The transition road that takes traffic from the Vincent Thomas Bridge onto the northbound 110 Freeway will be closed Thursday and Friday nights as the Port of Los Angeles continues a widening project that includes replacing overhead signage.

The over night closures are from 7 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday, and from 7 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday.

Motorists can access the freeway instead by taking the Harbor Boulevard offramp from the bridge as it comes into San Pedro, turning left onto North Harbor Boulevard, then taking Front Street to Pacific Avenue and turning right.

Left-hand turn pockets are available to enter the northbound 110 onramp just after Channel Street.

— Donna Littlejohn, daily breeze

 LAPD arrests San Pedro man suspected in Goodwill robbery in Wilmington

A tipster helped police identify a San Pedro man suspected of robbing a Goodwill store in Wilmington, a detective said Wednesday.
Gary Allen Smith, 58, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the Oct. 6 crime at 311 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Los Angeles police Detective Kelvin Higa said.
Higa released a surveillance photo of the man to the Daily Breeze on Oct. 16. A reader recognized it online and contacted him.
Higa said he was grateful to the pubic for the information that led to the arrest.
— Larry Altman

Tall Ships Festival sails into San Pedro Wednesday

The brigantine Exy Johnshon crosses the wake of its tall ship twin Irving Johnson as they head to the mouth of the Los Angeles Harbor for a sailing excursion. The ships, completed in 2003, are owned by the Los Angeles Maritime Institute and used in their TopSail youth sailing program to give school-age children the chance to get hands-on experience at sailing. SCOTT VARLEY — Staff Photographer

Crew members aboard the Exy Johnson furl its sails at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum during the 2005 Tall Ships Festival. This year’s festival begins on Wednesday and continues through Sunday. Sean Hiller — Staff Photographer
More than a dozen historic-replica sailing ships will parade into the Port of Los Angeles this week, kicking off what will likely be the biggest tall ship festival ever held in San Pedro.
The last time a tall ships festival was held in the port was in 2008.
Organizers expect 330,000 people to pour through the waterfront from Wednesday through Sunday for Tall Ships L.A. 2014. Among the more unusual features of the event: at six stories tall, the world’s biggest rubber duck.
“We’re getting a lot of questions about the duck,” said Marifrances Trivelli, director of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum next to the Downtown Harbor plaza where the duck will be stationed during the festival. “ ‘Is the duck real?’ ‘Can you ride on it?’ ‘How big is the duck?’ People are kind of fascinated by it.”
The duck is part of Florentijn Hofman’s Rubber Duck project and this will be its West Coast debut
On tap throughout the festival will be berthside ship tours and day sails, designed to provide visitors with a taste of what seafaring life was like in eras past.
Shoreside activities — general festival hours are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday — will include live music and other entertainment on four stages, a privateer encampment, cannon demonstrations, sail training, craft projects, food and beverages.
More from the Tall Ships Festival: Ticket and parking info | Things to do | Giant rubber duck | The ships | Parade viewing spots
There even will be an outdoor movie, with “The Little Mermaid” to be projected onto the large sail of the Freda B, a San Francisco-based 78-foot-long classic schooner, at 8 p.m. Friday.
The main festival venue will stretch between the new Downtown Harbor plaza and inlet at Sixth Street and Harbor Boulevard north to the World Cruise Center near the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Most of the ships will be berthed along that area, just north of the USS Iowa.
The S.S. Lane Victory Merchant Marine vessel also will be towed Tuesday from its home berth in the outer harbor to join with the tall ships venue.
The festival grounds will be gated, so visitors need to buy tickets either in advance — at or by calling 877-4-FLY-TIX — or when they arrive if they’re willing to wait in what could be long lines. A single-day dockside festival pass is $7. Other ticket packages vary.
Wednesday’s opening 2 p.m. parade into the harbor — led by the duck — will feature all of the ships sailing into the Main Channel, their crews, many in historic uniform, sitting atop the tall masts.
Several parking areas are set up to handle the expected influx.
“I have 80 kegs of beer ready,” said James Brown, who will be among shoreside vendors with his San Pedro Brewing Co. brews on tap. “It’s going to be nuts.”


