Earlier this week, the City Council's Budget and Finance Commitee, of which I am a member, concluded its deliberations on the Mayor's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Over the course of marathon hearings on the budget, my colleagues and I put in many hours reviewing documents, analyzing projections, asking questions of City departments and staff to make sure next year’s budget is fiscally sound and reflective of our shared values.
In a budget survey sent out last month, I asked you to let me know your priorities for the City’s upcoming budget. I received hundreds of responses, and despite a diversity of ideas, a clear consensus emerged: public safety must remain our top priority, and we need to remain focused on growing and improving the City’s physical and environmental infrastructure to make LA a safe, clean, green and friendly place for people and businesses while ensuring our long-term, fiscal sustainability.
A visual representation of what you told us can be found below.
The ideas, values, and priorities you set forth in your survey responses were my constant guide throughout the nearly three week-long budget process, the results of which are evident in the 2015-16 budget approved by the committee, which includes:
- 5 new training classes to bring in the best and brightest new recruits to LAFD.
- Our firefighters will be receiving a second set of turnouts (personal protective gear). These items need to be cleaned after every fire to remove harmful contaminants, having a second set will ensure our local heroes will be safe while keeping Los Angeles safe.
- LAFD will also be implementing a Nurse Practitioner Unit, this cutting edge pilot program will treat people who call with minor medical needs right there at the scene, rather than transporting them to the hospital--freeing up critical fire resources for emergency needs.
- Maintaining our current sworn personnel levels and hiring additional civilian staff and detention officers to put more police men and women on the street.
- Hiring veterans to perform much needed maintenance on our public safety radio towers.
Infrastructure and Transportation
- Next fiscal year the City of Los Angeles will pave 2,400 lane miles, spend $31 million on a sidewalk repair program, and increase the number of trees trimmed by 50%--that’s 57,000 trees!
- $5 million for ACTIVE Transportation, a Department of Transportation program that will focus on bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs.
Protecting our City's most vulnerable
- We’re making strides to assist some of our most vulnerable Angelinos, the members of the homeless community, including a $5 million contribution into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, a possible $5 million more upon adoption of a new revenue stream from short term vacation rentals (ex airbnb, VBRO), $2.9 million in services targeted to homeless veterans, and $1 million set aside to fund proposals that come from the newly created Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness.
- $1.03 million for the Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART) Program which uniquely blends domestic violence crisis response with case management to provide effective intervention for victims of domestic violence and their families.
- $1.1 million for Domestic Violence Shelters. After the federal government cut its funding for these services, we could not sit by and let this critical need to go unfunded. These funds will allow non-profit agencies to operate the Domestic Violence Shelter Operations Program (DVSO)
The Valley's fair share
- Aliso Creek Confluence Park: I fought for $800,000 for enhancements at the Aliso Creek Confluence Park. This park is currently under construction and our non-profit partners, Trust for Public Land, identified some shortfalls. This money will allow for decorative and safety fencing, entry gates, irrigation, and more.
- Oakdale Storm Drain: If you can believe it (the businesses there certainly do) there’s no storm drain on Ventura Blvd from Oakdale to Quakertown. This area is susceptible to flooding when it rains. I secured $750,000 for design work and pre-construction on the storm drain so we can finally build the infrastructure in FY 16/17.
- Topanga Police Station gate repair: Our hard working police officers have been dealing with a broken parking lot gate. This year’s budget doesn’t just fix the old gate but replaces it with a longer-lasting one so our men and women in blue can focus on what’s important: keeping you safe!
- Sherman Way (Wilbur to Lindley): As part of the Great Streets Program Sherman Way in Reseda will be receiving enhanced trash pick-up, tree trimming, road repairs, and street sweeping.
- The Canoga Park Youth Arts Center will get a new art instructor and the Madrid Theatre in Canoga Park will receive additional support through a citywide Performing Arts Director to assist with additional programming, marketing and outreach, and developing new public-private partnerships.
While serving as the Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee for the State of California, I worked hard to bring the State from deficit to surplus during crippling economic times. We were able to maintain core services but difficult decisions had to be made and ultimately valuable programs were diminished or even cut entirely. Here in the City we face similar challenges; things are getting better as the economy recovers but we are still projecting a significant deficit. This is not a growth year, but rather a chance to reassess, refocus, and redouble our efforts to be more efficient.
As always, serving you and providing the highest level of constituent service is my priority as a City Councilmember. Please contact me if I can be of assistance with any question or issue.