List of Most Recent Actions

 
PUEBLO Participates in Statewide PressConference and Protest to Abolish Secure Communities

On Monday August 15th our Executive Director Mark Alvarado and Board Members ArtStevens, Judy Stevens, Barbara Lotito and Greg Prieto traveled to Los Angeles to participate inan action to denounce the federal Secure Communities Program. PUEBLO was invited by theCoalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHRLA). Individuals and organizationsthroughout California attended this critical demonstration supporting the rights of workingfamilies who continue to be deported and detained without committing a crime.

 
 

Media

City will consider further studies before deciding on recycling facility

Posted: Mar 21, 2012 11:49 PM by Ariel Wesler
Updated: Mar 22, 2012 7:12 AM

 

City will Consider Further Studies Before Deciding on Recycling Facility [VIDEO]

The Santa Maria Planning Commission said it will not make a decision on a controversial recycling center until city staff determines whether further studies are necessary.

SA Recycling wants to build the facility near Fesler and Depot streets. Last month, the planning commission postponed its decision on whether to approve the facility until a traffic study could be conducted.

It was an emotionally charged Wednesday evening at city hall with some heated debate at times. The community spoke out in both English and Spanish with the help of a translator. The majority were against the project, citing concerns about increased traffic, the safety of their children as well as extra noise and pollution.

It was a small victory for opponents of the project, who argue more studies are necessary before any decision can be made on a controversial metal recycling facility.

"Any environmental impact is really going to hurt our students and our families walking to school and coming back," said Feliciano Agular with PUEBLO, an advocate for the Hispanic community.

Besides the current traffic study, many in the community want SA Recycling to do a full environmental impact report.

"If this was in your neighborhood, we wouldn't even be discussing it," one man said to commissioners.

"I don't know how the public is supposed to be able to evaluate the application and make comments on it when a lot of things haven't been done yet," said another speaker.

Project planners have said the recycling facility will no more of an impact than the current auto wrecking yard on the property.

"There has been no evidence, scientific, substantial, empirical evidence that shows that sa recycling is going to have a more significant impact than what's already existed out there," said

There were a few supporters who believe the project will beautify the community and the intersection of Fesler and Depot, considered among the most dangerous in Santa Maria.

"These people are willing to fix the intersection, so please consider it," one man said.

"I think the beauty of the neighborhood will change and the whole neighborhood can pick up," said another woman.

Some people considered Wednesday night's meeting to be premature because the traffic study has not been completed yet. In the meantime, the issue has been taken off the agenda, so the city can take time to consider the community's concerns and conduct additional studies, if necessary.

SA Recycling is the largest recycling company on the West Coast. It already has a facility in Paso Robles.

Topics: SA recycling, santa maria, planning commission, studies, environment, Ariel Wesler, KSBY News

 

 

 

 


Renter's Rights Boosted

Supes Vote to Expand Relocation Assistance

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An ordinance that will strengthen the rights of tenants in Santa Barbara County was passed by the Board of Supervisors on 12/7. After a few high-profile evictions in recent years left dozens of families — often lower-income, working families — with nowhere to go, advocates rallied for a change to County Ordinance 4444, which used to only provide relocation assistance when a tenant was displaced when there were health and safety violations. The evictions were relatively rare, but highly emotional and traumatic when they occurred.

Now, expanded relocation assistance will be required in situations where there is a demolition of any rental unit on the lot, when the planned alteration or rehabilitation requires a permit and reduces the number of rental units on the lot, and when there is a change from a residential use to a nonresidential use.

The county will provide the incentive of fast-tracking the permit process for landlords who give a 90-days notice of eviction, a timely return of security deposits, and relocation benefits to the to-be-evicted tenants. This will help families plan and be better prepared to face the challenge of finding and affording new rental housing. As well, the county is establishing a process to track evictions so a greater understanding of the issue is known. In most cases, the tenants were evicted so that landlords could upgrade the units to sell to students at a higher rate, or convert them into condos.

Members of the Rental Housing Roundtable, a group of students, lawyers, advocates, unions, and clergy, came out in force to the meeting Tuesday. “Your voices were heard,” 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf told them.

