Former El Girasol property acquired by Jehovah’s Witnesses


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El Girasol’s street sign and building after the business shut down. The building was razed March 2016 and the property is currently under development. Photo from Yelp/ El T.

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The property that once was the location of a popular Pacoima nightclub is now owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

According to Los Angeles County records, 13535 Van Nuys Blvd., the former site of El Girasol, is now owned by the Regional Building Committee of Jehovahs Witnesses Inc.

A representative at the religion’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York could not confirm what the land was going to be used for, but said usually when the organization acquires land, it probably will be for a Kingdom Hall, the place for worship and congregation.

In March 2016, the building on the property was razed, and the property is currently under development.

Presently, there is one Kingdom Hall in Pacoima on Pierce at Dronfield. The Jehovah’s Witnesses was formed in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania in 1881 and claims more than 8.2 million members worldwide.


El Girasol is the second blighted property that will be converted to a church. On June 19, 2016, the Iglesia Universal opened this cathedral where former grocery store El Mercadito de Valle used to operate on Glenoaks Boulevard and Vaughn Street. Prior to the cathedral, the property was vacant and fenced off for more than five years. Photo by El Boletín.


These Pacoima apartments are unsafe if major earthquake hits, says city


Las Palmas apartments has 26 units and is one of the larger buildings listed as needing earthquake retrofitting.  Photo by El Boletín/ Pacoima Bulletin

Earlier this month, the city of Los Angeles released a list of thousands of apartment buildings that are considered unsafe in the case of a major earthquake, requiring the buildings to be retrofit or demolished.  Although many of the building listed were located in West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley (mostly in the west Valley), Pacoima has only five buildings listed.

All five buildings have apartment units and are along or near Van Nuys Boulevard.  In total the identified buildings hold 87 units.  Two buildings hold about 25 units each, and one of the buildings is the Coral Bells Motel.

At sight, one can can understand how these multi-story buildings are dangerous; usually a


Las Palmas apartments’ parking lot demonstrates the unsafe design the listed buildings have.  Photo by El Boletín/ Pacoima Bulletin.

second floor is being help up by whimsy posts or columns.  There is no need to imagine what would happen in case of a major earthquake; many of the building that collapsed in the 1994 earthquake were built in this fashion.

This style of building were popular after World War II, when Los Angeles sprawled to West LA and the Valley, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.    These apartments accommodated the evolving angeleno car culture, usually offering parking spaces on the first floor.

In an interview with KPCC, the mayor’s chief resilience officer, Marisso Aho, said the building owners were notified in March and have seven years to comply to an earthquake retrofit order, which has an estimated cost of $5,000 per unit in each building.  Building owners must also notify their tenants, who, in most cases, will be able to stay in their units during the retrofitting process.

Nuevo plan del tren bala propone vías subterráneas debajo Pacoima

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Rutas revisadas del tren bala fueron presentadas al Consejo de Gobiernos el 7 de marzo del 2016 en Van Nuys. Imagen cortesía de la Autoridad del Tren de Alta Velocidad de California.

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Ante el Consejo de Gobiernos la semana pasada, la Autoridad del Tren de Alta Velocidad de California presentó  las “refinadas” rutas que están siendo estudiadas para la trayectoria Burbank a Palmdale, revelando que el plan anticipado de correr el tren a lo largo de San Fernando Road se ha abandonado.  

Aunque la ciudad de San Fernando y la comunidad de Sylmar, al igual con otras comunidades a lo largo de la carretera CA-14- se libraron de los impactos que el tren iba traer al disecar las comunidades, Pacoima aun no se ha desecho completamente de los rieles del tren.

La ruta, conocida come SR-14, se ha acortado  y su mayoría es subterránea, pasando debajo de las sierra de San Gabriel.  Sin embargo, en zonas pobladas la vías se presentan elevadas o a nivel de calle.

