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Huizar Presents State of the (Small) Town in (Big) City

The Council member lists his office’s accomplishments in Eagle Rock at TERA’s annual meeting.

Eagle Rock has a small-town feel as well as all the benefits of being part of a big city—and much of the credit for that goes to two groups of people who gathered along with some 100 others Wednesday night at the .

The much-anticipated event was “The Eagle Rock Association State of the Town,” an annual meeting during which showcases the accomplishments of his office against the background of ’s tireless efforts to preserve Eagle Rock’s identity as a small town in a big city.

‘Beautiful Community’

“We have a beautiful community that is one of the oldest in the City of Angeles and we have been able to preserve it only because we have active residents,” Huizar said at the start of his roughly hour-long State of the Town address and question-and-answer session.

“And not only that,” he added amid a loud applause from the audience. “We have one of the best universities—.”

Eagle Rock’s accomplishments over the past year, said Huizar, broadly include efforts made by residents in conjunction with his office to protect open spaces and to “Take Back the Boulevard as well as address what the Council member referred to as the “over-concentration of medical marijuana dispensaries.”

Medical Marijuana—And Crime

With the help of a PowerPoint presentation—the first time one was used in a State of the Town address—Huizar offered an overview of the work that he has done regarding medical marijuana dispensaries, including his ongoing efforts in the City Council to temporarily ban all dispensaries (until the California Supreme Court decides their ultimate fate in the coming year or two).

Although he supports the voter-mandated right of patients to use medical marijuana, said Huizar, he co-authored the January 2010 ordinance that capped the total number of dispensaries in the city at 70.

“Unfortunately, we have a state law that does not provide municipalities with the appropriate tools to control for the ill effects of a medical marijuana dispensary in a neighborhood,” Huizar said, referring to an appellate court’s 2011 decision (Pack v. the City of Long Beach) preventing cities from regulating dispensaries by determining their number or distribution.

“Given how easy it is in California to get a [medical marijuana] prescription … we often see young people having access—they go around from the corner of the dispensaries, smoking in front of people’s yards,” Huizar said.

He added: “We’ve noticed increased crime around these dispensaries—cars being broken into—believe me, here in Eagle Rock I’ve heard it over and over again from locals, neighbors and those who live near the dispensaries.”

During the Q&A session that followed Huizar’s presentation, a few advocates of medical marijuana in the audience challenged Huizar’s claim about increased crime near dispensaries.

“We’ve never got a good answer about what’s wrong with medical marijuana dispensaries in Eagle Rock,” shouted Eagle Rock resident and musician Dan Henken, accusing Huizar of repeating hearsays. Henken invited LAPD Senior Lead Officer Craig Orange, who was in the audience, to present any hard evidence of crime associated with marijuana dispensaries.

Orange obliged by taking the mike and pointing out that a dispensary on Eagle Rock Boulevard was robbed last year. Although the robbery was “an inside job,” said Orange, referring to the fact that the alleged robbers were customers of the dispensary, he added that he does see violations of the law related to the operation of dispensaries in Eagle Rock.

Besides people smoking marijuana on the streets and disrupting the quality of life in the neighborhood, Orange said he has seen juveniles aged 12-16 years indulging in “secondary sales” of marijuana purchased from dispensaries, “especially with the way the economy is going." He added, referring to the juveniles: “They don’t have any type of medical issues whatsoever.”

Henken interjected that an outright ban on dispensaries would be a “total violation of the due process of law,” prompting Huizar to respond that “the state law never intended to have storefronts sell medical marijuana.” He added: “I am very concerned about larger policy issues regarding drugs in this country—let’s change the state law, let’s change the federal law.”

Crime Stats

Presenting crime statistics over the past year, Huizar noted that violent (so-called Part 1) crimes in Eagle Rock went down from 541 in 2010 to 519 in 2011. Larceny (theft) went down 14 percent and auto theft was reduced by 12 percent, the Council member said, pointing out that there were no homicides or rapes. (Northeast L.A. ranked second in the entire City in violent crime reduction in 2011, Huizar further noted.)

