Friday, June 28, 2013

CAPITOL WEEKLY: CEQA a tool to protect Native American heritage

Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site
By Samantha Gallegos | 06/27/13 2:00 PM PST

When California’s Environmental Quality Act captures public attention, it’s usually because of a struggle between developers and business interests on one side and environmentalists on the other.

But for the Native American community, CEQA has a deeper significance: It is viewed as a tool in maintaining the tribes’ cultural heritage when their land has been targeted for development, or disturbed otherwise, and the inevitable legal battle ensues.

A number of lawmakers and tribes are attempting to expand the 45-year-old CEQA statute specifically to include protections for Native Americans’ cultural heritage. On Thursday, legislation to do just that was approved by the Assembly 56-0 and sent to the Senate.

“My tribe was forced to pay over $20 million to preserve our one and only creation area, because of a broken CEQA,” attorney Laura Miranda  of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians testified during a hearing of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto
Miranda was speaking about the importance of AB 52 by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, which would extend CEQA’s environmental  protections to tribal resources. It would require agencies to consult with Native American tribes before officially declaring that a project passed environmental muster.

The inclusion to protect these resources in CEQA was originally addressed back in 2004, with a Senate bill that incorporated the input of Native American tribes into various layers of the local land-use planning process.

But clashes between tribes and developers and local agencies in recent years have proven the ineffectiveness of the earlier law, observers say.

According to Heather Baugh, assistant general counsel in the Resources Agency who specializes in CEQA, the lead agency involved in a project should consult with the tribes in instances when they may be intruding on a valued site. The lead agency could consider hiring an archeologist, or maybe tribal members, to survey the site to ensure said area is sacred.

“Tribes don’t have a role in the CEQA process,” said Miranda. “Right now CEQA has a section on archaeological resources, but those are all analyzed from a specifically archaeological perspective.” This scientific view doesn’t take into consideration other meaningful qualities of an area, such as the spiritual history.

Under CEQA, projects should say whether going forward would cause substantial adverse changes to the significance of a historical resource, an archaeological resource, or disturb any human remains like in the case of native burial grounds.

But this checklist doesn’t address to all areas of concern for California’s Native American tribes.

What is currently purported to protect Native American cultural resources does not explicitly require the involvement of tribes in the consultation process regarding projects affecting their cultural resources and sacred sites.

In some cases, this has led to areas of importance for tribes to fall between the cracks of development.

Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro shows sacred site
where quarry was proposed. Riverside Press Enterprise, 11.19.2012
Sovereignty of the Luiseño people was threatened in recent years by plans to excavate a mining pit near an area spiritually equivalent for this culture to Eden or Bethlehem, because of failed protection by CEQA.

In 2011, Granite Construction Inc. was planning to effectively blow up an area considered by the Pechanga and Luiseño People to be the place where the “Earth and Sky came together and formed the World,” according to the tribes documentation opposing the project.

“Because CEQA didn’t work for bigger site protection, we ended up having to buy our creation area from a mining company for $20 million,” said Miranda. “Everything was there, on record… it was already on the national historic register. All of the evidence was there, but it was still going to be allowed.”

“AB 52 clarifies the role of the Native Americans within the CEQA process and it requires a more involved consultation with tribes for projects which affect tribal cultural resources and sacred sites,” Gatto said.

An area in the Volcanic Tableland in eastern California where thieves
attempted to carve out a petroglyph. They ultimately extracted six slabs
with the ancient images, and damaged many of the others.
Greg Haverstock/Bureau of Land Management
This was the legislation’s second committee hearing. Proponents have spent the year collaborating with most members of the opposition, making appropriate amendments to address certain concerns and ultimately find a balance that still preserves the bill’s sanctity.

But development and business interests are suspicious of Gatto’s bill.

Representatives for both California’s Chamber of Commerce and the state’s Building Industries Association appeared before committee hearings oppose the bill, saying they concerned the measure would give the tribes veto authority over projects within the state.

Lead agencies would, however, have the opportunity to impose a statement of overriding considerations., which basically allows the project to continue based on public interests, despite an adverse environmental impact.

This additional layer to an already extensive CEQA process may stress individuals and groups that desire to begin local land use projects, but this is arguably meager in comparison to the concerns of the tribes.

“Under current law, if a tribe wants to have input on a sacred site…. something that could be of profound religious significance for that tribe, that tribe is forced to go into negotiations as a member of the public,” said Assemblyman Gatto. Meaning tribes have no greater legal standing in these issues than someone completely unaffiliated with the culture.

