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Attorney General Harris Announces Settlement to Protect Public Health in Jurupa Valley

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LOS ANGELES -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris recently announced a settlement in a lawsuit challenging the approval of an industrial project in Riverside County that would cause additional diesel truck traffic near a community already disproportionately affected by diesel exhaust and noise pollution.

As part of the agreement, the City of Jurupa Valley and other parties will take action to significantly reduce the project’s air quality impacts on Mira Loma Village, a primarily Hispanic residential community.

“It is a false choice to suggest that in order for California business to thrive, public health must suffer,” Attorney General Harris said. “It is my intention that this settlement will provide a model for local governments, developers and communities to work together to ensure responsible development benefiting all Californians.”

In September 2011, Attorney General Harris joined the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) action filed by the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice to set aside Riverside County’s approval for the Mira Loma Commerce Center, which would consist of a million square feet of warehouses and industrial buildings.

The suit outlined the county’s failure to adequately analyze and mitigate the project’s impacts on Mira Loma Village residents in light of the already serious health and environmental risks suffered by the community.

The City of Jurupa Valley, which was incorporated in 2011, now has jurisdiction over the project site. The city and the project developers agreed as part of the settlement to implement and fund the following:

- Proceedings for preparation of an Environmental Justice Element of the City’s General Plan;

- Installation of air filtration systems in the homes of Mira Loma residents;

- Air quality monitoring in Mira Loma Village;

- Landscaping in setback areas with plants with potential to remove or reduce exposure to diesel particulate emissions; and,

- A “green” project site, including a 100kW capacity solar photovoltaic system, LEED Silver certified project buildings, and electric vehicle charging stations.

“We are extremely impressed with the cooperative process that took place to arrive at this agreement,” said Penny Newman, Executive Director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. “This settlement has created the ‘gold standard’ for settlements in addressing impacts through a model process of how diverse stakeholders can come together and cooperatively find comprehensive solutions.”

The settlement also requires the City of Jurupa Valley to conduct proceedings to adopt an ordinance to prohibit heavy trucks on the road adjacent to Mira Loma Village, to implement an anti-idling enforcement program and to consider environmental justice during CEQA review for future projects in the City.

Since the 1990s, Riverside County has approved a series of warehouse projects that are now under the City of Jurupa Valley’s jurisdiction. Thousands of trucks travel to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to distribution centers and warehouses in the City of Jurupa Valley and other areas of Riverside County each day. These trucks spew diesel exhaust causing harmful health impact to residents living near the freeways and roads on which the trucks travel. Diesel exhaust is listed as a known carcinogen under Proposition 65. The levels of particulate matter and ozone pollutants in the Jurupa Valley area are significantly higher than both California and federal air quality standards.

This settlement will help reduce the public health impacts caused by the project and existing warehouse facilities on the overburdened community of Mira Loma Village. This settlement serves as a model for how other local governments can encourage smart development while also addressing environmental public health in their communities.

Assemblymember Brown Introduces Bill to Assist Small Businesses

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SACRAMENTO - Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown (D-San Bernardino) introduced her first bill of the legislative session last week, AB 285, which will expand the definition of a microenterprise. This bill is necessary to enhance the technical services available to small businesses in California.

Microenterprises are business that are started for less than $35,000 and lack access to traditional loans and capital. California has three million microenterprises that employ over four million people. AB 285 will provide microenterprises with increased resources to help them grow.

“I’m pleased to introduce my first bill, AB 285, a bill to support small business growth and job creation in our state. AB 285 will improve the quality of life for residents in the 47th District by promoting small business growth, which will translate to job creation within some of our district’s highest unemployment areas,” said Assemblymember Brown, “Small businesses are so important because they provide a majority of jobs and it is vital for our economy that we continue to push policies that assist in their growth. Passing this legislation will be my top priority.”

Under current law, a microenterprise is classified as a business with four or fewer employees including the business owner. AB 285 will allow for a firm to employ five employees including the business owner. Additionally, this bill will allow local workforce investment boards to provide entrepreneurial training programs and specialized assistance to microenterprises.

The bill was introduced and has been moved to the Assembly Rules Committee for assignment to the appropriate policy committee.

Assembly Speaker Pérez Applauds New Federal Protections for Homeowners

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SACRAMENTO—Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) praised federal rules to protect homeowners by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

“California has been a leader in assisting homeowners facing foreclosure and in reining in abusive practices following the collapse of the housing market, so I’m pleased to see the CFPB take these important steps,” Pérez said. “We know that the economic recovery of many states, including California, has a lot riding on stable housing markets and these new rules move us closer to that goal.”

