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Why WeHo’s Tim Sullivan supports Prop 10

November ballot initiative impacts renters’ rights

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Tim Sullivan in his West Hollywood apartment (Photo courtesy Yes on Prop 10)

The message on Tim Sullivan’s answering machine was shocking. He’s been receiving phone calls to his private West Hollywood apartment since his pro-Prop 10 ads started airing on TV. But they were mostly disembodied voices saying “No on 10” and then hanging up. This one was scary.

“I know who you are and I saw your commercial and I know you’re a lie. You are not struggling,” the sometimes garbled voicemail said, ordering him to stop or be exposed.

“The one thing I’ve never let anyone know about me is how poor I am, until now,” Sullivan tells the Los Angeles Blade. A resident of West Hollywood since 1987, Sullivan owns a boutique candle-making shop, sits on the board of Best in Drag, and for 17 years during the AIDS crisis, he was a board member for Aid for AIDS.  With 27 years in a 12 Step program, he is beloved in the Los Angeles recovery community for providing many alcoholics and addicts their first jobs in sobriety.

 “The only thing I really get is Social Security, period. Any money I did have I put into this company,” which is not fairing well these days,” Sullivan explains. “It costs me a lot of money to run this company now. And the only thing I get out of it is kind of a living expense. It’s supplemental. If it’s $1000 a month, it’s a lot. So if you take my $1500 Social Security check, you take $1000 out for my rent, take $300 out for my supplemental Medicare insurance, and another $108 for my insurance for medications which are not covered under “others”—there’s nothing left,” says Sullivan. “It scares me because I don’t think I could live here if they take rent stabilization away from me.”

Yes on Prop 10 ad showing Trump-tied developers (Screenshot via YouTube)

Sullivan says he did the Yes on 10 ad “to protect people my age from being shifted out” by owners selling their property. “They have so many different ways of getting you out now,” says the almost 78-year old gay man with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). But hate won’t deter him. “I’m not going to be afraid of anything. I’ve come this far,” says Sullivan.

Housing insecurity and homelessness are significant issues in the LGBT community, particularly among LGBT youth and people of color. Rent control was a driving factor in the establishment of the City of West Hollywood in 1984, an effort lead by renters, seniors and gays—three categories Sullivan now fits. 

Proposition 10, the Local Rent Control Initiative, on the Nov. 6 ballot would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act that limits the use of rent control in California and allow counties and cities to adopt rent control ordinances regulating how much landlords can charge tenants. Prop 10 would not allow government to reduce a fair rate of return for landlords.

“The need to have affordable housing is important for all Californians,” West Hollywood City Councilmember and law professor John Heilman tells the Los Angeles Blade. “But there’s a particular need for LGBTQ individuals. Often times there’s lack of family support, which is what drives people to leave their home communities to relocate to California, which is more supportive—but obviously the housing cost here is quite high, and it’s a big shock to people when they move here from other states.” 

The West Hollywood City Council supports Prop 10, says Heilman, one of WeHo’s co-founders. “We’ve had rent control laws from the very beginning of our establishment as a city,” he says. “We all understand the challenge that many renters face with rising housing costs. And Prop 10 would restore to local communities the ability to control rent upon a vacancy.” 

Local “authority to draft ordinances that makes sense for their communities,” is key, says Heilman, since rent control is not necessarily the best solution for every city in California.

The Prop 10 battle asks which solution is best to resolve California’s housing crisis and the harmful displacement of renters: repeal Costa-Hawkins or let the market determine housing and rental costs?

Researchers Nicole Montojo and Stephen Barton, Ph.D., authors of a Sept. 19 research brief published by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California/Berkeley, on housing and rent control, feel the need to answer that question is urgent.

“Rent control is really about addressing the issues the people are facing right now, which the other [housing] strategies are unable to do. If we don’t have rent control right now—if we wait for building to catch up; if we wait for us to amass enough funding to pay for that affordable housing—it will be too late. People are being displaced right now,” Montojo tells the Los Angeles Blade.

The coalition of property developers, real estate investors, landlords and others opposed to Prop 10 insist the initiative would discourage development of new properties during the housing crisis.

“It would be disastrous, not only for apartment developers but for California. No one would invest, development would stop, and the housing crisis would be exacerbated,” Alexander Goldfarb, an analyst with Sandler O’Neill & Partners, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Heilman is skeptical. “I’ve always questioned this idea that rent control prevents or impedes new construction,” he says. “New construction has always been exempt under all rent control ordinances and under state law. The idea that somehow or another new construction would be deterred by rent control just doesn’t make sense.”

Montojo and Barton contend that free market solutions are insufficient to meet the needs of burdened tenants. “For a variety of reasons,” Barton says, “it’s not that simple. Housing is not like heirloom tomatoes or plaid shirts. It’s a much more expensive good, and it’s much more difficult to deliver.”