La nueva “refinada” trayectoria de SR-14 muestra la estación del Aeropuerto de Burbank siendo subterránea, la vías ascendiendo  al nivel de la calle en Sun Valley, luego elevadas sobre el derramare de Hansen Dam, hasta que sumergen de nuevo poco antes de la calle Branford en Pacoima.

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El plan originalmente proponía el tren viajar parejo a vías existentes, pero consideración  a la justicia ambiental de las comunidades que hubieran sido afectadas desvío ese plan.  La ruta SR-14 se encuentra a la izquierda extrema.  Imagen cortesía de la Autoridad del Tren de Alta Velocidad de California.

El Presidente de la Autoridad Dan Richards dijo que un factor que contribuyó a la desviación del plan original de correr el tren a lo largo de vías existentes fue la “justicia ambiental.”  

“Empecé a realizar,” dijo Richards, dando crédito a los políticos de la zonas afectadas, “una gran cantidad de estas alineaciones que ya están allí fueron creados en un momento en que la gente no pensaba acerca de los impactos de dividir a las comunidades.”

Las comunidades donde se están considerando que el tren pase, el cual viajará a más de 200 millas por hora, se han manifestado en contra del proyecto.

En la hora del comentario público, Georgina Carranza, residente de Pacoima y activista con las Comunidades Anti-Desplazamiento, dio gracias a Dios en la reunión por “salvar a Sylmar, San Fernando, y Pacoima.”

“Pero la lucha no ha terminado,” ella le aseguró a los gobernantes. “Todavía tenemos a Shadow Hills, todavía tenemos a Sun Valley” refiriéndose a las comunidades que aún no se han desecho de la amenaza del tren bala. 

Las nuevas revisiones completas se pueden ver aquí.

Revised route proposes bullet train under Pacoima

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At the Council of Governments meeting March 17, the California High-Speed Rail Authority presented its revised Burbank to Palmdale routes.  Although San Fernando and Sylmar- along with communities along Highway CA-14 have been spared with the revision of the SR-14 route, Pacoima is not entirely clear of the controversial train’s tracks.

However, the plan to run the train along San Fernando Road, which would have severely impacted Pacoima, San Fernando, and Sylmar has been abandoned.

From Burbank to Palmdale, the SR-14 route is shown underground at Burbank Airport Station, ascending to street level in Sun Valley, elevated over the Hansen Spreading Grounds, until it submerges underground before Branford Street in Pacoima.

The route has been shortened and put part underground. The revised alignments show the train mostly underground through the San Gabriel Mountains and with street-level and elevated areas in populated areas.


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The SR-14 route is furthest to the left. The original proposal to have it run along San Fernando Road has been abandoned, and now it is proposed to go underground at Branford Street. Image provided by California High-Speed Rail Authority.


High Speed Rail Board Chairman Dan Richards said at the meeting that “environmental justice” was a contributing factor in deviating from the original plan of running the train along current train corridors.

“It started to dawn on me,” Richards said, giving credit to the area’s politicians, “a lot for these alignments  that are there already were created at the time where people did not think about the impacts of dividing communities.”

Residents from the communities where the train is being considered to pass through at 200 miles per hour have opposed and rallied against the train.

Georgina Carranza, a Pacoima resident and activist with Communities Against Displacement, thanked God at the meeting for “saving Sylmar, San Fernando, and Pacoima.”

“But the fight is not over,” she said, “We still got shadow hills, we still got Sun Valley.”  

To see the complete revised routes, click here.  


Tens of thousands expected in Pacoima for CicLAvia


CicLAvia in MacArthur Park 2015. Although the Pacoima route is about two miles shorter than previous routes, it is still expected to attract 20,000- 50,000 people. Photo by Steve and Julie/ Flickr.

Imagine Van Nuys Boulevard closed and car-free from Panorama City to Pacoima, where adults and kids alike can enjoy the street on bicycle, foot, scooter, or any other means except automobile.

