"The state of Eagle Rock's union is that things are getting better," Council District 14 Councilmember José Huizar told an audience of about 60 community members on Wednesday evening at the Center for the Arts on Colorado Boulevard.
"They are getting better slowly, as they tend to do in Eagle Rock, with a lot of community input," he said.
Huizar was the featured speaker at The Eagle Rock Association's annual State of the Town address.
In addition to Huizar, attendees also heard from Officer Craig Orange, former LAPD Northeast Division Senior Lead Officer for Eagle Rock, and Jeff Jacobberger of Civic Enterprise Associates, the Mount Washington based consulting agency that has been working on the 'Take Back the Boulevard' Initiative.
In reflecting on the past year in Eagle Rock, Huizar focused on persistent quality of life concerns: medical marijuana dispensaries and erotic massage parlors.
"I'm proud to say we are close to zero medical marijuana dispensaries in Eagle Rock after being home to nearly the greatest number of them in the city," Huizar said.
Huizar, with strong support from the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, has been one of the leading voices in the fight against medical marijuana dispensaries--a hugely divisive issue in the neighborhood and across the city at large.
On Wednesday evening, Huizar said that though he supports the right of patients to have access to medical marijuana, he is entirely against the operation of dispensaries. He said, instead, he supports a law that would allow patients to collaboratively grow marijuana without profiting from it financially.
As such, he said, he did not support any of the three medical marijuana initiatives--which seek to regulate but not ban the city's medical marijuana dispensaries--on the May election ballot.
On the issue of massage parlors, Huizar said he would continue to work with state legislators in an effort to give city's the planning and zoning clout to regulate the proliferation of the businesses. He also committed to meeting with members of the accredited massage therapy community, to discuss an approach to regulation that would not harm practitioners who seek to operate within the law.
Huizar lauded his staff in Eagle Rock for the job they did in the last year in addressing day to day matters. Of the 1,100 requests received by his office--which dealt mostly with bulky items, street maintenance, parking and public safety--89-percent were processed.
In making his closing statement, Huizar credited constituents for "keeping him on his toes."
"Things are good in Eagle Rock, but only as good as you make them," he said.
Take Back the Boulevard
Jacobberger said the mission of Take Back the Boulevard over the course of the next year would be to gradually implement improvements suggested since the initiative launched in 2011.
The end goal, he said, was the "incremental revolution to turn Colorado Boulevard into the Main Street we all want to see. "
In the coming weeks and months, community members could expect to see two-hour parking meters in place of one-hour meters and the installation of bike lanes and crosswalks. Long-term projects may include a parklet, similar to the one recently installed on York Boulevard, though the project would require a community partner to commit to its upkeep and maintenance.
Jacobberger said that many of the changes planned on Colorado Boulevard, though beneficial in their own right, would serve the larger purpose of addressing an overarching concern expressed by Eagle Rock residents--excessive driving speeds.
"Bike lanes weren't the most important things mentioned in our meetings, the most important thing was calming and slowing down traffic. Speeding cars were a major concern," he said. "Even if you don't care about bike lanes, they'll accomplish the goal of calming traffic."
Senior Lead Officer Craig Orange said that the most prevalent crime in Eagle Rock in 2012 were break-ins to and thefts from motor vehicles--the sort of crime that could be reduced through increased vigilance on the part of owners.
Violent crimes--also known as Part 1 crimes--increased by 12-percent in 2012 over 2011. No homicides were reported in either year, and the number of rapes increased from two to five.
Orange said that increase was due to offenders using online dating profiles to get to their victims.
In recent crime developments, Orange said LAPD Northeast officers arrested a suspect on Tuesday evening who they believe may have been responsible for a recent string of burglaries in the Hill Drive area of the neighborhood.