President Obama has been out of office only a few months. But he might have both a street and an L.A. freeway named after him soon.

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson has proposed renaming Rodeo Road in southwest L.A. “Obama Boulevard” in honor of the president. Wesson noted that Obama held a campaign rally at Rancho Cienega Park on Rodeo Road when running for president and that the area already has streets named after presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Adams).

In May, a plan to name a stretch of the 134 Freeway after Obama moved forward with approval from the state Senate. The freeway is not far from Occidental College in Eagle Rock, which Obama attended.

In California alone, several schools have been named after Obama. And in the Monterey Bay town of Seaside, city leaders designated a key street Obama Way.

Rodeo Road is a major street that runs from near the Culver City border east to Mid-City. It’s sometimes confused by newcomers with the more upscale Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Rodeo Road is not far from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. That used to be Santa Barbara Avenue until the city changed the name three decades ago.



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A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot a person in Palmdale early Thursday, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.

The deputy shot the person about 3:45 a.m. in the 38500 block of 10th Street East, officials said. After being taken to a local hospital, the person was pronounced dead, they said.

A spokesperson with the sheriff’s department could not immediately describe the nature of the call to which the deputy had been responding or what had led to the shooting. The identity of the slain person was not immediately available.

Multiple investigations will be launched as a result of the shooting, including probes by the sheriff’s department’s homicide and internal affairs bureaus, the coroner’s office and the district attorney’s office. The shooting will also be reported to the sheriff’s department’s office of the inspector general, which will provide oversight of the investigative process.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.



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Riders on Los Angeles County’s Metro rail system were experiencing delays Wednesday evening after the transit grid saw problems with its communications system, officials said.

Delays of up to 20 minutes were expected on the Expo, Gold, Red and Blue lines, said Kim Upton, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The scope and precise cause of the problem was not immediately clear, and there was no timetable for when normal operations would resume.

Upton said a fiber optics expert was inspecting the equipment, and she described the problem as a malfunction involving the trains’ communication system.

As a precaution, Metro officials imposed the protocol for “safety mode,” which calls for trains to run at slower speeds.

“The trains are running, but the communication is limited,” Upton said.

On the Red Line, only trains between the Universal City and North Hollywood stations were affected. On the Blue Line, only trains north of the Florence stop were affected. All of the Expo and Gold lines’ trains were affected, Upton said.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno



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The Gathering of Latina Writers converged on Saturday morning at the Plaza de La Raza Cultural Center in Lincoln Park, where an occasional train horn interrupted proceedings — but not for long. “The train represents the patriarchy,” joked Angela Aguirre of the Latina feminist poetry collective Chingona Fire before carrying on with her performance.

Throughout the day, groups of women gathered before an outdoor stage under the shade of umbrellas, attended panels in the black box theater and perused speakers’ books in the plaza beside pink bougainvillea, papel picado (paper cut-outs) and a flowering magnolia tree. The event seemed to fill a need. The poet Jen Hofer remarked on “the incredible diversity of latinidad” in attendance, and “Compton’s poet” Claudia Rodriguez asked, “Why has it taken so long for something like this to be organized?”

The free event was the first iteration of what will be a larger gathering planned for 2018. Both are organized by writers Jessica Ceballos y Campbell and Iris de Anda, as well as Rebecca Nevarez and Tomas Benitez of the Latino Arts Network of California.

In all, the gathering was remarkable not only because it felt like the start of something, but because its programming went deep. There’s a lot of lip service paid to creating safe spaces for community and discussion, but rarely are those discussions executed with genuine rigor and sensitivity.

During multiple panels, discussions of identity were particularly nuanced. Ceballos y Campbell asked of the festival itself — the gathering of Latina writers — “who are we leaving out when we say that?” Panelists unpacked identifying as Latino/a/x and/or Chicano/a/x — “never a ‘Hispanic,’” as read liz gonzalez’s introductory bio, a line that led her fellow panelist Claudia Rodriguez to quip “there’s the panel right there.” When asked how a complex identity informed her work, Wendy C. Ortiz replied, “I don’t know how it doesn’t inform my work.” Vickie Vertiz echoed her sentiment — of intersecting identities she said, “there is no way to separate them.” Ceballos y Campbell contextualized the day’s gathering in place: “Latina writers are such a huge part of the history of Southern California.”