 

 

Impound Policy Gets Second Look

Under Fire for 'Targeting' Illegals, Chief to Consider 20-Minute Grace Period

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez agreed to review how a handful of other California cities deal with impounding the cars of unlicensed drivers, after meeting with Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and community organizer Belen Seara of PUEBLO for 90 minutes in the mayor's office last Monday. Seara and PUEBLO helped midwife a study—officially released during the week of Santa Barbara’s Fiesta celebration—that concluded that some Santa Barbara police officers had been “targeting” illegal immigrants for traffic stops and impounding their cars for driving without a license.

State law has barred illegal immigrants from obtaining licenses since 1994; it also requires police officers to impound the vehicles of unlicensed drivers or people who've had their license revoked. Barring certain exceptions, such impounds last 30 days. Typically, the cost associated with tow yard fees, tickets, and other expenses runs close to $2,000. This, said Seara, places an undue burden on many immigrants who find themselves caught in a very expensive legal Catch-22, because to economically survive, they all but have to drive.

 

Seara asked Sanchez to consider the approach taken by police authorities in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Richmond, and Huntington Park, where department policy requires officers to give people stopped for driving without a license 20 minutes to get a licensed friend or relative to drive the car away. Sanchez agreed to look into the matter. “We're going to look at the experience of these other cities and see if this is something we could do differently,” he said. Sanchez has vehemently denied that his officers target people based on ethnic origin, and said that as a matter of practice—though not policy—many of his officers already follow the 20-minute rule.

Seara said in other cities, the 20-minute rule helps both the cops and the people who might otherwise lose their cars. There, officers don’t have to wait around for 45 minutes to an hour for a tow truck to arrive, she said, and can get back on patrol sooner. Likewise, people who depend upon cars don't find themselves forced to make do without.

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

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The meeting was held at the invitation of Mayor Schneider who found herself caught in an email crossfire between Sanchez and Seara ever since Russ Trenholme, a retired businessman associated with PUEBLO, released his report criticizing the Santa Barbara Police Department for targeting illegal immigrants for traffic stops. All parties described the 90-minute meeting as “positive.” Sanchez took exception to the report, and repeatedly requested that Seara provide him the times, dates, and locations where targeting allegedly took place. If ethnic profiling was alleged, he wanted to know the details so he could investigate the charges.

Seara expressed reluctance to divulge such details, citing the legal vulnerability of the individuals involved. Seara also pressed Sanchez to change the way vehicle impounds are reported so that it's clear why the cars were stopped in the first place, where the stop occurred, and what other citations, if any, were issued. “If officers are giving people 20 minutes, right now, it's not reported anywhere,” Seara said. Such paperwork would also address some of the underlying skepticism expressed in the Trenholme report.

Trenholme found it more than a little suspicious that some officers dispatched to special traffic patrols impounded more than 50 percent of the cars they stopped, yet issued the fewest number of traffic citations. Presumably, such drivers exhibited some operational or mechanical problems that elicited the stop in the first place. “Why is it cops with 45 percent impound rates are issuing zero tickets?” Trenholme asked. “And why are the ones issuing the most traffic tickets impounding no cars?” Lacking evidence of probable cause, he contends ethnic targeting is taking place. Trenholme said the Police Department receives a $150 administrative fee for every impounded car that's reclaimed. He added that driving without a license has become the department's most frequently cited moving violation. Trenholme also said his review of police records indicates that four officers in particular are responsible for a disproportionate share of the impound citations.

Police officials cite statistics showing that unlicensed drivers are especially unsafe. One study indicates that unlicensed drivers are involved in one out of five traffic fatalities in California. Such studies do not distinguish, however, between drivers who've had their licenses revoked because of past driving violations and those who are simply legally ineligible to obtain a license. In past interviews, Sanchez said his officers were assigned to patrol neighborhoods based on hazardous traffic conditions, not the demographics of the residents.

