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Health Matters Los Angeles August 2014

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Know Your Digits! Be in Control

At the initiation of Community Health Councils (CHC), the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Los Angeles City Council have designated August “Know Your Digits” Month. “Know Your Digits! Be in Control” month is an effort to raise awareness on the importance of managing and preventing hypertension.

Commonly known as high blood pressure, hypertension is a serious condition that often has no symptoms. If left untreated, it can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

During “Know Your Digits” Month, CHC will partner with a variety of organizations, clinics and businesses to promote “Know Your Digits! Be in Control.” These partners will host more than 70 interactive and educational activities throughout the month to provide free resources and blood pressure screenings. Major partners include American Heart Association, WattsHealth, Clinica Romero, and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Visit CHC’s Know Your Digits website for a complete list of partners and events or contact CHC Outreach Coordinator Griselda Vargas gvargas@chc-inc.org.

Supporting Food Access: Pop-up Markets

Over the last two years, Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge & Services (WORKS) http://www.worksusa.org/ an affordable housing developer and a United for Health www.chc-inc.org/ctg partner, has worked to bring affordable and nutritious food to housing communities through their unique pop-up market model. The pop up market is a temporary produce stand that operates for a specific time, selling raw, unprocessed fruits and vegetables to customers looking to purchase fresh produce. The pop up market model closely resembles a farmers’ market, except that products are gathered from various farmers and distributors and then sold weekly.

Through the United for Health collaborative, WORKS has partnered with three community organizations to replicate the pop-up market model in Southeast Los Angeles. The markets have been able to make available 16.5 tons of produce from October 2013 through June 2014 for families.

WORKS has worked tirelessly to connect people to food through unique programming that makes residents see food as a major source of health, enjoyment, and cultural affirmation. The markets work closely with eroots, a micro-enterprise of WORKS, which acts as a wholesale distributor to market partners. eroots’ produce manager has harnessed great working relationships with local farms and organic produce distributors to successfully negotiate prices and delivery services.

WORKS’ unique pop-up market model is integral to the creation of a community-based food hub to support food equity for families facing food insecurity. If you are interested in supporting the markets, visit them weekly at any of their four locations. For more information on the pop up market visit WORKS website or contact Hector Gutierrez, CHC Policy Analyst, at hector@chc-inc.org

LA CAN's Pueblo del Rio Community Produce Market
Slauson Recreation Center's Community Room
5306 South Compton Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90011
Wednesdays 1-3pm

Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches
3320 South Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90011
Wednesdays 1-4pm

Institute for Maximum Human Potential
9624 Compton Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90002
Thursdays 2-4pm

equitableroots, a program of WORKS
1301 Court Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Wednesdays 4:30-7:30pm

Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles

The Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles (PHLA) is scheduled to go before the City Planning Commission on Thursday, August 14th. The Plan is a chapter of the General Plan, which lays out how the City of Los Angeles can grow in the future and the programs that will help it get there.

PHLA elevates health as a priority to growth and development, establishing a framework to make Los Angeles a healthier place to live, work and play. On August 14, the City Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council on whether the Plan should be adopted or not. If you support a healthy Los Angeles, please attend this important hearing.

August 14, 2014 • 1:30pm Hearing
Board of Public Works Hearing Room 350 Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The City Planning Commission also invites you to participate in Equity = Opportunity Day, a panel discussion that will focus on advancing equity as opportunity for Angelenos. Equity = Opportunity will take place before the PHLA Hearing from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm and will be followed by lunch.

For more information, contact CHC Policy Analyst Ine Collins ine@chc-inc.org.

Albertsons & Safeway Merger

Albertsons and Safeway (owner of the Vons brand), two of the four largest grocery retail operators in Los Angeles, announced a proposed merger in March that would capture a fifth of the region’s overall market share. Food & Water Watch estimates that competition would be significantly eroded in 44 metropolitan areas (including Los Angeles) where the two chains are close rivals, likely causing consumer price increases, a narrowing of product diversity, cascading mergers throughout the food production and distribution system, and higher barriers to entry for independent and innovative food retailers. Effects could be more severe in low-income communities, where competition between grocery retailers has already been weakened, and where households struggle to afford grocery prices that are rising twice as fast as wages.

Albertsons-Safeway would be the largest of many recent mergers of grocery retail chains if approved by the FTC, which reviews proposed mergers with respect to anticompetitive business practices and antitrust laws. A conditional approval by the FTC could include the forced sale of redundant store locations to competing grocery chains in hopes of maintaining competition in communities where it is threatened. Past mergers have also resulted in store locations being sold for non-grocery uses.

For more information, please contact CHC Policy Analyst, Rob Baird at rbaird@chc-inc.org.

For more information contact Policy Analyst Rob Baird at rbaird@chc-inc.org

Murphy Drill Site Appeal to the Planning Commission
Plans to expand the Murphy Drill site facility will be reconsidered by the Los Angeles Department of City Planning thanks to two appeals filed by West Adams residents and an agreement brokered by Councilmember Wesson.

Last year, an associate zoning administrator granted owner Freeport McMoRan permission to install a waste gas burner and sound wall outside the original operation site boundaries. Residents disagreed with the lack of public input, the decision to expand the site’s footprint, and the failure to mitigate harms posed by a new gas burner. An agreement between Freeport, the Department of City Planning, and the appellants requires Freeport to submit another application for the gas burner, the Zoning Administration to fully review the application, and the review to include a hearing with public comment. Freeport recently submitted a new application.

