Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Black Plate Special: California Revives Vintage License Plates

From "The Rodder's Journal"

The original California Yellow and Black plate issued 1956-1963, as seen on the
Lloyd Bakan '32 Ford Coupe, currently owned by Don Orosco, Monterey, CA
Photo from The Rodder's Journal
Last September, California passed a bill that established the state’s Legacy License Plate program. Officially launched January 1, 2013 the program revives the famous “California Black Plates,” originally issued in the ’60s, as well as the yellow plates from the ’50s, and blue plates from the ’70s. It was initiated by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a vintage car enthusiast who oversees the district just north of Los Angeles that includes Burbank and Glendale. Aaron Moreno, Legislative Director from the Office of Assemblyman Gatto, reports that DMV pre-orders for the specialty plates are doing well. However, a minimum of 7,500 of each plate style must be ordered and pre-approved by the state before production of any one style will begin.

The original Black and Gold plate, first issued in 1963, as seen on a
1932 Ford Roadster owned by Pat Ganahl, Glendale, CA
Photo from The Rodder's Journal

From our perspective, this is a worthwhile program that adds one more element of authenticity to our period-styled hot rods and customs. We hope that spreading the word will help make this effort a success, and that other states will consider following suit.

California originally issued black license plates with gold lettering in 1963. While most states require that license plates stay with the registered owner, California allows them to be transferred with the car from one owner to the next. There are still quite a few cars that retain these desirable black plates from the ’60s. Equally coveted are yellow plates with black lettering, issued from ’56 to ’63, and blue plates with yellow lettering issued from ’69 until the early-’80s.

The original Blue and Yellow plate issued 1969-1983 as seen on the
Jim "Jake" Jacobs '34 Ford coupe, currently owned by Jerry Slover of Peculiar, Missouri
Photo from The Rodder's Journal
The replica plates offered through the program are available in standard sequential alpha-numeric format or as vanity plates. The main difference from the original plates is that the replicas are “reflectorized” (chemically coated to reflect light) to comply with state law. Within the first month, 3,500 pre-orders were placed among all three license plate styles. The minimum of 7,500 pre-approved orders per plate must be received by January 1, 2015 for the program to move forward.

The pre-order cost is $50, and you can download your order form here. For a list of Frequently Asked Questions and payment information, visit Assemblyman Gatto's Website HERE.

Mike Gatto is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

PRESS ENTERPRISE EDITORIAL: During nonpeak hours, open car pool lanes to all

The Legislature should support efforts to open car pool lanes to all vehicles at off-peak
travel times to improve traffic flow. - See more HERE

THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE - Car-clogged California needs every bit of efficiency the state can squeeze from freeways. So legislators should back a push to open car pool lanes to general traffic during non-rush hours. The state does not have so much freeway capacity that it can afford to leave lanes mostly empty for long stretches each day.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, last week introduced AB 405. The bill would open a five-mile stretch of car pool lanes on Highway 134 to regular traffic during off-peak travel hours. Currently, only vehicles with two or more occupants can use the lanes, regardless of the time of day. The assemblyman notes that the goal of car pool lanes is to ease traffic congestion and improve air quality. But letting lanes sit empty while bumper-to-bumper traffic jams the rest of the freeway just irritates motorists, without serving any policy purpose.

Gatto crafted the proposal as a pilot program, but clearly envisions extending the same approach to freeways across Southern California. He has the right idea: Letting solo drivers use car pool lanes during off-peak hours is a cost-effective way to increase freeway capacity — cheaper certainly than spending billions of dollars to add additional lanes. The state now has more than 1,400 miles of car pool lanes, out of about 12,000 miles of freeway in the state.

The evidence supports the assemblyman’s proposal. A 2012 Caltrans report about such “high-occupancy vehicle” lanes in the Los Angeles area suggests the lanes underperform. An average of 1,300 vehicles per hour used the lanes during rush hour times in 2011. Caltrans puts a limit of 1,650 vehicles per hour as the maximum traffic level for such lanes, so the car pool lanes are hardly filled to capacity. Some of the car pool lanes barely met Caltrans’ minimum standard of 800 vehicles per hour. And those numbers were for peak times. Traffic in those lanes would be even less during off hours — hardly an efficient use of existing freeway space.

That result is not an anomaly. A 2007 report by the Institute for Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley found similar underuse of California’s car pool lanes — and suggested that opening the lanes to all traffic at some times of the day would improve freeway operations.

California already has a precedent for doing so. In Northern California, the car pool restrictions only apply during morning and evening rush hour periods Monday through Friday. The rest of the time, anyone can use the lanes.

