Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Weekly Calendar

Latino Urban Forum

Meetings, activities and events that promote our mission as of  

May 28, 2007


1.      Save Elephant Hill

2.   Save the Southwest Museum 

3.      Westlake Walkabout

4.      Glassell Park Walkabout

5.      LA River Bike Ride

6.      Strategic  Planning with Ron Milam

7.      Article: Cancer risk rises for those near rail



Visit www.latinourbanforu  or LatinoUrbanForum

http://latinourbanf orum.blogspot. com/


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SAVE Elephant Hill Update * URGENT * Action Alert


Urge Huizar to Require Full Environmental Review for Elephant Hill


In his recent campaign for re-election, Councilmember Jose Huizar ran on an environmental platform.  He promised to make our communities safer, cleaner and greener.  He vowed to expand green and open space.  Last summer as the campaign heated up, he responded to El Sereno residents' pleas for help to ensure equitable services from City agencies responsible for residential developments by introducing a motion to investigate the need for a supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR) for Tract 35022, the controversial development of 24 luxury homes on Elephant Hill. 


Now, under the threat of a lawsuit by the developers of Elephant Hill, the City agencies charged with undertaking this investigation recommended NO SEIR for Tract 35022 at the May 22nd Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) hearing.

Councilmember Huizar is on this powerful committee.  The report, developed under direction of the Planning Dept., argues that no supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR) is required because there are no pending

*discretionary* approvals for Tract 35022. 


At the hearing, residents argued that the building permit for Tract 35022—set to be approved by the City in the next few days—is in fact a discretionary approval, thus allowing for additional environmental review of Tract 35022.

The issue of equity in planning decision-making for low-income communities like El Sereno hit home when Joe Edmiston of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy testified that similar situations in Westside communities that came down in

favor of residents.  


Fortunately, Councilmember Huizar extended the hearing, allowing residents an opportunity to review and respond to the staff report.  On Friday, the National Resources Defense Council and Chatten-Brown & Carstens submitted an opinion that building permits are a discretionary action. 


Councilmember Huizar needs the backing of his constituents to stand firm in his commitment to environmental justice and stop this illegal expansion of a luxury home development in a low-income community.  Please help send a clear message to Councilmember Huizar that our community expects him exercise his considerable authority to ensure that El Sereno residents receive equitable and fair services from City agencies responsible for residential developments.

These developers must be accountable and follow the rules just like everyone else, despite their wealth, influence and threats. 


What You Can Do:


* Write or call Councilmember Huizar and tell him you will stand with him as he fights for environmental justice in El Sereno by ensuring fair and equitable services from the agencies responsible for the residential development on Elephant Hill.  If the B-permit is approved by the Bureau of Engineering, he must issue a stop work order so that the hillside is not destroyed before this issue is resolved.

* Email: councilmember. huizar@lacity. org or Call 213-473-7014


* For copies of the reports and ongoing information about Elephant Hill check out these new blogs:

http://www.saveelep hanthills. blogspot. com/  and http://latinourbanf orum.blogspot. com/


For more information contact: saveelephanthills@                           



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Save the Southwest   Museum


The City's approval process for Autry to relocate the Southwest Museum to Griffith Park has begun.  This is not a "done deal", even if Autry makes it sound so.  Remember when the powers-that- be said the Cornfields would become warehouses.. . that the deal was done?  Today, due to a determined group of community leaders, Los Angeles is blessed with a new State Park. 


1)  Want a real future for the Southwest Museum here in Northeast LA ?  Take a look at the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition's Alternative Plan that would reduce the Griffith Park expansion project (and its related impacts) and invest in a vibrant and economically viable MUSEUM in Northeast Los Angeles .  There's no reason that the public cannot benefit by seeing all those priceless artifacts at the original location, in our neighborhood:

http://www.friendso fthesouthwestmus Brochure051907. pdf


Mark your calendars and get informed:

2) take a close look at the environmental analysis just posted online today by the Dept of Recreation and Parks for the proposed Autry expansion project in Griffith Park .  Object?  Oppose?    Attend the Public Meeting.  A second meeting was just added for June 11th and the comment period extended until June 28.

http://www.laparks. org/environmenta l/environmental. htm


3) Information provided by the Save Griffith Park webmaster:



Attached is the notice from the Department of Recreation and Parks announcing the first Public Scoping Meeting of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process for the proposed expansion of the Autry   National Center . (May 29, 6:30 pm, Autry National Center ).  The 
Autry, a privately held institution, is situated on 10 acres of public land in Griffith Park which it leases from the City of Los Angeles for $1 (one dollar) a year.  Both its location on dedicated parkland and its potential environmental impacts on its host,  Griffith Park , make the Autry's  expansion a matter of public interest.