Although a hearing is not yet scheduled, the public will be notified 24 days in advance. You can track developments by contacting Erin Steva erin@chc-inc.org or by visiting http://jeffersonparkunited.org/category/site-topics/murphy-oil-site.

For more information contact Policy Analyst Erin Steva at erin@chc-inc.org

Exide to Reopen
The Air Quality Management District (AQMD) will allow a battery recycling plant in Vernon to reopen despite dozens of air quality violations. The Exide plant was forced to halt operations this spring because it could not meet new standards preventing releases of hazardous air pollution. The company had received more than 30 citations over two years, often for lead and arsenic emissions, prior to AQMD ordering Exide to stop operating. AQMD also found Exide’s arsenic emissions elevated the cancer risk of the 110,000 people living nearby in communities like Boyle Heights and Huntington Park.

After months of negotiations with AQMD, Exide will be able reopen after pollution control equipment is installed. Exide must also contain dust, which likely includes lead, during construction to prevent additional lead exposure for those living and working nearby. Exide predicts operations will resume at the end of the year or early next year.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is offering lead blood tests through September for those living or working near the Exide Plant. Those interested in a test can call 844-888-2290 or visit http://www.bloodleadtesting.com/ for more details.

Metro Short-Range Plan Update

Over 40 advocates and supporters of active transportation, including actor Ed Begley, Jr., came out to Metro Headquarters on July 16th to push the Board for more active transportation investment in their Short-Range Transportation Plan. The current draft of the 10-year $88 billion plan dedicates a mere 0.6% to walking and biking, or approximately $500 million over the ten-year plan.

After hearing testimony from a number of public health and active transportation allies, Policy and Programming Committee chairperson Mike Bonin introduced a motion (along with Board members Pam O’Connor, John Fasana and Mark Ridley-Thomas) to develop an active transportation funding strategy to define performance metrics and inventory available funding sources to meet active transportation needs in the region. Metro staff was asked to report back in October 2014.

For more information contact Policy Analyst Naomi Iwasaki at naomi@chc-inc.org

New General Manager for LA DOT

The new General Manager for the LA Department of Transportation was approved by City Council last month. Ms. Seleta Reynolds is the first DOT GM with a track record of prioritizing sustainable streets and active transportation over vehicle flow and highways. She comes to Los Angeles from the Bay Area where she has worked as a Livable Streets coordinator with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bicycle/Pedestrian coordinator for the City of Oakland. Mayoral nomination and resume are available on the City Clerk’s website here.

For more information contact Policy Analyst Naomi Iwasaki at naomi@chc-inc.org

Upcoming Open Streets Events around LA County

CicLAvia has become a regular open street event where miles of boulevards in Los Angeles are closed off to cars for several Sunday hours to open the streets to cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, parents pushing strollers and other non-motorized modes of transportation.

Given their popularity, the Metro Board has approved funding for open street events all around LA County, including the City of Long Beach (“Beach Streets” spring 2015), the cities of Huntington Park, South Gate, Lynwood, Los Angeles and unincorporated LA County (“CicLAvia Southeast Cities” spring 2016), and the City of Carson (“Car-free Carson” spring 2016).

For more information contact Policy Analyst Naomi Iwasaki at naomi@chc-inc.org

Los Angeles County Healthcare Updates

Mental Health
The Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted to implement Laura’s Law, a 2003 state law that allows families, providers, and law enforcement to petition for court-ordered involuntary outpatient treatment for people with severe mental illnesses. The criteria for a court order are broader than for involuntary hospitalization and include, for example, history of non-compliance, unlikely to survive without supervision, and a condition likely to deteriorate. The Department of Mental Health is creating a program with 300 slots at an annual cost of $10 million to help implement the resolution.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas proposed that the county allocate $20 million to a mental health diversion program to address the high number of mentally ill people the county incarcerates. Similar programs across the country have demonstrated a drastic decrease in recidivism, arrests, and hospitalizations. The proposal will be voted on in the next few weeks.

My Health LA
The Department of Health Services (DHS) is pushing forward with its plans to re-launch the former Healthy Way LA Unmatched program as My Health LA for the remaining uninsured population beginning October 1st. Despite consumer advocates’ request for $100 million in additional funding to ensure the program can reach the entire 400,000 remaining uninsured, the BOS kept funding at $55 million. DHS has expressed a willingness to return to the Board in the future if they find that the $55 million is insufficient. For more information as the implementation progresses, visit the program site http://dhs.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dhs/mhla/.

The Board of Supervisors in May approved the DHS’ plan to hire 737 nurses and support staff beginning the first week of July. The county has been relying heavily on contract workers and overtime hours. Hiring full-time workers is hoped to reduce costs by $52 million in four years, improve customer service, and reduce wait times in order to make them a preferred provider for the newly insured population. For a list of openings, please visit the LA County Department of Human Resources.

Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Services
Although Martin Luther King / Charles Drew Medical Center in South Los Angeles closed in 2007, the location continued to provide outpatient services. The outpatient services moved to a brand new facility on the same campus in June. The new center offers over 70 specialty clinics, five operating rooms, urgent care, and a pharmacy. The urgent psychiatric care department will open in fall 2014 and the hospital for inpatient services will open in 2015. There are no plans for an emergency department to date.

For more information contact Policy Analyst Ine Collins at ine@chc-inc.org