Caltrans says that following a similar approach in Southern California would be impractical, because the daily freeway congestion lasts longer. But that contention merely means less time might be available for all-purpose use of the lanes, and is not a persuasive reason for keeping restrictions in place 24 hours a day. And nothing undercuts public support for car pool lanes like being stuck in traffic while a restricted lane sits empty.

Expanding freeways is costly, time-consuming and disruptive, so California needs promote the most efficient use of existing lanes. And barring most traffic from lanes that are nearly empty for part of the day is not a sensible approach to meeting that goal.

Read this editorial and more at:

Photo from archive: the 2012 Burbank International Film Festival

Justin Hager, my Communications Director, presented this certificate to Jeff Rector, President of the Burbank International Film Festival in recognition of the festival's work in the community.  The certificate was presented on the opening night of the 2012 Festival.  I hope that folks living in Burbank and the surrounding area will attend the 2013 Festival, September 4-8.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lawmaker wants to stop tickets for drivers parking at broken meters | News - KCRA Home

"I think it’s very unfair to the members of the public to tell them that your tax dollars go to pay for this meter, but if the meter is broken and the city hasn’t fixed it, then we are going to give you ticket," said Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Burbank. 

Lawmaker wants to stop tickets for drivers parking at broken meters | News - KCRA Home

LISTEN IN: KNX 1070 News Radio drivetime interview re: AB 405

“We’ve all sat on the freeway at night or midday, and seen an accident or something that slows the right three lanes to a crawl while the carpool lane sits open and unused,” Gatto said. “My AB 405 would allow better use of the carpool lane during those non-peak hours by allowing people to use it even if they don’t have a traditional carpool.”

Op-Ed: Laying the Foundation for a Lifetime of Learning

James Baldwin said that "We all profit by, or pay for, whatever [our children] become."  Our responsibility to support and be attentive to our children is the theme of my Op-Ed in last week's Crescenta Valley Weekly.  I've shared that Op-Ed below and give thanks to Robin Goldsworthy of the CV Weekly for allowing me to share my thoughts on this important topic.

Laying the Foundation for a Lifetime of Learning
Throughout history, scholars, theologians, and social justice advocates have spoken of the important role that our children play as the future leaders of our society. Frederick Douglass said, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” And James Baldwin noted, “We all profit by, or pay for, whatever they [our children] become.”
Second-grade students at Mountain Avenue
Elementary School launched a Barbie into Space
These quotes instill in each of us a responsibility to educate our children and ensure they have the knowledge and skills to lead us in the future. But, in the past month, I have had the honor to meet and interact with some of Crescenta Valley’s next generation of great minds who have inspired me to consider the lessons I can learn from young people.
Last month, at Mountain Avenue Elementary School, I met second graders who launched a Barbie into space, complete with a digital camera and GPS tracking device. One week later, at Clark Magnet High School, students demonstrated their robotics skills with robots that shoot hoops and hovercrafts that can carry adult humans. These are accomplishments that I would have never dreamed of as a child, and still lack the knowledge and skill to pursue today.
Each of these young people, and so many others, prove that with education and support, our children may accomplish anything they can dream.  They also demonstrate that each of us also has a responsibility to allow our children to educate us, with the type of wisdom that only a child can possess.
Aldous Huxley, the best-selling author and life-long resident of the Beachwood Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles, said, “A child-like man is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.”
The Clark High School Robotic Team
Perhaps even more profound was Bishop Desmond Tutu’s insight: “[Children] have an extraordinary capacity to see into the heart of things and to expose sham and humbug for what they are.”
The fact is that young people have great ideas that often go overlooked.  After all, it was students who created and continue to govern organizations like the Fire House Youth Center. Some of these young people are also leaders in our community who serve on the CV Youth Town Council.
This week, young people from throughout the region will travel to the state capitol in Sacramento to participate in the 65th Model Legislature and Court. These intelligent and well-spoken young adults have been studying tirelessly for months to learn the legislative process, parliamentary procedure, and issues that affect our State. I hope you will join me in wishing them the best of luck and in working to support all youth who desire to actively engage and have a voice in the world around them. I also hope the adult leaders, myself included, will truly listen to these young people and learn something in the process as well.
This opinion editorial originally appeared in the Febrursay 14th edition of the Crescenta Valley Weekly. You can read this Op-Ed and more by visiting the CV Weekly HERE
Mike Gatto is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Surprise Visitor at the District Office

The District Office had a pleasant surprise this afternoon, when Bess Meisler, of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ and ‘Daddy Daycare,’ and her daughter, stopped by to say hello and thank me for fighting to secure California’s financial future. 

LISTEN IN as I discuss AB 405 on KFI Radio


LA Times Excerpt: Lawmaker wants to open Southland car pool lanes for off-peak use

Eastbound traffic on the 134 Freeway is clogged by an accident. (Mike Meadows / Associated Press / June 10, 2010)

By Patrick McGreevy
February 19, 2013, 10:51 a.m.

...Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) said his AB 405 will create a test program that could be expanded to other congested freeways in Southern California that do not open up car pool lanes to all traffic after rush hour. It would allow single-passenger vehicles to use the car pool lanes in off-peak hours in a five-mile stretch of the 134 between the 170 and 5 freeways...

You can read this entire article, and more at the LA Times by clicking HERE

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

LISTEN IN: KPCC's Noel Conti Talks Broken Parking Meters with Assemblyman Mike Gatto

Below is my interview with Noel Conti on KPCC. Not sure I believe that there are only 5 broken meters (total) in the entire City of LA... But silly me for not trusting parking enforcement.

PRESS RELEASE: Gatto Bill will Ease Congestion, Better Manage Carpool Lanes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               Contact:  Justin Hager (818) 558-3043
February 19, 2013         


Sacramento, CA – It's happened to anyone who lives in Southern California.  A late-night accident or mysterious slowing clogs the rightmost freeway lanes, while the carpool lane sits empty.  Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) has introduced Assembly Bill 405, a measure that will create a pilot program of sorts to ease such traffic congestion by permitting single-occupancy vehicles to access the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes (also known as carpool lanes) on State Highway Route 134, during non-peak hours.

A recent CalTrans report indicated that Southern California’s HOV lanes are not being utilized to capacity during non-peak hours, leaving single-passenger vehicles idling in slow-going or stand-still lanes.  Unlike Northern California, where HOV lane restrictions are in place only during peak commute hours, HOV lanes in Southern California, including those on the 134 Freeway, are restricted on a 24-hour basis. 

Gatto explained that “carpool lanes are intended to increase the capacities of our freeways, reward those who carpool during rush hour, and protect the surrounding environment from harmful exhaust.   When motorists are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at midnight while carpool lanes sit empty, none of those goals are being met.  It just doesn't make sense.”

Gatto’s measure would require Caltrans to allow single-passenger vehicles to access the HOV lanes on a five mile stretch of the 134 Freeway between the 170 Freeway and Interstate 5 during non-peak hours.

“The current restriction of HOV lanes to only high-occupancy vehicles or to those who can afford high-efficiency vehicles is an ineffective way to operate these lanes outside of rush hour,” said Gatto.  “California’s highway system needs to remain flexible, especially in areas where people drive the freeways at all times.” 

Many commuters along the 134 corridor, which links the 101 Freeway to Pasadena and beyond, do not work traditional hours.

Gatto is also overseeing an effort with state and local agencies to investigate ways to address administratively the underutilization of HOV lanes in the region.

“Traffic congestion is almost always bad during rush hour; it need not be bad all night long,” said Gatto. 

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.  

Indian Country Today: California Legislator Seeks Tribal Input on Sacred Sites Protection Bill

Eagle Rock, located in the McCloud River canyon in Northern California, is sacred to the Winnemem Wintu and has been desecrated with graffiti and carvings.

Marc Dadigan - February 19, 2013

This October, not far from Bishop, California five petroglyphs sacred to tribes in the area including the Paiute, Shoshone and Mono were stolen by vandals using chainsaws and ladders. Government officials compared the crime to cutting holes in the Wailing Wall.

On the other end of the state, about an hour from the Oregon border, the Winnemem Wintu’s sacred Eagle Rock, which is still a ceremonial place in use by the tribe, has long suffered desecrations by vandals carving initials into or spray-painting the rock.

Throughout the state, tribal leaders say sacred sites and burial sites are far too vulnerable to vandalism and destruction via development, and California State Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) agrees.

Gatto recently introduced a “placeholder” for Assembly Bill 52, which states his intent to enact legislation to improve the protection of sacred and cultural sites by requiring developers to consult with the appropriate tribes “prior to project initiation.”

“I think the state of California has not been great custodians of our history,” Gatto said. “After everything we’ve put our Native people through, it would be really wrong and a travesty if we allowed sacred sites to disappear.”

Gatto said he expects his office will spend the next two months consulting with tribes around the state, including federally unrecognized tribes, about what language would make the bill most effective...

You can read this entire article at

People who are interesting in providing input on the bill may contact legislative aide, Katerina Robinson at

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Mr. President(s)

I hope that all of my family, friends, and neighbors had a wonderful Presidents Day weekend!  In recognition of Presidents Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays, I wanted to share this bust of President Lincoln, created right here in Burbank by the Make-Up Designory (MUD).  You can learn more about MUD, and last week’s open house by visiting their blog:

Friday, February 15, 2013

CA Economic Summit: California homemade food law opens up tasty small business opportunities


Did you ever open a cookie stand hoping to rake in enough cash from sales to sympathetic neighbors to purchase the latest toy? If you answered yes, up until last year, you were breaking the law (!).