You can read this article and more at the Capitol Weekly HERE

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

LISTEN IN: Assemblyman Gatto talks about the preservation of Native American Sacred Sites on KPFA 94.1

LA WEEKLY: L.A. Carpool Lanes Open to All at Night? It's Possible

Photo by Mark Leuthi; (from LA Weekly)

Yeah. That's L.A. for you. And what's really infuriating is when you look to your left and see a wide open ghost town of a lane. The carpool lane. A bill making its way through Sacramento would open that extra lane for your nighttime enjoyment:
AB 405 by Mike Gatto of Burbank would allow "single-occupancy vehicles to access the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes during non-peak hours," according to a statement from his office.
Yes, you'd be able to use those lanes your tax dollars pay for -- lanes meant to alleviate traffic and encourage carpooling during rush hour, not after-hours -- later at night.
The bill passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee unanimously yesterday, Gatto's office announced.
While carpool or HOV lanes are open to commuters after-hours in the Bay Area, it's not the case in L.A. You're punished because you don't drive a Prius. And that's not right. Gatto:

"Carpool lanes are supposed to provide an incentive for carpooling during peak travel hours, and be good for the environment. I support these goals. But when motorists are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at midnight while carpool lanes sit empty, those goals are not met."
Albert Valles - Flickr (from LA Weekly)
The bill says no new carpool lanes will be established after July 1, 2014, unless they're open to all after-hours. It also specifies that stretches of the 134, 170, 5, 210 and 57 be open to single motorists during non-rush hours.
"There is no reason for drivers to be stuck in traffic when a late-night accident or mysterious slowing clogs the rightmost freeway lanes, while the carpool lane sits empty."
Are you behind this, party people?

You can read this article and more at the LA Weekly HERE

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

[VIDEO] CBS2 Investigates: Customers Pay The Price For Prop. 65 Lawsuits Against LA Restaurants

LOS ANGELES ( — Customers are ultimately paying the price for lawsuits against some Los Angeles-area restaurants, according to CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein.

In the past six months, artist Raphael Delgado has had his attorney write letters to 20 restaurants, including California Pizza Kitchen, Maria’s Italian Kitchen and Big Daddy’s Fire Grill, in which he claims he’s documented violations of Proposition 65, which requires businesses to warn residents about possible exposures to chemicals...

...In January, the owner of Big Daddy’s, Dennis Constanzo, said he was threatened with legal action for supposedly not posting warning signs.

“(Delgado) indicated he wanted to settle the matter. And that is what it’s all about,” he said.

Three restaurants have settled with Delgado, paying penalties and legal fees that added up to more than $15,000, according to the California Attorney General’s website. Those costs could end up being passed on to customers in the form of higher food prices...

...When confronted by Goldstein, Delgado claimed he isn’t making any money and quickly called his attorney, Miguel Custodio.

Custodio, who has written 67 threatening letters to restaurants on behalf of just five clients, admitted he’s known Delgado since high school and they even had a business together, but said the Prop. 65 violations are valid.

Asked how Delgado found 20 restaurants in violation of Prop. 65, Custodio said, “You know, he goes to eat out just like, I think, anybody else does and he finds that these establishments don’t have these notices.”

State Assemblyman Mike Gatto, of Burbank, said the lawsuits have led to higher food costs and restaurants are being forced to leave California.

He’s authored a bill that would give restaurants a 14-day grace period to correct any problems.

“If the goal of Prop. 65 was to make sure that warning signs were put up in businesses, then let’s give businesses two weeks or so to put up a warning sign without facing very, very punitive lawsuits,” said Gatto.

Gatto’s proposed legislation is making its way through the state Senate and should be on the governor’s desk in a few weeks.

You can see this investigative report and more at by clicking HERE


HAVE AN OLD OR OUTGROWN BIKE IN YOUR GARAGE? The Burbank Bike Angels are collecting used bikes which they will restore and donate to less fortunate kids in our community.  Last year, the Bike Angels brought smiles to over 200 children in Burbank, the surrounding community, and one very special young man across the country in Rhode Island (pictured above)   Bikes and other tools and components (such as oil, wax, tires, seats, grips, chains bearings, gears, brakes, wheels and helmets) can be donated at the Burbank Recycle Center, 500 S. Flower Street, Burbank (818) 238-3900. 

Below are some photos of past Bike Angels events:

Over 200 kids found a present under the Burbank City Hall Christmas Tree last December.

