Armenian Jewelers Association Addresses Threat to Downtown

LOS ANGELES–Chairman of the Armenian Jewelers Association Sarkis Kitsinian–called a meeting of his organization Monday to address a recent crackdown on downtown jewelry establishmen’s by the state Environmental Protection Agency–which claims that chemicals used within jewelry manufacturing establishmen’s pose an environmental threat to the city.

The Monday meeting–which took place at the Tiffany room of the Biltmore Hotel–focused on ways to overcome the possible crippling of the industry–stemming from state concerns about hazardous pollutants emanating from manufacturers.

In a Los Angeles Times feature Sunday–this issue and the plight awaiting jewelry manufacturers was discussed in depth. A halt to the downtown jewelry industry could pose a massive threat to the state’s economy–since Los Angeles boasts the second largest jewelry manufacturing market in the country–trailing close behind the New York market.

"The agency asked the state attorney general to sue the owners of the Park Central Building at 412 West 6th St. No lawsuit has yet been filed–but the attorney general in June ordered the building’s owners to stop jewelry manufacturing operations there. The building was found to have hazardous levels of cadmium–copper–chromium–lead–nickel–silver and zinc," reported the LA Times

"Though the state has ordered a halt to manufacturing–most of the small businesses in the building continue to operate. Workers there say that little has changed–aside from the fact that one or two of the manufacturers being closely monitored by the state had ceased making jewelry," the newspaper added.

"The concern in the district is that the entire building will eventually be closed down–and that the state will not stop there," the LA Times said.

In the LA Times piece–Peklar Pilvajian–vice president of the Armenian Jewelers’ Assn.–expressed his fears that the California EPA could end up closing 35 or 40 more buildings. Such a move–some say–would cost about 15,000 jobs–significantly damage a downtown trying to bounce back from decades of malaise–and cut into the city’s tax base.

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