Tall Ships Festival: Best viewing spots for the Grand Parade of Sail

The Eagle frames the Bounty as ships begin to line-up for the Port of Los Angeles’ annual Festival of Sail parade of tall ships through the port in August 2008. Steve McCrank — Staff Photographer
The best opportunity to see the tall ships under sail will be during the Grand Parade of Sail at 2 p.m. Wednesday, when all of the participating ships — led by the giant rubber duck — head into the Main Channel at the Port of Los Angeles.
Best viewing points will be:
• Point Fermin Park, at 807 Paseo del Mar (at the southern end of Gaffey Street). This is probably the best spot to watch the ships as they sail toward the breakwater, around the Angels Gate Lighthouse, and into the channel.
• The new Downtown Harbor plaza next to the Los Angeles Maritime Museum at Sixth Street and Harbor Boulevard.
• Along the dock areas to the north of the plaza where the USS Iowa is berthed.
• Restaurants at Ports O’ Call to ensure a good — and comfortable — viewing spot. Reservations are suggested.
Remember that tickets will be needed to get into what will be the gated festival area.


Crowds appear lower at this year’s Navy Days as San Pedro looks to expand the event in the future

People take photos as they prepare to board for a tour of the USS Spruance, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, which is docked in the Port of Los Angeles for Navy Days Aug. 09, 2014. Steve McCrank — Staff photographer
In contrast to the 2011 event that flooded San Pedro with visitors, this year’s Navy Days seemed to attract fewer people than expected.
But attendance may grow again in the future as community leaders begin a push to get a designated Navy Fleet Week at the Port of Los Angeles, an enhanced event that would bring in more visiting ships and activities.
While numbers aren’t in yet, some organizers believe not all of the 7,000 reserved ticket holders showed up for the two weekend days of free tours on board the USS Anchorage and USS Spruance.
“We think it was a little lower,” said Grant Ivey, president of Navy Days-LA. “We’re waiting to get the numbers from the ships, but we planned it out so everything moved. Everyone was happy that they didn’t have to wait in line for five hours.”
One observer said the weekend was downright “quiet.”
Scott Gray of the San Pedro Visitors Center, however, said that if the anticipated visitors were down, “it wasn’t by many.”
“We haven’t gotten a count yet, but it was steady,” said Gray whose organization provides volunteer services and visitor packages for the event.
The sense that not all of the expected visitors showed up, he said, may simply be because “the system worked so well.”
The good news: no rash of complaints about parking, traffic or lines.
“I haven’t heard of any glitches,” said Elise Swanson, president and CEO of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce.
Some downtown businesses, such as Godmother’s bar, saw record business, thanks mostly to the ships’ crews of uniformed sailors.
Others said business was up but not by astounding numbers.
“Some days were very good, some were less attended,” said Andrew Silber, owner of the Whale & Ale Pub in downtown San Pedro. “It just didn’t materialize in terms of big numbers ... I can’t say it was disappointing, it was still a successful event. But we were prepared for huge crowds and we got medium-size crowds.”
When news went out that all 7,000 passes had been snatched up online a few days before the event, some members of the public expressed disappointment, saying they’d hoped to attend.
No passes were available at the gate, a policy instituted after the 2011 event that brought tens of thousands of visitors into San Pedro to view visiting ships, including an aircraft carrier that year. Streets were clogged, parking lots full and ship tours had people waiting in line for hours.
The following year, the Port of Los Angeles instituted a reservation-only system in which visitors had to sign up for an assigned tour time online. It worked well, officials said, and significantly helped control traffic and wait times.
Ivey said this year’s attendance numbers (Navy Days was not held in 2013 due to federal budget cuts) should be available by the end of this week and will help guide discussions for future planning.
New this year was a system in which ticket holders were able to spend much of the wait time inside the World Cruise Center baggage building, where educational video clips and information about the ships and Navy were available.
That meant wait times in the sun were down to about 20 minutes, Gray said.
Pending debriefing meetings to assess this year’s event, Ivey and others are discussing upping the ante next year with a full-fledged Fleet Week event similar to those in San Diego and San Francisco.
Fleet Weeks, held in major port cities throughout the country, feature participation by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, with guided ship tours, military demonstrations and air shows provided by groups such as the Blue Angels.
“We’ll try to make it even better next year,” Ivey said. “We’d like to move it to a fleet week status for more ships and more tours.”
That could mean the return of a high-profile aircraft carrier — bringing the discussion around again to managing crowds and traffic so the port town isn’t overwhelmed again because it has limited entry and exit streets.
“San Pedro doesn’t have the road infrastructure to handle all the traffic that was created in 2011,” Ivey said. “It just gridlocked the town.”
The Navy events are popular, he said, because of the area’s naval history, much of which is now gone.
Fleet Week, Gray said, “would entail a lot of different activities. We’d probably get more ships from the Navy and we’d have more activities to go along with it. ... The possibilities are endless.”
Gray believes the town could be ready for an expanded event and said he’s confident plans could be put in place to make it go smoothly, even with an aircraft carrier in the outer harbor.
“It could happen,” Gray said. “I think a lot of it will be the result of how organized we are here.”
And San Pedro seems to be getting plenty of practice in crowd and traffic management this summer.
Next week’s Tall Ships Festival is expected to attract some 330,000 people to the waterfront over the course of five days.


