Note from Councilmember Blumenfield- The Passing of Our Friend Lyn Shaw
This past weekend, we lost our friend and former District Chief of Staff Lyn Shaw-Hilfenhaus. Folks in our community got to know her over the years but our team had the gift of having her in our lives. Lyn had been a key part of my political team and a close confidant. She was a mother hen, political guru, strategist, constituent advocate, and conscience of our team.
Lyn was a lifelong resident of the San Fernando Valley and her career led down many fascinating public and private sector paths including extensive work with local non-profits and serving as the chair of the Women’s Caucus of the California Democratic Party. Before joining Team Blumenfield, Lyn worked for Tierra Del Sol, a San Fernando Valley based non-profit serving people with developmental disabilities.
Lyn was one of my first hires after I was elected to the State Assembly. She had worked for Assemblymember Lloyd Levine as well as on my campaign and ultimately helped shape my entire legislative agenda. As District Director, she managed the district staff and created a supportive family-like environment from which all could thrive individually and collectively.
During the 2008 Great Recession, I served as the Assembly Budget chair. Lyn worked tirelessly to continue funding programs for the developmentally disabled community and helped author AB 1415 which prevented Adult Day Health Care programs from being eliminated. Additionally, she helped shepherd SB 468, signed by Governor Brown, creating a statewide Self-Determination Program that offered people with developmental disabilities a choice and control over the services and support they receive. Locally, she encouraged the office to hire people with developmental disabilities.
Lyn continued to serve as my District Chief of Staff when I was elected to join the City Council. She led field staff in every aspect, including expanding community outreach, ensuring city services, and helping the West Valley get its fair share of resources. She is loved by the community and on a first name basis with non-profit leaders in the area. She was a proactive leader solving issues before they became problems.
Lyn valiantly battled pancreatic cancer. Her loving husband Jim Hilfenhaus had been steadfastly by her side along with their pugs Lily and Otis. Her extended family- Team Blumenfield- uses the question, “what would Lyn do?,” to help solve problems in her absence.
From ensuring a better future for people with developmental disabilities, to being a lifelong advocate for women’s rights, to devoting her life to helping those who need it most, Lyn Shaw made an indelible impact on this community as well as every person who was lucky enough to call her a friend.
Lyn never liked being the center of attention and always wanted her work to speak for itself. Lyn’s dedication and passion for helping others was second to none. Many people out there might not know her name, but will forever benefit from her service to our community. We will soon rename the community room in the West Valley Municipal Building in her memory.
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield
Blumenfield Leads LAHSA Homeless Count in West Valley
On January 22, Councilmember Blumenfield, his staff and nearly 100 community volunteers went out throughout the West Valley for the 2019 Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA) Homeless Count. As part of this annual event, Blumenfield opened his district office as a deployment center for volunteers to head out and conduct a census of individuals on the street.
“From someone shivering in a tent, to a family sleeping in an RV, to an individual in a sleeping bag under the freeway, we have to go out and count so everyone is accounted for,” Blumenfield said. “If we want to fix the problem or know if past efforts have been successful, a critical step is to go out and count. Ultimately, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
The Count happens all over the region with teams of volunteers going out to see where homelessness is concentrated so resources and services can be allocated accordingly. Though the West Valley has the fewest homeless people compared to other communities in Los Angeles, it is still a serious humanitarian and quality-of-life issue which needs more resources and attention.
This year, Team Blumenfield saw more volunteers than ever. The annual count is the first step in ensuring the West Valley gets its fair share of vital resources. Team Blumenfield thanks every volunteer for donating their time and energy to this very important cause.
LAHSA Makes Move Into West Valley Municipal Building
Team Blumenfield congratulates and welcomes the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) on opening their new satellite office in the West Valley Municipal Building – the home of Blumenfield’s District Office. Having LAHSA staff members in their new home in the West Valley, services will now be more readily available to address local homelessness.
“When we used to call LAHSA about a Valley encampment, I would hear that to come to our community they had to drive to a few hours from Downtown and I knew there had to be a better way,” Blumenfield said. “It is wonderful that we can now go down the hall and connect directly with LAHSA to get their wide breadth of services to local homeless people in an efficient manner.”
If you would like to learn more about LAHSA and how it addresses homelessness, please click the link here: www.lahsa.org.
Blumenfield Commemorates 25th Anniversary of Northridge Earthquake, Offers Tips to be More Prepared
On January 17, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake at community events in both his District Office and at California State University Northridge. 25 years ago, the City of Los Angeles was rocked by the Northridge Earthquake, a 6.7 magnitude quake that left behind a staggering aftermath of 57 deaths, 9,000 injuries and more than $20 billion in damage.
“The Northridge Earthquake was one of those times where anyone who experienced it remembers exactly where they were,” Blumenfield said. “It seared into my consciousness the importance of emergency preparedness and is the reason why this has become one of my top priorities since the first day I was elected to public office.”
At the time of the earthquake, Blumenfield was working for Congressman Howard Berman and acted as the direct point person throughout the crisis. Since their office was red-tagged, Congressman Berman and Blumenfield set up shop in the old San Fernando jail, where they helped distribute supplies and water to constituents in need. Blumenfield also coordinated a major relief effort for residents of the West Valley between every level of government and stood by them at the federal level when he pushed for a $14 billion aid package.
“When the next crisis happens, we may not be as lucky to receive as much federal aid. That is why now, more than ever, we need to be self-reliant and on the same page about emergency preparedness,” Blumenfield said. “Fires, floods and earthquakes can happen at any time with no warning, especially with climate change making our summers hotter, droughts more severe, and horrible fires more likely.”