Fixes proposed as alternatives to rent control would take too long to make a discernible impact, the researchers say. “California is now operating at a rate in which it will only add one percent of supply to its housing stock,” Barton says. “If you can overcome all the barriers—we have a shortage of construction workers now, for example—and doubled the supply, you’d still be adding only two percent of new housing stock to the supply. It’s a very slow process, even when it’s working.”

Additionally, setting aside units increases the supply incrementally “but that alone is not going to solve the problem. We also need to build permanently supportive housing for people who are not able to maintain on their own—people with various mental/physical disabilities, and certain seniors—they need additional support. Just building the units isn’t always enough,” Heilman says.

But “it’s difficult to explain to people why the supply doesn’t respond to the demand,” Montojo suggests.

And that makes arguing to vote for Prop 10 difficult.

At issue, Heilman explains, is how homeowners who live in single-family homes or condos—people who are not directly affected by rent control, as they are exempt in most jurisdictions—are going to vote. “Are they going to side with their friends and neighbors who are renters?” he asks. “Or are they just going to vote against it or not vote at all on it?”

The No on 10 arguments are easier for voters to understand, Montojo says. “The supply/demand argument tends to stick in people’s minds, whereas getting into the details of the importance of rent control is a much longer conversation that needs to be had.” And “it’s hard to get at that, to the ballot language that people are seeing when they’re responding to polls.” 

The Yes on 10 coalition is portraying their opposition in simple terms: greedy corporate landlords and real estate investors who want to guarantee climbing profits even at the expense of widespread displacement, housing insecurity, and homelessness. 

A television ad released Sept. 30 linked four major donors in the No on 10 camp to President Donald Trump, hoping the predicted “blue wave” of Democratic voters will throw their support behind Prop 10, which is endorsed by the California Democratic Party. 

Developers like those featured in the Yes on 10 spot, Barton says, have capitalized on the demand for housing in coastal California, reaping astronomical profits.

“In terms of somebody’s wealth, we’re in a situation where people will buy properties for as much as 20 times the value of the net operating income. In other words, people will settle for a 5 percent rate of return. This means people have a tremendously highly valued asset whose value keeps going up. They can not only draw on the money, but they can borrow against it or use it as a security in other borrowing, often to buy even more property and expand their empire,” he says.

“What the opposition stands to lose is pretty obvious. If you own existing housing in, especially, coastal California, you’re getting massive increases in rents,” Barton continues. “This is a matter of tremendous windfall profits. Landlords didn’t double the quality of the buildings they’re providing. It’s just that the demand for access to locations that are high on jobs and amenities has increased. They’re getting a whole lot more money without having to invest much of their own money in fixing up the buildings or improving the buildings.” 

Montojo feels Prop 10 is a referendum on the state’s values; a measure of how much voters care about who is pushed out of local communities and displaced because they can no longer afford housing.

“If we allow rent to continue to rise,” Montojo says, “and if we don’t make a change right now to stabilize renters, this means people will be excluded. We wanted to call attention to the need to make an intentional decision about who we say is part of California and what that means in terms of the policy decisions that we make.” 

Decisions that impact Tim Sullivan and those for whom he speaks.

Los Angeles County

L.A. County passes gun control measures after Monterey Park

“We must do absolutely everything in our power to prevent and put an end to gun violence in our community,” said Supervisor Horvath

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a series of gun control measures in response to the mass shooting in the City of Monterey Park that took the lives of 11 people during the celebration of the Lunar New Year last month.

On Tuesday supervisors unanimously approved a series of motions authored by Board Chair Janice Hahn, Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath to strengthen gun regulations in Los Angeles County and support gun safety legislation. This follows the Board of Supervisors’ recent action to declare gun violence a public health crisis in Los Angeles County.

“We know that blame for the gun violence epidemic lies with the failure of Congressional leaders to pass even the most basic federal gun laws. Because they have not acted — we have found actions we can take at the county level to protect lives,” said Chair Hahn.

“I intend to do whatever is possible to protect Los Angeles County residents, particularly following the tragedy in the First District community of Monterey Park. Gun-related violence will continue to cause mass damage, trauma, and harm if we do not take the necessary steps at all levels of government. This includes supporting key gun safety legislation like Senator Feinstein’s recent action to reinstate the assault weapons and high -capacity magazine ban. Today, living in the United States of America means being at risk of becoming a victim of a mass shooting. To that end, time is of the essence,” said Supervisor Solis.