Policy Initiatives

Huizar also praised a number of policy initiatives, including regulation of massage parlors in Eagle Rock and the introduction of bike lanes along York Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard as part of a larger loop connected to Figueroa Street and Downtown. (Officer Orange told the audience that the LAPD had shut down two massage parlors on Colorado Boulevard and two on Eagle Rock Boulevard this past week, including one where a customer had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Orange told Patch separately that the customer had complained to the LAPD that he caught the disease while indulging in oral sex at the massage parlor.)

Redistricting

Addressing the hot topic of the redistricting of Los Angeles, as required by law every 10 years, Huizar pointed out that CD 14, which, at 23 square miles is about the size of Manhattan, is currently 20,000 people below its target population. (According to the newly drawn redistricting maps, CD 14 will get a little more than half of Downtown in exchange for Highland Park and almost all of Mount Washington.)

The Council member reminded members of the audience that seven regional meetings will be held to discuss the L.A. redistricting draft maps—and that a meeting to discuss the maps for Northeast L.A. is scheduled this coming Monday, February 6, at Occidental College.

The final maps will be issued February 22 and submitted to the City Council March 1, Huizar said, adding that new redistricting maps will go into effect on July 1, 2012.

Asked about the truth or falsity of rumors that he is planning to ditch Eagle Rock in lieu of all of Downtown—where the money is—Huizar replied emphatically: "False."