Police spokesperson Paul McCaffrey said that 1,065 vehicles have been impounded in the city so far this year; 300 cars were towed because the driver had a suspended license, and 765 were taken away because the person had no license at all. An additional 79 people were either cited or arrested but their cars weren’t impounded, explained McCaffrey. This, he said, was either because a driver was operating a company car—which was then released to a licensed employee—or because a person’s license had expired less than 30 days before they were stopped.

Operating on the assumption that illegal immigrants will drive no matter what the law permits, a handful of states like Utah, New Mexico, and Oregon allow illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. Both Sanchez and Seara agree this would be preferable; both conceded any changes in the state law will have to await a new governor. As former head of the California Police Chiefs Association, Sanchez once lobbied Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on behalf of a bill authored by State Senator Gil Cedillo that would have permitted illegal immigrants driving privileges. “It's not like we'd be giving them a party favor. They'd have to pass a driving test showing they know the rules of the road,” Sanchez said. “Common sense dictates that someone who's demonstrated driving proficiency will be a safer driver.” Sanchez said Schwarzenegger rejected such arguments, contending that homeland security considerations were paramount. “We had a long discussion over cigars. He took my box of cigars, but that was not enough to bribe him because he vetoed the bill,” Sanchez joked.

Decidedly unamused in all this is Russ Trenholme—author of the study in question—who did not attend the meeting with Seara, Sanchez, and Schneider. Trenholme noted that he had yet to hear from Sanchez or anyone in the Police Department to discuss his evidence. The fact that four officers are issuing so many more vehicle impound citations than their colleagues should have raised red flags with Sanchez and their superiors, he claimed. “If someone's impounding a large number of cars but not issuing any tickets, you'd think someone might check,” he said. Trenholme has amended his initial report, contending that many of the DUI checkpoints most frequently run by the department yield a surprisingly low number of DUIs, while generating a conspicuously high number of car impounds. This past weekend, for example, the police DUI checkpoint—run at several different intersections—netted only one DUI, but 21 vehicle impounds.

 

Residents rally to restore bus service

Posted: Oct 26, 2011 6:20 PM by Ariel Wesler

 

Hundreds of people in Santa Maria are fighting to restore bus service to their neighborhood. The Santa Maria transit center opened in June and bus routes changed throughout the city. Among the differences, Route 20 used to run on Western Avenue and was replaced with Route 2, which runs on Railroad Avenue. Santa Maria area transit leaders say they made the original changes the community wanted, but the changes didn't go over well with everyone.

Before the transit center opened in June and bus routes changed, transit leaders held six workshops to get input from the community. They wanted more direct service, but now people say pulling out some of the stops is stopping them from getting where they need to go.

These bus stops at Cook and Western in Santa Maria are no longer in service. It's a huge loss for the riders who depend on them.

"That bus stop was actually used for most likely for a lot of students and elderly people for them to go to church every Sunday," said Janett Morales, a 12th grader at Santa Maria High School. "I got tired of people's needs not being met."

So, she decided to make a difference. In the past two weeks, she and some of her friends collected 300 signed complaints from neighbors frustrated by the changes. Transit officials say they welcome the feedback.

"It's not unusual for us to make a change, see how it goes, and then make some tweaks at it. It's a giant system," said Santa Maria Transit Manager Austin O'Dell.

Working with Pueblo, a community advocacy group, Morales personally delivered those petitions to transit leaders.

"People had called and called and complained but I guess we just needed some signatures," Morales said.

"I'm happy that we have 300 people who are going to be interested in helping on the service, that they've got some input, but Thursday was the first time we heard about this," O'Dell said.

Santa Maria Area Transit will hold two more workshops in november to hear from the community.

Another big complaint has been the bus bay numbers. They don't correspond with the bus routes, and some people have found that confusing. SMAT plans to change that before the end of the year.

The dates for the community workshops are:

Wednesday, Nov. 16 6-8 p.m. Santa Maria Library, Saturday, Nov. 19 1-3 p.m. Santa Maria Library.

 

 

Junta comunitaria para conocer sus derechos como inquilinos

KPMR News
December 12, 2011. 06:03 PM

Santa Maria, CA- La organización pro-immigrante Pueblo realizará una reunión sobre los derechos de inmigrantes e inquilinos donde contarán con abogados que le ayudaran a despejar sus dudas. La cita es este martes 13 de Diciembre a las 6:00 pm en la Biblioteca Publica de Santa Maria.