“We must do absolutely everything in our power to prevent and put an end to gun violence in our community. Today’s motions do exactly that,” said Supervisor Horvath“I’m proud to advance common sense gun safety guidelines and to join my Board colleagues in our continued demand to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

Item 2, authored by Chair Hahn, establishes ordinances to prohibit the sale of .50 caliber firearms and ammunition in the unincorporated areas of the County and prohibit the possession of firearms on County property, with certain exceptions. The motion also requests the Department of Regional Planning to prepare an ordinance to implement zoning regulations with a 1,000 feet buffer between firearm sellers and child-sensitive areas, as well as the Treasurer and Tax Collector to prepare the final amendments to the County code regarding business licenses to enhance the regulation of firearm and ammunition dealers in unincorporated areas of the County.

Item 8, authored by Supervisor Solis, directs the County’s Chief Executive Office’s Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations branch to send a five-signature letter to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, with a copy to the Los Angeles County Congressional delegation, in support of S.14 and S. 25 ─ legislation to raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons from 18 to 21 and ban the sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other high-capacity ammunition feeding devices.

Item 15, authored by Supervisor Horvath, instructs County Counsel to draft an ordinance and report back to the Board of Supervisors on requiring all firearms in a residence be securely stored in a locked container or disabled trigger lock and draft ordinance language that would mandate liability insurance for gun owners. The motion also requests the feasibility of implementing a County gun database and asks that the Treasurer and Tax prepare an amendment to the County code requiring signs to be displayed with specific language warning customers about the risk associated with access to firearms wherever they are sold.

Item 56-A, authored by Chair Hahn, directs the County’s Chief Executive Office’s Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations branch to support SB 2 and SB 241 – state legislation that strengthens conceal-carry laws and requires federally licensed firearm dealers to complete annual training provided by the California Department of Justice.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 54 mass shootings in the United States since the start of the new year 38 days ago. This amounts to almost two mass shooting events a day. 

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Orange County

Huntington Beach could ban Pride flags on city property

The new rule would only allow the American flag, California state flag and the city of Huntington Beach flag to be flown

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The city first hoisted the Pride flag on May 22, 2021 (Photo Credit: City of Huntington Beach)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – A new ordinance that would only allow the American flag, California state flag and the city of Huntington Beach flag to be flown or displayed on city property has been proposed by Councilmember Pat Burns to be heard Tuesday at the regular city council meeting starting at 6 p.m..

The Republican councilman, a former Long Beach Police Department Lieutenant, told KABC 7 Eyewitness News: “Special flags or recognition flags of some sort that aren’t governmental or representative of the community, as one, I don’t believe has a space on our government flag poles,” he said.

Burns said the only exception would be the Prisoner of War and Missing in Action flag that honors those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country. “So many of the men gave all to give us the rights we enjoy today,” Burns said.

Although he did not specifically call out the Pride flag, Burns stated in a staff report explaining his reasoning for the request. “The City of Huntington Beach should avoid actions that could easily or mistakenly be perceived as divisive. [We] are one community with many different cultures and people. All are equally valued members of our community, and none are to be treated differently or discriminated against.”

 “People have asked if we can fly other flags, whatever they may be, and I don’t believe that we should fly any other flags but equal flags that represent us all,” Burns added.

Many Republicans and conservatives view the display of the LGBTQ flag as divisive, some stating moral objections to affirming LGBTQ+ people as “represented” by display of the flag. According to Huntington Beach Public Affairs Manager Jennifer Carey, the Pride flag was previously approved is the only other banner approved by members of the council for civic display.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Carey told the Times that the city first hoisted the Pride flag on May 22, 2021— the birthday of former San Francisco supervisor and civil rights activist Harvey Milk, fatally shot in 1978 — after the City Council voted 6-0 in a May 3 meeting to keep the banner flying throughout the month of June to mark LGBTQ Pride Month.

Defending his proposed ordinance Bruns said: “We’re one community with different cultures, different people, and if anything, it’s a unifying measure.” 

KABC also reported that in a letter, Peter Levi, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League of Orange County/Long Beach, asked the Huntington Beach City Council to reject the proposed ordinance to limit flag displays.

“Celebrating the rich diversity of the Huntington Beach community is not a political statement and prohibiting the display of pride flags because they are allegedly ‘divisive’ sends a dangerous message to the LGBTQ+ community and allies,” said Levi.

From KABC 7:

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California

Newsom calls for Federal investigation of high Natural Gas prices

California accelerating bill credits of $90-$120 starting next month to support with high gas and electric bills

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Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – As millions of California families experience soaring gas utility bills, Governor Gavin Newsom took action today urging the federal government to investigate the recent price spike affecting the Western U.S. and highlighted the state’s action to provide relief to Californians.

In a letter to the federal agency responsible for regulating wholesale natural gas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Governor requested that the agency “immediately focus its investigatory resources on assessing whether market manipulation, anticompetitive behavior, or other anomalous activities are driving these ongoing elevated prices in the western gas markets.”

Additionally, millions of Californians will soon see relief from high utility bills – with credits of $90 to $120 showing up on gas and electric bills as soon as next month. 