A panel on publishing, moderated by Iris de Anda, was the most widely attended with roughly 50 people in the audience, but the question of publishing came up in nearly every discussion. Désirée Zamorano referred to it as a “great white world,” and a number of panelists offered from their own experience the benefits of self-publishing in an industry struggling – or perhaps not struggling enough – to be diverse. Zine-maker Jess Castillo explained, “I wanted to get work out and I didn’t want to wait to do it.” Hofer, in reference to her own experience with Libros Antena Books, agreed.

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, poet and founding member of Women Who Submit, a group that supports women sharing their writing, described how publishing with mainstream and even indie presses begs a thorny set of questions that writers benefiting from white, straight, male or other privilege may not have considered. “Am I being fetishized? Am I being a token? Am I only speaking to white people?” She ultimately chose to publish her debut poetry collection with Sundress Press because of its feminism and diversity. “I want to be in conversation with other Latinas,” she said. Literature presents a window into worlds unlike our own, but it can also provide a necessary mirror. Yesika Salgado of Chingona Fire put it this way: “I’m just here to remind you of your story, with my story,” she said.

Ceballos y Campbell’s hope for future events is that she and her fellow organizers continue “facilitating spaces in an equitable way” and promoting “cross-cultural community,” but she did ask her final panel if Latina-only spaces were also important. Trini Rodriguez of Tia Chucha Centro de Cultural responded simply: “As long as there’s a question of access denied, then those spaces are necessary.” The Latina Writers Conference will span two days, Feb. 23-24. “We want to highlight these communities of writers,” said Ceballos y Campbell, “and the work that they’re doing.”

agatha.french@latimes.com

@agathafrenchy



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Lawyers for a father detained by immigration officials after dropping off his daughter at school in Los Angeles settled the two decades-old misdemeanor convictions that prompted his arrest.

Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, 49, instead pleaded guilty to lesser vehicle code violations.

ICE officials had cited a deportation order based on the former misdemeanor convictions as the reason for picking him up. His lawyers hope that with the changes, ICE will grant his release and cancel his deportation order.

Avelica-Gonzalez, a Mexican citizen who has lived in the United States for 25 years, has remained in immigration detention for nearly four months. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents pulled him over and detained him in Highland Park, six blocks from the Lincoln Heights school where he had dropped off his 12-year-old daughter minutes before. Another daughter in the car with him, now 14, sobbed as she recorded cellphone video of the encounter.

Some criminal convictions can place immigrants in line for deportation proceedings. But a new state law that went into effect in January allows immigrants to have their convictions vacated if they weren’t adequately advised of those consequences at the time of their guilty or no contest pleas.

Avelica-Gonzalez’s original misdemeanor convictions were for receiving stolen property in 1998 and for DUI in 2008.

In the first case, Avelica-Gonzalez said that because immigrants in California illegally were ineligible at the time for driver’s licenses, and therefore unable to register a vehicle, he obtained an auto registration tag not issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles from a friend.

Steve Escovar, one of Avelica-Gonzalez’s attorneys, said that conviction was vacated Friday then settled as a registration violation. The DUI case, which a judge had vacated last month, was settled as a speed exhibition. Both are violations of the state vehicle code.

Escovar called it a wonderful result.

“Reasonable efforts by prosecutors can accommodate the needs of law enforcement, while still striving to keep families intact — and not inadvertently disintegrated — as a result of poorly understood immigration consequences of criminal convictions,” he said.

In a 77-page brief last month, City Atty. Mike Feuer said there was no legal basis or evidence to support Avelica-Gonzalez’s request to vacate his receipt of stolen property conviction. But Rob Wilcox, Feuer’s spokesman, said Tuesday that the judge last week focused on facts that hadn’t been presented earlier to the court.