 With demolition nearly complete, San Pedro’s Ponte Vista project looks to possible future changes

All that remains of the former Navy housing in San Pedro are piles of concrete that were the foundations of each house. (Chuck Bennett / Staff Photographer)
Now that San Pedro’s Ponte Vista housing has been given the green light, developers are already weighing whether to change the project’s name and whether to add more single-family homes, thereby reducing density.
Meanwhile, as construction begins, a road bisecting the property that has served Mary Star of the Sea High School since the campus opened in 2007 is expected to be closed for the coming school year, forcing all campus traffic onto a single access way from Taper Avenue.
“From a development standpoint, it’s safety first,” said Steve Magee, executive vice president of Land and Development for iStar Residential, which took the lead on the project in 2010. “Can you imagine a soccer mom coming across a (large) road grader?”
The developer has been working with school officials and Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino to resolve traffic issues in the area, Magee said.
In the long term, the developer has promised to build and maintain a road from Western Avenue that will provide a permanent second access to the Catholic high school that serves 500 students.
But for probably most of the 2014-15 school year, which begins Monday, the existing temporary road will remain gated and closed, Magee said.
“We’ll survive it,” said Rita Dever, Mary Star’s principal.
But some neighbors worry that the added traffic will pose significant problems in the surrounding neighborhoods and have requested a public meeting.
“Obviously, we will be exiting and entering through Taper Avenue each day, so it’s going to be a little bit of a challenge,” Dever said.
Five school administrators will help out on traffic supervision in the mornings, Dever said, noting that the area also sees heavy school-related traffic from other campuses. The developer also has agreed to pay for needed traffic personnel to help with traffic flow.
While Dever said it has caused “a little bit of stress,” she had students hand-deliver a letter to parents and neighbors that was generally well received.
On the 61.5-acre Ponte Vista site itself, most of the demolition has been completed, Magee said, opening the way for the next phase that will involve grading — expected to begin this fall — and then installing water and sewer lines.
All but about 10 structures on the property have been demolished so far, he said, adding that some of the 1960s-era military homes needed extra care due to asbestos and other hazardous building materials.
The first model home should be under construction in 2015, he said, adding that developers will build the single-family portions of the site first as marketing surveys show more interest for them than for town houses or smaller attached units.
“We’ll come out of the gate with some of the single-family products. We have three types designed already,” Magee said. “We’re developing those tracts first.”
The park system, a walking trail around the perimeter and some of the landscaping also are scheduled to go in “relatively early,” he said.
Developers plan to plant more than 2,000 trees, including some along Western that Magee said will “make a dramatic impact” on how the area looks.
Even so, residents remain concerned about traffic impacts on Western when the development is filled. But Magee pointed out that possibly adding more single-family homes could result in fewer units — and fewer people — than the 676 units planned. As they stand now, the plans call for many of those units to be connected town houses.
“If I were a betting man, I’d say revisions on this would be to go a little more toward single-family homes,” he said. “There’s some potential that the density will go down even further. There are no plans to amend it (now), but when you’re building one of these larger developments, you will make some revisions.”
Current plans call for 208 single-family homes along with town houses and single- and multilevel condominiums.
Developers anticipate “a lot of family buyers” for the project, Magee said, based on consumer and real estate focus groups.
While price is hard to pinpoint — and will depend on the housing market at the time properties go on sale probably in two years — Magee estimated single-family homes would sell in the $700,000 range.
Responding to criticisms about the project being built at a time when the state is in a long-running drought, Magee said efforts have been made to address water concerns.
“We are using drought-hardy, minimal-water landscaping,” he said. “The homes ... will all be up to current standards, (with) lower flow toilets ... and Energy Star rated.”
Open areas on the property have been designed using landscape with vegetation, riprap and compost to help clean drainage water and a deep drainage system to move surface water into the ground.
And what about the name?
Partly because Ponte Vista has had such a tumultuous history, Magee said a name change for the development could be in the offing, though no decisions have been made.
Ponte Vista’s original plans included 2,300 homes when it was rolled out in 2005 by developer Bob Bisno, who later was bumped from the project.
When lead investor iStar Financial Inc. took over, it began the process of re-evaluating the plans that eventually were approved. Groundbreaking for the project was held May 8.
While some longtime supporters want the name retained, Magee said there has been some discussion on whether to rebrand it.
“It depends on how it will be branded, I don’t know yet what we’re going to do,” Magee said. “We’ll make a decision based on community feedback we get. I’d say the name is up in the air for now.”



