Enter Norwalk's holiday decorations contest

NORWALK – Local homes and businesses are invited to participate in Norwalk’s annual “Holiday Home and Business Decoration Contest.” 

Nomination forms are available at city facilities and online at norwalk.org/holiday-contest

A photo or short video must be submitted with a nomination form. Entries are not required to be self-nominations; you can nominate other homes or businesses. 

Entry deadline is Friday, Dec. 8. 

Viewing and judging will take place between Dec. 18 and Dec. 29, and winners will be announced in February. Contest winners will receive signage commemorating their award and recognition at a City Council meeting. 

For more information, call (562) 929-5735 or email publicaffairs@norwalkca.gov.

It’s now more expensive to rent in Norwalk than Downey

iStock-115816187.jpg

By Eric Pierce

NORWALK -- Rising rental prices have pushed Norwalk past Downey as one of the most expensive cities to rent in Los Angeles County, according to an analysis of real estate rental listings by Zumper, an online rental database. 

The Zumper Los Angeles Metro Report analyzed active listings in October across 18 metro cities to show the most and least expensive cities and cities with the fastest growing rents. The California state median was $1,663 last month.

Listings are aggregated by city to calculate median asking rents.

In Downey, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $1,350 per month, more expensive than Whittier, Baldwin Park, Hawthorne, Bellflower and Pomona. 

Downey rent, however, lagged behind Norwalk, where residents pay an average of $1,390 for a 1-bedroom unit. Norwalk rental prices grew 13% last month. 

Santa Monica continues to be the most expensive city to rent, with an average rent of $3,180 for a 1-bedroom apartment. 

Pomona and Bellflower tied for the most affordable city in the metro with prices at $1,280.
 

Pioneer Boulevard reduced to single lane due to road work

Pioneer Boulevard will be reduced to a single lane for at least a month. Photo by Raul Samaniego

Pioneer Boulevard will be reduced to a single lane for at least a month. Photo by Raul Samaniego

By Raul Samaniego

NORWALK – Norwalk’s main thoroughfare, Pioneer Boulevard, has been reduced to a single lane in each direction from Alondra Boulevard to Rosecrans Avenue, 24 hours a day, for at least 30 days, according to Randy Hillman of Norwalk’s engineering department.

The reduction in lanes came just in time for Wednesday’s afternoon rush hour traffic.

“I recommend taking other north-south routes for the time being, like Norwalk Boulevard, Studebaker Road or Bloomfield Avenue,” Hillman said.

The long-planned construction includes the installation of islands in the middle of the road, addition of traffic signals, and resurfacing of the asphalt.

Wheelchair ramps along Pioneer Boulevard are in their final completion stages.

Last month, the annual Arturo Sanchez Sr. Halloween Parade was rerouted to Norwalk Boulevard because of the anticipated construction mess and hazard.

The time frame for the total construction project is until March of 2018. The expected one-lane of traffic is expected to be 24 hours a day for no more than the stated 30-day period.

Questions regarding this project can be addressed to Norwalk’s engineering department at (562) 929-5723.

OP-ED: Opening a temporary homeless shelter in Norwalk is the right thing to do

By Eric Pierce

The Southern California Youth Correctional Reception Center & Clinic opened in Norwalk in 1954, a sprawling campus on Bloomfield Avenue between Imperial Highway and Foster Road that housed juvenile offenders convicted or accused of various crimes, violent or otherwise. 

Photo by Eric Pierce

Photo by Eric Pierce

For 58 years the facility aimed to rehabilitate wayward children, even as it simultaneously dealt with allegations of abusive voluntary confinement, violence among staff and prisoners, and rampant suicide attempts within its walls. 

When the center was shut down Dec. 31, 2011, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights called the closure “a monumental achievement in our ongoing campaign to shut down California’s dangerous, expensive, and ineffective youth prisons.”

But for all its infamy, the prison operated relatively free of public scrutiny during its nearly six decades in Norwalk. Its closure was the result of ubiquitous budget cuts, a decision by the state of California that had nothing to do with shuttering an allegedly violent detention center and everything to do with dollars and cents. 

Six years later, state and county officials have drawn up a plan to repurpose the facility as a wintertime homeless shelter. It would open in December or January and provide approximately 112 homeless residents with overnight shelter, through April. 

These homeless residents would be bussed into the facility at 5 p.m. and bussed out at 7 a.m. the following day to designated locations throughout Southern California. The program would be professionally managed by an agency that specializes in dealing with the homeless population. 

Initial reaction to the proposal has been mixed, with opponents utilizing the NIMBY argument – Not In My Backyard! Any plan that would bring more homeless to Norwalk is a non-starter, they say. 

The problem is, the homeless are already here. They are on Firestone Boulevard, loitering outside the Imperial Manor. They are behind Office Depot, sheltering in tents underneath the shadow of the 605 Freeway. They are on Studebaker Road, sprawled on the concrete floor at a bus stop. 

They are everywhere. 

The state/county proposal simply takes these people off the streets – or at least up to 112 of them – and offers them a warm, safe place to lay at night. It’s the humane, compassionate thing to do. 

Homelessness is a pandemic afflicting the entire region and citizens have indicated they are willing to finance effective solutions. 

By giving its blessing to the shelter, Norwalk can be a leader in the battle to make homelessness extinct in Los Angeles County. It can serve as a model to other communities – communities that too often prefer to kick the can down the road and make this regional issue someone else’s problem. 

Homelessness is not someone else’s problem. It’s our problem.