Well, that is what is going to happen Sunday, March 6 when the popular Los Angeles event, CicLAvia, will make it’s first appearance in Pacoima.  The 4-mile route is planned to be along Van Nuys Boulevard from Roscoe Boulevard in Panorama City to Lehigh in Pacoima.  Although this is a shorter route than previous ones, 20,000 to 50,ooo are still expected to attend.

This is the furthest the popular Los Angeles events extends from downtown’s epicenter.  Previous CicLAvias have been held in Pasadena, South LA, and Culver City, Venice and downtown LA; the first time in the valley was last year when it rolled down Ventura Boulevard.

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Van Nuys Boulevard will be closed to cars for most of the day March 6, 2016 from Roscoe Boulevard to Lehigh Avenue. Cars can cross only certain intersections noted on the map. Image courtesy of CicLAvia.

The route was originally desired to extend all the way to Oxnard Street to connect to the Orange Line, but complications with major retail stores at The Plant in Panorama City caused that plan to be abandoned, a CicLAvia representative said at a community meeting. Issues with crossing the railroad tracks at San Fernando Road, however, were resolved allowing the route to extend further east.

One of CicLAvia’s goals aside from transforming streets into “safe spaces for thousands of people to bike, play and smile,” is to allow people to explore new neighborhoods.  Local businesses are encouraged to set up stands along the route, and, even though street vending is a controversial subject, a CicLAvia representative said there are no restrictions banning them from participating as long as they are not blocking the route.

So get those bikes ready and get ready to ride! CicLAvia is coming to town!


[Photos] HISTORIC: Pacoima has its first LGBT pride march

Arnulfo Cervantes was selling used tools from his driveway Saturday afternoon when a crowd of more than 50 people including parents and teenagers passed in front of his house. In the 41 years he has lived in Pacoima, he had never seen a march like this before in the community. More than 50 people including parents, teenagers, and children were waving rainbow flags, carrying signs in support of immigrant and queer rights, and chanting for unity.

It was a historic moment for it was the first LGBT pride march in Pacoima.

“Everyone has the right,” Cervantes said, although he did seem surprised when he discovered the purpose of the march. When asked if it was odd to see a gay pride march in Pacoima, he preached acceptance.

“People look at those type of people as if they are weird, as if it was something out of this world,” he said. “But we are all the same: we come from the same place, we are in the same place. But people don’t understand that.”

The march, which started from Laurel Canyon Boulevard to Alicia Broadous-Duncan Senior Center on Glenoaks Boulevard, was a collaborative effort of the community.  Somos Familia Valle, a San Fernando Valley LGBT support and activist group and AnswerLA, an anti-war and peace coalition, organized the march. Helados Pops donated ice cream to the crowd as they reached the senior center, where a conference was held after the march.   Local youth program Heroes of Life provided the sound system and a community member from Reseda the food.

The Los Angeles Police Department also showed support by providing four police cruisers to escort the marchers up to their final destination.

This is the second pride march and conference held in the San Fernando Valley organized by Somos Familia Valle; last year’s was held in Panorama City. Pacoima was chosen this year because of the issues the march was raising are relevant to this community.

“We won’t stand for the assaults on the Latino community, the LGB community,” said William Seegmiller, an AnswerLA organizer. “We have been [especially] doing a lot of work this summer with the trans liberation movement because that is a crisis. It’s an epidemic of violence murders, police brutality, and indifference to violence that trans people face, especially here in the valley.”

According to the Human Right Campaign, at least 21 trans people have been murdered this year in the United States. In February, a trans woman was murdered and her body lit on fire in her Van Nuys apartment.

Assemblymember Patty López, whose district includes Pacoima, was also in attendance.

“This is what Pacoima needed,” she said, applauding the youth.  “I grew up in Pacoima, and I would have liked that was a movement then, like that of these youth, who are no longer afraid to take to the streets to express their needs.”