Bike Angels Christine Torres and Freddy Jojour put the final touches on newly restored pink bikes with purple rims.


These Bike Angels look like they could be future firefighters.

Bike Angel Joe and his son Dylan work together to get this bike ready for a little girl. 

Triumphant restoration of a child-sized GT

Friday, June 21, 2013

OpEd: Public Should Know When School Employees Have History of Abuse

The opinion editorial below appeared in this week's Crescenta Valley Weekly.  I thought I'd share it with those you outside of the Crescenta Valley.
Public Should Know When School Employees Have History of Abuse
by Assemblyman Mike Gatto
In February, a major scandal rocked the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) when teachers at Telfair Elementary in Pacoima and Miramonte Elementary in South L.A. were discovered engaging in long-time patterns of abuse and misconduct.  Despite the allegations that teachers were sexually abusing students, the district failed to take action, prompting the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and the State Auditor to investigate how LAUSD handled allegations of abuse against students.
The report revealed a glaring flaw in school safety procedures – whereas teachers lose their ability to teach if they abuse a child, there are no similar mechanisms for the nearly 300,000 non-teaching school employees, such as janitors, teacher’s aides, bus drivers, office assistants, or groundskeepers.
While accusations of misconduct and disciplinary action against such employees are rare, these non-teaching staff are an everyday part of the education system and often have unsupervised access to students. Indeed, the recent arrest of a teacher’s aide in Lawndale who molested a student in full view of security cameras demonstrates that abuse by school employees can happen and should be taken seriously.
Current laws only require immediate reporting of child-abuse allegations against certified teachers, not classified employees or other personnel who do not maintain the same credentials as teachers. There is also no centralized mechanism to share information about the circumstances under which a classified employee leaves one school district to find employment in another district. Without such a system, a classified employee that is fired, resigns or settles during the course of a child-abuse investigation can easily return to work in another school district.
That’s why I introduced AB 349, which creates a landmark, statewide, information system to help prevent repeat offenders from retaining employment at a different school. This common-sense legislation requires school administrators to report to the Dept. of Education whenever a school employee is dismissed, resigns, is suspended, retires or fired as a result of a child-abuse allegation or while an investigation of alleged abuse is pending.
Protecting our children from predators while preserving the rights of individuals to be presumed innocent until proven guilty is a delicate balancing act. AB 349 maintains this balance with a simple reporting system that will provide hiring administrators the information they need to keep children safe.
Mike Gatto is a father and the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, the communities of La Crescenta and Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood. Email Mike at:, or call (818) 558-3043.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

California Senate committee advances Prop 65 reforms

By Jessica Dye - Thompson Reuters News and Insight - 6/20/2013

(Reuters) - A California Senate committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill aimed at curbing litigation brought under Proposition 65, which requires businesses to post signs warning the public about the presence of chemicals that could adversely impact human health.

Enacted by voters in 1986, the Safe Drinking and Toxic Enforcement Act, or Proposition 65, has been gradually expanded over the past 27 years to include a list of approximately 800 chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive disorders.

Warning signs must be prominently displayed where citizens could be exposed to significant amounts of these chemicals, either in the environment or in products for sale at bars, restaurants and coffee shops, as well as office buildings, airports and other public places.

The proposed legislation, A.B. 227, would tweak Prop 65 with regard to violations of rules regarding warning signs.

Under the bill, private parties could not bring enforcement lawsuits if, within 14 days of receiving notice, an alleged violation was corrected and the alleged violator paid a $500 civil penalty.

The bill is tailored to address alleged violations stemming from exposure to chemicals in alcoholic beverages or food or drink prepared on the premises for immediate consumption, such as acrylamide, a chemical created during coffee roasting. It would also cover exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and engine exhaust fumes in parking lots.

The proposed legislation would not affect the ability of California's attorney general or local district or city attorneys to bring enforcement actions under Prop 65.

The legislation was prompted by an increase in litigation over the past few years to enforce Prop 65.

The wave of new actions has sparked complaints from California's business community that private attorneys are filing large numbers of Prop 65 lawsuits to extract quick settlements.

The majority of Prop 65 lawsuits are brought by private parties, according to statistics from the California attorney general's office. In 2012, a total of 437 settlements were obtained for alleged Prop 65 violations, 397 of which were initiated by private plaintiffs. Prop 65 settlements topped $22.5 million in 2012, compared with $16.2 million in 2011, according to the AG's statistics.