[PUEBLO Immigrant/Tenants Rights Workshop attended by over 100 Santa Maria Residents]

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PUEBLO in the News

City will consider further studies before deciding on recycling facility

Posted: Mar 21, 2012 11:49 PM by Ariel Wesler
Updated: Mar 22, 2012 7:12 AM

 

City will Consider Further Studies Before Deciding on Recycling Facility [VIDEO]

The Santa Maria Planning Commission said it will not make a decision on a controversial recycling center until city staff determines whether further studies are necessary.

SA Recycling wants to build the facility near Fesler and Depot streets. Last month, the planning commission postponed its decision on whether to approve the facility until a traffic study could be conducted.

It was an emotionally charged Wednesday evening at city hall with some heated debate at times. The community spoke out in both English and Spanish with the help of a translator. The majority were against the project, citing concerns about increased traffic, the safety of their children as well as extra noise and pollution.

It was a small victory for opponents of the project, who argue more studies are necessary before any decision can be made on a controversial metal recycling facility.

"Any environmental impact is really going to hurt our students and our families walking to school and coming back," said Feliciano Agular with PUEBLO, an advocate for the Hispanic community.

Besides the current traffic study, many in the community want SA Recycling to do a full environmental impact report.

"If this was in your neighborhood, we wouldn't even be discussing it," one man said to commissioners.

"I don't know how the public is supposed to be able to evaluate the application and make comments on it when a lot of things haven't been done yet," said another speaker.

Project planners have said the recycling facility will no more of an impact than the current auto wrecking yard on the property.

"There has been no evidence, scientific, substantial, empirical evidence that shows that sa recycling is going to have a more significant impact than what's already existed out there," said

There were a few supporters who believe the project will beautify the community and the intersection of Fesler and Depot, considered among the most dangerous in Santa Maria.

"These people are willing to fix the intersection, so please consider it," one man said.

"I think the beauty of the neighborhood will change and the whole neighborhood can pick up," said another woman.

Some people considered Wednesday night's meeting to be premature because the traffic study has not been completed yet. In the meantime, the issue has been taken off the agenda, so the city can take time to consider the community's concerns and conduct additional studies, if necessary.

SA Recycling is the largest recycling company on the West Coast. It already has a facility in Paso Robles.

Topics: SA recycling, santa maria, planning commission, studies, environment, Ariel Wesler, KSBY News

 

 

 

 


Renter's Rights Boosted

Supes Vote to Expand Relocation Assistance

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An ordinance that will strengthen the rights of tenants in Santa Barbara County was passed by the Board of Supervisors on 12/7. After a few high-profile evictions in recent years left dozens of families — often lower-income, working families — with nowhere to go, advocates rallied for a change to County Ordinance 4444, which used to only provide relocation assistance when a tenant was displaced when there were health and safety violations. The evictions were relatively rare, but highly emotional and traumatic when they occurred.

Now, expanded relocation assistance will be required in situations where there is a demolition of any rental unit on the lot, when the planned alteration or rehabilitation requires a permit and reduces the number of rental units on the lot, and when there is a change from a residential use to a nonresidential use.

The county will provide the incentive of fast-tracking the permit process for landlords who give a 90-days notice of eviction, a timely return of security deposits, and relocation benefits to the to-be-evicted tenants. This will help families plan and be better prepared to face the challenge of finding and affording new rental housing. As well, the county is establishing a process to track evictions so a greater understanding of the issue is known. In most cases, the tenants were evicted so that landlords could upgrade the units to sell to students at a higher rate, or convert them into condos.

Members of the Rental Housing Roundtable, a group of students, lawyers, advocates, unions, and clergy, came out in force to the meeting Tuesday. “Your voices were heard,” 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf told them.