According to the CFPB the new rules announced today include:

• Restricted Dual-Tracking: Under the CFPB’s new rules, dual-tracking – when the servicer moves forward with foreclosure while simultaneously working with the borrower to avoid foreclosure – is restricted. Servicers cannot start a foreclosure proceeding if a borrower has already submitted a complete application for a loan modification or other alternative to foreclosure, and that application is still pending review. To give borrowers reasonable time to submit such applications, servicers cannot make the first notice or filing required for the foreclosure process until a mortgage loan account is more than 120 days delinquent.

• Notification of Foreclosure Alternatives: Servicers must let borrowers know about their “loss mitigation options” to retain their home after borrowers have missed two consecutive payments. They must provide them a written notice that includes examples of options that might be available to them as alternatives to foreclosure and instructions for how to obtain more information.

• Direct and Ongoing Access to Servicing Personnel: Servicers must have policies and procedures in place to provide delinquent borrowers with direct, easy, ongoing access to employees responsible for helping them. These personnel are responsible for alerting borrowers to any missing information on their applications, telling borrowers about the status of any loss mitigation application, and making sure documents get to the right servicing personnel for processing.

• Fair Review Process: The servicer must consider all foreclosure alternatives available from the mortgage owners or investors – those with decision-making power over the loan – to help the borrower retain the home. These options can range from deferment of payments to loan modifications. And servicers can no longer steer borrowers to those options that are most financially favorable for the servicer.

• No Foreclosure Sale Until All Other Alternatives Considered: Servicers must consider and respond to a borrower’s application for a loan modification if it arrives at least 37 days before a scheduled foreclosure sale. If the servicer offers an alternative to foreclosure, they must give the borrower time to accept the offer before moving for foreclosure judgment or conducting a foreclosure sale. Servicers cannot foreclose on a property if the borrower and servicer have come to a loss mitigation agreement, unless the borrower fails to perform under that agreement.

• Clear Monthly Mortgage Statements: Servicers must provide regular statements which include: the amount and due date of the next payment; a breakdown of payments by principal, interest, fees, and escrow; and recent transaction activity.

• Early Warning Before Interest Rate Adjusts: Servicers must provide a disclosure before the first time the interest rate adjusts for most adjustable-rate mortgages. And they must provide disclosures before interest rate adjustments that result in a different payment amount.

• Options for Avoiding Costly “Force-Placed” Insurance: Servicers typically must make sure borrowers maintain property insurance and if the borrower does not, the servicer generally has the right to purchase it. The CFPB’s rules ensure consumers will not be surprised by this insurance, which often can be more expensive than the insurance borrowers buy on their own. The rules say servicers must provide more transparency in this process, including advance notice and pricing information before charging consumers. Servicers must also have a reasonable basis for concluding that a borrower lacks such insurance before purchasing a new policy. If servicers buy the insurance but receive evidence that it was not needed, they must terminate it within fifteen days and refund the premiums.

• Payments Promptly Credited: Servicers must credit a consumer’s account the date a payment is received. If the servicer places partial payments in a “suspense account,” once the amount in such an account equals a full payment, the servicer must credit it to the borrower’s account.

• Prompt Response to Requests for Payoff Balances: Servicers must generally provide a response to consumer requests for the payoff balances of their mortgage loans within seven business days of receiving a written request.

• Errors Corrected and Information Provided Quickly: Servicers must generally acknowledge receipt of written notices from consumers regarding certain errors or requesting information about their mortgage loans. Generally, within 30 days, the servicer must: correct the error and provide the information requested; conduct a reasonable investigation and inform the borrower why the error did not occur; or inform the borrower that the information requested is unavailable.

• Maintain Accurate and Accessible Documents and Information: Servicers must store borrower information in a way that allows it to be easily accessible. Servicers must also have policies and procedures in place to ensure that they can provide timely and accurate information to borrowers, investors, and in any foreclosure proceeding, the courts.

Speaker Pérez noted that the new federal rules are expected to complement the 2012 Homeowners Bill of Rights passed by the California Legislature, which has been called the most comprehensive homeowner protection act in the nation.

California African American Museum Celebrates the Legacy of Dr. King

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Live multicultural performances and events exemplify Dr. King’s Dream during three-day celebration

Los Angeles - In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday, the California African American Museum (CAAM) will host a three-day weekend celebration in Exposition Park, January 19-21, 2013.

This year, CAAM has several special tributes planned as 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Event activities include live performances representative of the diverse cultures of Los Angeles, art workshops, film screenings, an art awards ceremony and much more. All events are free and open to the public. Some of the key highlights of the three-day celebration include:

“Kingdom Day Parade” – Saturday, January 19, 2013, 10:30a.m. – 2 p.m.
CAAM will participate in the 28th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. “Kingdom Day Parade.” CAAM car participants include Charmaine Jefferson, Executive Director, Woodburn Schofield, Deputy Director of Operations and Special Programs and each of the presidents of CAAM’s volunteer councils including Ron Lewis, History Council; Don Rodell, Service Council; Jeri Boyles, Docent Council and the Friends Foundation Chair Susan Cole Hill, as CAAM celebrates its volunteers. CAAM encourages the parade goers to give a loud CAAMinLA shout out or tweet #CAAMinLA #KingdomDayParade when you spot the car!

