We Don’t Enforce Immigration Law, Police Chief Confirms at District 3 Meeting

Full agenda at District 3 community meeting covers Renaissance Plaza — Vons is out, Vallarta Markets is in — anti-violence efforts, police and fire updates

Published : Friday, March 3, 2017 | 6:32 AM

It was a crowded community room at the Jackie Robinson Community Center Monday evening, and as District 3 Councilmember John Kennedy remarked, it was for good reason. The usual site of the meeting, the gymnasium across the the street at the Jackie Robinson Recreation Center, is currently part of an $11 million renovation project, which, said Kennedy, broke ground two weeks ago.

“We only need $3 million dollars more to complete the project, if anyone here wants to write that check,” joked Kennedy.

Joking aside, Kennedy moved quickly into a busy agenda.

First, Kennedy spoke about last Monday’s afternoon march supporting “Sanctuary City” status in Pasadena, and congratulated co-organizer Ed Washatka on a “peaceful and meaningful demonstration.”

Kennedy then introduced Pastor John J. Bledsoe, President of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, who discussed “Where the Holy Meets the Hurting,” a group of religious and community leaders brought together earlier this year following a spate of gang shootings which spiked from early December to January.

Bledsoe said the group reported after their initial meeting that “We need a lot of collaborative efforts and partnerships to share resources, share information, foster relationships and develop actionable plans among the various community stakeholders.”

“We need counseling programs, including mentoring and training,” the group’s report continued. “We need to be mindful that asking community members for information can put them at risk, many gang members brag on social media and we have many disconnected youth at group homes.”

Among numerous suggestions involving local clergy, local businesses, non-profits and government, the report noted that the group will hold its fourth meeting, a “clergy only” meeting, on March 4, and is preparing to meet with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Congressman Elijah Cummings to “look at State and national issues and solutions and determine how we can apply what is working to Pasadena and Altadena.”

Police Chief Phillip Sanchez spoke, acknowledging the peaceful demonstration on Monday and noting that Pasadena Police provided “safe passage” for the walk from Lake Avenue and Villa Street to City Hall.

Sanchez reiterated that the Pasadena Police Department “does not work with the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement” and “We don’t enforce immigration law.”

Following Sanchez’ short presentation, Pasadena Police Department Lieutenant John Mercado stood to report that a shooting incident occurred on Tuesday evening but that all the persons involved were arrested within minutes of the incident.

Mercado also reported that burglaries are on the rise in Pasadena, and that a two-person robbery team is currently operating in Northwest Pasadena. He urged the residents to always be on their guard, wherever they are throughout the city.

Renaissance Plaza owner and ntrepreneur Danny Bakewell, Jr., also confirmed to the crowd that the Vons Market at the 20 year-old shopping center at North Fair Oaks Avenue at Orange Grove Boulevard will be vacating the property by June and will be replaced by a Vallarta Markets store. Vallarta is described on their website as a Latin-based market with 47 stores throughout California including Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Kern, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare, Orange and Fresno counties. The company employs approximately 8,000 employees. Vallarta Supermarkets intends to “positively impact” 100 communities by the year 2030, according to their website.

“This is a first-class market,” said Bakewell, “We have toured their markets, and it provides everything that Vons provided, with a diverse range of products. It’s not Whole Foods or Bristol Farms, but it’s not Food 4 Less, either. It’s a first class market.”

Bakewell also noted that the Renaissance Plaza is currently 100% full with the inclusion of its latest tenant, Blaze Pizza, which officially opened Thursday evening after a very successful “free pizza” giveaway on Tuesday, in which the store gave away over 1,000 pizzas throughout the day.

Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington also provided an update on the city’s fire department, noting that the Department responded to a total of 19,488 incidents last year, with an average response time of 8:22 on all fire calls, and 6:10 on all medical calls. According to Washington, the department’s eight fire stations achieved an “out the door” rate of 60 seconds 80% of the time on all calls last year.

“This is what we train for,” he said.

Finally, Flintridge Center Program Specialist Jeffrey Bellissimo delivered a presentation on the Center’s wide range of programs and services, specializing in not only reintegrating parolees back into society, but in preventing crime as well.

The center recently received $85,000 in gap funding from City Council, as well as a $470,000 grant through the Pasadena Police Department due to take effect in June, to continue its work with job placement, life skills, record change and ticket amnesty clinics, case management, resource fairs, an apprentice preparation program for construction jobs, and SKILLZ summer school.