“The judge concluded, and our office agreed, that the waiver form was not fully consistent with wording required by state law,” he said.

andrea.castillo@latimes.com

@andreamcastillo



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I felt kind of sorry for the guy sitting next to me Monday at the “Future of Cannabis” event at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

He’s a commercial real estate broker who knows nothing about the marijuana business. But a friend of his who works in the trade suggested that now would be a good time to move into this burgeoning industry.

After all, California voters legalized recreational marijuana in November. The city of Los Angeles is projected to be the biggest marijuana market in the biggest marijuana state. People are salivating at the chance to leap into this brave new world.

All they have to do is figure out the regulations. Which are, in a word, confusing.

This month, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson’s office released a draft of the regulations that will govern the cannabis business in Los Angeles. The rules were put together after many months of meetings between the city and various stakeholders, including the United Cannabis Business Assn., the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

From all accounts, the process was collaborative and productive.

Yet when Wesson’s office released its draft on June 8, the cannabis community was shocked. Instead of proposing that cannabis companies receive licenses or permits from the city to do business, the city is proposing that they receive a “compliance document,” which will entitle the holder only to “limited legal immunity.”

“It’s remarkable and incredibly disappointing,” said cannabis attorney Michael Chernis. “Legally speaking, a license or permit is express permission, whereas ‘limited legal immunity’ is not. Ultimately, it leaves these businesses vulnerable to prosecution, and puts the onus on them to overcome charges made against them.”

It appears that the office of City Atty. Mike Feuer is responsible for this language. I called his spokesman to try to get a sense of what Feuer thinks he’s protecting the city from, but did not receive a reply by my deadline.

Some cannabis proponents fear that the city attorney’s office is stuck in the mentality that equates cannabis with the illegal drug trade, and is only grudgingly accepting its changed status. Or that Feuer may be worried that the city may incur some sort of liability because marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

But California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 64 in November, which legalized marijuana for adult recreational use. City voters have overwhelmingly supported legalizing and regulating the industry. And the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals set an important precedent last year when it ruled that the Justice Department may not spend money on actions that contradict a state’s medical marijuana laws.

From a business perspective, it’s not entirely clear how failing to grant licenses and permits will affect the legal cannabis industry in Los Angeles. But some people think it will discourage investors from supporting local cannabis enterprises when they can put their money behind businesses in California cities that aren’t hedging.

“This will be like trying to build your business on quicksand,” said Ariel Clark, a Santa Monica attorney who specializes in cannabis regulation. “It’s fundamentally flawed.”

By this point, the commercial real estate broker sitting next to me was shaking his head. He let out a sigh, and left.

::

There were probably 200 people in the audience at the Athletic Club on Monday. Not all were neophytes.

Some, like Christopher Hope, have been in the pot business for years. He spoke angrily about Los Angeles letting down voters who in March approved, by a wide margin, Measure M, which required the city to update the unfair and outdated marijuana regulations that have led to inconsistent enforcement and who-knows-how-many kajillions of dollars in lost tax revenues.

Hope owns a West Los Angeles-based medical marijuana delivery service, Sequoia Wellness, which operates in 12 Los Angeles County cities — roughly from the Hollywood Bowl to Pacific Palisades to Redondo Beach. He is trying to raise about $200,000 to expand his business and is furious that the city of Los Angeles may not extend to him the legal protection that a license would confer.

“I can’t go get a license? I am going from one meeting to another, talking to investors. I can’t go to them and say, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work or not, but hey, do you want to put some money into this? How are we supposed to work as a business? And why is Los Angeles, one of the biggest marijuana markets, not the beacon on the hill for everyone else to be looking at?”

::

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council will take a major step into the future when it votes to create a Cannabis Commission and a Cannabis Department.

Hopefully, by the time council members vote on the proposed regulations later this summer, they will have realized it’s in everybody’s best interests to give the same kind of protections to legal cannabis that other legitimate businesses enjoy.

Otherwise, warned Jerred Kiloh, a dispensary owner who has been deeply involved in crafting the regulations, cannabis businesses — and their tax revenues — will be pushed out of the city.