That's right, selling homemade food made in unlicensed commercial kitchens was prohibited, unless for charity, by statutes and local ordinances, many of which had been unchanged since the 1920s. Two San Francisco children even had their brownie stand shut down for lacking the appropriate permits.

But thanks to a new law that went into effect January 1 of this year, AB 1616 or the California Homemade Food Act, the sale of certain homemade foods to grocery stores, restaurants, and even directly to customers has been legalized.

In 2011 the Los Angeles County Health Department shut down baker-turned-activist Mark Stambler's small-scale bread-making business after the Los Angeles Times published a profile of Stambler and his homemade award-winning bread. Upon reading the story and learning of the numerous regulatory barriers faced by cottage food entrepreneurs, Stambler's Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), seized the opportunity to help aspiring artisan food makers legally develop small food businesses and stimulate the local economy by authoring AB 1616.

The legislation, signed by Governor Brown last fall, is designed to "remove the red tape that confines our local governments and to assist micro-entrepreneurs who want to enter the food production business but do not have the time or money to spend on a long, drawn out permitting process," said Gatto. "Creating a legal structure for the safe, in-home production of certain foods that respects the importance of public health is a sensible approach that will spark more economic activity in our local economies and in California."

The law makes it easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to launch food production businesses by removing traditional barriers to entry, such as the often crippling cost of rent, limited access to commercial kitchen space, and a burdensome permitting process intended primarily for large-scale retailers and producers, and allowing for the sale of "non-potentially hazardous" homemade foods.

Approved products include breads, cookies, granola, churros, jams, dry roasted nuts and many more delicious goodies. Sorry bacon lovers, unfortunately, most foods that require refrigeration such as meats, cheeses and custards, are not covered under the new law.

California joins a growing list of more than 30 states with similar legislation already on the books, none of which have reported any incidents of foodborne illnesses resulting from the sale of these items.

But don't start peddling Grandma's famous Snickerdoodles just yet.

To address public health concerns, the legislation includes a number of provisions that will ensure food is safe and free from contaminants. Cottage food operators (CFOs) will be required to register with the local Department of Public Health for a small fee, complete a food-safety course and pass an exam, currently in development by the California Department of Public Health, label products as homemade, and submit to a kitchen inspection verifying adherence to sanitation standards.

Having been issued one of the first permits under the law, Mark Stambler has already fired up his wood-burning brick oven and is legally baking his blue-ribbon bread for fellow Angelenos to purchase and enjoy.

With California's unemployment rate hovering just below double digits, 9.8 percent, the law is great news for residents looking for alternative ways to supplement their income.

"Starting a small food business is a solution that many refugees of the economic crisis turn to because many people are capable of making food," said the Executive Director of Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Janelle Orsi in a statement, whose organization helped Gatto draft the bill.

Reducing the number of regulatory hoops entrepreneurial foodies must jump through to start a food production business provides home cooks with the opportunity to turn some spare time and a hobby into a business. The ability to forgo steep startup costs allows budding food entrepreneurs to test the waters in a relatively low-risk way before making costly investments in equipment or commercial kitchen space.

Additionally, purchasing locally sourced food rather than name brands bolsters the local economy by guaranteeing a larger proportion of sales revenue is reinvested in the community.

Large-scale producers have nothing to fear. Annual revenue is capped at $35,000 for 2013 and will rise to $50,000 by 2015, to ensure these micro enterprises remain neighborhood-based activities.

Seeking to cultivate and unlock California's entrepreneurial spirit, the California Economic Summit has prioritized streamlining regulations that would stimulate small business and economic growth. The California Homemade Food Act is an example of how thoughtful modernization of outdated regulatory processes can trigger local economic development by fostering innovation and reinvigorating neighborhood economies.

Anyone need a freelance taste tester?

You can read the rest of this article, and more, at the California Economic Summit blog HERE

Watch a video of the story behind AB 1616, and Assemblyman Gatto's fight to protect and entrepreneurs HERE
Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

