A Tribute to a True Friend (of the Los Angeles Mission): King Taco Founder, Raul Martinez, Sr.

From the LA Times: Raul Martinez Sr., founder of the King Taco chain, one of the original Los Angeles Mexican fast food restaurants known for al pastor tacos and late night sopes, died Tuesday at the age of 71, the company announced.

“To our beloved customers, it is with great pain and sorrow that we inform you that on December 3rd, one of our founders, Raul Martinez Sr. passed away. In respect to him and his family all King Taco locations will be closed in his honor. He will be truly missed. May God bless everyone and his family.”

However, that company statement doesn’t tell the whole story.

Here is the rest of the story.

Raul Martinez was not just a visionary. He was much more to us than a hard working man. He became a man who figured out his own way of being a true philanthropist.

Here is what Raul Martinez did. Over the last several decades, yes decades, he faithfully showed up once a month to give King Taco meals away to the homeless and needy at the Los Angeles Mission.

Beyond those monthly meals, Martinez contributed his tasty tacos to special events at the Mission. He is one of those unsung heroes who is drawn to help others. He frequently attended Mission events to support his staff and to bless the people we serve.

“King Taco Day” is one of the most happily anticipated and popular lunches we have every month.  King Taco also works behind the scenes to donate delicious food on a regular basis for use in the Mission’s normal meal programs.

This dedicated man understood how to grow a prosperous business. But what Raul Martinez also understood was the value of giving back.

Out of his own success, he took action to help others in need. He left us a legacy of selfless giving that will continue to inspire others to find their own way to encourage success and generosity.

We will truly miss him. Our prayers go out to all those who loved him during this time of loss.

The Los Angeles Mission extends our heartfelt gratitude and our deepest sympathy to the family, employees and friends of Raul Martinez, Sr.

-Herb Smith, President

Early Prisoner Releases Pose Challenges for Emergency Bed Providers and Permanent Housing. Just A Thought…


Just when it seemed emergency bed needs were stabilizing or drifting slightly downward along comes another challenge… early prisoner releases.

Because many of these individuals have no “home” to return to they end up hitting the streets of Skid Row.  Some looking for help – some looking for trouble.  This trend was noted by LAHSA in the 2013 homeless count earlier this year, but it is in full force now.

As noted by this LA Times story,,0,5286701,full.story, this is a growing challenge.

Despite work by several excellent agencies and cooperatives such as LARRP, who are attempting to address the social needs of those incarcerated before and after release, the challenge remains that homelessness amidst the early release population seems to be increasing.

Is it real or just politically motivated?  That question is addressed by this LA Times editorial:,0,7579015.story

With shrinking dollars from HUD available for housing in LA and across the US, my simplistic mind says…

Can’t we find a way to address both issues simultaneously?  Two thoughts come to mind immediately:

  1. Governor Brown’s building plans should go forward… but not as traditional “prisons.”
  2. The emphasis on addiction recovery, mental health and services suggested by Democrats in the legislature should also be funded.

But here’s my simple suggestion for government… Build permanent affordable housing units that can be used for low impact criminals or parolees returning to society as needed, while at the same time utilizing our secure facilities for those truly dangerous to society.

Use the health services funds to address the needs of prisoners with hopes of reducing recidivism through proper medical care and mental health services.

Then, when the units are no longer needed for temporary prison relief, convert them into permanent affordable housing units.

Sound simplistic?  Probably!  Achievable?  Maybe!

Worth at least some consideration in the political process by those chosen to lead with bold ideas?  Absolutely!