Anyone who knows Los Angeles, knows one of it’s most iconic streets is Sunset Boulevard. It goes through starkly, even socio-economically, different neighborhoods, and it’s home to some of the most historic restaurants, stores and venues in pop culture. Even Hollywood got started on the strip. So did you know that Mexicans started Sunset Boulevard?
That’s right! The strip starts at Olvera Street, the oldest part of Downtown Los Angeles.
According to El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, a department under the City of Los Angeles, this is the site of the early Los Angeles pueblo or town where forty-four settlers of Native American, African and European heritage journeyed more than one-thousand miles across the desert from present-day northern Mexico and established a farming community.
But that’s not all…Sunset Boulevard also runs through Echo Park, one of the neighborhoods that expanded from Olvera Street.
Believe it or not, it’s quite common for airplanes to dump jet fuel when they’re facing an emergency landing. They do this so that if anything happens during landing – like a blown out tire – the likelihood of an explosion or major fire is much less.
But a recent incident in the skies over Los Angeles highlight the dangers of the practice – particularly when done over populated communities.
A Delta Airlines aircraft headed to Shanghai faced an emergency landing and dumped a huge amount of fuel over LA-area communities.
Delta Air Lines said the fuel came from Flight 89, which had just taken off from LAX bound for Shanghai, China, when it “experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return quickly to LAX.””The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight,” the airline said.
The fuel was dropped in populated communities – including an area containing six different schools.
Sixty people were treated after a plane dumped jet fuel while returning to the Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday, hitting five elementary schools and one high school.
The incident happened just after noon Tuesday, inspector Sean Ferguson of the Los Angeles County Fire Department told CNN. The most heavily affected school was Park Avenue Elementary in Cudahy, where 20 children and 11 adults reported minor injuries. The school is about 19 miles east of the airport.
After checking all of the affected schools later Tuesday, hazardous materials experts said there was no more danger, fire department officials said. All schools will be open and operating on their normal schedules Wednesday.
“With the monitoring devices that we have, there are no explosive limits that are being detected at all, as well as solid or liquid products remaining,” Battalion Chief Jason Robertson said in a news conference, adding that the fire department believes all of the jet fuel has evaporated.
More than 60 people were treated on the scene and dozens more needed to be decontaminated.
Some people who were hit by the jet fuel Tuesday were decontaminated with soap and water, but no one at any site needed to be taken to the hospital, Sgt. Rudy Perez with the Los Angeles School Police Department said. The schools briefly went through shelter-in-place procedures, but there were no evacuations.
The children were given gowns so they could change out of their clothes, fire department inspector Sky Cornell said, adding there were no reports of injuries from other people in the area.
Miguel Cervantes, a sixth grader, was hit. He said his skin was itchy afterward.”I thought it was smoke,” he said. “But when it went down, I felt it and it smelled like gas.”
According to the FAA, the pilots failed to notify them of the fuel drop.
“A review of yesterday’s air traffic control communications shows the Delta Flight 89 crew did not tell air traffic control that they needed to dump fuel,” said the U.S. regulator. “In this emergency situation, the fuel-dumping procedure did not occur at an optimal altitude that would have allowed the fuel to atomize properly.”
Fuel jettisoned higher than 5,000 to 6,000 feet will vaporize before hitting the ground, according to Boeing Co.The altitude of the Delta plane when it dropped the fuel hasn’t been disclosed.
While there is no regulation requiring such notice, it’s common practice so that flight controllers can direct the plane to an appropriate area to drop the fuel, the FAA said in an email Wednesday.
Now authorities are investigating why the pilots decided to drop fuel so urgently if they weren’t faced with a serious crisis.
The Boeing 777-200 suffered an engine compressor stall after leaving Los Angeles International for Shanghai, and the pilots notified air traffic control that the aircraft would need to return to the airport. The FAA continues to investigate the incident. Delta said it helped clean up the fuel at the schools, but declined to comment on the FAA statement or any aspect of the probe.
While it’s unclear how serious the emergency on the Delta flight was, pilots have discretion to ignore some FAA rules while faced with a dangerous situation. The crew members told controllers their situation was “not critical,” according to a recording posted by LiveATC.net.
Jetliners dump fuel in an emergency to lower their weight for landing. While the plane was capable of taking off, its weight with a full fuel load would have made it heavier than optimal for landing. Landing at higher weights causes stress on brakes and tires that can trigger fires or other issues.