Learning to Fight Shakedown Lawsuits

Shakedown lawsuits have been a problem for business owners for years. States, including California, have passed laws to help protect the business owner from these lawsuits while continuing to support and protect the rights of the public. But the lawsuits have continued despite the efforts of legislators.
In response to a discussion with his Small Business Advisory Commission, Assemblymember Mike Gatto has taken action to help prevent these types of frivolous lawsuits.
On Feb. 4, Gatto introduced legislation that allows a business owner who receives notice of a Proposition 65 violation to remedy that violation and achieve compliance within 14 days without facing exorbitant retroactive fines.
In 1986, California voters approved Prop. 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, which required the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. It required business owners to notify customers about these chemicals via a “clear and reasonable” warning as in posting signs in their establishments. In 2004, Prop. 64 was passed which, at the time, was heralded as a solution to stop frivolous lawsuits but, as is with most legislation, there were loopholes.
Gatto’s legislation was inspired by an Eagle Rock restaurant owner who had been sued for thousands of dollars for failing to notify his customers that beer could cause cancer.
Brett Schoenhals owner of The Coffee Table in Eagle Rock
During the commission meeting, the business owner said the lawsuits are difficult to fight because the owner doesn’t know when the person who is suing visited the business and if in fact the sign was not visible at the time. All it takes for a lawsuit, the restaurant owner said, is to be accused.
The law allows for fines of $2,500 per day for each day of the violation. Most larger companies settle out of court; however, small businesses can be driven out of business.
AB 227, the legislation introduced by Gatto, would further the intent of Prop. 65, which is to obtain compliance by displaying warnings of chemicals present on a site. It would allow a business that receives notice of a private action to correct the violation, i.e., post the Prop. 65 warning, within 14 days without being subject to the retroactive $2,500 per day fine, stated Gatto.
Gatto said the intent of the law was to warn the public, not drive out business.
“I had the opportunity to listen to concerns of local business owners on the Small Business Advisory Commission. The severe negative impact of shakedown lawsuits under Prop. 65 was immediately apparent,” stated Gatto.  “Most business owners work hard to protect customers so that the customers return. This is especially true with small business owners whose customers are neighbors, friends and relatives. This common-sense bill will help small businesses avoid costly litigation while ensuring that the public has the proper warnings about potentially dangerous chemicals.”
In addition to the Prop. 65 violations, there are also a growing number of ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act] lawsuits. The so-called drive-by lawsuits or shakedown lawsuits are also financially crushing small businesses...

You can read the rest of this article, and more, at the Crescenta Valley Weekly HERE

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

Congratulations to Tom Lenahan, Burbank's new Fire Chief

Congratulations to Tom Lenahan, a 25 year veteran of the Burbank Fire Department, who officially assumed his new role as Chief of the Burbank Fire Dept. yesterday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gatto introduces bill to protect cities from dog park-related claims

Five years ago, Grassroots organizers from throughout the region began working together to create a dog park in Crescenta Valley.  I was happy to help those organizors pursue their goal and last October, I was honored to be part of the ribbon cutting ceremony that officially opened the park to the public.  Now I'm authoring AB 265, a bill that would make it easier for small  and medium-sized communities across California to open dog parks.  Daniel Siegal of the Glendale News-Press wrote the following article about the challenges to small and medium-sized communities who want to build dog parks, how AB 265 would address them.  He also provided a recent photo of local residents (and their furry friends) taking advantage of the Crescenta Valley Dog Park

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) has introduced a bill that would limit the liability of local governments that operate dog parks.
AB 265 would also require cities and counties to post signs warning users that they enter a dog park at their own risk, Gatto said in a statement.
 (Times Community News / February 11, 2013)
Under current law, cities can be subject to massive liability claims filed by people who they were unaware of the potential dangers, such as dog bites, that can occur at dog parks, according to Gatto’s office.
“By offering our communities a more sensible set of laws on this issue, we can help make more dogs parks available in more neighborhoods,” he said.
-- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

You can read this article and more at the Glendale News-Press HERE

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

- Become a fan of Assemblyman Mike Gatto on Facebook by clicking  HERE!

Gatto, Portantino appointed to California Film Commission

Assemblyman Mike Gatto -- whose district includes the studio-heavy cities of Burbank, Glendale and part of Hollywood -- has been appointed to the California Film Commission.

The commission handles permitting for filming on state property, and supports in-state film production through tax credits and other assistance – an important role given the recent years long trend of film shoots moving out of state to take advantage of lower costs.

In a statement Tuesday, Gatto said he was proud to have been appointed to the commission given the fact that he represents “many of the studios, executives, creative and technical staff and talent that make up one of California’s most critical industries.”

Gatto, appointed Assembly Speaker John Perez, joins 21 other members on the commission. Among them is Anthony Portantino, who worked in film and television prior to representing La Cañada and Pasadena in the Assembly from 2006 until terming out of office in December...

-- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News
Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal

You can read this entire article, and more, at the Glendale News-Press by clicking HERE

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

- Become a fan of Assemblyman Mike Gatto on Facebook by clicking  HERE!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sacramento Bee: California Democrats consider giving lawmakers more say over initiatives

By Torey Van Oot

The November election delivered California Democrats a coveted supermajority for governing the state.

Now the party's leader in the Senate wants to use that political capital to give the Legislature more say in the voter initiatives that make their way to the ballot...

...The idea that the state's 101-year-old direct democracy process needs updating isn't new. The rising cost of initiative campaigns, crowded ballots and legal battles over language have fueled calls for reform.