Legislative efforts to reform the law over the last decade have mostly fallen short, due to concerns by public health advocates that loosening the law's warning requirements could undermine its safety goals.


Momentum appears to be gathering behind A.B. 227, which was introduced in February by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Democrat representing Los Angeles.

A.B. 227 was passed overwhelmingly by the Assembly on May 24 by a vote of 72-0. On Wednesday, the bill was passed unanimously by the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality 9-0.

Dozens of state and local business and trade associations endorsed the bill, and none were listed as opposing it. The Chanler Group, a plaintiffs' law firm that has filed numerous private Prop 65 actions, put out a statement after the bill passed the Assembly in May in support of its reforms, saying meritless lawsuits needed to be weeded out in order for the statute to properly function.

A.B. 227 will now move to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration, before advancing to the full Senate, where it needs a two-thirds majority to pass...

Follow us on Twitter @ReutersLegal

You can read this article and more at Thompson Reuters News and Insight HERE

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Happy 25th Anniversary to the Oaks Homeowners Association

Field Representative Eric Menjivar presented a certificate recognizing the
25th Anniversary of the Oaks Homeowners Association  at their annual picnic.
This photo shows all of the past-Presidents of the Oaks HOA,
and one aspiring, future President in the bottom left corner. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

EXAMINER: Need for more child welfare state audits

Eight year old Gabriel Fernandez was killed by his mother and her boyfriend after being tortured and abused.  He had a fractured skull, three broken ribs, BB pellets embedded in his chest and groin, cigarette burns on his skin and teeth knocked out of his mouth.

Marina Lumsden, June 11, 2013 -- The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that after the killing last month of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale, Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Los Angeles is demanding a state audit of L.A. County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). An outside investigator might be able to shed some some insight into why the DCFS did not remove Gabriel from a situation that clearly looked like ongoing severe abuse. This is not the first time that DCFS has been accused of ignoring 'red flags' and subsequently leaving a child in a dangerous environment where he/she died.

L.A County is not the only Department of Children and Family Services agency that is taking real action in demanding that child welfare audits be approved and completed. Denver Post recently reported that the state auditor's office will review workloads of child protection staff and the way counties screen calls alleging abuse and neglect as part of two audits that could lead to major reforms of the child welfare system. The audits were requested by twenty-four lawmakers earlier this year after a Denver Post investigation. It found that more than seventy of the one-hundred and seventy-five children in Colorado who died of abuse and neglect in six years had families or caregivers who were known to child protection workers whose job was to protect them.

So what will come of these investigative audits? Is there little hope for a better outcome? Too many families in the child protection system and not enough caseworkers? No one will argue that the child welfare system is a sad state of affairs, but don't we owe it to our community's children to perform these audits and comb through finely what could have been missed with a new set of eyes. Eyes that are not completely strained, red, and horribly irritated with the everyday trauma and horror stories of abuse and neglect.

Child abuse needs to be one of those issues in which every individual and agency comes together for the greater good of our community's children and actively works to promote ideologies that could possibly work if everyone is on the same page from the start.

You can read this article and more at the Examiner by clicking HERE

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

LA WEEKLY: Is LAPD Chief Charlie Beck More About Spin Than Solving Hit-and-Run Epidemic?


The Los Angeles Police Commission will receive a long-awaited report from LAPD Chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday morning about L.A.'s serious hit-and-run epidemic. Judging from a copy of that report, it looks as if Beck is more interested in repairing public relations damage than solving a major public safety problem.

"The report is all spin to get around the elephant in the room," says Don Rosenberg, an L.A. resident whose son was killed by an unlicensed driver and has been keeping close tabs on the LAPD's response to the hit-and-run crisis. "They don't have a good story on hit and runs, and tried to come up with something else."

L.A. Weekly first exposed the controversy in the widely read 2012 cover story "L.A.'s Bloody Hit-and-Run Epidemic," which caught the attention of L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino and California State Assemblyman Mike Gatto.

In December, former Weekly staff writer Simone Wilson reported that there "is no LAPD task force or organized city effort to address the problem, yet the numbers are mind-boggling. About 20,000 hit-and-run crashes, from fender benders to multiple fatalities, are recorded by the Los Angeles Police Department each year.