If Norwalk could house a juvenile prison for 58 years with nary a peep of controversy from residents, repurposing the facility into a temporary homeless shelter for 4 months seems like a no-brainer.

It’s simply the right thing to do. 
 

Norwalk crime watch page focuses more on racism, homeless-bashing than crime

By Alex Dominguez

NORWALK -- Public safety has given way to rampant racism and scorn on a local community-driven social media crime watch page.

On Facebook, there are several crime watch pages for surrounding communities. While not associated with local law enforcement or city government, these groups usually consist of community members who wish to keep themselves and others informed on potential crimes happening in the city at an almost to-the-minute timeframe.

In the case of Norwalk, however, the seemingly sole crime watch page seems more dedicated to the ostracism of illegal immigrants and homeless than actual crime.

Norwalk Crime watch questions.jpg

It begins with a questionnaire, which bluntly lines out that it must be answered to be granted approval into the group.

Potential new members are posed with three questions, which ask:

“Are you a President Trump supporter? If not. Don’t even bother. I will block you. Answer, or you won’t be accepted…,”

“Do you believe that Illegal aliens are criminals and need to be deported?”

and

“Do you believe the homeless in Norwalk need to be rounded up and removed from Norwalk? Answer, or you will not be accepted..”

Page activity recently seemed to be dominated by one individual - whose profile and posts have since disappeared from the page - who regularly laced his posts and inquiries into potential criminal events with derogatory terms such as “chunti wetbacks” and “pisas,” terms the man defended in one post as “slang terms not racist.”

Members who have attempted to call out the racist word choice and activity often-times found themselves chastised by other members who seemed to approve of the conduct.

The page’s sole admin also seems to partake in many of the questionable threads. While the admin doesn’t seem to use the same language as the aforementioned group member, his posts often specifically single out “the illegals.”

A recent post by the admin even states, “I see we have a lot of Liberal Snowflakes in this group who are easily offended by the term “Illegal alien”. Well too bad…”

Minorities are not the only people to draw the ire of the page’s attention, either.

homeless rant Blacked Out.jpg

Another post, again made by the page admin, pictured a homeless person passed out on a sidewalk, referring to the person as a “drunk, homeless f---...” before going on to say, “The homeless in Norwalk need to be rounded up and removed from Norwalk. Take them out to the desert or something…”

Neither the admin nor the questionably active user replied to a request for an interview.

Kandy Heinemann Grzebyk, the founder of Downey’s crime watch page, said her group also utilizes Facebook’s questionnaire feature but their questions are drastically different.

“We ask why they want to join, if they’ll read the guidelines if they’re approved,” said Grzebyk.

When asked about the Norwalk questionnaire, Grzebyk, who is a member of the Norwalk page, said that she had seen some concern over the Norwalk page’s requirements.

“They didn’t have those questions when I joined,” says Grzebyk. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. That’s ridiculous.”
These highly politically-fueled topics aren’t necessarily out of the ordinary for crime watch pages. The difference, however, is how they are handled.

“That’s not what the page is about,” said Grzebyk, speaking of her own page. “If it did come up, I think it would probably start a fight and we’d delete it.”

Even Downey’s other crime watch page, Downey Crime Watch Anything Goes Edition - which is more lenient towards political debate according to admin Ray Metzger – keeps a leash on sensitive subjects.

 “Sometimes it’ll go a little political,” said Metzger. “I try not to go too much.”


 

Cerritos College hosting job fair next Thursday

NORWALK -- Cerritos College will host a community job fair -- open to the public -- next Thursday, Nov. 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the school library. 

Attendees will be able to apply for jobs on-site and also network with employers from several industries, including healthcare, sales, retail, and government/public sectors. 

Job seekers should dress in business attire and bring copies of their resumes. 

Free parking will be available in Lot 10 in white stalls only.

For questions or more information, email job-placement-info@cerritos.edu or call (562) 860-2451, ext. 2366.

State files lawsuit against Curacao for deceptive business practices

SOUTH GATE – State officials have filed a lawsuit against Latino retailer Curacao, alleging they defrauded consumers through false advertising and deceptive business practices. 

curacao.jpg

The lawsuit was announced Friday by the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs in conjunction with the Office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Curacao is a retail store chain that ranks among the 50 largest electronics and appliance retailers in the United States and has nine locations in Southern California. 

The company actively markets its products to members of the Latino community – specifically low-income, Spanish-speaking, and undocumented immigrants – who lack a credit history and have minimal experience with credit card and retail installment agreements, officials said. 

In the lawsuit, Becerra alleges that Curacao engages in numerous and pervasive unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices.

Becerra alleges that Curacao takes advantage of consumers through:

■ Bait-and-switch advertising
■ Product bundling
■ Adding items and services to consumers’ contracts without their knowledge or consent
■ Failing to provide notice that translated contracts are available to consumers who negotiate in Spanish
■ Failing to tell consumers about return policies until after purchase
■ Failing to honor return policies
■ Failing to explain contract financing terms
■ Failing to tell consumers about important warranty terms
■ Failing to honor warranties
■ Harassing and threatening consumers who fall behind on their payments
■ Failing to properly serve consumer defendants in small claims cases

“Deceptive business practices take hard-earned dollars from the pockets of consumers and jeopardizes their economic security,” DCBA Director Brian J. Stiger said. “Our department is proud to work in collaboration with Attorney General Becerra and his office to help make sure the marketplace remains fair for consumers and businesses in Los Angeles County.”

Customers who believe they have been a victim of Curacao are encouraged to file a complaint with the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs and call investigator Esther Martinez at (213) 974-9770.