July 7, 2020

THE LINCOLN STAR

NEWSPAPER / MAGAZINE / PUBLISHER

California Criminal Sentencing, Parole and DNA Collection Initiative

Challenging our Community with The Woes of Poor City Planning

Years ago Lincoln Heights was a destination neighborhood for the rich, moguls and aspiring movie makers, we’ve been the center of theLA’s history for 150 years. You might not realize, culture is rare west of the Mississippi. Stately homes, lovely movie theaters, and parks were the hallmarks of affluence. We had all that. The later Italian and Jewish communities moved out as an industrial expansion was orchestrated along the River. Unless you travel back east, you might not know what any treasured snippet of culture is worth. Look at Pasadena, they treasure theirs. At any rate, it’s our industrial core near the River and our open land that is now making us a huge target. We’ve all read about the housing shortage, and we know about rising rents and displacement. The Mayor’s plan to convert our parking lots to include affordable housing is one attempt to fix that. We have a lot of open space for a community near Downtown. We are part of an effort to increase density because we are surrounded by Interstate 5, 10, and the 110. We are fighting for our familiar places, and they might not very last long. Two legislators up in San Francisco pushed a plan to increase density housing near “transportation hubs”. The idea was to get people out of cars and onto buses and bikes. With the coronavirus outbreak, that’s a fuzzy picture now, like hanging out on Metro. But hey, that might work great in San Francisco, not so much around here. We would die before giving up a car. It’s the Last Refuge. But these Transportation Oriented Communities (TOC) are not going away, well, unless you live in Beverly Hills. They don’t have any. So what’s going on? How can these two guys, Senators Weiner and Ryu, tell us we’re going to see major changes in Lincoln Heights? This happens because our Bureaucracies let them. There are many well educated and highly paid staff at City Hall that write and write and write, all day. They expound on how community based housing near “job rich” and “transportation rich” places should be the target. Right… like Lincoln Heights, Westlake, P.I.C.O, and Rampart Village? Uh-huh, I think we get it. Targeted! You might ask, how are we “job rich”? Simple, we’re near Downtown LA! You might also to ask, “How are we transportation rich” Again, we are near freeways, you know, the kind they blocked in Beverly Hills and South Pasadena. Oh, so there’s more to this than helping low income housing shortages you ask The Squeak? Yes, please read on. Lincoln Heights will become the poster child for TOC’s. We have a lot of open land, some contaminated by pipelines and railways of course, some simply forgotten, so developers are giving us a very close look. These TOC’s resemble something you’d see in a frightful Sci-Fi horror movie. They come out of some architectural nightmare, of “what’s the least we can do?” and “when do- we get paid?” They are overblown behemoths that have no connection to our community, well, other than they plopped themselves right down in the middle of our comfy couch. It’s disheartening how our government can rubber stamp these simply on the basis they will provide a few affordable units. The 5 Lots Project IS different though, they will be ALL AFFORDABLE and managed as such for 50 years. They are not a TOC per se, they just benefit from the increase in density for affordable housing. These actual TOC’s will line the freeways, the River, and our former industrial zone near the River, near Pasadena Avenue, some off Main Street. What is ironic, is that these huge buildings will become islands of isolation because they have literally no connection to Lincoln Heights! OR North Broadway! They might have four or five bike stands, but they’re not for you. Those new residents won’t likely shop here, they’ll jump in their cars and head for South Pas or Alhambra, especially with the current pandemic. So what can we do? You should know these things happen because no one stands up and says anything. We are great for talking in the back of the room, but standing up and saying something is not our forte, usually, that is. We are going to have to learn how to do that. Together. Hello Neighborhood Council! Anyone there? Hello? You might say, Squeak, you’re being pedantic here. I know
a teacher at Lincoln High, he would certainly point that out, but staying silent, or being silenced, while all these other people talk and walk all over us is what to avoid. Buried deep in the ordinances, overlays, and other documents with fancy names is one pure concept. These TOC’s must avoid controversy! Do you know what that means? You’re going to have to ignore your polite ways and start making noises. Sorry but we’re going to have to offended someone. This is not a call for anger, or demonstrations. Things can happen, but only if you get involved with your local
government. Your Neighborhood Council needs your participation being heard, in supporting good laws, enforcing existing ones, and making us visible, we must not
be overlooked, or the future will, that’s very likely.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. So speak up, your
community needs your voice.

California Criminal Sentencing, Parole and DNA Collection Initiative Mark Overstreet, LAPD Neighborhood Watch Program, Trainer

The California Criminal Sentencing, Parole and DNA Collection Initiative known by its supporters as the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act will be on the November ballot. It can help fix some of the unintended consequences of propositions 47 and 57. Gov. Jerry Brown was under a federal court order to lower the inmate population in California. He and the state assembly responded by coming up with several plans. In the wake of Assembly Bill 109, our county jails became overwhelmed by housing nonviolent offenders from prison during the past decade. As a follow up, Proposition, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act, was passed which allowed nonviolent felons to qualify for early release, by having the parole board to only consider an inmate’s most recent charge, not their entire history. In 2014 California voters passed Proposition 47, was referred to by its supporters as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. It recategorized some nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors, rather than felonies. The law is also retroactive, so it also requires that anyone who was currently serving a sentence for a felony of the included offenses to be resentenced to a misdemeanor. Some of the crimes that were changed from felony offenses to misdemeanors under Prop 47 include; shoplifting, or attempted shoplifting, grand theft, forgery, receiving stolen property, fraud or writing bad checks where the values do not exceed $950. Other changes were made under Health & Safety Codes, such as possession of Methamphetamines, possession of controlled substance (heroin and cocaine) which has lead Law enforcement to issue petty citations to users of dangerous drugs. Prop 47 decriminalized drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, which removed law enforcement’s ability to make an arrest in most circumstances and therefore the court’s ability to order drug rehabilitation programs. Now drug users are sent back onto the streets where they often hit rock bottom.
In 2016 Proposition 57 was passed by California voters. The intent was to reduce the state prison population, so new prisons would not be built and to save money. It was done by providing “nonviolent” felons the opportunity for early parole. Prop 57 contains provisions that give the state Board of Parole Hearing greater power in deciding when a non-violent inmate may be eligible for parole. Some of the crimes that are considered “NONVIOLENT” are human trafficking of a child, rape of an unconscious person or by intoxication, drive by shooting at inhabited dwelling or vehicle, assault with a firearm or deadly weapon, assault on a police officer, serial arson, exploding a bomb to injure people, solicitation to commit murder, assault from a caregiver to a child under eight years old, and a felony domestic violence. “Domestic violence has the word violent in the title! The Board does not take into consideration previous crimes when an early parole decision is being made. This means that only the current crime is considered, resulting in many “career criminals” receiving the same considerations as first-time offenders. The California Criminal Sentencing, Parole and DNA Collection Initiative will amend Prop 47 to make specific types of grand theft, shoplifting, and fraud chargeable as “wobbler crimes” rather than misdemeanors. A “wobbler” is a crime that can be punished as either a felony or misdemeanor. The ceiling for certain crimes would be reduced from $950 to $250 on a third conviction for petty theft. It would also establish two additional types of crimes in the state code, serial crime and organized retail crime. It would also fix some of the unintended consequences of Prop 57 and would require the parole board consider an inmate’s entire criminal history when considering release. It would allow the court to mandate drug rehabilitation, helping those who need help but currently refuse, to get the help they need. The ballot initiative would require persons convicted of certain misdemeanors to submit to the collection of DNA samples for state and federal databases. Our law enforcement agencies need to have the legal tools necessary to combat rising crime, restore law, and order and to keep us safe.

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