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Disaster assistance for those affected by the Los Angeles winds

Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to California residents and business owners affected by the Los Angeles County High Winds from November 30 through December 4, 2011, announced U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen G. Mills. SBA acted under its own authority to declare a disaster following a December 13 request from Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.’s designated representative, Mike Dayton, Acting Secretary of California Emergency Management Agency.  The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in Los Angeles County and the neighboring counties of Kern, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura.  “The U. S. Small Business Administration is strongly committed to providing Californians with the most effective and customer-focused response possible, and we will be there to provide access to federal disaster loans to help finance recovery for residents and businesses affected by the disaster,” said Mills. “Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

“Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed by the disaster,” said SBA’s Los Angeles District Director Victor Parker. “Beginning Monday, December 19, SBA customer service representatives will be on hand at the following Disaster Loan Outreach Center to issue loan applications, answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process, and help each individual complete their application,” Parker continued.

The center will be open on the days and times indicated. No appointment is necessary.

Los Angeles County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Pasadena Fire Headquarters
(Across from the Hilton Hotel)
199 South Los Robles Avenue, Suite 550 (5th floor)
(Validated underground parking is available)
Pasadena, CA 91101

Opens Monday, December 19 at 1 pm
Open Tuesday, December 20 through Friday, December 23
9 am to 5:30 pm
Re-opens Monday, January 9, 2012 at 9 am
Open Monday, January 9 through Friday, January 20
9 am to 5:30 pm, Mondays through Fridays

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses of any size and private, nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to homeowners and businesses to help with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size and aquaculture businesses, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.

Interest rates can be as low as 2.063 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for private, nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for businesses, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based upon each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online via SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling SBA at (800) 659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339.

The filing deadline to return applications for property damage is February 17, 2012. The deadline to return economic injury applications is September 19, 2012.

For more information, visit SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov.
Courtesy of SBA Field Operations Center – West, P.O. Box 419004, Sacramento, CA 95841

County of Los Angeles celebrates a bag free New Year

Los Angeles County Public Works’ Eco-Elf Patrol will visit local stores and libraries between December 15 and December 22 to hand out free reusable shopping bags to customers.  Shoppers spotted using reusable bags will also have an opportunity to enter a sweepstake to win prizes.  The bag giveaway events are part of an extensive outreach campaign in advance of a January 1, 2012, ban on single-use plastic bags in about 700 small “convenience” stores and pharmacies in unincorporated areas.

To help raise awareness about the ban, Public Works environmental affairs staff in holiday elf costumes will be distributing free reusable bags in many of the affected stores, and also visiting libraries.

In July, 2011, a similar ban went into effect at larger supermarkets and pharmacies in County unincoporated areas.

Shoppers, please remember to bring your reusable bags when you shop to avoid paying 10 cents for a paper bag!

To learn more about the single-use plastic bag ban, find the Eco-Elf Patrol or join the sweepstakes visit www.aboutthebag.com and follow us on twitter@CleanLA.

The free giveaway events continue through December 22, and residents can still enter to win prizes until December 30 at noon.

CLICK HERE to read Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ Motion to proclaim December, 15 2011 as “A Day without a Bag” throughout the County of Los Angeles.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ Statement on Lap Band Advertising

Obesity and the health problems that accompany the condition are urgent public health problems in many of the communities I represent. Predatory business practices pose another threat to the well-being of residents in low-income neighborhoods. Overly aggressive advertising for lap band surgeries has the potential to combine those two threats, sometimes with deadly consequences. Although the surgery centers in question are not located in my district, many of the billboards advertising them are, and I suspect therefore that many of the patients come from the areas I represent.

All one has to do is drive through those communities with the car radio on to see and hear the ads urging people to “get thin.” The ads tout easy insurance coverage while seemingly downplaying the difficulty of the choice patients must make when considering the procedure – including health risks.

At the request of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the Food and Drug Administration has warned several surgery centers about the misleading nature of their advertising.