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to accelerate the California Climate Credit to help California families with high gas bills.

The $90-$120 credit will be applied to residential utility customer bills starting in March for customers of PG&E, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Gas Company. Customers of Bear Valley, Liberty, PacifiCorp, and Southwest Gas will also receive an accelerated credit of varying amounts. 

Tomorrow, the CPUC and the California Energy Commission will host an en banc hearing to examine the causes and impacts of the recent spike in natural gas prices. 

“Millions of California families are opening their utility bills to sticker shock – and we’re taking action now to provide relief to help with those high gas bills,” said Newsom. “We know this provides only temporary relief from soaring bills. That’s why I’m asking the federal government to use its full authority to investigate the spike in natural gas prices and take any necessary enforcement actions. We’re going to get to the bottom of this because Californians deserve to know what’s behind these exorbitant bills.”

California accelerating bill credits of $90-$120 starting next month to support with high gas and electric bills

Californians do not need to do anything to get the credit. Every spring and fall, millions of Californians receive credits on their electric and natural gas bills identified as the California Climate Credit. The California Climate Credit comes from the State’s cap-and-trade program managed by the California Air Resources Board. The credit on utility bills represents the consumer’s share of the payments from the State’s program.

The CPUC and California Energy Commission will hold an en banc hearing on February 7 to bring together market experts to examine the possible drivers behind the natural gas price spikes and explore potential state actions that can be taken. The hearing includes participation of the California Independent System Operator and market experts from across the country to discuss possible drivers and explore any state measure to protect California customers.

More information is available here.

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West Hollywood

WeHo hosts public hearing on PrEP & PEP February 23 at City Hall

Access to PrEP & PEP & adherence to recommended treatment are just 2 necessary steps in the efforts to reducing community transmission of HIV

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Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) pills (Photo Credit: San Francisco AIDS Foundation)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood will host a public hearing to gather input from community members about whether individuals at high risk for HIV transmission are able to effectively access medications approved as part of FDA-approved protocols for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis(PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

City staff and officials have become aware from anecdotal information in the community that there may be barriers to easily accessing PrEP and PEP at pharmacies in Los Angeles County and other regions of the state.

While statewide legislation, SB 159, authorizes pharmacists to furnish PrEP and PEP without a physician prescription and prohibits insurance companies from requiring prior authorizations to obtain PrEP coverage, there is concern that national pharmacy chains and local pharmacies may not be participating in ways the legislation intended.

City outreach to local pharmacists indicates that many local pharmacists have not taken the California State Board of Pharmacy (CSBP) training to dispense PrEP and PEP, and may not have been aware of the training at all.

The City’s aim in hosting a public hearing is to gather input from impacted residents and community stakeholders; findings will then be relayed to legislators and other key decision makers.

The public hearing is open to the public and will take place on Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. Limited validated parking will be available in the adjacent West Hollywood Park five-Story structure.

Community members may view the public hearing live on WeHoTV on Spectrum Channel 10 within West Hollywood; by clicking on the ‘Watch Live’ link on the City’s WeHoTV website page www.weho.org/wehotv; or through City’s WeHo YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/wehotv.

It will also be live-streamed on streaming services such as AndroidTV, AppleTV, FireTV, and Roku. Digital streaming platform viewers can find programming by searching for “WeHoTV.”

Individuals who would like to provide comments but are unable to attend the hearing, or who would prefer to share their experience directly, can send their comments by email to Hernán Molina, the City of West Hollywood’s Governmental Affairs Liaison, at [email protected].

In January 2019, Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco introduced SB 159 HIV: preexposure and postexposure prophylaxis. The bill, which was signed by Governor Newsom into law on October 7, 2019, seeks to make PrEP and PEP more readily available to HIV negative individuals who are at high risk of HIV infection. SB 159 does so, among other things, by:

  • Authorizing a pharmacist to furnish PrEP and PEP in specified amounts and requires a pharmacist to furnish those drugs if certain conditions are met, including that the pharmacist determines the patient meets the clinical criteria for PrEP and PEP consistent with federal guidelines; and
  • Requiring a pharmacist, before furnishing PrEP and PEP, to complete a training program approved by the California State Board of Pharmacy.

Having easy access to PrEP and PEP and proper adherence to the recommended treatment are just two necessary steps in the efforts to reducing community transmission of HIV. PrEP is a key prevention strategy for ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports fewer than 25% of the approximately 1-million Americans who could benefit from PrEP are using this preventative medication. One of the goals of the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative is to have 50% of people who could benefit from PrEP using it by 2025.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has had a significant impact on the City of West Hollywood. The disease’s elevated infection rate among gay men caused a devastatingly high number of deaths in the City in the era following the City’s founding in 1984.