“If they are not going to be safe in Los Angeles,” Kiloh said, “they are going to put up shops outside the city limits. They’ll still access the L.A. market, but L.A. is not going to reap the rewards.”

After all the struggle and dysfunction that this city has experienced as it’s tried to figure out how to regulate marijuana, that would be a shame.

This industry has lived in the shadows for too long. Come on, council members. Bring it into the light.

More columns »

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The show features 246 songs. It’s 24 hours long, split into six-hour chapters. And, yes, you are expected to sit through all six hours. This is theater of the unexpected; it is theater of calamity; it is theater according to the gospel of Taylor Mac.

Since the performance artist first staged portions of this delirious piece of experimental theater, “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music,” at Joe’s Pub in New York City in 2011, the show has evolved into an artistic juggernaut and its creator heralded as a perspicacious shaman of the counterculture.

In the lobby of the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on a recent afternoon, however, Mac shrugs off the hype surrounding his first tour of the full “24-Decade History.” He’s just a vessel for the art, he insists.

The show, in which each hour of music represents a decade, seeks to tell the story of communities built as a result of being torn apart: the defiant triumph of minorities, LGBTQ people, women, the disabled and the chronically disadvantaged over the dominant cultural forces of homogeneity and oppression.

“I’m not representing a community. I’m representing a history and a whole country,” he says, smiling slyly. “It’s partially why I’m phantasmagorical when you look at me. You don’t necessarily see a human, but you see a fool in the Elizabethan sense.”

Mac is bald with a shiny head, mischievous blue eyes and a coquettish smile. His voice is slightly raspy and his demeanor relaxed. As an artist, he thinks of himself as a bridge between “the normative and the insane, between male and female, between the queers and the straights, and the West Coast thing and the East Coast thing.”

In “24-Decade History” he performs in ravishing drag created by a costume designer who goes by the name of Machine Dazzle and sometimes follows Mac onstage to make adjustments to this feather or that sequin in real time. Drag isn’t a costume for him to hide in, Mac says, it’s exposing what he looks like on the inside.

“The amazing thing about that is that queer people don’t get to represent America, queer people are always just in America, we’re only allowed to be ourselves, which is a queer person. So to use a queer’s body as a metaphor for the entire country is fresh,” he says with relish.

Mac is in town to begin work with Kristy Edmunds, artistic director of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, who commissioned a decade of the show when Mac was creating it. The show won’t open at the Ace for another nine months, as part of CAP UCLA’s 2017-18 season. But staging the piece — which will involve more than 200 performers, many of whom will be cast locally, and almost as many behind-the-scenes players — will be a Herculean effort of coordination, stamina and creativity.

Six decades of music will be unfurled at one time, the whole “History” performed over the course of two weeks. The 246 songs begin in 1776 and end in present day.

It is not musical theater, it is not a concert and it is not pure theater.

Mac calls the show a “ritual sacrifice.” Its power lies in its duration. The audience must feel the weight of history and time; they must see Mac’s body exhaust itself and hear his voice deteriorate with the effort of it all.

Identity politics are not the point, he says. They are the subplot.

“I think of art as a seditious act. Sometimes it’s asking you to rebel against the government, but really it’s asking you to rebel against an obstinate sense of self,” he says. “So you come in and say, ‘I’m this kind of person,’ and the art says, ‘No, no, dig a little deeper, go a little wider, bring a sense of wonder into your life,’ so that’s what we’re doing up there, we’re sacrificing obstinance.”

The result was a finalist this year for the Pulitzer Prize in drama. When Mac performed an almost-three-hour sneak peak of the show at UCLA’s Royce Hall in March, Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote an exuberant review, noting that as a performer, “Mac might well be the love child of David Bowie and Liza Minnelli.”

Here at the Ace, Mac appears onstage to deliver a nearly 30-minute monologue to an enraptured audience of more than 100 artists, creators and donors who have gathered to explore the possibility of contributing artistically or financially toward staging “A 24-Decade History” in Los Angeles.

Says Edmunds, “You don’t commit to a show like this if you don’t know you can carry its integrity.”