I hope the advertisers of lap band surgeries will now take this chance to inform the public responsibly.

The federal government has put them on notice, and they are the primary enforcer of medical advertising standards, but the County can also play a role in protecting our residents. Public Health officials and I are discussing actions the County can take to ensure serious health problems are not trivialized as issues of physical attractiveness.

Our options may include stepped up public health advertising and education campaigns promoting health and nutrition, not thinness. We might also address head-on the potential dangers of lap band surgery with our own billboards and ads.

We may also consider outdoor advertising restrictions where possible. Just as the County has worked with the federal government on this issue, we can also collaborate with cities, the state and our representatives in congress to find ways to protect vulnerable consumers from being misled.

[download_button link=”http://ridley-thomas.lacounty.gov/Health/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/12-14-11-Statement-on-Lapband-Advertising.pdf”]Click here to view the news release[/download_button]

Dunbar Village groundbreaking on Central Avenue

The historic Dunbar Hotel, for decades a crumbling shell, is now being renovated and returned to its former glory. The development, spearheaded by Thomas Safran & Associates, will create 83-unit mixed-use, inter-generational community housing for seniors and families, and create over 150 construction jobs. The renovations of the Dunbar Hotel will feature 41 one-bedroom units for seniors in the Dunbar Hotel and 42 two, three, and four bedroom units for families. Dunbar Village features approximately 8,000 square feet of retail space, including PACE Early Childhood Education and CD Techlink computer school.  Built in 1928, the Dunbar Hotel, originally named the Somerville Hotel, was the focal point of the Central Avenue African-American community during the 1930s and 1940s. The Hotel was built and operated by the Somervilles, a family of black pioneers in dentistry and business. After the stock market crash in 1929, Somerville was forced to sell the hotel, and in 1930, the hotel was renamed in honor of the seminal poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. It became the most prestigious hotel in L.A.’s African-American community, hosting legends such as Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., Lena Horne and many others. At that time, it was known as the West Coast Waldorf-Astoria. It was also the gathering place for African-American literary, political and intellectual leaders, including Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ralph Bunche, Thurgood Marshall and James Weldon Johnson.

In the 1950s, as rules and customs against segregation weakened, Dunbar clients began staying in other public lodgings. For example, Duke Ellington, who had previously kept a suite at the Dunbar, began staying at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood. The Dunbar was again sold in 1968, but the hotel continued to lose money, and closed its doors in 1974. That same year, the Dunbar was designated as a Historic-Cultural Landmark by the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission. Nonetheless, for most of the years between 1974 and 1987, the building was vacant and in poor condition, covered with graffiti, its window broken and its famous suites the residence of homeless people seeking shelter.

Developer Tom Safran has produced many of the finest senior and affordable housing developments in the Second District and is adept at creating affordable, attractive, and culturally significant developments. “This may be his most important project yet,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The project is set for completion in February of 2013.

New property tax assessment seminar

The County of Los Angeles is sponsoring a free 90-minute seminar in Culver City in January, 2012, to assist property owners who feel their taxes should be lowered due to a decline in the value of their property.  The seminar is intended to help taxpayers better understand the assessment appeals process, which many find confusing.  The seminar will be of value to homeowners who are interested in learning about the assessment appeals process and to those who have already filed an appeal.  The seminar will cover taxpayers appeal rights and when to file an application for reduction in assessment.  The seminar will also cover how to prepare for a hearing, what qualifies as admissible evidence, what will happen at the hearing and what to expect after the hearing.

The date, time, and second district location of the session is:

Thursday, January 26, 10 a.m.
Culver City Public Library
4975 Overland Ave
Free parking behind the library.

Persons with disabilities who believe they need reasonable accomodation in order to attend the seminar may call (213) 974-7953 or (800) 735-2922 (TDD). Schedules for seminars may be obtained by calling (213) 974-7953 or on the internet at https://lacaab.lacounty.gov/PubEdProg.aspx