The City of West Hollywood was one of the first government entities to provide social services grants to local AIDS and HIV organizations. The City sponsored one of the first AIDS awareness campaigns in the country in October 1985 and the City’s response to the AIDS crisis has been recognized as a model for other cities, nationally and globally.

In 2015, the City of West Hollywood City Council adopted the HIV Zero Strategic Plan. The City Council directed staff to work with social service providers, community clinics, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and other governmental agencies to develop a strategic plan aimed at reducing the rates of transmission and slowing disease progression.

The City’s HIV Zero Initiative embraces a vision to “Get to Zero” on many fronts: Zero new infections. Zero progression of HIV to AIDS. Zero discrimination. Zero stigma. The City currently contracts with APLA Health, Healthcare in Action, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Men’s Health Foundation, and Planned Parenthood to provide biomedical interventions, such as PrEP and PEP to community members at risk of acquiring HIV.

For more information, please contact Hernán Molina, the City of West Hollywood’s Governmental Affairs Liaison, at (323) 848-6364 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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West Hollywood

WeHo to consider making restaurant OutZones permanent

The Chamber of Commerce says businesses expressed concern over the limited applicability of using on-street parking spaces for outdoor dining

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Outzone in front of Stache (Photo Credit: WEHO TIMES)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The West Hollywood City Council will discuss and debate the process, guidelines, and policies regarding making the restaurant OutZones permanent in the city.

Its Agenda Item 5.A. will be under review and is slated to be taken up at the regular city council meeting scheduled for Monday, February 6, starting at 6pm.

City Staff is recommending the City Council adopt an ordinance amending Chapter 11.28 regarding outdoor dining in the public right of way, authorizing the Director of Finance & Technology Services to allocate $25,000 from unallocated reserves in General Fund for the development of the Outdoor Dining Eligibility and Site Design Guide and related costs.

City Staff will provide any feedback, if necessary, on the proposed updates, including the eligibility criteria and design standard.

Restaurant OutZones 2020-2021 WEHO TIMES
Restaurant OutZones as of January 2023 – WEHO TIMES
OutZone at Larrabee Street – WEHO TIMES
Abbey Road Outzone 2020
Abbey Road Outzone 2023 – WEHO TIMES
Abbey Road Outzone 2023 – WEHO TIMES

According to the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, City Commissions, Boards, and Staff met with the Chamber numerous times and then attended a number of the chamber’s standing meetings with business leaders. Overall, there was support for developing new standards to convert the temporary OUTZones into permanent outdoor dining.

An email from the The Chamber states that businesses expressed concern over the limited applicability of using on-street parking spaces for outdoor dining. As outlined in the report, the use of on-street parking for outdoor dining would only apply to businesses fronting a narrow sidewalk condition.

There were also concerns around the inability for a business with a limited frontage to expand dining areas in front of neighboring businesses. Because this item is addressing outdoor dining on the public-right-of-way and not outdoor dining on private property, the current proposal does not allow the business to establish separate arrangements with neighboring businesses for use of their adjacent public right-of-way.

“We are grateful to the Staff and Council for moving this issue forward, allowing us to keep this critical element for our restaurants and bars to continue to recover and help us to thrive,” reads a statement by WeHo Chamber CEO Genevieve Morrill.

OutZones 2020 – WEHO TIMES

In July 2020, the City began its Temporary Outdoor Expansion Permit (TOEP) program by offering streamlined approval for businesses to use sidewalks, on-street parking spaces, and private parking lots as areas to expand operations.

In August 25, 2020, the city had a soft opening for the first phase of the new OUT Zones program.

On August 31, 2020, the installation of protective k-rail barriers were completed in time for National Eat Outside Day, which is a day when people are encouraged to enjoy a meal, picnic, or snack in the outdoors.

Community members and business owners are encouraged to make comments, express concerns, and provide suggestions.

Editor’s Note: To participate by public comment via phone:

1. You are strongly encouraged to e-mail the City Clerk at [email protected] no later than 2:00 p.m. on the City Council meeting day, to be added to the Zoom Public Speaker List for the meeting. Please include your name, the phone number from which you will be calling, and which item you would like to speak on.

2. Dial-in 10 minutes prior to the start of the meeting (the meeting begins at 6:00 p.m.)
• Dial-in #: 669-900-6833
• Meeting I.D.: 847 9061 1250, then the pound # key

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.

The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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California

Newsom honors CHP officers w/Medal of Valor, names CHP head

Governor Newsom recognized CHP officers Ryan Ayers & Kenneth Weckman for their bravery & names Sean Duryee to head the agency

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CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee, Calif. Attorney General Rob Bonta, CHP officers Ryan Ayers & Kenneth Weckman with Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo Credit: Office of Governor of California)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom recognized California Highway Patrol officers Ryan Ayers and Kenneth Weckman for their actions that went above and beyond the call of duty by awarding them with the Governor’s Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor – the highest state award for valor presented to a public safety officer.