Navy housing demolition begins in San Pedro, clearing way for Ponte Vista development

A groundbreaking and house demolition began at San Pedro's Ponte Vista housing project Thursday. Speeches and a symbolic house teardown by LA Councilman Joe Buscaino highlighted the day. A new community with 676 residences and park space will be built along Western Avenue across from Green Hills Cemetery. May 8, 2014. (Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer)

A groundbreaking and house demolition at San Pedro's Ponte Vista housing project Thursday. Lots of speeches and a symbolic house teardown by LA Councilman Joe Buscaino highlighted the day. Here, Buscaino gets instructions on operating the heavy equipment. May 8, 2014. (Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer)


2005: Century City developer Bob Bisno pays $125 million to buy surplus Navy land on Western Avenue in San Pedro, announcing plans to build 2,300 homes.
2006: With opposition strong throughout the community, much of it centered on fears of more traffic on already-congested Western Avenue, then-Councilwoman Janice Hahn appoints a citizens task force to study the issue.
2007: Bisno reduces the housing number to 1,950.
2008: Los Angeles city planners give an official thumbs-down to the plan for 1,950 homes. They suggest building only 775 to 886 homes on the 61.5-acre property. Bisno refuses to budge and is ousted from the project’s development team in December. A division of Credit Suisse Bank, Bisno’s top investor, assumes control of the project.
2009: Developers propose a downsized project calling for 1,375 to 1,475 homes.
2010: The project is turned back over to lead investor iStar Financial Inc., which announces it will re-evaluate building and density plans. Later that year, developers roll out a revised plan with 1,135 homes, but opposition now is entrenched and it goes nowhere.
2012: Developers signal that they’re ready to bring the numbers lower and release a plan for 830 homes.
2013: Ponte Vista is further downsized to 676 to 700 homes. The city Planning Commission approves the plan on Nov. 14.
2014: After nearly a decade of debate, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approves the new downsized plan on March 4, clearing the way for demolition of the old Navy homes. Demolition formally begins on May 8 and is expected to take two to three months. The first new home is expected to go up in late 2015.
For several moments, the giant jaws of an excavator hovered over the roof of the vacant home on San Pedro’s former Navy housing site as the watching crowd began to chant: “Ten! Nine! Eight! ...”
On the final count of “One!” Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, manning the controls inside the machinery and wearing a hard hat, drove the claw downward onto 27479 Samuel Dupont Ave., sending crumpled beams collapsing to the ground.
And so began the demolition that will make way for 676 new, for-sale homes. It also marked the end of what was nearly a 10-year-long, sometimes rancorous debate over the proposed Ponte Vista housing development.
Following a decade of reworked plans, petitions, picket signs, traffic studies and countless community meetings, the groundbreaking ceremony under blue skies drew several dozen people who had followed the issue for years to what, finally, appeared to be a relatively noncontroversial conclusion.
“Lighting the (Vincent Thomas) bridge took 17 years,” cracked Jerry Gaines of San Pedro, who co-chaired a council office task force on the issue several years ago. “This took 10. I like it when I can see things in my lifetime.”
Demolition permits were issued Wednesday, and the entire process is expected to take two to three months to clear the way for the Ponte Vista development on 61.5 acres on the east side of Western Avenue across from Green Hills Memorial Park. After that, the property will be graded and then work will begin on infrastructure. The first new home is expected to go up sometime in late 2015.
“As I told (a Daily Breeze reporter) off the record — and now I’ll say it on the record — ‘It’s about time,’ ” Buscaino said to applause. “Let’s break ground and build some homes.”
“Today’s the day,” said master of ceremonies John Stammreich of the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council. “We’re here.”
But getting there wasn’t easy.
“All I can say is, ‘Wow,’ ” said Elise Swanson, the incoming president and CEO of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce. She was on the staff of then-Councilman Janice Hahn when the original plan by developer Bob Bisno hit her desk and later went to work for the development team.
