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.

LAFD Bringing Additional Resources to Valley Fire Stations

As a result of the anticipated increased winds and lowering relative humidity, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) will pre-deploy additional resources beginning at 8:00 AM on Thursday October 2, 2014.

These additional firefighters will be placed at select Neighborhood Fire Stations serving high hazard brush areas, including Fire Station 84 in Woodland Hills, for an anticipated 24 hours, pending re-evaluated weather conditions.

Additional staffing includes: 11 Engines, 5 Brush Patrols (4x4 trucks able to access remote areas, equipped with water and hose), one EIT (Firefighter Staff Assistant) for each Battalion and Division Chief, two Metro Fire Dispatchers, one Air Operations Officer and one Helicopter Pilot.


Metro's "The Source" Blog Looks at Orange Line Improvements

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Councilmember Blumenfield addresses reporters a July press conference on Orange Line improvements.

The Orange Line is the valley's only dedicated transit way and every day thousands of people rely on it to get to work, school, and home. Making the Orange Line faster and more efficient for riders is a priority for me. Yesterday, Metro Board staff presented some immediate, short, and long term options to improve this service. I'm very encouraged by their recommendations for the near future and will continue working with Councilmember Krekorian and the growing coalition of Valley stakeholders for the long term.  

Metro's The Source reports:

The Orange Line is Metro’s second-busiest bus line behind only the 720, the Rapid bus service along Wilshire Boulevard. With the Orange Line often crowded at peak hours, the Metro Board in July approved a motion asking Metro to investigate short-term fixes to speed up the Orange Line and add capacity, the feasibility of a possible bus rapid transit line between North Hollywood, Bob Hope Airport and the Gold Line in Pasadena and a possible conversion of the Orange Line to rail.The above Metro staff report explains how the agency plans to go forward.The gist of it: as for the question of rail conversion and extending bus rapid transit to Burbank and Pasadena, Metro plans to have those issues studied as part of an ongoing “mobility matrices” process. Yes, that’s a mouthful. In plain English, the matrices are evaluating potential transportation projects around Los Angeles County to see which should be included in an update of Metro’s long-range plan.

In July, I testified to the Metro board in support of a package of proposed improvements along the Orange Line--improvements that will make a huge difference in my West Valley council district, where each of my five communities touch the Orange Line. 

Today the Metro board received a staff report on that package, the first step in turning that plan into action. 

I'm happy to see some service level improvements that can be implemented in the short term while we await the February study on big impact changes. I will continue to push forward on these critical needs to make the Valley's most important public transit resource even better.

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September and October Resurfacing in the West Valley

Did you know that each year the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) resurfaces more than 2,400 lane miles of road? Here are the Council District 3 streets scheduled for resurfacing in September and October 2014.

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Stay Cool in the Heat This Weekend

UPDATE 9/16/2014: Additional cooling center information can be found at http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/.

UPDATE 9/15/2014: The Los Angeles County Health Officer has extended the Heat Alert through Wednesday, September 17th, for the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles. 
Library facilities will be operating during their normal posted hours today and tomorrow. The general public should visit http://www.lapl.org/branchesor call (213) 228-7000 for specific hours of operation.  

The following Recreation and Parks facilities will be operating with extended hours Monday and Tuesday, September 15th-16th: 

Lanark Recreation Center

21816 Lanark St.
Canoga Park, CA 91304
(818) 883-1503
9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Lakeview Terrace Recreation Center

11075 Foothill Blvd.
Lake View Terrace, CA 91342
(818) 899-8087
Noon to 9:00 p.m.

North Hollywood Recreation Center

11430 Chandler Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 763-7651
9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sepulveda Recreation Center

8801 Kester Ave.
Panorama City, CA 91402
(818) 893-3700
9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sherman Oaks/East Valley Adult Center

5060 Van Nuys Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 981-1284
9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sunland Park Senior Center

8640 Fenwick St.
Sunland, CA 91040
(818) 353-9571
9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.


This weekend's heat wave which is expected to send temperatures in to the triple digits throughout the Southland will hit our San Fernando Valley communities especially hard. Seniors can be at higher risk so it’s important to keep safety in mind on note days. I urge all residents to take measures to stay safe and cool.

LADWP has prepared for the high temperatures by scheduling additional crews to respond, should any power outages occur. In the event of a power outage, customers are urged to report the outage immediately by calling 1-800- DIAL-DWP (1-800-342-5397) so that a crew can be dispatched to make repairs. When calling 1-800-DIAL-DWP, customers should choose “Report Power Outage” in the automated phone system in order to be connected right away to a live operator. 

To help reduce your energy use, LADWP recommends these tips:

  • Adjust your thermostat to 78 degrees to reduce energy usage during the hottest hours of the day, 11:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m., when air conditioning systems have to work hardest to cool.
  • Visit your local library, mall, movie theater or other air conditioned gathering places and give your air conditioner a rest by adjusting the thermostat to 78 degrees.
  • Limit use of major appliances during peak hours of the day- use washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and other heavy appliances during evening hours, after 6:00 p.m.
  • Close draperies, shades or blinds during the heat of the day to reduce the extra heat from direct sunlight through windows.
  • Ventilate your home in the early morning and evening by opening windows and doors to clear out the heat and allow cooler air to circulate.
  • Turn off lights and other electrical equipment when they are not in use.
  • Unplug "energy vampires" like cell phone chargers, DVD players, microwave ovens and other appliances that use energy even when they are not in use.
More helpful tips on how to beat the heat after the jump.
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Council Frees Nearly $90 Million for Economic Development

This morning, I was pleased to join with my fellow Councilmembers in moving forward a plan to free nearly $90 million in unused CRA bonds for the purpose of economic development in Los Angeles, some $20 million of which will go directly to my West Valley district.

I’m proud that this has been made possible in part by a one-two punch I helped deliver, first as an Assemblymember and now as a Councilmember.

Under the original state dissolution authority of the CRA, former redevelopment properties and bond proceeds were to be expeditiously sold and paid off. As Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, I worked to change this, authoring the trailer bill AB 1484 that amended the previous dissolution legislation to allow for eligible successor agencies to utilize unobligated pre-2011 tax allocation bond proceeds.

As a Councilmember, I believe it is critical that we take advantage of this opportunity in a thoughtful and deliberate manner to deliver on the promises to these communities.

It is one reason why last week I traveled to Sacramento to meet with the Director of the Department of Finance and the Governor’s Office. I wanted to stress how important it is for our City to use these bonds to invest in our communities.

The proposed Bond Expenditure Agreement and Bond Spending Plan between the CRA/LA and the City would allow the City of Los Angeles to utilize $86.4 million of existing unused CRA bond money to improve public infrastructure, support affordable housing, invest in catalytic investments, and provide business assistance.

The City Council action today, created the City mechanism to make the plan a reality. The next step will be approval by the CRA/LA successor agency and oversight board.

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