“The heroes we are honoring today are men who showed extraordinary compassion, bravery, and sacrifice,” said Newsom. “Officers Ayers and Weckam are examples of the California spirit, our dedication to each other, and to doing the right thing. I am proud to recognize their heroic efforts and work.”

On August 6, 2021, Officer Ryan Ayers was off duty driving on US 101 in San Luis Obispo, California, when he observed a crash involving a semi-truck which ran off the road. Ayers climbed down the hillside to access the cab of the truck and found the driver unconscious. As the vehicle began to fill with smoke, without regard for his own safety, he cleared debris to access the driver. He was able to safely remove the driver seconds prior to the vehicle becoming fully engulfed in flames.

On December 6, 2021, Officer Kenneth Weckman was dispatched to a vehicle blocking the roadway in Marysville, California. As Weckman investigated the abandoned vehicle, he found a woman in crisis in a canal, attempting to smother a small child in the dirt and water. Weckman immediately attempted to rescue the child from the woman, as she violently resisted. After a struggle, He was able to save the child from the muddy waters. With the assistance of other officers who arrived on scene, the woman was safely taken into custody.

“Officer Ayers’ and Officer Weckman’s heroic actions undoubtedly saved the lives of these individuals” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “Their bravery, character, professionalism, and willingness to serve with such extraordinary valor exemplify their commitment to the communities they serve.”

On Friday Newsom announced his appointment of Sean Duryee as Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol, where he has been serving as Acting Commissioner and has held several roles since 1998. 
 
“A veteran of the CHP, Commissioner Duryee has dedicated his career to serving the people of California, starting as a Cadet decades ago,” said Newsom. “His leadership, extensive experience and dedication will continue to serve California well and I thank him for taking on this new role.” 

Governor Newsom with CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee
(Photo Credit: Office of Governor of California)


Duryee, 48, of Galt, has served as Acting Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol since January 2023. He served in several positions at CHP from 1998 to 2022, including Deputy Commissioner, Executive Assistant to the Commissioner, Special Representative to the Legislature, Commander of the Department’s Commercial Vehicle Section, Academy Instructor and Cadet.

He is a coach for the Liberty Ranch High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $315,348. Duryee is registered without party preference.

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Southern California

Triple A: Gas prices move up slightly, but more increases expected

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.57, which is five cents higher than last week

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Fuel types by octane ratings at a Chevron in SoCal ( Screenshot/YouTube KTLA 5 )

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices moved very little in the past week, but increases are expected in coming weeks related to the process to switch to selling summer-blend gasoline, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. 

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.57, which is five cents higher than last week. The average national price is $3.50, which is the same as a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $4.57 per gallon, which is two cents higher than last week, seven cents higher than last month, and 13 cents lower than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $4.59, which is one cent higher than last week, six cents higher than last month, and six cents lower than last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $4.51, which is the same as last week, one cent lower than last month, and 12 cents lower than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $4.44, which is two cents higher than last week, seven cents higher than last month and 18 cents lower than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $4.57 average price is four cents higher than last week, two cents higher than last month, and one cent lower than a year ago today.

“Los Angeles wholesale gas prices are almost ninety cents higher than at their lowest point of last year in December, but retail average prices have risen by less than 20 cents,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. “We expect prices will continue rising during the spring months. For drivers who are interested in avoiding these high prices by going electric, AAA has a new resource available – the AAA Used EV Buyer’s Guide.”

The Auto Club reminds drivers of the following tips to save money on gas:

  • If you use premium unleaded fuel, make sure it is required for your vehicle, not just recommended. The Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center found that vehicles with recommended premium fuel performed safely with regular unleaded gasoline.
  • Make sure your tires are properly maintained and inflated to the correct level.
  • Maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular service will ensure optimum fuel economy.
  • Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard accelerations. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption.
  • Slow down and drive the speed limit. Fuel economy peaks around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speed increases. Reducing freeway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by as much as 14%.
  • Use cruise control on the highway to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads because you could lose control of the vehicle.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning.
  • Avoid extended idling to warm up the engine, even in colder temperatures. It’s unnecessary and wastes fuel.
  • Remove unnecessary and heavy items from your car.
  • Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use.
  • Download the AAA App to find the cheapest gas prices near you. 

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on Feb. 2, averages are:

020223
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California

Governor Newsom announces new gun safety legislation

In 2021, Calif. was ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by the Giffords Law Center, seeing a 37% lower gun death rate than national average

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Governor Newsom announcing new gun safety legislation to modernize and strengthen California’s public carry laws (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – In the wake of multiple mass shootings that took the lives of 19 Californians in just 72 hours last week, Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and Senator Anthony Portantino (D-Burbank) announced new gun safety legislation to modernize and strengthen California’s public carry laws.