First rolled out in 2005, the proposed stacked-home plan for the hillside overlooking the Vincent Thomas Bridge — thus the project name, which means “Bridge View” — underwent several revisions, two City Council members and a couple of developers before the downsized Ponte Vista plans were finally approved by the Los Angeles City Council on March 4, ending one of the longest-running community debates in recent memory.
Not everyone turned out for the hourlong celebration. Some critics remain concerned that even the significantly scaled-down project — from an original 2,300 homes to 676 homes — will dump too much extra traffic onto an already congested Western Avenue.
But for the most part, even those who fought the project acknowledged that the smaller size will be a better fit in the community. Those who supported it all along would have preferred a larger development, but still are happy with the smaller, final revision.
“It’s been a work in progress, but it’s been a worthwhile work in progress,” said Sandy Bradley of the San Pedro chamber.
Among developer concessions are:
• A permanent access road running from Western Avenue to Mary Star of the Sea High School to the east.
• A project labor agreement with the Building Trades Council.
• A 2.4-acre park along Western Avenue that will be open to the public.
Also included will be perimeter biking and hiking trails that will be open to the community.
Plans call for 208 single-family homes along with town houses and single- and multilevel condominiums.
Developers will plant 3,000 new trees on the property.
“It’s a very different project than what I was faced with when Bob Bisno walked into my office and wanted to build 2,300 homes,” said now Rep. Hahn, D-San Pedro, in a telephone interview Thursday from Washington, D.C. “It took a lot of years and a lot of meetings, but the same message kept coming back to me — the neighborhood just really didn’t want a dense project. ... I think this smaller project is going to be a good one for San Pedro.”
The project includes environmentally green elements, landscape upgrades to Western Avenue and traffic improvements at 16 local intersections.
Rancho Palos Verdes city officials, who also had early concerns about impacts, eventually were brought on board as well and attended Thursday’s groundbreaking. Western Avenue is the border that divides San Pedro on the east and Rancho Palos Verdes to the west.
“It’s been a long, rocky road,” Rancho Palos Verdes Councilman Jim Knight said. “It went from 2,300 down to 1,900 down to 1,300 ... and now it’s down to 676. We’ve looked at the plans and think there’s a lot of good things here. ... It’s taken a long time, but I think it’s settled down to a good place. It’s an affirmation also that cities can work collaboratively.”
Lead investor iStar Fincancial Inc. took over Ponte Vista in 2010 and had pledged to re-evaluate plans and bring them closer in line with what the community wanted. In 2013, the developer said its final number would be 676 homes, with an absolute cap — that would require subsequent city approvals — of 700.
In the end, Buscaino said Thursday that community objections and input served to make “this a better project, a good project — the right project.”
Built in the 1960s, the San Pedro Navy homes housed hundreds of enlistees and their families through the years until the Long Beach Naval Station was closed in 1995. The last families moved out in the late 1990s.
The homes then sat vacant and fenced off for years before the property was eventually declared surplus and auctioned off by the Navy to a private developer — Bisno for $125 million in 2005.
Steve Magee, senior vice president of iStar, said Ponte Vista is envisioned to be a community very similar to the one where Navy families lived for so many years.
“Our vision for this site is really summed up by a family feeling so safe that their kids could play (outdoors) like we all used to when we were kids,” he said.




Magnitude-4.4 Earthquake Shakes L.A. Area

An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.4 struck six miles northwest of Beverly Hills around 6:25 a.m. Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Initially, the USGS reported that the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 4.7.
Viewers have reported feeling the earthquake  in Arcadia, Riverside, Montebello, Sherman Oaks, Simi Valley and Fillmore.
There were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.
Check back for updates on this developing story.