Shortages of political will and cash have sidelined previous efforts to change the system, through both the Legislature and the initiative process.

Democrats now have the ability, however, to put the changes on the ballot without GOP votes...

...Steinberg's package will likely include an "indirect initiative" proposal, which would let the Legislature amend or enact an initiative proposal with proponents' OK...

...California offered an indirect initiative route until 1966, when it was repealed. Few proponents took advantage of the system when it existed, in part because of timing issues created by the Legislature's then-biennial calendar.

Supporters say reviving the option would unclutter the ballot, provide public vetting of proposals and ensure that flaws or unintended consequences are worked out before a statewide vote...

...Polling by the Public Policy Institute of California consistently shows that while voters believe there are problems with the process, they'd rather make policy changes themselves than trust those decisions to the Legislature.

"The voters of California really believe that the initiative process is an important check and balance against the governor and Legislature, and they want to have a say in public policy, particularly the big decisions around the budget and long-term spending issues," PPIC President Mark Baldassare said. "But that doesn't mean they think the initiative process is in any way perfect."

The PPIC's surveys show widespread support for changes that would increase disclosure and transparency, but less enthusiasm for an indirect initiative option. Baldassare said any proposals put on the ballot would likely need broad backing to win over voters skeptical of a legislative power grab.

Even with Steinberg's political pull, reaching such a consensus could be difficult. The initiative process is used heavily by both business and labor interests. And high-powered consulting and law firms in Sacramento make large sums off the costly campaigns.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, experienced such opposition firsthand last session, when he introduced a package of constitutional amendments related to the initiative process. Some proposals, such as a requirement that measures that would cost the state money identify a funding source, started with bipartisan support. In the end, even two co-authors failed to vote aye.

"It was just tremendous pressure put on them by some of the people, 'Initiative Inc.', I guess you could call it," Gatto said. "Good government measures, they benefit the people as a whole, but there is no specific special interest that benefits from this."

You can read this entire story and more at the Sacramento Bee: HERE

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

Gatto receives 100% on Humane Society Legislative Report Card

PRESS RELEASE: The Humane Society Legislative Fund Releases California State Humane Scorecard

Scorecard evaluates elected officials on work for animals for the 2012 legislative session
SACRAMENTO (Feb. 11, 2013) -- The Humane Society Legislative Fund is releasing its California State Humane Scorecard for the 2012 legislative session. The scorecard provides a snapshot of California state lawmakers’ records on animal welfare policies. Lawmakers are scored based on their floor votes on bills addressing issues such as cockfighting, hound hunting, tenants with pets, trapping, and poaching.

"The California State Humane Scorecard provides an easy way for constituents to assess how their lawmakers acted on animal protection issues, and it helps chart the progress of our public policy work on behalf of animals in the state," said Sara Amundson, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. "In 2012, California lawmakers banned the trophy hunting of bears and bobcats with packs of hounds, strengthened the penalties for illegal cockfighting, and cracked down on other abuses. The anti-cruelty laws of a state are a reflection of our basic values and attitudes toward animals, and this collection of bills is a measurable step forward for the state of California."

The Humane Society Legislative Fund tracked seven bills during the session: A.B. 2402, which reforms state fish and wildlife management processes including changing the agency’s name to California Department of Fish and Wildlife; S.B. 1480, which protects pets and wildlife from unnecessary cruelty and death associated with wildlife trapping methods; A.B. 2179, which increases ability to prosecute and penalize for wildlife crimes; S.B. 1229, which prohibits landlords from requiring cats to be declawed or dogs to be devocalized as a condition of tenancy; S.B. 1221, which bans the hunting of bears and bobcats with hounds; A.B. 2609, which improves Fish and Game Commission appointments and business practices; and S.B. 1145, which increases fines for those convicted of participating in a cockfight.

Five of the seven scored bills, including A.B. 2402, S.B 1229, S.B. 1221, A.B. 2609, and S.B. 1145, were signed into law in 2012. With the passage of these laws, California continues to hold its No. 1 ranking on The Humane Society of the United States’ “Humane State Ranking” of animal protection laws, a title it also held in 2010 and 2011.