"That's huge, even in a city of 3.8 million people. In the United States, 11 percent of vehicle collisions are hit-and-runs. But in Los Angeles, L.A. Weekly has learned, an incredible 48 percent of crashes were hit-and-runs in 2009, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available. According to data collected by the state, some 4,000 hit-and-run crashes a year inside L.A. city limits, including cases handled by LAPD, California Highway Patrol and the L.A. County Sheriff, resulted in injury and/or death. Of those, according to a federal study, about 100 pedestrians died; the number of motorists and bicyclists who die would push that toll even higher."

In January, Councilman Buscaino asked the LAPD to come up with a report to explain what efforts the police were taking to curtail hit and runs.

But that report, signed by Beck, focuses largely on attempting to pick apart the Weekly's cover story, with some mention of what the police are actually doing to combat hit and runs such as holding press conferences and community meetings to alert the public and solicit help in apprehending an individual.

"The councilman is saying we have too many hit and runs. What are you doing about it?" says Rosenberg. "And Beck goes into something else and tries to massage statistics."

Buscaino was unable to comment before the Weekly's deadline.

But Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who represents neighborhoods in L.A. and has been pushing forward a hit-and-run law to extend the statue of limitations for such an offense, tells the Weekly that "more needs to be done" to solve L.A.'s hit-and-run crisis and hopes that Beck will take an "all-hands-on-deck approach" to solve it.

Gatto's office read the LAPD report. After coming up with a questionable statistical formula, Beck's findings state that L.A.'s hit-and-run rate was "comparable to other metropolitan cities in the nation." Gatto says that "runs contrary to what I hear from my constituents."

Rosenberg adds, "They totally ignored public safety" in the report.

What will L.A. police commissioners say?

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Patrick Range McDonald on Twitter at @PRMcDonald.

# # #

You can read this article and more at the LA Weekly by clicking HERE

EDITORIAL: Prop 65 Reform Bills are Overdue

A nonpartisan, nonprofit association, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) represents 350,000 small and independent business owners across the nation.  The editorial below, written by NFIB California Executive Director, John Kabateck, originally appeared in Fox & Hounds Daily and highlights the need to protect small businesses from abusive Proposition 65 litigation, including expressing support for my AB 227.  AB 227 was originally created with the help of my Small Business Advisory Commission and I am proud to have the support small businesses across California, including the NFIB.

Prop 65 Reform Bills are Overdue 

John Kabateck is the
California Executive Director of the
National Federation of Indepedent Business
By John Kabateck
California Executive Director,
National Federation of Independent Business
Fox & Hounds Daily - Monday, June 10th, 2013

When Proposition 65 was approved by voters in 1986, the goal was simple: to protect California’s drinking water from chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm, and to warn members of the public about the presence of those chemicals in their environment to help them avoid exposure.  Since its enactment in 1989, Prop. 65 has helped to protect the public by incentivizing businesses to renovate their facilities, reformulate their products, and update their manufacturing processes to eliminate the use of listed chemicals.  There are currently 774 chemicals on the list, and it keeps growing.

But what determines whether or not a chemical causes cancer or reproductive harm?  That is the question – the answer depends on what standard is used.  Two California Appellate courts have interpreted Prop 65 to require only the listing of “known carcinogens.” However, due to different standards that are used by the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, there can be – and often is – ambiguity.

This is why the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is proud to support and co-sponsor Assembly Bill 1026 (Quirk), which would provide certainty for businesses and ensure that science is the basis for listing chemicals on the Proposition 65 list.  With this bill, businesses can be assured that what is listed is something that they need to notify the public and their employees about because it poses a real safety concern.

One of the requirements of Prop 65 is that businesses with more than ten employees post warnings when they knowingly expose workers or the public to listed chemicals.  These warnings are listed on placards in the business or as part of the labeling on a consumer product.  Consequently, a new industry of attorneys targeting businesses with drive-by lawsuits has now sprung up, resulting in over twice the settlement revenues as Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits.  These lawyers allege that a business does not have adequate signage as required by Prop 65.  They demand money, and business owners rush to settle for thousands of dollars to avoid litigating in court, which is much more expensive.

Many small business owners have just made an honest mistake and didn’t know that signage was required, but they have no chance to remedy the problem without facing legal action.  AB 1026 would ensure that the required warnings are based on adequate science with real evidence, and not just a “gut feeling.”

Additionally, Assembly Bill 227 (Gatto) would help to eliminate the inappropriate use of litigation, while ensuring that the public receives the appropriate Prop 65 warnings.  AB 227 would provide a 14-day window to cure a signage violation and avoid a lawsuit in many situations.  And the reality is that small business owners want to keep their employees and customers safe.  They want people to patronize their business.  It is in the business owner’s best interest to make sure that their location is safe and that customers and employees alike are aware of which chemicals are being used.