The show is very much a living, breathing entity in that you can’t control everything that will happen during a six-hour stretch of live theater. Hundreds of local performers need to be cast. In Los Angeles, for example, the audience might see a female mariachi band and a children’s choir. Even the fabrics for the costume design are expected to be sourced locally.

The audience plays a crucial role as well. It might participate in a bread line during the Great Depression, create a funeral procession for Judy Garland, or rearrange 80 chairs. In 2016 Mac performed the entire show over a single 24-hour stretch in New York for 700 people who he says became “deranged in their emotional availability.”

It was a feat that he intends to accomplish only once.

“The goal was to make something tangible out of an ephemeral art and it worked,” Mac says. By using “exhaustion to dream the culture forward,” viewers came to embrace the fact that “we weren’t making something accessible, but extraordinary. And we were building it together.”

On this particular evening Mac asks his Los Angeles audience to help him build a future promise. He asks them to commit to viewing art as something as worthwhile as a 40-hour workweek.

“You must protest the tools of reduction,” he says. “It needs to be long so that you feel the weight of it — the onslaught of it — and so that you have an opportunity to transform as a result of that weight.”

In other words, this isn’t art to be taken lightly. Watching it should — and will — take effort.

Popular music is the ideal medium to convey the complexities of history because it is built through imperfection, Mac says. Imperfect rhymes, simple chords, unpolished vocal deliveries.

“You could argue that classical music is about perfection and virtuosity — trying to touch the hem of God,” Mac says. “Popular music is about reaching people. It’s there to rally you to a cause. To celebrate together. To mourn together. To love together.”

Mac will love you for 24 hours — an experience he hopes will never leave you.

jessica.gelt@latimes.com

@jessicagelt



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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, June 19, and here’s what’s happening across California:

TOP STORIES

The problem with everyone loving Los Angeles

Los Angeles “remains a destination for people from around the world, many of them young, skilled and creative. They move here for culture, commerce, climate — or all three,” writes Times columnist Steve Lopez. These qualities are also a problem as they exacerbate an already urgent affordable housing crisis. Los Angeles Times

Plus: “Recent figures released by the county show that Latino homelessness shot up 63% in the last year, a staggering number in a county that saw its overall homeless population soar 23%, despite increasing efforts to get people off the street.” Los Angeles Times

Up by the Bay: San Francisco’s biennial one-night homeless count shows that since 2015 the western half of the city and significant residential strips of the rest of San Francisco have seen sharp increases in people living on the street — even as the citywide population of homeless people fell 0.5%, to 7,499. San Francisco Chronicle

Help amid uncertainty

The University of California is the nation’s first and only university system to provide free legal aid to students without legal status and their families. Officials from UC’s Immigrant Legal Services Center say demand for their services is soaring as President Trump’s policies sow uncertainty. Los Angeles Times

Considering a change

Criminal justice leaders are seeking to end lifetime registry for low-risk sex offenders in California. This change would benefit people like Frank Lindsay, who landed on California’s sex offender registry after he pleaded no contest to improperly touching a girl under 14. He hasn’t committed a crime in the four decades since then, but he still must register, costing him a business and sustainable livelihood. Los Angeles Times

L.A. STORIES

A fun read: The case of the leaning pine tree: A natural history mystery unfolds on the Central Coast. Los Angeles Times

Sue Finley, 80, has worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge for more than 50 years. She’s seen history in her time and has worked on some of the laboratory’s most prestigious projects. Los Angeles Times

Fire erupts: Firefighters continued to gain ground Sunday on two separate brush fires burning near Castaic Lake and in the Wrightwood area of San Bernardino County. Los Angeles Times

IMMIGRATION AND THE BORDER

Inside the White House, a battle over how tough Trump’s immigration crackdown should be. Los Angeles Times

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Making class more challenging: The Lynwood Unified School District eliminated prerequisite courses and grade requirements that were keeping students out of high-level courses. The result: More students are taking and passing Advanced Placement tests. It was one of two L.A. County school systems named to the College Board’s honor roll for significantly increasing the number of students taking and passing AP exams. (The other was comparatively prosperous Arcadia Unified.) Los Angeles Times