Highlights from the 2012 California Humane Scorecard include:
  • Of the 119 members of the legislature scored, 43 received perfect scores – indicating a vote in support of animal protection for all seven scored bills, including 11 senators and 32 assemblymembers.
  • Four members received more than 100 percent, reflecting their support of animal protection in all seven bills, as well as primary leadership on at least one of the scored bills. These members are state Senators Ellen Corbett, D-10, and Fran Pavley, D-23, and Assemblymembers Michael Allen, D-07, and Ben Hueso, D-79.
  • The average score for state senators was 65 percent.
  • The average score for assemblymembers was 67 percent.
  • Only one state senator scored less than 29 percent and 53 assemblymembers scored 57 percent or higher.
  • There were 24 members of the legislative animal protection caucus, which sponsors nonpartisan forums and briefings, tracks the progress of relevant legislation, provides members with dependable information on animal welfare issues and works to build broad coalitions in support of common-sense animal welfare laws.
Media contact:  Kaitlin Sanderson, HSLF, (301) 721-6463,

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The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. On the web at

San Diego Pets Magazine: Gatto Bill Would Help Cities Get Dog Parks

Dogs play at a beach in Coronado, CA - A new bill by Assemblyman Mike Gatto
would eliminate barriers for cities like Coronado to build dog parks.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill today to help local governments create dog parks for their residents.  Under current law, cities often hesitate to open dog parks because dog parks can subject cities to massive liability from litigants who claim, for example, that they were unaware of the potential dangers (i.e., dog bites) that can occur at such parks.  Gatto’s AB 265 limits liability for cities and counties that operate dog parks.  Cities must post signs to warn users that they enter a dog park at their own risk, and, because most cities do not patrol dog parks, that the city is not responsible for injuries suffered by park goers or their pets.

The idea for the bill came from a local city councilmember, who expressed to Gatto that cities would open more dog parks, but for the liability concerns.  “Apparently, large cities and counties can ‘self-insure’ and absorb any potential liability,” said Gatto, “but for smaller and mid-size cities, the liability concerns are a major barrier to improving the lives of dog lovers.”

There is precedent for the state stepping in to limit liability for the public good, especially for the use of public resources that come with some inherent danger.  In 1997, the state imposed limited liability under certain circumstances for cities that open skate parks.  Policymakers reasoned then that more recreation opportunities were needed, but that since skateboarding is inherently dangerous, it should be done at the users’ risk and without massive liability for cities and their taxpayers.

“By offering our communities a more sensible set of laws on this issue, we can help make more dogs parks available in more neighborhoods,” said Gatto.

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

Read more: San Diego Pets Magazine - Assemblyman Mike Gatto Bill Would Help More Communities Get Dog Parks

Glendale News-Press: A dozen restaurants in tri-city area face legal action addressed in Gatto bill

Gatto's bill would give restaurants a reprieve from predatory legal filings over signage. Above, a pizzeria in Pasadena. (Times Community News / February 8, 2013)
A bill introduced this week by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) to protect against what he called “shakedown lawsuits” comes as 12 businesses in his district face similar legal action for not posting simple signage — violations that have spurred thousands of dollars in settlement agreements in the past.
In the last two months Miguel Custodio Law in Pasadena has informed five restaurants each in Burbank and Pasadena and two others in South Pasadena that they are in violation of Proposition 65, a voter approved law that requires establishments to post “clear and reasonable” warnings if the public is at risk of being exposed to chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects.

That would include restaurants that serve alcohol — businesses that frequently find themselves at the receiving end of predatory legal claims since the law allows the public to sue for up to $2,500 for each day the signage isn’t properly displayed.

Before a suit is filed, plaintiffs are required to file a notice with the state, which then has 60 days to decide whether it wants to sue before any other lawsuit can be filed. If they state officials don’t, businesses often agree to pay a settlement to avoid costly litigation, hence the term “shakedown...”

...all 55 currently active 60-day notices for alcohol were filed by Miguel Custodio and Vineet Dubey of the firm Miguel Custodio Law in Pasadena — 52 of them on behalf of three plaintiffs: Danny Sing, Jesse Garrett and Rafael Delgado Jr.

Gatto’s bill, AB 227, would allow a business owner who receives a 60-day notice to avoid retrospective fines by fixing the violation within 14 days.

In a statement Tuesday, Gatto cited the example of Brett Schoenhals, owner of the Coffee Table in Eagle Rock, who told the assemblyman that the 60-day notice he received in January from Custodio threatened a lawsuit of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Custodio said he had yet to be contacted by Schoenhals, and had not yet filed a lawsuit against any business for a Proposition 65 violation...

...Custodio came under scrutiny in a Los Angeles Times report for filing 27 American Disabilities Act lawsuits on behalf of one Eric Moran in 2010, and seeking $9,000 out-of-court settlements to avoid lawsuits...

...Malbec Restaurants Inc. — which is based in Burbank and runs the Malbec Argentinian restaurants in Pasadena and Toluca Lake — was served a notice by Custodio on Jan. 16...

-- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News
Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal

You can read this entire article and more at the Glendale News Press HERE

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Op-Ed: State’s sacred sites should be preserved

My op-ed in the San Diego Union Tribune regarding preserving CA's Native American cultural heritage. (I know I love Roman references).