Bud Strong February 02, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Huizar speaks out of both sides of his mouth - boasting how far the crime statistics have fallen in his district, while at the same time, saying that the dispensaries are a cause of crime. So which is it? Is crime down BECAUSE of the dispensaries? And the idea of cancer and AIDS patients and those with debilitating illnesses becoming farmers? Lunacy. The outraged voice of Dan Henken was strident to be sure, but the oily utterances of our council representation are equally repugnant. Huizar penned the insidious proposal to ban dispensaries. He deserves every bit of shouting that he endured last night.
Bud Strong February 02, 2012 at 05:23 PM
And while his smug, middle-aged minions nodded in agreement with his "Quality of Life" mewling, did they imagine the "Quality of Life" of those whose existence is bolstered with the help of jah herb?
Rob Schraff February 02, 2012 at 05:45 PM
"Huizar noted that so-called Part 1 crimes in Eagle Rock went down from 541 in 2010 to 519 in 2011. Larceny (theft) went down 14 percent and auto theft was reduced by 12 percent, he added, pointing out that there were no homicides or rapes. (Northeast L.A. ranked second in the entire City in violent crime reduction in 2011, Huizar further noted.)" So, of course it follows that an "over concentration" of medical marijuana clinics cause crime! And we can "believe" councilman Huizar because there has been one "inside-job" robbery of a clinic, and lots of complaints from "the community." And yet...no arrest records or actual compstat data has been forthcoming, and a RAND report showing that clinics decrease crime was withdrawn under political pressure. (And what's with the police standing by and witnessing illegal drug sales to minors and taking no action!? What is this guy's job - enforcing the law, or Huizar's PR-guy?) Finally, I have to again note that Mr. Huizar's motion, despite his pious claims to the contrary, will punish medical marijuana patients and increase street crime. Not to mention result in more lawsuits and costs for the city. So much for Mr. Huizar's concern with the real implications of his pandering policy.
Suede February 03, 2012 at 02:02 AM
I was there and was appalled by Huizar's double speak. The overall crime statistics cited last night were: 17,616 crimes in 1992 vs. 4982 crimes in 2011 - an enormous decline. So where is the evidence that the presence of dispensaries causes crime? He also made disparaging remarks about the appearance and age of the patients. It seem that he (and others) would prefer empty storefronts instead of this particular taxpaying business, although liquor stores seem to be welcomed. Would Councilmember Huizar wish to ban Eagle Rock's handicapped parking spaces because some people use them improperly? I doubt his compassion.
Tim Ryder February 03, 2012 at 04:26 AM
I think the CCUWC pretty much proved our point that Jose Huizar and his prohibition crusaders have no evidence that medical marijuana collectives are a threat in any way to the community. These obscenely overpaid politicians like Huizar depend on the residents not questioning his baseless propaganda about these collectives and uses the only strategy he has available which is fear-mongering and outright fabrications to scare the pants off us. Now that he's been publicly humiliated and exposed for his deception, maybe now we can concentrate on uniting the collectives with the community and incorporate cannabis back into regulated society.
Marcus February 03, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Would there be a ban on handicapped parking if used improperly? Of course! Since when have we allowed private citizens to zone their own parking?! So if that’s the case, why should MM dispensaries be any different to any other business? Why be above any local oversight? Why should communities such as Eagle Rock allow unfettered expansion of M. Dispensaries? There needs to be balance, that’s all. Naysayers of the ban on MM dispensaries need to know that a community like Eagle Rock wants to grow into an attractive neighborhood where everyone feels welcome and safe. It wants to ‘Take back the Boulevard’, attract cool music festivals, open more local diverse businesses. The issue of a MM dispensary is not the MM issue, nor is it pro or against ‘weed’ but more about over abundance, non regulation and a lack of sensitivity to a town’s needs. After all, don’t we have zoning for housing? For bars? For businesses? Why should MM dispensaries be any different? What’s to stop anyone opening a dispensary next to anyone’s home in ER? Sadly this ban on MM is a tough one, but only as a result of a poorly written state law, and over zealous dispensaries wanting to make a buck. Patients should be allowed easy access to MM, but not at the expense of a neighborhood such as Eagle Rock.
STARCHY February 03, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Handicapped parking? - abused EVERY DAY, every where MM different than other business? - what other type of business is being shut down arbitrarily? local oversight? - what other type of business is subject to "local oversight"? unfettered expansion? - why not? why SHOULDN'T they be allowed to thrive- its the free market. "needs to be a balance" - balance of what? what you meant to say was "there need to be a limit" but yet you fail to state why. personally I'd like a "limit" on the number of churches in Eagle Rock, and the number of nail salons, and the number of bums stumbling out of the ALMA LODGE. "Eagle Rock wants to grow into an attractive neighborhood where everyone feels welcome and safe" - done and done! whats your point? "over abundance, non regulation and a lack of sensitivity to a town’s needs" - whaaaa? you want "more diverse businesses" but not "over abundance" and you want it with MORE "regulation" all the while being "sensitive to a town's needs" (as defined or determined by who?). regarding zoning: yes, we have zoning. thats exactly what prevents "anyone opening a dispensary" everywhere or anywhere. as for "poorly written state law" - says who? its a giant step in the RIGHT direction. we need to be reasonable and logical. its time to decriminalize weed as a precursor to complete legalization. Joey Weezer is moving backwards.