 

 

Impound Policy Gets Second Look

Under Fire for 'Targeting' Illegals, Chief to Consider 20-Minute Grace Period

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez agreed to review how a handful of other California cities deal with impounding the cars of unlicensed drivers, after meeting with Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and community organizer Belen Seara of PUEBLO for 90 minutes in the mayor's office last Monday. Seara and PUEBLO helped midwife a study—officially released during the week of Santa Barbara’s Fiesta celebration—that concluded that some Santa Barbara police officers had been “targeting” illegal immigrants for traffic stops and impounding their cars for driving without a license.

State law has barred illegal immigrants from obtaining licenses since 1994; it also requires police officers to impound the vehicles of unlicensed drivers or people who've had their license revoked. Barring certain exceptions, such impounds last 30 days. Typically, the cost associated with tow yard fees, tickets, and other expenses runs close to $2,000. This, said Seara, places an undue burden on many immigrants who find themselves caught in a very expensive legal Catch-22, because to economically survive, they all but have to drive.

 

Seara asked Sanchez to consider the approach taken by police authorities in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Richmond, and Huntington Park, where department policy requires officers to give people stopped for driving without a license 20 minutes to get a licensed friend or relative to drive the car away. Sanchez agreed to look into the matter. “We're going to look at the experience of these other cities and see if this is something we could do differently,” he said. Sanchez has vehemently denied that his officers target people based on ethnic origin, and said that as a matter of practice—though not policy—many of his officers already follow the 20-minute rule.

Seara said in other cities, the 20-minute rule helps both the cops and the people who might otherwise lose their cars. There, officers don’t have to wait around for 45 minutes to an hour for a tow truck to arrive, she said, and can get back on patrol sooner. Likewise, people who depend upon cars don't find themselves forced to make do without.

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

\

The meeting was held at the invitation of Mayor Schneider who found herself caught in an email crossfire between Sanchez and Seara ever since Russ Trenholme, a retired businessman associated with PUEBLO, released his report criticizing the Santa Barbara Police Department for targeting illegal immigrants for traffic stops. All parties described the 90-minute meeting as “positive.” Sanchez took exception to the report, and repeatedly requested that Seara provide him the times, dates, and locations where targeting allegedly took place. If ethnic profiling was alleged, he wanted to know the details so he could investigate the charges.

Seara expressed reluctance to divulge such details, citing the legal vulnerability of the individuals involved. Seara also pressed Sanchez to change the way vehicle impounds are reported so that it's clear why the cars were stopped in the first place, where the stop occurred, and what other citations, if any, were issued. “If officers are giving people 20 minutes, right now, it's not reported anywhere,” Seara said. Such paperwork would also address some of the underlying skepticism expressed in the Trenholme report.

Trenholme found it more than a little suspicious that some officers dispatched to special traffic patrols impounded more than 50 percent of the cars they stopped, yet issued the fewest number of traffic citations. Presumably, such drivers exhibited some operational or mechanical problems that elicited the stop in the first place. “Why is it cops with 45 percent impound rates are issuing zero tickets?” Trenholme asked. “And why are the ones issuing the most traffic tickets impounding no cars?” Lacking evidence of probable cause, he contends ethnic targeting is taking place. Trenholme said the Police Department receives a $150 administrative fee for every impounded car that's reclaimed. He added that driving without a license has become the department's most frequently cited moving violation. Trenholme also said his review of police records indicates that four officers in particular are responsible for a disproportionate share of the impound citations.

Police officials cite statistics showing that unlicensed drivers are especially unsafe. One study indicates that unlicensed drivers are involved in one out of five traffic fatalities in California. Such studies do not distinguish, however, between drivers who've had their licenses revoked because of past driving violations and those who are simply legally ineligible to obtain a license. In past interviews, Sanchez said his officers were assigned to patrol neighborhoods based on hazardous traffic conditions, not the demographics of the residents.

Police spokesperson Paul McCaffrey said that 1,065 vehicles have been impounded in the city so far this year; 300 cars were towed because the driver had a suspended license, and 765 were taken away because the person had no license at all. An additional 79 people were either cited or arrested but their cars weren’t impounded, explained McCaffrey. This, he said, was either because a driver was operating a company car—which was then released to a licensed employee—or because a person’s license had expired less than 30 days before they were stopped.

