With a threatened strike by grocery workers looming, a Los Angeles city panel called Tuesday for the industry to explain why the level and quality of stores and services vary widely throughout the city. Amid concern that poorer areas of Los Angeles have been discriminated against with lower-quality stores, City Councilman Herb Wesson called on the supermarket chains to detail how their location decisions have been made. “I am concerned, when I look at my district, at the lack of quality grocery stores or those that want to downgrade their services,” Wesson said. “It is time to have a discussion with them about this inappropriate behavior. We reached out to the grocery representatives and asked them to be here, but they refused.” Representatives of the stores did not return telephone calls. “Despite the promises that were made after the civil unrest, we still do not have the stores that are so desperately needed.” But the report also questioned claims by the supermarket industry that it has lost money in inner-city areas where it has opened stores. And Wesson said some stores also have been unwilling to invest in improvements to help boost quality and services. Council President Eric Garcetti said he has worked with some markets in poorer areas of his district and believes a model can be developed for other areas of the city. “We want to make this a win-win for residents and the industry as well,” Garcetti said. “But we have to encourage the industry to get away from this two-tiered system. “When they take away health care for the workers and their families, guess who pays for it? We do.” [email protected] (213) 978-0390 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Contract negotiations are continuing with Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs supermarkets, but members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union have authorized a strike if a deal cannot be reached. On Monday, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor ratcheted up pressure by voting to boycott the stores and aid grocery workers if they decide to strike and are locked out by the supermarkets. Boosting pressure on the chains Tuesday, Wesson, chairman of the council’s Housing, Community and Economic Development Committee, praised a report by the Commission on the Los Angeles Grocery Industry that criticized a “two-tier” system of grocery services in Los Angeles that has led to fewer markets or lower quality in poorer areas of the city. The report by the volunteer panel said some areas of the city are “grocery deserts” due to a lack of service, contributing to health problems including obesity and diabetes. “Parts of Los Angeles are treated like a second-class city,” said the Rev. Norman Johnson of First New Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church and head of the panel.
The StandUp4SEALs Beach Challenge will mark its third year in Ocean City on May 23 with a new name and a broader beneficiary base.A standup paddleboard race is open to individuals or relay teams.The event is now known as the Memorial Beach Challenge and will benefit not just the families of Navy SEALS killed in service but the families of fallen heroes in all branches of the military, according to an event c0-founder, Mike Vaules.Registration is open for the Challenge’s three events: a stand-up paddleboard race, a beach obstacle course race and a fun run for kids.Register and get more information at memorialbeachchallenge.com.In its first two years, the event became a popular part of Ocean City’s Memorial Day Weekend calendar with more than 600 competing in the combined events in each year.Kids climb makeshift sand mounds as part of the fun run in the Memorial Beach Challenge.The Challenge provides a spectacle for visitors watching obstacle-course competitors run through a water-filled pit sprayed by a fire hose, crawl under the Ocean City Music Pier, carry sand-filled sacks, perform calisthenics, traverse balance beams, and climb walls.The stand-up paddleboard race includes a box course that starts and finishes on the beach and takes racers through the surf.This year’s event is set for 8 a.m. Saturday, May 23, on the beaches surrounding the Ocean City Music Pier at Moorlyn Terrace. The bulk of the course will be between Fifth and 14th streets.The Memorial Beach Challenge benefits the Navy SEAL Foundation, the 31 Heroes Project (named for the SEALS killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011) and the Travis Manion Foundation. Manion was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a Marine from Doylestown, Pa., who was killed in action in Iraq on April 29, 2007. One of the obstacles in the annual Beach Challenge is a water-filled pit.