Bang for the buck? California’s new system for funding public education has pumped tens of billions of extra dollars into struggling schools, but there’s little evidence yet that the investment is helping the most disadvantaged students. Cal Matters

Budget process: Times columnist John Myers breaks down why it’s so easy to slip all kinds of things into California’s budget, and it’s been that way for decades. Los Angele Times

Another fight: California has opened a new front in the battle with the Trump administration: wages for low- and medium-income workers. The Orange County Register

CRIME AND COURTS

Cadet scandal: In a widening investigation of the Los Angeles Police Department’s cadet program, Chief Charlie Beck on Sunday announced he has suspended training for cadets at the 77th Street Division and Pacific Division, where three cadets arrested on suspicion of stealing police cruisers were based. Los Angeles Times

Tale of tape: The latest series of twists in the Planned Parenthood illegal videotaping case. Who could be facing jail time? BuzzFeed

A grand heist! Authorities say that the growing popularity of avocados could have driven three workers from an Oxnard-based produce company to pilfer $300,000 worth of the fruit. Los Angeles Times

Detention centers: “California took another major step this week to protect immigrants, preventing detention centers from adding more beds and pledging to spend $1 million to make sure people have proper access to food, medical care and lawyers.” Los Angeles Times

Montebello shooting: Montebello police fatally shot a woman Saturday after she drove her car toward an officer and her boyfriend, with whom she had been fighting earlier in the day, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

THE ENVIRONMENT

Californians are recycling less: Part of the reason is that recycling centers that pay for bottles and cans have been closing. The Mercury News

The weather and earthquakes: “California’s Mediterranean climate, with its wet winters and dry summers, brings enviable weather to the Golden State but also earthquakes, according to UC Berkeley research.” San Francisco Chronicle

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

A story about the Lakers: Jeanie Buss “is the controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, as her late father wished. Four months ago, she fired her brother and also the team’s 17-year general manager on the same day, and installed trusted friend Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson as president of basketball operations. Then she prevailed in an ugly court battle with her two older brothers that confirmed she will run the Lakers for the rest of her life.” Los Angeles Times

A star passes: Stephen Furst, who played naive fraternity pledge Flounder in the hit movie “Animal House,” has died of complications from diabetes, his family said Saturday. Furst was 63. Associated Press

Check ’em out: “Drew Arriola-Sands started Trap Girl ready to defend her band; it turned out she didn’t need to. Now, they’re at the center of L.A.’s exploding queer hardcore scene.” KPCC

Over at LACMA: U.S. Latino and Latin American artists are taking on the idea of home — and find it has emotional and political meaning. KCRW

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles areas: sunny Monday and Tuesday. More weather is here.

AND FINALLY

This week’s birthdays for those who made their mark in California:

Rep. Pete Aguilar (June 19, 1979), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (June 21, 1947), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (June 22, 1933), Rep. Adam Schiff (June 22, 1960).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.



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Timoteo Arevalos never imagined he’d end up here, loitering for hours on a bench at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights, using his backpack as his pillow.

He used to have a government job, but the recession hit and he was laid off. He then tried to scrape by as a dishwasher, but last fall his hours were cut and he couldn’t pay his rent.

Now, he is part of a rising number of Latinos who are living homeless in Los Angeles. Recent figures released by the county show that Latino homelessness shot up by 63% in the past year, a staggering number in a county that saw its overall homeless population soar by 23%, despite increasing efforts to get people off the street.

Nearly every demographic, including youth, families and veterans, showed increases in homelessness, but Latinos delivered one of the sharpest rises, adding more than 7,000 people to the surge.

“I would say it’s a whole new phenomenon,” said County Supervisor Hilda Solis, whose district saw Latino homelessness go up by 84%. “We have to put it on the radar and really think outside the box when we consider how to help this population.”

Homeless officials and outreach groups say Los Angeles’ rising rents and stale wages are the main drivers pushing many out of their homes.

According to a study released by the Homeless Services Authority, renters living in Los Angeles are the most cost-burdened nationwide. More than 2 million households in L.A. and Orange counties have housing costs that exceed 30% of their income.