“Only in America do we see the kind of carnage and chaos of gun violence that destroys our communities and our sense of safety and belonging,” said Newsom. “America is number 1 in gun ownership and we far surpass every developed nation on Earth in gun deaths – it’s not complicated. In California, we’ve passed common sense gun safety laws and they work: we have a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. We’re doubling down on gun safety and strengthening our public carry law to protect it from radical Republican attacks.”

According to the Center for American Progress, efforts to weaken concealed carry laws across the country have increased violent crimes – with studies showing gun homicides increased by 22% in states that passed permitless carry laws and violent crimes with a firearm went up 29%.

Newsom signed a package of gun safety laws last year, making it easier for Californians to sue manufacturers of illegal assault weapons and those spreading them, allowing lawsuits against irresponsible gun industry members, strengthening prohibitions on ghost guns, as well as restricting marketing to minors. 

“The mass shooting incidents we have seen over recent weeks bring to light the need for stronger protections for our communities. The fact is, individuals who are not law-abiding, responsible citizens simply shouldn’t possess firearms — and they especially shouldn’t be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public. When a gun is placed in the wrong hands, it is deadly,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “The Second Amendment is not a regulatory straightjacket — we must protect our communities. The time for thoughts and prayers has long passed, we need brave and immediate action by our leaders – here in California and beyond. We owe our community stronger protections. I urge our state leaders to quickly adopt SB 2. We can’t afford to wait even one minute more.”

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law, aspects of which mirrored California’s public carry laws, and the legislation announced today – Senate Bill 2 by Senator Portantino – would make fixes necessary to update the standards and processes for obtaining a public carry permit in California.

Senate Bill 2 strengthens California’s restrictions regarding public carry laws by:

  • Enhancing the existing licensing system – ensuring those permitted to carry firearms in public are responsible and law-abiding individuals;
  • Protecting children – setting a minimum age requirement of 21 years of age to obtain a CCW license;
  • Advancing stronger training requirements – ensuring proper handling, loading, unloading, and storage of firearms; and
  • Identifying certain sensitive public places – establishing safe community places where people should expect freedom from gun violence.

“In the wake of the recent tragedies in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay and the continued threat of mass shootings, it’s critical that California leads on the issue of gun safety and reform. I am proud to be working with Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta and activists on SB 2 to strengthen our existing public carry laws and ensure every Californian is safe from gun violence.  We must be diligent in addressing the gun violence epidemic in our country and public carry laws are a key component of this,” said Senator Anthony Portantino.

California launched an 18-month campaign to promote gun violence restraining orders – “red flag laws” – that allow law enforcement, family, coworkers or friends to petition a court to temporarily remove weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others. A study from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis found that California’s red flag law was used to stop 58 threatened mass shootings since 2016.

California’s gun safety laws work. In 2021, California was ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by the Giffords Law Center, and the state saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average.

According to the CDC, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people – compared to 13.7 deaths per 100,000 nationally, 28.6 in Mississippi, 20.7 in Oklahoma, and 14.2 in Texas.

Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts noted: “The Supreme Court’s reckless Bruen decision opened up the floodgates for more guns in more places — but with this bill California once again renewed its commitment to being a national leader in the fight against gun violence. While the gun industry celebrated the ruling that put their profits over our safety, our grassroots army is proud to stand with our Gun Sense Champions in California to pass this critical bill and make our communities safer.”

“Following the Supreme Court’s egregious decision in the Bruen case, it is vital that the Golden State takes meaningful action to protect all Californians from the threat of gun violence. SB2 would do just this by updating and improving the state’s already strong concealed carry license system, and ensure that loaded and concealed weapons are not allowed in certain sensitive places. With SB2, leaders in California are continuing their leadership in prioritizing the public health and safety of all its citizens,” said Brady Campaign President Kris Brown, adding “Brady applauds Senator Portantino for introducing this important bill, and thanks Governor Newsom and Attorney General Bonta for their continued leadership on this issue, and urges the California legislature to pass it without delay.”

Giffords State Policy Director Ari Freilich stated: “In the face of tragedy, California’s leaders act. They’ve led the nation on gun safety reform and made California a much safer state than most. But today, grieving communities know all too well how much more work there is to do. California achieved an all-time record low gun fatality rate in 2019. But like the rest of the country, we have faced record spikes in gun sales and violence since the start of the pandemic and a flood of new weapons in public spaces as a result of the US Supreme Court’s dangerous Second Amendment ruling last year. Passing SB (2) will strengthen communities’ ability to respond to these threats by requiring stronger vetting and safety training to carry weapons in public and by designating vital community spaces like parks and playgrounds as off-limits to weapons throughout the state. We thank leaders like Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and Senator Portantino for their work and commitment to make all Californians safer and freer from violence.”