Read more:



Port of Los Angeles High School Executive Director James Cross placed on leave

James Cross, executive director Port of Los Angeles High School. File photo. (Sean Hiller / Staff Photographer)
James Cross, executive director and a founder of the Port of Los Angeles High School — a nine-year-old charter school in San Pedro — has been put on paid leave by the school’s board of directors.
Board members reached by the Daily Breeze declined to comment on the matter, but agendas for recent board meetings seem to point to some kind of strife.
As an independent charter school, the Port of Los Angeles High sits within the Los Angeles Unified School District but has its own governing board and administrator. As executive director, Cross is the school’s head administrator and oversees the school’s principal, Tom Scotti.
Known affectionately as POLA High, the maritime-themed school seeks to give students a taste of the industry created by the nation’s busiest commercial port on the nearby waterfront. Its students generally perform well on standardized tests.
The agenda for the board’s most recent meeting on Monday shows that the board went into closed session to discuss seek legal advice about pending litigation pertaining to the board’s action on Feb. 24 to put Cross on paid leave.
Agendas from Feb. 24 meeting show that the board gave performance evaluations for both Cross and Scotti. On that day, the board also discussed “new job descriptions and terms of employment for chief executive officer and principal positions.”
The board as of Wednesday evening had not posted minutes summarizing whatever public discussions took place for either meeting.
Attempts to reach Cross were unsuccessful; Scotti did not return multiple calls from the Daily Breeze.
Cross holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cal State Long Beach and a master’s degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson. He is the founder of Cross America, a national student loan and medical collection servicer.
A past president of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, Cross has been a consultant to the U.S. Department of Education and has worked as a financial manager for Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Port of Los Angeles High School has earned a solid academic reputation after clearing logistical hurdles as an upstart in 2005. For a few months of that year, the school’s 112 freshmen took their classes on the sandy beaches of the Cabrillo Beach Boys Scout Camp site while construction of the school’s home was under way.
Now, students clamor to get in. The lottery nights in which aspiring students are selected by drawing attract hundreds of families. Only about half of the hopefuls walk away happy.
The school currently serves nearly 1,000 students who take classes in a 72,000-square-foot building at 250 West Fifth St. that once housed a shipping company office. It is the second highest performing of the nine LAUSD high schools in the South Bay.





The LAPD reported a more than 11 percent reduction in major crime in the Harbor Area in 2013, a decline attributed to a crackdown on repeat offenders and parolees believed responsible for most of the region's offenses.

Harbor Division, which polices the communities of San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, and Harbor Gateway, saw a major reduction of 550 fewer serious crimes compared to 2012's crime statistics. "Our (crime) numbers in the harbor, and throughout the City, are unprecedented," said Captain Lauer. 'We haven't seen numbers like these since the 1950's.

Harbor Division Commander, Captain Lauer reported that 2013 was a banner year for reductions in violent crime, as last year saw only 13 homicides, contrasted with 31 in 2011, 596 violent crimes vs 678 in 2012, and 54 shootings in 2013 vs 108 in 2011. 2013 was also a year that saw a massive reduction in property crimes. Lauer reported that 2013 had 3853 instances of property crime compared to 4326 in 2012, a reduction of 473 crimes.

Captain Lauer noted that the numbers were outstanding across the board, however she cautioned that the department will not be content to rest on the laurels of statistically lowered crime data, and that the department, and citizens, should remain vigilant to continue the downward trend and challenge perceptions that crime is one the rise, contrary to the data they presented in the video. "If it is your house that is burglarized, it doesn't matter to you, if it is your park that is subject to graffiti it doesn't matter to you. The best thing (residents) can do is in that scenario is alert the police department to what you are seeing."

Councilman Buscaino praised the department for its outstanding work and in leading the City in major crimes reduction, as well as community activists and groups for their vigilance and work to raise awareness and crime prevention, stating "I want to commend our neighborhood council groups for putting together public safety seminars and increasing the awareness of opportunities to prevent crime in our neighborhoods. I am proud of all our men and women at all levels of harbor division for leading the City in significant crime reduction."