The letter and conceptual plan diagrams provided indicate that the institution is seeking to increase its built area by 129,000 square feet.  Additionally, it is seeking to move a large portion of its parking to the south and east portion of its existing South Lawn thereby obliterating half of this green space and eventually, in Phase II of their conceptual plan, constructing an additional building above this newly created parking lot.

At first look, this seems to contradict assurances from the Autry that they do not intend to increase their footprint in Griffith Park , as was reported in the L.A. Times. The word footprint," however,  which is commonly understood to mean the space a building occupies on a parcel of land, has been redefined admittedly by the Autry to mean the land itself -- all 110 acres of their leasehold. Contradicted as  well, it seems is the Autry's longstanding and oft-repeated  public promise never to remove the green space afforded by their South 
Lawn.  By relabeling the leftover section of turf as "South Lawn" on the diagram, the reality that half the lawn has been lost is obscured.

Because this is a matter of public interest, the project will require various approvals which may include an amendment to its existing ground lease, a conditional use permit with a height allowance (does this mean a zoning variance?) and more. The potential environmental  impacts are listed and they are considerable.

We urge you to attend the meeting and to voice and mail in your comments to the Environmental Supervisor.


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Saturday, June 9, 2007 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Westlake/Macarthur Park Walk Audit.  The Latino Urban Forum was able to connect California Walks to the Center City Neighborhood Partners to do a walk audit in the largely Latino community of Pico/Union. Walks audits are a great way to help people examine, and improve streets. The team is looking for Spanish speaking planners to help facilitate the walk audit. Please consider volunteering to facilitate groups of 5-10 people.  Each group will survey a targeted area of Westlake for 2 to 2 ½ hours.  We're also looking for people to assist the facilitators by recording information and getting help from participants to record further information and take photographs.  Facilitators and assistants will need to undergo a training on either May 21, 9-11 am or May 31 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. 

Contact Jennifer Allen at Livable Places 213 622.5980 x23


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Saturday, June 9, 2007 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


 Dear community member,

I'd like to inform you about our Walkabout and invite you to join us. A Walkabout collects and documents information to inventory elements that contribute, or detract, from the health and viability of a community. It's an effective outreach tool that brings divergent sectors of a community together, on common ground, to share a sense of place and mutual ownership. It creates a strong tie to community and supports consensus building while working toward a pedestrian friendly, even pedestrian seductive, streetscape.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, June 9. The community will meet at 8:00am at the Glassell Park Community/Senior Center to be welcomed by Council President Garcetti, Councilmember Reyes, and Councilmember Huizar before breaking into 25 groups and being shuttled to locations along the 12.5 miles we'll be documenting. Our intent is to have a facilitator in each group who has a background, or experience, in city planning.

We'll have checklists to document our experience. We will also have aerial maps for each group along with street stripping maps. Our documentation will be quite thorough, as we will be measuring, photographing, and experiencing our neighborhoods step by step. Our Walk Audit will review the current build out of the street VS the street designation of each street as well as the land uses and urban form.

Given the incoming Community Design Overlay for Cypress Park and Glassell Park, this is an timely opportunity to outreach and educate community members to help them engage in an informed dialogue with the City and to connect with their neighbors to advocate for safe, healthy, livable neighborhoods. ††

We've hired Deborah Murphy; associate AIA in Urban Design & Planning, who organized the Hollywood Walkabout. †Deborah has been `hands-on' since the beginning. She'll be facilitating all the community meetings, the core group training, and will provide the summary analysis. †

Please join the scores of volunteers on this one special day to mark this seminal event. Come to one of the two community outreach meetings or become part of the core group and be involved in all aspects of the project. Feel free to contact me.