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Orange County

Costa Mesa police arrest suspect in Latina mural vandalism

The mural is well known in the community and spans over 70 feet of a block wall and honors immigrant Latina women

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Alicia Rojas in front of her defaced “Poderosas” mural October 2022 (Photo courtesy of Alicia Rojas)

COSTA MESA, Calif. – On Oct. 31, 2022 Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) officers were dispatched to the 3000 block of Killybrooke and upon arrival officers found that the Poderosas mural, a local landmark that commemorates Latina heritage, was vandalized with white supremacy language.

The mural is well known in the community and spans over 70 feet of a block wall and honors immigrant Latina women. The mural was created in October 2020 by an all women crew and was led by artist Alicia Rojas.

Individuals in the area observed the suspect vandalizing the mural by spray painting a hate crime message on it. Witnesses reported the crime and also provided video of the incident to CMPD investgators.

(Photo courtesy of Alicia Rojas)

During the investigation, Daniel Alec Hotte, 27, of Dana Point was identified as the vandalism suspect. Shortly thereafter, CMPD Gang Investigators checked numerous locations in Orange County and Riverside County but Hotte could not be located. Investigators then learned Hotte had a pending court date on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.

On Monday morning, Hotte was located at the Harbor Justice Center and arrested. Hotte was then booked at CMPD Jail on an outstanding warrant, vandalism, and hate crime. CMPD will file the case with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for charges.

“Costa Mesa is a great city known for its inclusivity. We celebrate our diversity and are proud of our various backgrounds,” said Mayor John Stephens. “This type of crime flies in the face of what we have achieved as a multi-cultural community. I’m grateful for the witnesses who came forward to help identify him and thankful the police stayed on the case and captured the suspect.”

“I represent a community rich in culture,” said Councilmember Loren Gameros. “This suspect came from another city into Costa Mesa to commit this crime and hurt the identity of some of our neighbors. That is unacceptable and now he will have to face justice.”

“Vandalism crimes like this can often go unsolved,” said Police Chief Ron Lawrence. “I commend the quick action of the witnesses to capture evidence of the incident and the great police work of the Costa Mesa Police Department that solved this case.”

Anyone who may have been a witness in this incident and has not spoken to CMPD is asked to contact Investigator Eric Molina at 714-754-5694, or Sergeant Matt Selinske at 714-754-5093.

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Los Angeles County

Brandon Tsay; hero who disarmed Monterey Park shooter honored

The White House announced that President Joe Biden has invited Tsay to be his guest at the State of the Union Address on February 7

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Brandon Tsay (Screenshot/YouTube KNBC)

ALHAMBRA, Calif. – The City of Alhambra honored Brandon Tsay, the hero who disarmed the Monterey Park shooting suspect, at a ceremony this past Sunday. Tsay, 26, was awarded a medal of courage from the Alhambra Police Department. 

The White House also announced that President Joe Biden has invited Tsay to be his guest at the State of the Union Address on February 7.

In a surveillance video, Tsay is seen struggling to take a weapon away from the deceased suspect, Huu Can Tran, in the lobby of his family’s dance studio, the Lai Lai Ballroom, in Alhambra eventually gaining control of the gun causing Tran to flee.

In an interview with ABC News anchor Robin Roberts in an interview last Monday on “Good Morning America,” Tsay told Roberts that the gunman was “looking around the room” as if he was “looking for targets — people to harm.”

“That’s when I turned around and saw that there was an Asian man holding a gun. My first thought was I was going to die here, this is it.”

“He started prepping the weapon and something came over me,” Tsay said. “I realized I needed to get the weapon away from him. I needed to take this weapon, disarm him or else everybody would have died.”

“When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon and we had a struggle,” he added. “We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face, bashing the back of my head.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Robbery-Homicide division is piecing together the facts as to why Tran killed 11 people and wounded nearly a dozen others others in the mass shooting at the Star Ballroom in Monterey Park before traveling to the Lai Lai Ballroom.

“The carnage would have been so much worse had it not been for Brandon Tsay,” California U.S. House Representative Judy Chu whose District includes Monterey Park said Sunday during the ceremony.

Rep. Chu also presented Tsay with a certificate of congressional recognition, calling his story “was so amazing” that she noted she had asked him to be her guest at the State of the Union address on Feb. 7. According to the congresswoman though, barely an hour after her request to him, the President called Tsay to personally invite him to be his guest.

According to the White House, the president in the call told Tsay: “I wanted to call to see how you’re doing and thank you for taking such incredible action in the face of danger. I don’t think you understand just how much you’ve done for so many people who are never going to even know you. But I want them to know more about you.

“You have my respect,” Biden added. “You are America, pal. You are who we are — no, no, you are who we are. America’s never backed down, we’ve always stepped up, because of people like you.”

There was also a highly visible law enforcement presence at Sunday’s event, held during the city’s own Lunar New Year Festival.

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