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Week two: Ragers on Roebling, burglaries on the Hill, potential vape legislation

(Axel Lopez/Daily Bruin senior staff and Kanishka Mehra/Assistant Photo editor)

By Andrew Warner

Oct. 11, 2019 3:28 p.m.

This Week in the News serves as The Quad’s space for reflection on current events at and around UCLA. Every week, Daily Bruin staffers will analyze some of the most significant stories to keep readers up to speed.

While many students may still be getting back into the swing of things, adjusting to new classes and study schedules, Daily Bruin staffers have been hard at work in the newsroom. From a fiery rager on Roebling to a couple of burglaries on the Hill, this past week’s news cycle has been rife with activity. Here’s what you need to know about the biggest stories from Week 2 in the Daily Bruin.

Fire and block party on Roebling Avenue prompts firefighter, police responses

The most recent incarnation of the Roebling Avenue block party ended in police response yet again.

The block party has become somewhat of a household name on UCLA’s campus since its first installment in fall 2018. Organized by residents of the apartments along Roebling Avenue, the block party is held quarterly, and draws upwards of 500 partygoers who roam the street chanting and partying. In January, police showed up to the party in riot gear. This time around, firefighters had to put out multiple fires that partiers had ignited using cardboard and mattresses.

Interestingly, Roebling Avenue has somewhat of a history with unruly ragers. Although no arrests were made this year, a block party held on Roebling in 1997 led to five people finding themselves in police custody. The day-long block party, which was billed as the “Roebling Rage,” also differed from its modern counterpart in that the organizers also had a permit to host the fest. The permits did not allow people to drink alcohol on the streets, however, and when officers noticed students breaking these rules, they soon put the party to an abrupt halt.

It looks like Roebling residents have always been fighting for the right to party.

Recent restaurant closures in Westwood raise growing concerns of Village’s vitality

Five restaurants in Westwood have closed in the last couple of months.

According to executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, Andrew Thomas, the neighborhood has a vacancy rate of more than 20%, with the recent closures only adding to that number. Thomas told the Bruin that the new vacancies will become problematic if new businesses don’t fill the empty spaces.

That just might be the case, considering Westwood’s zoning regulations make things notoriously difficult for new businesses to come in. The current plan imposes parking requirements and has strict restrictions on where businesses can open, which also makes it difficult for restaurants to relocate to other spaces in Westwood in the event that their leases expire – a bit like what happened to Sepi’s back in April.

Growing number of vaping illnesses prompt state governments to look to legislation

Last month, the Trump administration set out to ban sales of most flavored e-cigarette brands. Public officials are also looking toward state legislature to take things even further, and the Daily Bruin took a look into California’s additional steps toward restricting the recent influx of vaping-related deaths and illnesses.

On Sept. 16, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order directing the California Department of Public Health to establish a $20 million campaign to educate the public on the dangers of vaping. Additionally, he signed Senate Bill 39, which imposes stricter age restrictions on tobacco products sold online or by mail. About 11% of California high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2018, a testament to the relative ease of acquiring the devices, many of which are purchased illicitly.

The Bruin spoke with a number of sources who largely suggested that the main problem with vaping devices lies in the fact that teens are able to acquire them on the black market easily.

“All these legal products are not harmful,” Maha Haq, co-founder and president of the Cannaclub told the Daily Bruin. “They’re not the culprit. (We need to) go after the … ones which are operating from these shops that are unregulated and shut them down.”

Police investigate two burglary reports in Rieber Vista, Hitch Suites

Two burglaries took place Tuesday morning, and the thieves are still on the loose.

One suite in Rieber Vista was burglarized around 10:00 a.m. and another in Hitch Suites was burglarized overnight while the residents were sleeping. While the dorm residents were inside the units as they were being burglarized, no injuries were reported.

Currently, the suspects are unknown and UCPD is still searching for the burglars.

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Andrew Warner | Daily Bruin senior staff
Andrew Warner is a Daily Bruin senior staff reporter. Warner was the editor of The Quad during the 2018-2019 school year and an assistant editor for the Music | Arts beat of Arts during the 2017-2018 school year. Before that, he was an Arts reporter during the 2016-2017 school year.
Andrew Warner is a Daily Bruin senior staff reporter. Warner was the editor of The Quad during the 2018-2019 school year and an assistant editor for the Music | Arts beat of Arts during the 2017-2018 school year. Before that, he was an Arts reporter during the 2016-2017 school year.
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