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Pico Youth Center Plans Protest At Santa Monica City Hall

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Lookout Staff

May 27, 2015 -- Facing a big loss of grant funding, Pico Youth and Family Center officials say they plan to march on Santa Monica City Hall this week.

Calling the demonstration an “emergency call to action,” organizers said they plan to walk from the Pico Youth and Family Center (PYFC), 715 Pico Boulevard, to City Hall on Thursday, starting at 4:30 p.m., “to support keeping the doors” of PYFC open.

On Wednesday, City Council members will review a list of local nonprofit groups that staff is recommending be approved to receive funding through the City’s Human Services Grant Program (Nonprofit Santa Monica Groups Getting Millions in City Grants, May 22, 2015).

Twenty-four agencies submitted proposals, but only 22 were selected by staff for approval. If approved by the Council, the 22 agencies will split about $8 million in grant funding for various projects.

PYFC officials requested a $190,000 grant to fund the center’s operations for a year, but a staff report cited concerns about the center’s administration and direction. One staff report criticized PYFC official for diverting resources meant for programs for at-risk teens to “social justice and community organizing.”

PYFC founder and President Oscar de la Torre said without the grant money, the 13-year-old center in the heart of Santa Monica’s minority community will be forced to close its doors.

“We can’t afford it,” he told The Lookout last week (Santa Monica Pico Youth and Family Center May Have to Close, May 22, 2015).

De la Torre objected to staff’s allegations that his center is mismanaged, saying it has saved lives. He said the concerns raised by staff reflect political differences PYFC leaders have had over the years with some local elected officials.

 “This political attack comes on the heels of when the nation is witnessing a widening disconnect between low-income residents of color and local governments,” PYFC officials said in announcing Thursday’s rally.

Center officials noted that Santa Monica has repeatedly cut funding for services the facility provides to hundreds of low-income children and families. Since 2002, when PYFC first opened, its City funding has been slashed from $350,000 to $190,000 last year, officials said.

PYFC today is “in the best financial position in the organization’s history,” officials said, but the cost of leasing its space on Pico Boulevard “requires additional support from our tax dollars.”

 “PYFC is asking for only $190,000, which represents only 0.038 percent of the entire $500 million City budget,” said center officials.“


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