- Reporters Desk
CBP Seize Fake Hermès Belts in LA
LOS ANGELES — On June 18, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and import specialists, assigned to the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport complex, seized 3,960 high-fashion belts bearing counterfeit Hermès listed trademark.
If genuine, the seized belts had an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $3.23 million. This seizure is part of a new generation of counterfeit fashion goods offering much more convincing copies of actual products. The belts, had the Hermès trademark stamped on each the boxes, and on the back of each belt. The trademark was also engraved on the back of the belt buckle.
The merchandise arrived from China. In an attempt to evade detection, the shipment was manifested as “Plastic Besoms”.
About $1.22 billion worth of counterfeit goods originating overseas were seized by Customs and Border Protection in 2014. China, Hong Kong, Canada, India and United Arab Emirates were the top five countries of origination for counterfeit goods seized by Customs and Border Protection this past fiscal year.
Morad Family Sues LBPD
LONG BeACH Supporters joined Morad family members at a press conference in front of the Long Beach Police Department.
The family announced that they are taking legal action against the LBPD for the death of 20-year-old Feras Morad. On May 27, Offficer Matthew Hernandez killed Morad. Morad, who was displaying erratic behavior after apparently consuming hallucinogenic mushrooms, was unarmed.
Morad’s family filed $28 million civil rights lawsuit against the LBPD. Mother Amal Morad, father Amr Morad, sister Ghada Morad and cousin Kareem Morad spoke at the press conference.
“My son needed care,” said Amr Morad, Feras’s father. “Instead, he got killed…. I only hope that there is a change so that the next young man gets the help he needs.”
A native of Woodland Hills, Feras Morad attended El Camino Real Charter High School, then Moorpark College, choosing a longer commute in order to join that school’s accomplished debate team. A high school and college debate champion, he ranked nationally in both the Phi Rho Pi National Forensic Organization and the National Speech and Debate Championship Tournament, and competed in many other leagues. He was a ranking member of ROTC while at El Camino Real.
Feras chose to enroll at Cal State-Long Beach in order to save money in hopes of attending law school.
LB City Council Approves First Responder Fee
LONG BEACH — On July 21, the Long Beach City Council approved, 8-1, Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez opposed, a first responder fee measure.
The measure allows residents to be charged $250 for using services from the Long Beach Fire Department. Fee is effective immediately.
City representatives believe the measure would help offset a projected budget shortfall for the following fiscal year. The shortfall would amount to about $11 million. The department heads stated that almost 85 percent of its calls include medical service. Eleven million dollars out of $22 million are part of LBFD’s budget.
Within the 30 days from the meeting, the city manager must advise the council in a fee waiver plan.
About $1.8 million could be generated in its first year, officials said. The money could ultimately help revive programs cut from the budget in past years.
LA is On Track to 100,000 Unit Housing Goal
LOS ANGELES — On July 22, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a key milestone in his goal of producing 100,000 new housing units by 2021.
Based on fiscal-year-end data from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, building permits have been issued for 25,929 new housing units since July 1, 2013, putting production at 26% of Garcetti’s goal two years into his eight-year timeline.
Building permits are issued by building and safety departmetn after necessary approvals from the Department of City Planning and other agencies are obtained and construction is ready to begin.
Housing production has been climbing steadily since a low of 3,573 units were permitted in fiscal year 2009-2010, in the midst of the recession. The pre-recession peak was 15,168 units in fiscal year 2005-2006.
Programs Garcetti has put in place to facilitate housing production include LADBS’s Parallel Design Permitting Process, which saves up to six months by allowing design and plan check to be conducted simultaneously for projects with at least 40 units, and the Inspection Case Management program, which provides coordinated inspection services during construction for projects with a valuation of $10 million or more and can reduce construction time by an additional three to six months.
Forthcoming initiatives include Build LA, a software system that will integrate and streamline the City’s development review processes across departments. Initial funding for this project has been secured and kickoff is expected in early 2016. The Department of City Planning is also moving forward with re:code LA, a comprehensive rewrite of the 1946 zoning code that will address the city’s contemporary housing needs.
The mayor’s Sustainable City pLAn identifies additional strategies for the production and preservation of housing including expanding zoning capacity in key transit nodes and corridors; streamlining the building of transit-oriented and affordable housing; and preserving existing affordable housing. The Mayor is continuing to work with city departments, the Los Angeleles City Council, and stakeholders to develop these strategies.
Hahn, Leiu Help Lead House Effort to Ensure Full LGBT Equality
Washington, D.C. — Rep. Janice Hahn and Rep. Ted Leiu signed on as original co-sponsors of the Equality Act, legislation to ban discrimination against LGBT individuals in public accommodations, housing, employment, and other core areas of daily life.
The legislation was introduced July 23. The Equality Act, which is sponsored by Rep. David N. Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The legislation would apply to public accommodations, federal funding, education, employment, housing, credit, and jury service.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling in June that affirmed marriage equality, discrimination against LGBT individuals remains legal in most states. Today, only 19 states and the District of Columbia offer employment and housing protections for the LGBT community. And three other states have prohibitions on discrimination based solely on sexual orientation.
Only 17 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination for public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Another four prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Just 14 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in education. And only one state, Wisconsin, prohibits it based on sexual orientation.
House Passes Hahn Legislation to Aid Homeless Veterans
Washington, D.C. — On July 23, the House of Representatives passed a measure that Rep. Janice Hahn introduced. The measure would extend federal aid to homeless veterans fleeing domestic violence.
Homeless veterans seeking assistance have long relied on an outdated definition of “homeless veteran,” which excluded victims of domestic abuse fleeing their homes. Because of this, many of these victims have been unable to access the aid they need and could be forced to stay with their abuser, leaving themselves in harm’s way. The legislation will correct and expand the definition of homeless veterans to include those fleeing domestic violence and other life threatening situations, finally allowing them to qualify for assistance.
Hahn first introduced the bill in 2012. In the past two years, Hahn has been able to help veterans in these circumstances through one year fixes. The legislation, passed as part of a larger bill, HR 2256 the Veterans Information Modernization Act, which provides a permanent solution.