonor their memories.

All best,