David Klinger February 03, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Every other business in ER is subject to rather extensive oversight. In some cases, it has taken well over a year for a restaurant to pull the proper permits in order to open in the City. I think that is a problem, but still, every single business is subject to "local oversight." Any business that opened without obtaining proper clearance from the City prior to opening would be shut down or severely fined and required to obtain the proper permits. Plain and simple. Shutting down a business that breaks the law is not "arbitrary." I also find it humorous that you and others continue to equate a large number of MMDs with a large number of legal and permitted businesses and nonprofits - but such a suggestion is ridiculous, and doesn't help your point. As it stands, buying, selling, and using MM is federally illegal - regardless of what the state says. Nail salons and churches are not. Furthermore, there may well be zoning laws that limit the number of businesses, or all together restrict some perfectly legal businesses from opening in communities (e.g., large factories).
STARCHY February 03, 2012 at 09:09 PM
If you mean "city of LA code requirements" then yes you are right, but I hardly call that "local". By "arbitrary" I mean to say that the powers that be ARBITRARILY decide to shut down ALL dispensaries. In your example, do the "local" authorities shut down EVERY restaurant "just because" ? regarding "humorous" - what I find "humorous" is the idea that the federal gubment should bother with enforcing obsolete legislation regarding the personal consumption of marijuanna, or that citizens LIKE yourself expect them to waste their time doing so. a pathetic waste of time and money. "Furthermore, there may well be zoning laws that limit the number of businesses, " - there is not, but thanks for taking a shot!
Michael Larsen February 04, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Starchy, you have a lot to learn about how the City works, especially as it relates to zoning and planning. I would suggest joining either the ERNC or TERA land use committees so you can can become more informed about local and city-wide land use issues. The MMD issue is pretty straightforward. NONE of them have a permit to operate in LA. Medical marijuana dispensaries are NOT an allowed land use in the City of LA. They are all by definition, "illegal" and can be shut down, just like an illegal bar or liquor store. They WOULD HAVE been made legal if the long awaited LA Ordinance would have been implemented, but the shops themselves chose to block the ordinance with over 60 lawsuits so they could go on raking in the profits unhindered by regulation and rules. Now they face a ban and some shockingly successful enforcement similar to that which is being used in CD12 by the Devenshire Division of LAPD.
David Klinger February 04, 2012 at 01:30 AM
I don't understand how much more local you can get than your smallest local government. Maybe I misunderstood a previous post. I don't think anyone was suggesting that there is any ER specific governmental agency that has any actual control over local businesses, but rather, I think Marcus was asking why any one specific business should not be subject to City regulations. If every restaurant failed to obtain the necessary permits from the City prior to opening, it would not be arbitrary to shut them down. Rather, the City would be simply enforcing the rules. Your comments regarding the legalization of marijuana is for another argument. We're talking about Huizar's proposed MMD ban. I understand that you think there should be no regulation of any business, including the use of a drug that the Federal Government has decided is a dangerous drug. I disagree. If you want to legalize pot on a federal level, talk to your federal government. But it isn't particularly relevant to the discussion regarding regulating local, i.e., city-wide businesses. Are you suggesting that zoning rules do not prohibit or limit the number of businesses or restrict business in any way? So you think that a large industrial factory could be built in ER? I'm pretty sure zoning rules would prohibit such a use. I'm also pretty sure that it is permissible to limit the number of businesses in a given area if there is a rational basis. Con Law lawyers can correct me if I'm wrong.
Peter Choi February 05, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Interesting that in one story the local Councilmember demonizes MM clinics and the ERNC supports it. As evidenced by the comments here, many Eagle Rockers support the right of clinics to operate. In another Patch story LAPD Chief Beck announces he will not impound the cars of unlicensed drivers and the ERNC is silent. As a whopping 93% of Patch poll respondents spoke against Beck's decision, it seems the ERNC should heed the call of ER residents and take on Beck? I'm just saying.
Michael Larsen February 05, 2012 at 06:24 AM
