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SOUTHEAST AREA : Economic Concerns Voiced to Escutia

February 07, 1993|DUKE HELFAND

When Assemblywoman Martha Escutia (D-Huntington Park) attends the California Economic Summit in Los Angeles, she will have plenty of Southeast-area concerns to discuss--from the lack of accessible public transportation to the need for more health facilities and job-training centers.

Those and other issues surfaced during a recent mini-summit Escutia conducted in Bell, where more than 100 business people, educators, city officials, union representatives and activists offered their concerns prior to the Feb. 16-17 state meeting.

"The fact that we got such a turnout tells me that people are in trouble," said Escutia, whose district includes Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Maywood, Huntington Park and other Southeast and East Los Angeles communities. "I think that will come out at the economic summit. It is not business as usual. There is a lot of pressure on people in Sacramento to do something about California."

Each of the 80 Assembly members are conducting similar summits in their districts to gather comments for the state gathering, called by Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco). Ultimately, the issues discussed there will be forwarded to various Assembly committees for further examination, Escutia said. Many who attended the Bell meeting Jan. 29 complained that the Southeast area is overlooked by state lawmakers because of its proximity to Los Angeles.

"Los Angeles always seems to dominate this area," said Bell Chief Administrative Officer John Bramble. "What the Southeast area needs is not necessarily what the San Fernando Valley . . . needs."

Among those needs, community leaders said, is a vocational training center to serve the Southeast area's high concentration of unskilled workers. The closest training centers are in East Los Angeles and Watts, participants in the Bell summit said. More state and local funds also are needed for high school vocational training, they said.

"These people--high school dropouts, single parents and displaced workers--need access to educational opportunities," said Lupe Reyes, director of adult education for the Los Angeles Unified School District. "We have to create a learning environment where people will (leave schools) with job-specific training."

Several business owners told Escutia that workers' compensation and health care costs are making it difficult to remain profitable. And officials from several cities said the state needs to streamline regulatory procedures that can delay projects for years and refrain from tapping additional property tax revenues.

"The laws that accompany regulations are hard to implement without any funding," said Ray Ramirez, assistant director of the Commerce Community Development Department.

Escutia, vice chairwoman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, said that when she returns to Sacramento she will take up the issue of funding for the Alameda Corridor, a $1.3-billion truck-and-train route that will cut through several Southeast communities and is expected to generate thousands of jobs. Escutia said she will conduct a follow-up meeting in her district to discuss the outcome of the state meeting.

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