López said that as a legislator and member of the Public Safety Committee in Sacramento, she was there to hear her constituents. But as a mother and Pacoima local, she was there to learn.

Despite support from the community and local organizations and even police presence, at least one participant was weary of her environment. Jocelyn Silva is from Lake View Terrace but she says she grew up in Pacoima, having attended Guardian Angel School and has many friends in Pacoima. For a moment while on the march, she remembered Pacoima’s bad reputation.

“I literally felt someone was going to start shooting at us just, this feeling” she said. “’Cause there is so much machismo and gang violence in Pacoima it’s scary to put a rainbow flag and yell, at least for me.”

But she said it was her obligation as a member of the LGBT and Pacoima community to be there to bring raise awareness about her community needs, noting the distance of resources and treatment centers in the other parts of the valley that are non existent in the northeast valley.

“It’s amazing,” she said with optimism. “Pacoima doesn’t need to get gentrified for it to improve. People in the community are already doing the work and it’s really beautiful.”

Teens hold vigil for their murdered friend

William Barrios' friends and schoolmates gathered for an unplanned vigil Tuesday evening.

Willy Barrios’ friends and schoolmates gathered for an unplanned vigil Tuesday evening.

A group of nearly 15 teenagers gathered Tuesday evening on Van Nuys Boulevard by Pacoima Charter Elementary to hold a vigil for their friend and schoolmate Willy Barrios, who was found dead there Monday morning.

“This wasn’t a regular murder; this was some guys wanting to start something,” one of them said.

They all said they knew Barrios from César E. Chávez Learning Academies, where he attended the Academy of Science Exploration, and described Barrios as a respectful kid who always looked after his two younger brothers. They said he sometimes sold chips and candy out of his backpack to

Community members stopped by the memorial to leave flowers and candles for the 15-year-old killed Monday morning.

Community members stopped by the memorial to leave flowers and candles for the 15-year-old killed Monday morning.

financially help out his mother, and every day after school he would walk or ride a scooter to San Fernando High School to visit his girlfriend.

As far as they all knew, Barrios was not in any gang, they said. They cannot understand why he would be targeted.

According to police, Barrios was shot in the head with a semiautomatic weapon by two suspects who fled on foot.

No suspect has been arrested, and police are still investigating the case.

A woman at the vigil gave her version of the story, saying the boy was visiting his cousin, woke up late, and stopped by the nearby 7-Eleven store nearby to buy something to drink before heading home on foot. As he left the store he noticed two guys following him so he ran, fell, and that is when the murderers killed him.

The teenagers had a different story.

According to one of the teenagers who said to have known Barrios since middle school, police detectives told the group gathered at the vigil that Barrios was drinking at his cousin’s house. His cousin fell asleep, and Barrios, drunk and bored, walked across the street to David M Gonzales Park where he fell asleep drunk. Barrios was then taken by homeless persons who saw him passed out drunk to Los Angeles Fire Station 98, where he woke up startled and fled. A few minutes later, Barrios was killed.

Neither the Los Angeles Police Department or Fire Department would confirm that Barrios was ever at the Fire Station.

At the scene, community members built a memorial of flowers and candles.

The nickname "Risky" could be found at his memorial, yet it was not confirmed if Barrios went by that alias.

The nickname “Risky” could be found at his memorial, yet it was not confirmed if Barrios went by that alias.

Notes are posted on a lamp post saying “You will be missed” and graffiti markings on the ground read “We Love You Risk Rest in Peace.” Although the nicknames “Risk” and “Risky” are used, it could not be confirmed that Barrios went by those names.

“People in the community does care,” said a young mother as she rushed away after dropping off half a dozen white candles. Nearby, one of the teen’s father was waiting in his car in case anyone needed a ride, not wanting them to walk home.

The teens seemed sad about losing their friend, but not something out

of the ordinary.

“He’s not the first, and he’s not the last one,” they said.