Helene Schpak

hschpk@sbcglobal. net


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Saturday, June 16, 2007 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Keep LA Beautiful and help clean the surrounding area around Fuller Lofts on Gloves, tools and lunch will be provided. Grab your old jeans, t-shirts & sneakers and give the neighborhood a makeover.

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Saturday June 10, 2007

LA River Bike Ride

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Saturday, June 23, 2007 from 10 am - 3 pm


What's your community's mission?  What's your vision?  Values?  What will you do to make your vision reality?  Knowing the answers to these questions plays a key role in your nonprofit group's success, whether it be a shared house, cohousing group, ecovillage, or other type of co-op living or working situation. READ MORE AT http://laecovillage .org/strategicpl anningmilam. html


Fee:                                   $75 (sliding scale available)

Pre-registration required:  213/738-1254 or


Location:        L.A. Eco-Village,

117 Bimini Pl, LA 90004

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May 18th - June 23rd, 2007

LA Botanical ;  A project by Joyce Campbell

LA Botanical is an ongoing project, massive and perhaps unachievable in its full potential scope, to  document each plant that grows in Los Angeles for which there is a documented use - be it food,  medicine, weapon, abortive, analgesic, fuel,  stimulant, building material, deadly toxin or mind altering entheogen. The plants are documented as wet-plate Ambrotypes, an anachronistic photographic  form ubiquitous the 1850's-1890s, the period during  in which Los Angeles grew from a dusty town of 1400 inhabitants to a major metropolitan center.

The project is an attempt to reconcile Campbell 's own rural background with her life here in Los Angeles ,  one of the most sprawling and unsustainable  metropolises on earth.

LA Botanical operates simultaneously as map, inventory, and survival guide to the city of Los Angeles . It has the potential to reveal who lives  here, from where they originate, what they value, how  they eat, worship, heal, harm, travel, clothe  themselves, seek insight or achieve oblivion. It also serves as a tool or guide - enabling its audience to  see Los Angeles , not as a desiccated industrial  wasteland into which resources must flow, but as a  field of abundant life that might be harvested to  satisfy our needs.

            Joyce Campbell is an interdisciplinary artist working in photography, sculpture, film and video installation. She is a visiting lecturer at Scripps College and Claremont Graduate University in Claremont , California .

Joyce¹s recent work utilizes anachronistic photographic techniques to examine the collision of natural and cultural systems.

In October of 2006, Joyce traveled to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica for two weeks sponsored by Creative New Zealand and Antarctica New Zealand.

While in Antarctica she shot large format negatives and Daguerreotypes, an archaic and exquisite form of photography that predates Antarctic exploration.


Location:        Gallery 727

                        727 S. Spring Street #12

                        LA, CA.  90014

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Cancer risk rises for those near rail yards


A study says Commerce neighborhoods near several major facilities face a greater threat from diesel soot than residents elsewhere.


By Janet Wilson, Times Staff Writer


May 25, 2007


Residents who live in the shadow of Southern California 's booming rail yards face cancer risks from soot as much as 140% greater than in the rest of the region, according to new studies by state air regulators.


In addition, clouds of diesel exhaust blown by the wind from the rail yards blanket wide swaths of Greater Los Angeles, upping annual cancer risks slightly for millions more residents.


"The risks are much higher than they ought to be, and we need to do everything we can to reduce them," said Michael Scheible, deputy executive officer of the California Air Resources Board.


The health risk assessments, which were released in draft form this week, were prepared as part of a voluntary agreement between the nation's two largest railroads and the state air board. Such assessments have been done only once before in California , at a Roseville rail yard.


Hardest hit in the region are neighborhoods in Commerce that are near one Union Pacific and three BNSF yards. Residents in the tidy, working-class neighborhoods of Bandini and Ayers-Leonis are 70% to 140% more likely to contract cancer from diesel soot than people in the rest of Los Angeles .

Regulators said some homes are only a few feet from rail-yard fence lines, and there are schools and parks near the yards, which operate around the clock 365 days a year.


Other rail yards and neighborhoods covered by the initial round of studies include Union Pacific's Los Angeles Transportation Center , Mira Loma near Union Pacific's yard in Riverside County and a BNSF facility in Wilmington .