Operating on the assumption that illegal immigrants will drive no matter what the law permits, a handful of states like Utah, New Mexico, and Oregon allow illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. Both Sanchez and Seara agree this would be preferable; both conceded any changes in the state law will have to await a new governor. As former head of the California Police Chiefs Association, Sanchez once lobbied Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on behalf of a bill authored by State Senator Gil Cedillo that would have permitted illegal immigrants driving privileges. “It's not like we'd be giving them a party favor. They'd have to pass a driving test showing they know the rules of the road,” Sanchez said. “Common sense dictates that someone who's demonstrated driving proficiency will be a safer driver.” Sanchez said Schwarzenegger rejected such arguments, contending that homeland security considerations were paramount. “We had a long discussion over cigars. He took my box of cigars, but that was not enough to bribe him because he vetoed the bill,” Sanchez joked.

Decidedly unamused in all this is Russ Trenholme—author of the study in question—who did not attend the meeting with Seara, Sanchez, and Schneider. Trenholme noted that he had yet to hear from Sanchez or anyone in the Police Department to discuss his evidence. The fact that four officers are issuing so many more vehicle impound citations than their colleagues should have raised red flags with Sanchez and their superiors, he claimed. “If someone's impounding a large number of cars but not issuing any tickets, you'd think someone might check,” he said. Trenholme has amended his initial report, contending that many of the DUI checkpoints most frequently run by the department yield a surprisingly low number of DUIs, while generating a conspicuously high number of car impounds. This past weekend, for example, the police DUI checkpoint—run at several different intersections—netted only one DUI, but 21 vehicle impounds.

 

Residents rally to restore bus service

Posted: Oct 26, 2011 6:20 PM by Ariel Wesler

 

Hundreds of people in Santa Maria are fighting to restore bus service to their neighborhood. The Santa Maria transit center opened in June and bus routes changed throughout the city. Among the differences, Route 20 used to run on Western Avenue and was replaced with Route 2, which runs on Railroad Avenue. Santa Maria area transit leaders say they made the original changes the community wanted, but the changes didn't go over well with everyone.

Before the transit center opened in June and bus routes changed, transit leaders held six workshops to get input from the community. They wanted more direct service, but now people say pulling out some of the stops is stopping them from getting where they need to go.

These bus stops at Cook and Western in Santa Maria are no longer in service. It's a huge loss for the riders who depend on them.

"That bus stop was actually used for most likely for a lot of students and elderly people for them to go to church every Sunday," said Janett Morales, a 12th grader at Santa Maria High School. "I got tired of people's needs not being met."

So, she decided to make a difference. In the past two weeks, she and some of her friends collected 300 signed complaints from neighbors frustrated by the changes. Transit officials say they welcome the feedback.

"It's not unusual for us to make a change, see how it goes, and then make some tweaks at it. It's a giant system," said Santa Maria Transit Manager Austin O'Dell.

Working with Pueblo, a community advocacy group, Morales personally delivered those petitions to transit leaders.

"People had called and called and complained but I guess we just needed some signatures," Morales said.

"I'm happy that we have 300 people who are going to be interested in helping on the service, that they've got some input, but Thursday was the first time we heard about this," O'Dell said.

Santa Maria Area Transit will hold two more workshops in november to hear from the community.

Another big complaint has been the bus bay numbers. They don't correspond with the bus routes, and some people have found that confusing. SMAT plans to change that before the end of the year.

The dates for the community workshops are:

Wednesday, Nov. 16 6-8 p.m. Santa Maria Library, Saturday, Nov. 19 1-3 p.m. Santa Maria Library.

 

 

Junta comunitaria para conocer sus derechos como inquilinos

KPMR News
December 12, 2011. 06:03 PM

Santa Maria, CA- La organización pro-immigrante Pueblo realizará una reunión sobre los derechos de inmigrantes e inquilinos donde contarán con abogados que le ayudaran a despejar sus dudas. La cita es este martes 13 de Diciembre a las 6:00 pm en la Biblioteca Publica de Santa Maria.

[PUEBLO Immigrant/Tenants Rights Workshop attended by over 100 Santa Maria Residents]

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  1. Recent Actions