State’s sacred sites should be preserved

By Mike Gatto
Like everything else, protecting cultural treasures requires conscious effort. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than the story of the magnificent equestrian bronze of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, carved in 175 A.D. Now considered one of the world’s irreplaceable cultural treasures, it is hard to imagine that the statute was once merely one of many. Over the years, the other magnificent ancient equestrian bronzes were stolen, melted for coins, or destroyed by vandals. Such neglect seems criminal with the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge of the magnitude of what was lost. Only the conscious efforts of Pope Sixtus IV and others saved the statue of Marcus Aurelius from the fate that awaited the statues of other emperors.
Might future generations lament our neglect in protecting and preserving California’s unique cultural heritage? Let’s face it: Our state has a habit of neglecting or paving over our history. Recently, thieves stole carvings from an unprotected sacred site on the Volcanic Tableland north of Bishop, stealing priceless rock art revered by the local Paiute people. And in the last few years, developers have sought to place things like dumps or granite mines near or on top of ancient sacred sites. This isn’t right. Native peoples deserve protections for sites that are parts of their ancient heritage. And California should treat these sites as historic resources too.
I have introduced AB 52, legislation that will protect California’s Native American cultural treasures and sacred sites. My proposal will include a process for California’s native peoples to weigh in on development that could affect a sacred site, and will feature increased protections for sites that might not necessarily face threats from development but which are nevertheless threatened. Even though some locations must be kept private to avoid crimes as the one committed against the Paiute, the effort to maintain them must be considered an essential activity in the preservation of our state’s historic resources.
This also fits into the larger effort to reform CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, which some people feel has been abused at the expense of economic development in California. Last year, the effort faced additional hurdles because of concerns by Native Americans that a streamlined CEQA would provide lesser protections for sacred sites. We should remove this sticking point from negotiations.
California’s Native American sacred sites should have their own set of protections, and reform efforts should not stall because of the absence of such a law.
Will future generations wonder what happened to California’s pre-Columbian heritage? Or will they thank us and appreciate our efforts for preserving the sacred sites and cultural treasures that still exist? I can’t imagine Rome without the grand statue of Marcus Aurelius. And I can’t imagine a Southwest without Native American petroglyphs, rock carvings and other sacred sites.
Gatto chairs the Appropriations Committee of the California Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale and some neighboring communities
This Opinion-Editorial originally appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune.  You can read this Opinion Editorial and more at the San Diego Union Tribune by clicking HERE

Friday, February 8, 2013

Celebrating One Month of Homemade-Food Businesses in California - Caron Ory

A taste of home-kitchen-based business

Fountain Valley woman's class will help cottage food entrepreneurs digest state rules to get started.

January 21, 2013|By Jeremiah Dobruck, Los Angeles Times

Caron Ory has developed a sugar alternative called Eco-BeeCo
and she will teach a class at Orange Coast College
about how to develop and sell cottage-industry food products.
(Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot)
When Caron Ory's father was diagnosed with diabetes and struggled to stop eating sugar, the trained dietitian told him not to worry.

"I'll create something for you," she promised.

Through two years of research, trial-and-error recipes and taste tests, Ory came up with Eco-BeeCo, a natural sugar alternative with a tad of freeze-dried honey that passed her requirements nutritionally and her father's gustatory muster.

But when Ory wanted to share her product outside of family and friends, she ran into a hurdle.

To sell the product she'd developed in her home kitchen, California law required her to contract with a commercial kitchen to produce it.

Instead of building a small market and gradually making the transition to large-scale distribution, Ory had to invest $35,000 to blend 6,000 pounds of Eco-BeeCo without ever having sold a pouch of it.

"I spent thousands, and it was a big, big, big risk," she said. "I didn't even know my product was a big seller, and here I am blending 6,000 pounds."

But that hurdle recently disappeared.

Last fall, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1616, a law allowing Californians to make and sell certain non-hazardous foods out of their kitchens. Foods that don't include cream or meat, such as bread, fruit, baked goods, jarred goods and dry mixes — like Eco-BeeCo — could all bypass commercial production and be sold straight out of a home kitchen, according to the law.

When Ory learned that the relaxed requirements would start Jan. 1, she looked for a way she could help others get their products off the ground without making the upfront investment she had.

"Everybody has a signature recipe that they make and people rave about," Ory said.

So, on March 2, Ory, a Fountain Valley resident, will teach a class from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa about AB 1616 and the business of starting a cottage industry out of a home kitchen.

She'll outline the new law and guide students through the basic business side of things, including product assessment, pricing and packaging.

After the class, students will still have to apply for a permit and take a basic food-handling course to get state approval. Ory hopes she can be a mentor to her students as they go through that process.

"With the state of California, it's kind of like a moving target right now because it's a new law," she said.