In those places, residents are 11% to 26% more likely to contract cancer from soot.


Railroad officials said the studies showed that the rail yards produce less than 1% of the region's diesel particulate emissions. But they said they were concerned about their contribution to local health risks and were spending millions of dollars to slash emissions in coming years with hundreds of new locomotives, anti-idling devices, cleaner fuels and other measures.


"We're certainly part of the issue," said Lanny Schmid, director of Union Pacific's environmental programs. "We like to think we're a small part of the issue, and we're going to get it even smaller."


But angry, anxious Commerce residents and others who were informed of the higher health risks at a City Hall briefing Wednesday night said faster action was needed. They also were disturbed that risks of respiratory disease, asthma and impaired lung function — all shown in numerous studies to increase with exposure to diesel soot — were not included in the health assessments.


"We need to figure out what we can do now, right now," said Commerce Mayor Robert Fierro, who added that as a schoolteacher he regularly received absentee notes for children who have suffered from asthma attacks or bronchitis.


"We've lived in Commerce since the 1950s, and I come from a family of four generations of asthma in the home," resident Nancy Ramos said. "My 4-year-old grandson is already dealing with asthma, including two ambulance visits."


"Quite honestly it's laughable" not to include health risks such as asthma and respiratory disease, said Ian MacMillan, who conducts similar health risk studies for the Los Angeles Unified School District .


Scheible said state health guidelines, which were prepared in the late 1980s, don't call for non-cancer health risks to be included, and, he said, they are more difficult to assess accurately. But he said that if enough people wanted officials to try, they would see if it could be done for the final reports.


The analyses showed that in addition to locomotives, giant cranes, refrigerated cars and aging short-haul trucks contribute to diesel emissions in the yards.


Trucks on nearby freeways and busy streets also add risk. The Commerce yards, for instance, spewed out a combined 40 tons of soot in 2005, while short-haul trucks on nearby streets put out about 113 tons.


Modeling and weather data used in the study showed that lower levels of soot spread for miles from the yards. The Union Pacific Los Angeles facility, which is less than a mile from downtown, spread a fine blanket of soot as much as four miles east and north of the facility, increasing cancer risk for 1.2 million residents by an average 10 chances in a million.


A past study has shown that cancer risks are highest at the ports that feed the rail yards.


But activists and local air regulators said the elevated cancer risks near the yards were "extremely high" compared with those near refineries and other "stationary sources," which are tightly regulated.


Allowable levels of risk from factories and other industrial sources are between 10 and 25 chances per million in the Los Angeles air basin, said South Coast Air Quality Management District spokesman Sam Atwood. Railroads claim exemption from local and state air pollution laws under interstate commerce clauses.


"Living next to a rail yard is like having a factory with 100 smokestacks going all the time," said Angelo Logan, head of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.


Mark Stehly, assistant vice president of environmental for BNSF, said it was unfair to compare factories with rail yards because locomotives and other mobile equipment cannot be fitted with the same types of heavy, high-volume emission control devices as factories.


"For [a rail yard] to be treated as a stationary source, it's appealing in its simplicity, but it's really not true. They are mobile sources," he said.


Additional meetings will be held on the studies in the next two months. The study findings are at http://www.arb. hra/hra.htm


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Urban Eats:


Farmer Markets in the Hood!


Tianguis:  South Central Farmers Market.

Support Community Sustainable Agriculture (C.S.A.)

Music, high quality produce,



Date:               First Sunday of every month (May 6th)

Time:             10:00 am. to 4:00 p.m.

Location:         41st and Alameda



" East Los Angeles Farmer's Market" every Saturday from 9 AM TO 1 PM

Features fruits and vegetables grown locally by local farmers. In addition, you'll find one of a kind creations offered by local artisans and meet representatives from local community organizations.


Location: First Street (between Rowan and Ditman).



Homegirl Café!

1818 East First Street

LA, CA.  90014


Mama's Hot Tamale Cafe

7th Street across from Macarthur Park


To post events, activities or meetings that promote planning, cultural or dialogue contact James Rojas at 213 892-0918 or email Latinourbanforum@ Please submit post in a word document.

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