Tackling LA's Broken Sidewalks

Today we delved into the issues surrounding our crumbling sidewalks as the City Council began an urgent conversation around sidewalk repair in the City of Los Angeles. For too long, LA neighborhoods have been strangled by broken, buckled, impassible, and dangerous sidewalks that have threatened safety and jeopardized economic activity due to decades of neglect.

Earlier this year, I was proud to play a role in pushing the City to resolve ongoing litigation that had previously hampered efforts to comprehensively address our sidewalk infrastructure. In settling, the City made a $1.4 billion commitment to sidewalk repairs and pedestrian improvements, the first $31 million of which are included in the recently passed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Today, in a special joint hearing of the Council’s Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee, of which I am a member, we took first steps toward bringing our sidewalks into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act and making them passable and safe for all Angelenos. Several field hearings will be held throughout Los Angeles to follow up on today’s discussion.

We considered recommendations that include:

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Celebrating Innovation

Today we celebrated the hardworking, dedicated City employees who submitted the first round of funded ideas to the Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund is a City program that looks to our employees and commissioners to crowdsource new ideas to make government more efficient, responsive, and transparent.

Dr. Marc Eckstein, with the support of Councilmember Mitchell Englander, brought forward the concept of a nurse practitioner unit for the LAFD. The new unit will provide efficient and effective health services to vulnerable Angelenos while freeing up valuable resources for immediate, life-threatening emergencies.

Mark Nakata found a new way to bring Los Angeles into the 21st century by suggesting the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering utilize 3D printing technology to produce architectural models that will save many hours of staff time.

Sandip Soni, Arment Kamyshyan and Ken Husting conceived of the "Can I Park Here Now" idea that will simplify parking signs that have been known to confuse and confound drivers throughout the city.

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2015 Budget Survey Results

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.

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Blumenfield Community Budget Survey 2015-2016

While California's economy continues to experience a slow recovery, the City of Los Angeles continues to be challenged by a $165 million deficit. Addressing the structural deficit could require either or both increasing revenue and decreasing City services. This means that some of the services that are important to you may not be delivered or may not be delivered as frequently.

Please know that I am very focused on improving efficiency, increasing accountability and transparency. While we continue to make progress on those fronts, the decisions inherent in the annual budget process cannot be mitigated by efficiency alone.

The Budget and Finance Committee's deliberations on the 2015-16 budget begin on April 28, 2015. You can find a schedule of budget hearings hereHearings are broadcast live on the City’s public access network on Channel 35 and are streamed online here.

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Burglaries Reported In Woodland Hills

Yesterday, on April 1, 2015, at least 8 residential burglaries occurred in Woodland Hills in the Topanga Area. See the community alert from LAPD below, and follow these burglary prevention tips.

  • Reminder: Don’t forget to lock and secure your residence when you leave. Leaving your windows open is an open invitation for a burglar to come into your residence.
  • Here are a few examples of things that may help prevent you from becoming a victim: If you decide to leave your windows open get a stick and put it in the window frame preventing your window from opening all the way.
  • Make sure you have your side gates locked. This is one of the most common entries for burglars. They enter through the side gate, and make entry into your home from the rear, away from public view.
  • Keep your bushes around your windows trimmed so there is no place to hide.
  • Post alarm signs in your front yard.
  • Place a Beware of Dog sign on your gates.
  • If your residence looks like a hard target, the criminal will be more likely to pass your house and move on to an easier target. 

See more at nixle.com.

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Raise the Wage and Get it Right

Last night, as the City Council's Economic Development Committee met to discuss proposals to raise the City's minimum wage to lift people out of poverty, I submitted a letter to the Chair, raising questions and proposed solutions to ensure that any wage increase enacted by the City works to achieve our goals. 

Raising Los Angeles's minimum wage has the potential to change people's lives for the better, and re-energize many sectors of our economy. But with Los Angeles's diverse and complex regional economy, it is important that we craft good public policy that addresses the unique needs of our City.

