President Obama visits Southern CA to campaign, designate national monument

LOS ANGELES — President Barack Obama arrived on Thursday, Oct. 9 for a brief two-day visit with a packed agenda, including a Democratic fundraiser at actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s house, a Cross Campus fundraiser in Santa Monica, and the designation of a national monument.

Obama arrived at LAX at around 2pm and attended an event in Santa Monica at the Cross Campus offices, which seeks to focus on issues of US millennials and the economy. Obama spoke to leaders and young entrepreneurs, emphasizing various issues like the need for government to invest in newer technology, make college more affordable, pass effective immigration reform, and increase the minimum wage.

Confident about immigration legislation coming to pass, Obama said, “I think it’s eventually going to happen over the next two years—Congress is going to see the light.” He assured hopeful Democrats that efforts for reform will not be delayed.

He also addressed the young millenials, including recent college grads who entered the workforce during one of the worst recessions in the nation’s history.

Discussing his future plans to raise the minimum wage and invest more in infrastructure and education to better the economy, Obama took a jab at opponents, saying, “The only reason we’re not doing it right now is we’ve got a Congress that’s been spending a little too much time worrying about the next election rather than the next generation.”

The President later attended a Democratic dinner and fundraiser reception in Brentwood, at the home of Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

“Everything I have done to this point and everything I want to do over the next two years is based on a simple proposition that here in America, it doesn’t matter what you look like, where you come from, what faith you belong to, where you started, who you love,” he told his supporters. “If you are willing to work hard and take responsibility, then you should be able to make it in America. That’s the essence of who we are.”

Though his brief visit was mostly dedicated to Democrat fundraising for the upcoming election, President Obama also traveled to San Dimas on Friday, Oct. 10 to the Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park for the announcement of a new national landmark: the San Gabriel Mountains.

Obama made the decision to protect nearly 350,000 acres of national forest land in the San Gabriel Mountains — about 540 square miles of the Angeles National Forest — from development. Under the federal Antiquities Act, he has already made a motion to create or expand 12 other national monuments around the US.

Supporters of the move say that it will provide more recreational opportunities for millions living in LA County, one of the most urbanized areas with limited access to open space.

In the White House press release, the designation of the monument will “create new opportunities for the Forest Service and local communities to work together to increase access and enhance outdoor opportunities.”

Millions of dollars are already being invested towards the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Fund to support restoration and maintenance of the new monument, including new parking areas, restrooms, educational kiosks and hiking trails.

However, many critics are skeptical of the move, and worry about potential use restrictions. Nearby residents fear the new monument will hamper economic growth, affect private property and threaten fire safety. Some are concerned that the new designation will ultimately limit access to the mountains, that the government will put up gates or expensive fees to keep people out.

The protestors are most disappointed in the President’s use of executive power, saying that it denied residents a chance to weigh in their concerns.

“Today’s action builds on steps the Administration has taken over the past five and a half years to expand access to millions of acres for recreation, make historic investments in restoring critical landscapes through the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, and permanently protect areas significant to our Nation’s rich history and natural heritage,” the White House said.

(With reports from KTLA, ABC7, Associated Press, LA Times, and

(LA Weekend October 11-14, 2014 Sec. A pg.1)

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