Latinos are particularly at risk, with many working up to two to three low-paying jobs to make ends meet. Those lacking legal status are more vulnerable these days as they struggle to find work and avoid public assistance, which they fear could flag them for eventual deportation.

“It’s like they live with one foot on a banana peel and the other one step from homelessness,” said Rose Rios, who runs Cover the Homeless Ministry, a South Los Angeles non-profit that feeds people in the streets, many of them Latino.

After Arevalos lost his government job, he lived off his $70,000 savings. When that dried up, he struggled to find a good-paying job. Eventually he settled for a dish washing gig, but when the restaurant cut back his hours last fall, he lost his Pico Rivera studio apartment.

Now, he receives $900 in unemployment, enough for food and clothes, but not quite to cover rent and bills. Most days, he sleeps in a secluded alley in Pico Rivera, not far from the roar of passing trains and cargo trucks. To bathe, he goes to Roosevelt High School’s public pool.

“I’m frustrated and sad,” Arevalos said. “Having to go up and down and starting over takes a lot out of you.”

Countywide, an estimated 20% of Latinos live below the poverty level. Their average household income is about $47,000.

“This is a population that’s already living under very difficult circumstances,” said USC sociology professor Manuel Pastor. “When you increase rents, you really start to see a bigger impact.”

In 2016, Latinos made up 27% of the county’s homeless population; that number has rocketed to 35% in the last year. Latinos make up about 48% of the county’s overall population. The percentage of white homeless people declined 2% in that time.

African Americans saw a slight increase in the number of homeless, but while they make up 9% of L.A. County’s overall population, they still represent a disproportionate 40% of the county’s homeless.

This year’s homeless count, conducted in January, showed significant increases in the newly homeless, homeless youth and homeless living in cars. These figures seem to support the idea that the surge in Latino homelessness is made up of working poor who might have been priced out by the market, Pastor said.

Solis has noticed the difference as she drives around her district in East Los Angeles and parts of the San Gabriel Valley. She has seen more Latinos who apparently live in the riverbeds and freeway underpasses.

The supervisor said she hopes that the needs of homeless Latinos are taken into account as funds from Proposition HHH and Measure H are allocated over the next decade. The ballot measures approved by Los Angeles voters in November are expected to provide several billion dollars in housing, rent subsidies and services to the homeless.

“A lot of Latinos tend to come from tight-knit communities and don’t like talking about how they’re struggling,” Solis said.

Many tend to not seek help from shelters and homeless outreach centers, such as the ones located in downtown L.A.’s skid row. They try to subsist, relying on relatives, friends, churches, clinics, all while living out of their car or in the street.

“We need service providers who reflect the community, who provide competent, culturally sensitive information in Spanish,” Solis said.

At a church east of the Los Angeles River on a recent evening, nearly three dozen men sat around the courtyard, waiting for a warm meal and a place to spend the night. Most sleep in cots that line the church temple, near the altar and by the doors.

The men, all Latinos and some of them lacking legal status, have been coming here for nearly 30 years to seek emergency shelter.

Among them was Mario Martinez, 48, from Guatemala. He came to the U.S. when he was 17 years old.

He worked in factories and construction sites, eventually landing a job as a manager of a fabric and textile warehouse. He made $18 an hour.

Martinez and his girlfriend and their two children, ages 4 and 10, used to rent an apartment in Montebello for $1,400 a month.

“I had started from the bottom and worked my way up,” he said.

But life took a turn and he and his girlfriend separated. Five years ago, he lost his job.

Work since then has been tough to come by and it’s paid much less. When Martinez depleted his $15,000 in savings a few months ago, he ended up in the street.

He hopes part-time work through an employment agency will help him get back into an apartment soon.

“I’m the kind of person who takes life as it comes,” Martinez said. “As long as you’re healthy and able to work and get sleep, you’re able to get back up.”

The church also provides similar assistance to Latinas.

In other parts of the city, several districts that have experienced gentrification saw Latino homelessness rise. That includes Councilman Gil Cedillo’s 1st District, where there was a 79% increase.