Mr. Choi, I'm glad you brought this issue up. It's important for you and all Eagle Rock stakeholders to understand how the process works. The ERNC takes positions on issues after a very deliberate and public set of procedures have been followed. They include: -consideration of stakeholder request by the executive board at public meetings -placement of issue/item on an agenda posted publicly for at least 72 hours. -public general board meetings where stakeholders are encouraged to speak on agenda or non-agenda items. -a formal vote on specific motions that have been introduced, discussed and debated publicly. Finally, after this process, the ERNC will issue policy positions and act accordingly. We were one of the 1st neighborhood councils to fight for strict and enforceable regulations for MMDs in LA, and once it became clear that such regulation was impossible due to court challenges, we agreed that the best route forward was Mr. Huizar's plan to ban until regulations are possible. If you, or any other stakeholder, feel strongly about Chief Beck's policies, you are more than welcome to bring your position before the board and ask that we support it. That's how it works. You can contact me or any other board member here http://eaglerockcouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22&Itemid=37
Marcus February 05, 2012 at 08:20 PM
@Starchy: "Eagle Rock wants to grow into an attractive neighborhood where everyone feels welcome and safe" - done and done! whats your point? Eagle Rock needs to be spearheading its destiny. By affecting control/regulations on how businesses are zoned and fit into the community, Eagle Rock has an opportunity to be a great place to live in. Maybe there are a lot of churches in ER, but they have a different presence in the community. MM dispensaries are the same as bars, and liquor stores and should be treated as such. A ban must seems a terrible infringement on personal rights; a blow to legitimate patients seeking solace with MM, but if these businesses hadn’t reacted so negatively, there could have been some agreement as to the number of MMDs allowed in communities. I believe that MMDs have a presence in society but why should Eagle Rock have so many of them?
STARCHY February 07, 2012 at 04:06 PM
"Eagle Rock has an opportunity to be a great place to live in" - Eagle Rock IS ALREADY a great place to live- and your idea of "spearheading" is LIMITING what can and cannot locate in Eagle Rock. Tell you what: get rid of the stumbling bums from the ALMA LODGE, finish the two embarrassing abandoned construction projects at two of the three main entrances into town, and close down the rub-n-tugs and we'll talk.
Marcus February 08, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Yes, Eagle Rock is a great place to live in, but it won't be if our community doesn't have a voice in its development. Spearheading is not limiting, it means that ER should take the lead and exercise what will be good in the long term and not allow any business to set up shop without consideration to the neighborhood. We're not talking about nail salons now, but places of business that do affect the public. Bars, restaurants, MMDs, factories and massage parlors are businesses that change the tone of the community. ER has to be vocal and stand up for what it wants. I agree that we have a lot to do in terms of reducing the eyesore construction projects and massage parlors, but also MMDs which are too numerous. Why is it that there is one law for bars e.g and no law for MMDs? There should be for both. I just don't want my town to be known as 'weed central'.
Suede February 09, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Exactly how many MMDs are "too numerous"? I wouldn't even know where they are except for the helpful list compiled by anti-MMD crowd. I have lived in ER since 1991 and have never seen people loitering outside dispensaries, nor people smoking in their cars, nor evidence of any of the other "crimes" the dispensaries have been accused of. In what way does their mere presence "affect the public"? If there is an overabundance of any type of business in a community, the marketplace will eventually correct that imbalance. Relax. Live and let live.
Marcus February 09, 2012 at 07:31 AM
Strangely enough America is a very free place. We have more rights than any other country in the world and while somethings could be better, its a relatively safe and free country. But live and let live is not what we live by. We still have laws, even though we have freedoms. We still are able to start our own businesses, as long as we don't break laws or harm people. Reading some of the right wing drivel makes me want to reiterate your point, but on this issue of a community just letting go of any controls, allowing the marketplace to 'right itself' is the last thing we need. Government looked the other way over financial irregularities and we are paying the price for this 'laissez faire' approach. Eagle Rock can't do the same. Live and let live might lead to a town allowing a massage parlor next to two bars, thats right next to a school and a church and just opposite a liquor store? Where the bars stay open to 2am, and a liquor store is allowed to sell through the night? What would Eagle Rock look like then? I wish one or two MMDs could stay open for 'real' patients but the ban is the only step where a community can say enough is enough.
STARCHY February 12, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Marcus - you state "spearheading is not limiting" and then set about defining what YOU think "should" be done and defining what YOU think what will be "good in the long term" and what YOU think "change the tone of the community". I support the rights of landlords and tenants to make a buck. If its weed, so be it. I personally have no problem with Eagle Rock being on the forefront of the wave of change that should (and will) sweep the county/ state/ country regarding the paranoia of the far right over a harmless plant.

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