President Barack Obama is scheduled to conclude an approximately 24-hour visit to Los Angeles today by conducting a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee and announcing an executive order declaring 346,000 acres of land in the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument.
The $15,000-per-person roundtable discussion will be held at the home of restaurateur Michael Chow, according to Variety. The event will be closed to reporters.
Obama will then head to Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas to announce an executive order declaring 346,000 acres of land in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles as a national monument.
The designation will culminate a years-long effort by some activists and members of Congress, most recently Rep. Judy Chu, D-El Monte.
Chu has proposed including more than 600,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains in a national monument.
“I am overjoyed and thrilled,” Chu said. “This is an historic moment for the Los Angeles area, and it has been a long time coming. The San Gabriel Mountains are a treasure, providing 70 percent of the open space for Angelenos and attracting more than 3 million visitors a year.
“But without providing adequate funding, the gorgeous woods and waters are marred by trash and graffiti while many trails have become dangerous and lack appropriate signage,” she said.
In an apparent effort to appease critics, however, Obama’s executive order is expected to exclude some areas, such as Mount Baldy and Wrightwood, where opponents feared they would lose access to pristine areas, the Los Angeles Times reported on its website.
“We are thrilled that President Obama is protecting the people and the San Gabriels,” said Robert Garcia of The City Project, an advocacy group that works to ensure access to parks to enhance “livability for all.”
Opponents, including Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, have blasted the proposed national monument, saying it would threaten public access to the land. He said original plans would have threatened the Mount Baldy Ski Resort and Burro Canyon Shooting Park.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich has also criticized the proposal, saying Chu failed to gain support for the idea of a national monument in Congress and has now “bypassing” the public by encouraging Obama to act through an executive order.
Antonovich also pointed to a report he requested in September and in which county public works and fire officials expressed concerns about a monument designation on water resources, firefighting efforts, flood control facilities and roads.
“The list of issues is alarming,” Antonovich said. “We have been told repeatedly that this designation will have no impacts on county operations. Yet, our county departments immediately identified multiple areas of concern.
“We now have more questions than answers, and unfortunately, we will be unable to definitely determine the potential impacts of a designation prior to the president’s ill-advised executive order.”The land is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, but critics contend the agency’s lack of adequate funding has led to problems such as mounting trash and crime.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the national monument designation will mean the Forest Service will prioritize visitors’ safety and natural resources protection while making improvements such as signage, restrooms, parking areas and educational kiosks.
Obama has used his executive authority — avoiding a debate in Congress — about a dozen times previously to designate a monument.
Obama began the visit Thursday by touring Cross Campus, a shared workspace campus in Santa Monica, hailing the so-called “millennial” generation as a driving force in rebuilding the nation’s economy, and one that will change the face of the business world.
Obama’s motorcade then carried the president to the Brentwood home of Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow for a reception and dinner benefiting the Democratic National Committee.
Approximately 200 people attended the reception, including Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts and Emmy-winning actor Bradley Whitford, and 50 at the dinner, according to a DNC official.
Tickets for the reception started at $1,000 and tickets for the dinner at $15,000. Paltrow introduced herself to Obama by saying, “I am one of your biggest fans, if not the biggest.”
“It would be wonderful if we were able to give this man all of the power that he needs to pass the things that he needs to pass,” Paltrow said.
Paltrow cited sustainable energy efforts and Obama’s push for strengthening equal pay laws, which Paltrow called “very important to me as a working mother.”
She then turned the microphone over to Obama saying, “You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly.”
Obama gave much of his standard fundraiser speech, including assuring listeners “the likelihood of an” ebola “epidemic here in the United States is extraordinarily small.”