District 1 includes densely populated neighborhoods such as Pico-Union and Westlake, where many poor families crowd into high-rise apartments. The area’s proximity to downtown has made it enticing for developers in recent years, pushing rents up for many people.

At the center of Westlake, MacArthur Park has become a go-to destination for homeless from across the region. Their tents are spread across the 32-acre park, creating an endless cycle that doesn’t ease despite weekly outreach efforts conducted by Cedillo’s office and numerous organizations.

“The problem is a lack of sufficient housing stock,” Cedillo said. “People are very compassionate and concerned about the homeless, but what we need to do is get out of the developers’ way and begin to create a process so people can build and neighbors need to embrace this.”

In Highland Park, another area represented by Cedillo, gentrification has vastly spiked housing prices. Two-bedroom homes sell for more than $600,000.

In 2009, Rebecca Prine founded Recycled Resources for the Homeless, a nonprofit outreach group that connects the homeless to housing and provides basic services, such as free laundry on Wednesday nights.

In the winters, the organization opens a shelter, the only one in the neighborhood. This past year, Prine said the shelter was filled mostly with Latinos. Many of them held down full-time jobs. But they couldn’t afford the rents. Others were older residents with fixed incomes.

“From one year to the next,” Prine said, “the face of homelessness changed for us.”

esmeralda.bermudez@latimes.com

@LATBermudez

ruben.vives@latimes.com

@LATVives

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Opinion: Shame on L.A. if it hosts the Olympics without solving its homelessness problem first



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Federal tax documents released Friday give a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the private committee that is bidding to bring the Summer Olympics back to Los Angeles.

LA 2024 raised more than $32 million in donations — and spent about half of that — during the fiscal year stretching from August 2015 to the end of July 2016, according to the most-recent tax information available.

The committee identified itself as a nonprofit corporation that “aims to improve and enhance the quality of life of residents of L.A. and surrounding areas through promotion and sponsorship of L.A. as site of the 2024 Olympic Games.”

Bid chairman Casey Wasserman and chief executive Gene Sykes did not receive any compensation for their work, according to the documents.

LA 2024 did, however, pay one of Wasserman’s companies — 247 Group — more than $1 million for marketing and production services related to a social media campaign. Officials said Wasserman recused himself from the board’s decision to hire the company.

The committee also paid $160,000 in consulting fees to former Olympic swimmer Janet Evans and $60,000 to a company owned by Angela Ruggiero, a former Olympic hockey player and current International Olympic Committee member.

Evans and Ruggiero serve on the LA 2024 board of directors and have been highly active in the bid.

Among other major expenditures, the committee paid nearly $700,000 to Teneo Strategy, a company that specializes in advising potential host cities. One of Teneo’s consultants, Terrence Burns, is well-known in the Olympic world and has been a frequent presence around the LA 2024 staff.

Not surprisingly for an enterprise that campaigns globally, bid leaders amassed almost $1.6 million in travel expenses and $40,000 in telephone bills over the course of the fiscal year.

There were considerable legal expenses — about $1.4 million — related to the need for negotiating agreements with the International Olympic Committee and with numerous Southern California stadiums and arenas that would serve as competition sites if the bid is successful.

Los Angeles is competing with Paris for the 2024 Summer Games, but IOC leaders have recommended that both cities be named as winners, with one getting 2024 and the other getting 2028.

That arrangement must still be approved by a vote of IOC members scheduled for mid-July. The final vote to name the host city or cities will be held in September.

To this date, LA 2024 has acknowledged raising more than $50 million in donations to cover expenses that could ultimately approach $60 million.

The tax documents, which the committee posted on its website Friday, identified some major donors, headed by the Wasserman Foundation, which gave $3 million, and the U.S. Olympic Committee, which contributed $2 million.

A long list of $1-million benefactors included David Geffen, Jeanie Buss, the Dodgers, the Clippers, Universal Studios and Longo Toyota.

LA 2024 refused to discuss specific gifts received since last summer, though a number of potential donors were added to the list of board members this spring.

david.wharton@latimes.com

Follow @LAtimesWharton on Twitter



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