The text of that letter appears below:

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Economic Development Committee Hearings on the Citywide Minimum Wage

The Los Angeles City Council’s Economic Development Committee will be holding a series of field hearings across Los Angeles on the proposal to raise the City’s minimum wage. By doing so, the Council hopes to create as thorough and deliberative a process as possible. Hearings are open to the public and will be held starting the week of March 24th as follows: 

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This Holiday Season, Provide a Spark of Love

Over the past two decades, Spark of Love has successfully collected millions of toys for children in need.

It was my pleasure this morning to present a sample of this season's donated toys to Chief Ralph Terrazas and the Los Angeles Fire Fighters who make Spark of Love possible.

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If you have new, unwrapped toys and sports equipment to donate, please join me this Monday from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. as we Stuff-a-Bus full of toys at the Westfield Topanga & Promenade.

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Raise the wage to lift all boats

The City of Los Angeles has the opportunity to act on an ambitious and important minimum wage proposal that can dramatically improve the lives of many, but we must do so in a way that will actually create jobs, improve our economy and best serve our entire community. Yesterday, the Council’s Economic Development Committee heard testimony on a pair of motions that merged together will help advance the minimum wage increase in a deliberative manner.

This past Labor Day, Mayor Eric Garcetti put forward a plan to raise the City’s minimum wage from the current $9.00 per hour, to $13.25 per hour by 2017.

With 27% of Los Angeles residents living at or below the poverty line, raising the minimum wage is a noble goal. I applaud the Mayor, and my colleagues who authored the motion, Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Curren Price, Nury Martinez and Gil Cedillo, for their commitment to bettering the circumstances of more than half a million of our fellow Angelenos.

And as we work together to lift families out of poverty, it is crucial that we be deliberative and get it right--particularly because there will be real impacts felt by small businesses and non-profit providers who drive our economy and serve our vulnerable communities. Making sure these impacts are fully studied and properly mitigated is the intent of the second measure considered by the Committee today, which I offered last week alongside Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.

We know that raising wages is a proven way to put money into the hands of the working poor and who will, in turn, spend that money locally. But legislation is equal parts art and science, and all too often the devil is in the details.  We know that wages in this country have been stagnant for too long, and we know that many people who work full time receive food stamps and other government assistance. What we don’t fully understand are some of the unintended consequences of a wage increase. 

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Safeguarding the Future of Funding for Californians Living With Disabilities

It was my pleasure to address the Senate Human Services Committee yesterday at their field hearing on the future of funding of services for people with developmental disabilities, held yesterday at City Hall, where I was pleased to welcome Chairman Jim Beall and Sen. Carol Liu. 

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Blumenfield addresses the Senate Human Services Committee field hearing at Los Angeles City Hall, on October 9, 2014.

In addition to praising the committee for holding this important field hearing, I took the opportunity to raise a pair of challenges we face in the City of Los Angeles as we work to lift Angelenos out of poverty. These challenges, if left unaddressed, have the potential to hurt Californians living with disabilities and numerous vulnerable populations, including seniors and others.

First, because many of the service providers are partially funded by state and federal reimbursements, it is crucial that leaders in the State take into account cost of living and local minimum wage when setting reimbursement rates. As the City of Los Angeles works to increase the minimum wage for workers across Los Angeles, this issue will become even more important to our local agencies. 

Second, the state must clarify that exempt employees who must be paid twice the minimum wage have that wage based on the state, not local minimum wage. 

Today, I introduced a motion that would formally activate our lobbyists in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. to work with our elected representatives to correct and clarify these two important issues.

In the Assembly, I Chaired the Assembly's Budget Committee during years when the state went from being tens of billions of dollars in the red, to a multi-billion dollar surplus. Throughout that time I got to know many families and services providers who rely on state funding and worked tirelessly to protect them from budget cuts. It is important to me to help people with disabilities to live independent, full lives, and to advocate for the state funding of services that make that possible.


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