Target Sundays at CAAM- One Dream, A National Influence, A World of People – Sunday, January 20, 2013, 1p.m. – 5p.m. live program (Doors open at 11 a.m.)
Co-hosted by actor Jeffery Anderson-Gunter and actor, singer, writer and director Hattie Winston, this MLK celebration will feature live multicultural performances by 10-year-old inspirational speaker, Anthony Gill; the Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy, one of the largest Korean dance studios in Southern California; belly dancers Veena & Neena; singer Jamar Rogers, who was a finalist on “The Voice;” and Wangari, an Afro-Jazz fusion band led by singer, Wangari.

Cake for King – Monday, January 21, 2013, 11a.m. – 2p.m.
CAAM will screen the documentary “King: Man of Peace in a Time of War,” while Babe and Art Evans hold storytelling in the gallery, reading “My Brother Martin” written by Christine King Farris, as well as leading a writing and journal-decorating workshop. Speed painter, Zachary Brown, will be on site impressing the attendees with his incredibly fast paintings of portraits of Dr. King and actor Gerald Rivers will deliver re-enactments of Dr. King’s speeches from the main stage. In honor of Dr. King’s birthday, CAAM will offer free slices of birthday cake starting at 2p.m. until the tasty treat baked by Nooks and Grannies is all gone.

The Dream@50 Awards Ceremony – Monday, January 21, 2013, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
K-12 students created artwork inspired by a word or phrase from Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream Speech,” with the artwork titled accordingly for the competition. The national competition will hold its regional awards ceremony for Los Angeles at CAAM. Judges include Abstract Artist Mark Bradford; CAAM Curator Vida Brown; Los Angeles Times Chief Art Critic Christopher Knight; California Institute of the Arts President Steven D. Lavine; Artist and Arts Advocate Gayle Garner Roski; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art Curator Franklin Sirmans. The ceremony will include live performances and four winners will be announced. There will also be special guest appearances and presentations. The winner and semi-finalists work will be on display at CAAM through March 3, 2013.

The three-day weekend celebrations at CAAM are free and open to the public. Doors open Saturday at 10a.m.; Sunday and Monday at 11a.m. A children’s workshop will be held each day beginning at 11a.m. Artist and educator Teresa Tolliver will host the art workshop during the Target Sunday program and it is open to all ages. Supplies are provided by CAAM. In addition, guests are encouraged to take advantage of the rich culture, history and ongoing exhibitions in the CAAM galleries. For more information and a full schedule of the King celebration activities, visit www.caamuseum.org or call (213) 744-2024.

Exhibition to Honor Newtown Children

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POMONA – Mosaic Gallery is pleased to present They Fill My Eyes, a tribute to honor the children who died on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. The show held a private opening for special guests on Saturday, January 5, 2013; the artist’s reception will take place during Pomona’s monthly Art Walk on Saturday, January 12, from 5 to 9 p.m. The exhibition continues through January 31 so that area art lovers will have ample opportunity to enjoy these beautiful pieces. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 1 until 4 p.m.

Artist Leslie Love Stone has created twenty paintings using colors derived from the Myosotis arvensis (Forget-Me-Not) and a geometric numbering system. Each piece is painted with Flashe on a 10" x 10" wood panel and conveys data initially released about the children to the news outlets. Each painting is dedicated to a specific child. The color on each indicates whether the child is a boy or girl. The number of colored segments reflects the child's age. The overall number of segments are placed in eight triangular sections from left to right, top to bottom, and show the child's birthdate. The exhibition’s title is a line taken from the old Marmalade song, Reflections of My Life.

"When the news first broke about the shootings, I really tried to avoid listening to media coverage. It often seems we focus on perpetrators over victims," Stone said. "But when they released the names two days later I thought, 'I can give attention to this; I can bear witness to this.' I opened the article and saw that it was not a celebration of the lives of 20 children. It was a database listing name, birthdate, gender, and age. In that moment, I knew I had to process the information with art."

Stone is a conceptual painter whose work often focuses on the models we build to make sense of the world and ourselves. She uses geometry to abstract and reanimate statistical data. A former banking executive, Stone is currently working on her MFA at Claremont Graduate University.

More information about the artist can be found at www.leslielovestone.com.

The Mosaic Gallery is a nonprofit organization devoted to bringing professional art to the community. The gallery features a regular changing selection of outstanding visual arts and design exhibitions and is located 281 S. Thomas Street in Pomona, California.

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