The problems concerning Prop 65 are so big that the Governor’s administration is looking into a solution. Meanwhile, both AB 1026 and AB 227 will add a measure of certainty for businesses when complying with Prop 65 requirements.  And certainty is what small businesses in California need right now in order to create jobs and build the economy in our state.

# # #

This editorial originally appeared on Fox & Hounds Daily.  You can read this editorial and more by visiting Fox & Hounds Daily HERE

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

LISTEN IN: Mike Gatto on KABC's Peter Tilden Show

Mike Gatto on the KABC Talk Radio’s Peter Tilden Show – June 4, 2013
Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) joined KABC 790 Talk Radio show host Peter Tilden for a candid conversation about thinking independently as a legislator, cracking down on the influence of lobbyists and special interests, and some common-sense solutions to everyday problems faced by Southern Californians.  Tilden was particularly excited about Gatto’s efforts to open carpool lanes during off-peak hours and stop the fleecing of motorists who park at broken parking meters.

Monday, June 10, 2013

WATCH IT HERE: Mike Gatto Leads Fight To Protect Children, Calls For Audit Of Counties’ Child Protective Services

A bipartisan effort led by Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and a Republican colleague was successful today in calling for an investigation of County Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies in California.  Assemblyman Gatto implored the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) to audit CPS programs in three counties, citing recent failures that led to the death of an eight-year-old boy in Los Angeles County and caused a five-month-old infant to be taken from the arms of his mother in Sacramento County.  The committee agreed to the audit, by a unanimous vote of 12-0.

PRESS ENTERPRISE EDITORIAL: Open car pool lanes during non-peak hours

Published: June 09, 2013; 06:00 PM | California does not have so much freeway capacity that the state can afford to leave some lanes mostly empty for much of the day. The state Senate should back a bill that would open some car pool lanes in Los Angeles County to regular traffic during non-rush hours. And the Legislature should extend that approach to other Southern California counties, as well.

The Assembly last month passed AB 405, by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, by a 72-0 vote. The bill would allow regular traffic to use car pool lanes on portions of Highway 134 and Interstate 210 during non-peak hours. Gatto structured the bill as a pilot project, but he clearly wants to extend the same approach to other freeways in Southern California.

The idea is attractive to a car-clogged region that routinely faces frustrating traffic congestion. California now has 1,428 miles of car pool lanes out of about 12,000 miles of freeway in the state, with plans for adding 777 more miles of the restricted-use lanes. But single-occupant vehicles dominate Southern California traffic, leaving the restricted lanes largely useless to most drivers. Adding new freeway lanes in heavily developed Southern California is both difficult and expensive, so the region needs to make the most efficient use of existing freeway capacity.

Inland residents, for example, welcome additional lanes for the crowded Highway 91/Interstate 215 route between Riverside and San Bernardino. But leaving those lanes off limits to most drivers 24 hours a day stands to annoy motorists more than ease traffic. All taxpayers are paying for stretches of roadway that only some drivers can use, because sharing rides is not a simple matter for many people in Southern California’s sprawling commuter culture.

California already has a precedent for opening the lanes to all traffic for part of the day: Northern California car pool lanes have restrictions only during peak traffic hours Monday through Friday. The rest of the time, all drivers can use the lanes.

Caltrans, however, says that traffic patterns make that approach infeasible for Southern California, because daily freeway congestion lasts longer. But that claim hardly justifies keeping the lanes off-limits to other traffic 24 hours a day. And the car pool lanes do have room for general use: A 2012 Caltrans report showed that some of the restricted-use lanes in Los Angeles County barely met Caltrans’ minimum standard for car pool lanes of 800 vehicles per hour, even at peak times. And those counts can see a substantial drop after rush hour periods.

Car pool lanes are supposed to decrease traffic congestion and improve air quality. But the lanes do nothing to serve those goals if they remain mostly empty while the rest of the freeway is jammed. Such instances only irritate motorists and undermine public support for the restricted-use lanes.

Opening the lanes to all during nonpeak times would promote more efficient use of freeway space while lowering drivers’ frustration level. Transportation policy needs to be practical, and leaving some freeway lanes largely empty for part of the day falls far short of that mark.

You can read this editorial and more at the Riverside Press Enterprise by clicking HERE

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

LISTEN IN: Assemblyman Gatto Calls for Audit of Child Protective Services agencies on KFBK Radio

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