On the same day that many pointed criticism towards the Oscar nominations for lack of diversity, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled a new initiative to help curb the issue, particularly for Latinos. The project is being called LA Collab, a historic endeavour that plans to link Latino talent to opportunities in the entertainment industry with the goal of doubling “Latino representation in Hollywood by 2030.”
According to the LA Times, the initiative has already “raised a quarter of a million dollars to finance a range of film, TV and podcast development deals and projects intended to provide opportunities for Latino filmmakers, writers and actors and crew members.” The initial funding for the project is coming from the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, the Annenberg Foundation, WarnerMedia and Endeavor Content, a press release from Garcetti’s office read.
Garcetti co-founded the initiative with Beatriz Acevedo, the founder of mitú and president of the Acevedo Foundation and Ivette Rodriguez, founder of communications firm AEM. The trio says that the issue of Latino representation in Hollywood is one that needs attention. The announcement is spurred by a 2019 study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California that showed how Latinos are vastly underrepresented in the film industry.
Despite making up almost 20 percent of the U.S. population, the study found only 3 percent of the top-grossing films from 2007 to 2018 had Latino actors in lead or co-lead roles. LA Collab wants to help and push more Latinos to the front and behind the camera in the next decade.
The study was a wakeup call for many civic and film leaders in Hollywood that were dismayed by the numbers that showed the growing disparity for Latinos in the entertainment industry. The report showed that only 4.5 percent of all speaking characters from the last 12 years of film were Latino, behind the camera, only 4 percent of directors of the 1,200 films were Latino.
“Latinos are a powerful force in Los Angeles’s culture and economy, and our trademark industry should tap into the diverse pool of talent in our own backyard,” Garcetti said at a news conference Monday. “On big screens or small, in front of the camera or behind it, our studios, actors, directors and producers inspire the world with the power of their creativity and imagination, and LA Collab will elevate new voices and empower the next generation of Latinx creatives.”
The lack of Latino representation in the entertainment industry is a problem that goes back many years with some putting blame on movie studios not greenlighting certain projects and films. Thomas Saenz, chair of the National Latino Media Council, told mitú back in 2018 that the problem is these studios overlooking Latino talent.
“When studios focus on diversity that can mean any minority group. Latinos in particular have been represented in minuscule numbers that don’t properly show what this country is made up of,” Saenz said. “In the last 10-15 years, African-American representation has gone up same for Asian-American. But I can’t say the same for Latinos. That has to change.”
The LA Collab initiative hopes to be a catalyst for that change. The project already has the support of some big Hollywood names that will be part of connecting workers with various employers in the industry.
Backed by Eva Longoria, J.J. Abrams, Eli Roth, Devon Franklin, Jason Blum, and Zoe Saldana, LA Collab will be working with all of them in some capacity to connect Latinos with opportunities. Roth will help connect Latino horror filmmakers via his digital platform, Crypt TV and Lionsgate’s Pantelion Films with Pantaya will also be hiring new bilingual voices for their projects. There have also been secured deals with multiple media companies, including Endeavor Content, WarnerMedia’s 150, Shine Global and Southern California Public Radio’s LAist Studios.
For Longoria, who has long championed the need for more Latino representation in the film industry, says that she will also be opening the door for more Latinos with her production company, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment.
“As a Latina, I want to see more actors who look like me on screen and behind the camera,” Longoria said in a statement. “I started my own production company to create content from our community, and I became a director/producer to be in a position to hire people who look like me. With LA Collab, I want to open the door for many more Latinx creators and fuel the emergence of a better entertainment industry that elevates and celebrates the diversity and richness of my culture.”
The announcement of LA Collab coincidentally fell on the day that Oscar nominations were announced. Criticism followed the nominations that had only one person of color, Cynthia Erivo, up for an award in the four major acting categories.
There was calls for multiple snubs on Monday morning as the Oscar nominations were revealed. Much of that criticism came from the lack of women of color, particularly the snub of Jennifer Lopez for her role in “Hustlers,” for which she won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. The omission stood out for many reasons including what could have been the fifth Latina nominee in the category and the first Latina winner in the award’s history.
This announcement of LA Collab comes at a time when the disparity in Latino roles and representation is the entertainment industry only seems to be going backwards. This year’s Oscars nominations is just one example of this continuing problem and one that Acevedo says can be fixed by working alongside studios and fellow allies.
“The radical decline of Latinos in Hollywood was the catalyst to rally Hollywood behind this crisis to create change together,” Acevedo said in a statement. “By facilitating unprecedented collaborations between the creative community … and other influential allies, LA Collab will ultimately drive exponential growth for the industry and our community.”