"Promise Zone" initiative offers new hope for L.A. neighborhood

Obama to unveil “promise zone” economic initiative

President Obama speaks about unemployment insurance benefits during an East Room event January 7, 2014 at the White House in Washington, DC. 
President Obama speaks about unemployment insurance benefits during an East Room event January 7, 2014 at the White House in Washington, DC.  Alex Wong, Getty Images

President Obama on Thursday will unveil another facet of his plan to combat income inequality, this time focusing on a theme embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike: economic mobility.
Joined by local leaders at the White House, Mr. Obama will officially announce the administration’s first five “promise zones” -- pockets of the country that will receive comprehensive federal assistance after being especially hard-hit by the recession. The five zones will be located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The administration aims to ultimately assist 20 such regions.
Mr. Obama first put forward the idea of “promise zones” nearly a year ago, in his 2013 State of the Union address.
“There are communities in this country where no matter how hard you work, it is virtually impossible to get ahead,” Mr. Obama said in that speech. “Factory towns decimated from years of plants packing up. Inescapable pockets of poverty, urban and rural, where young adults are still fighting for their first job. America is not a place where the chance of birth or circumstance should decide our destiny. And that’s why we need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them.”
The president’s “promise zone” plan is being put into action 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson first declared a "War on Poverty” and around six years after the start of the recession. It also comes as Democrats and Republicans compete to convince voters they have the right formula for helping still-struggling lower- and middle-income Americans. Democrats so far have largely focused on income inequality, calling for a higher minimum wage, closing tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy, and extending emergency long-term unemployment benefits. Yet by framing his “promise zone” initiative as a matter of improving mobility, Mr. Obama could blunt the GOP’s argument that the Democrats’ economic philosophy leaves out a significant part of the equation.
In a speech at the Capitol Wednesday, Sen.  Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that income inequality is indeed a problem that deserves attention. It does not, however, “give us a complete view of the problem before us,” he said. Rubio’s pitch for a conservative approach to economic growth echoed the argument Mr. Obama made a year ago for the “promise zones.”“Yes, the cashier at a fast food chain makes significantly less than the company’s CEO,” Rubio said. “The problem we face is not simply the gap in pay between them, but rather that too many of those cashiers are stuck in the same job for years on end, unable to find one that pays better. And it is this lack of mobility, not just income inequality, that we should be focused on.”
Rubio proposed streamlining federal antipoverty programs into a “Flex Fund” that would be distributed to the states to spend how they see fit.
The “promise zone” plan, meanwhile, aims to cut red tape and streamline federal funding from multiple government agencies to these specific zones. The Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Commerce Department, the Health and Human Services Department, the Justice Department, and the Department for Agriculture will all participate.
The administration is designating “promise zones” by looking for areas where local officials can make strategic, targeted investments. For instance, a “promise zone” may be interested in reducing violent crime with increased Justice Department funding for local law enforcement. Alternatively, a region may want to leverage Housing and Urban Development grants to attract private real estate investors to high-poverty neighborhoods. The president’s plan also includes tax credits for hiring workers and tax write-offs for capital investments within the “promise zones.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told the Los Angeles Times that the comprehensive approach to improving a region of his city should be effective. 
"For decades, we've put programs in silos, which might move the dial a little bit here on education, a little bit here on health, but never all together, and I think this is our best shot,” he said.


|President Barack Obama announced the establishment of "Promise Zones" in some of the nation's poorest communities. The plan calls for additional federal funds to be allocated to fight poverty, aid in education reform and create jobs. Some people, like Pico-Union, Calif.'s Willy Manjarrez, see the program as a way out. Ben Tracy reports.


Watch Rose Parade 2014 in three minute timelapse video

Singpoli Group "Connecting Cultures, Delivering Dreams" float during 2014 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. on January 1, 2014. This float won Extraordinaire Award for most spectacular float. (Leo Jarzomb / Staff Photographer)
Watch video time-lapse of the 2014 Rose Parade from the offices of the Pasadena Star-News in three minutes.
Trouble viewing on your mobile device? Click “Rose Parade 2014 in three minutes” to see video.


New Year's resolutions are easier to keep when they are a team effort. 

We made this quick survey so you could tell us what needs to improve in your neighborhood. Thousands of people have already taken it online, but we need you to join us.

Will you take this survey? It's just three quick questions

Together, we can make sure City Hall delivers for you in 2014. 
Eric Garcetti

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