On the 25th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake, Blumenfield announced five easy steps for everyone to take to be more prepared for the next natural disaster:
- Have a ‘go bag’ in the car and in your home. This includes emergency rations for you and your pets, water, a first aid kit, extra clothes, prescription drugs, batteries and things like a transistor radio.
- Download ShakeAlertLA, the new app to your iPhone or Android so you are warned before impending earthquakes.
- Have phone numbers and contact information written down on paper in a safe place.
- Designate a friend or loved one who lives far away to serve as the point of contact for your family to check in with in case local communication is not working properly.
- Put some cash away just in case ATMs/the internet goes down.
If you want to learn more about how to be better prepared for natural disasters, please join my Emergency Preparedness Community Action team by going to http://blumenfield.lacity.org/join_cat or calling my staff at (818) 774-4330.
Blumenfield Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Community Leaders
On January 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Councilmember Blumenfield received the LeRoy Chase Community Award at a Community Breakfast hosted by the African American Leadership Organization (AALO). Blumenfield joined President and CEO of AALO Bob Winn, organizers Yodit Abraha, Marlene Roulette and the staff of the Boys and Girls Club of the San Fernando Valley to honor MLK’s legacy and the importance of continuing his work for social justice.
“Receiving this award was incredibly meaningful because of my admiration for the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and my friendship and respect for the late LeRoy Chase,” said Blumenfield.
LeRoy Chase was the director of the Boys and Girls Club of the San Fernando Valley and unfortunately passed away this past year. Chase was a champion of preserving youth services for children in Pacoima and Councilmember Blumenfield was truly honored to receive this award in his memory.
Blumenfield Honors Firefighters for Heroic Service During the Woolsey Fire
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield was joined by LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas to honor two firefighter pilots who dramatically saved a family during the Woolsey Fire. On November 9th, LAFD Air Operations Pilots David Nordquist and Joel Smith were requested to evacuate three people and their two dogs in Malibu.
“It’s no secret that LAFD is comprised of incredibly brave and selfless heroes, but the actions of Mr. Norquist and Mr. Smith during the Woolsey Fire were truly remarkable,” said Blumenfield.
With low visibility, running out of fuel, as well as smoke and flames surrounding them, Nordquist and Smith risked their lives for this miraculous rescue. Blumenfield and Chief Terrazas presented the pilots with certificates of recognition and the video of the incredible rescue was shown as well.
"Pilots Nordquist and Smith represent the best of the Los Angeles Fire Department, whose men and women are on the front lines of public safety each and every day," said LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas. "Their training, experience, and skill enabled them to undoubtedly save the lives of three civilians and their pets, who were in the path of the deadly Woolsey Fire. I would like to thank them for their dedication to the LAFD and to thank Councilmember Blumenfield for recognizing them today."
“When we got the call, without any hesitation, we said let’s go get them” Smith said to the crowd. “Thanks to the exceptional flight training we received, Nordquist and I were able to land the helicopter on a mountaintop with only three feet of space between our rotor and some brush. And we had no time to spare, maybe five minutes, before things could have gone worse, but we were at the right place at the right time.”
The LAFD helmet cam video captures the minutes leading up to the pilots safely landing on the mountain crest through flames and smoke. With no designated space to land, they continued to stay composed, focused and vigilant. Then within minutes, they located the family and their dogs, quickly getting them into the helicopter and off to safety. To see the full video please click here.
Team Blumenfield Cleans Up Industrial Area Overrun by RVs and Over-sized Vehicles
Blumenfield represents all persons living in his district, regardless of whether or not they live in a home. He is an advocate for Safe Parking LA, a program to help homeless persons living in their vehicles stay overnight in parking lots. This is a safe and effective alternative to having cars and RVs park alongside industrial or residential areas without sanitary or support services. However, some problematic locations in the ‘green zone’ of allowed streets for vehicular dwelling have proven unsustainable as they have resulted in increased criminal activity and require modifications to the local rules.
After repeated reports from business owners about tensions escalating on a local street that allowed RVs and after police verified a significant related increase in criminal activity, Team Blumenfield stepped in to intervene. Although unsheltered individuals are allowed to sleep on certain city streets, 30+ RVs had been parked between Bahama and Lureline Avenue. Blumenfield's office received dozens of calls from business owners frustrated by the large volume of trash in the area and threats by some hostile dwellers. Bahama and Lureline is an industrial zone and recently the location of dozens of homeless persons living in dilapidated RVs. Based on public safety issues that were confirmed by local authorities, the large vehicles now have been legally required to vacate the area at night.
“At first we called for several HOPE outreach and cleanup efforts, but they were not enough,” Blumenfield said. “We can’t normalize homelessness and we also must be sensitive to where we put up parking restrictions since we don’t want to just move the problem from one block to around the corner. But this situation was chronically a public health and safety hazard.”
In August 2018, a homeless person living on the street confronted a parking enforcement officer, assaulted the officer, and smashed the LADOT vehicle’s windshield. The incident ended in a high speed pursuit and an escape on foot with the LAPD at the Northridge Fashion Center Mall.
As tensions rose between the population working in the area and the homeless RV dwellers, and months of speaking to the community to find an alternative solution, Blumenfield directed Los Angeles Department of Transportation to produce and install signage that would prohibit the RVs and other large vehicles from parking on the street overnight.
By December 2018, the signs were installed and the number of RV campers slowly dwindled. LA Sanitation was brought in to help pick up the trash and debris left on the sidewalk and restore the area.
Although changing parking restrictions is not a solution to the homelessness crisis, at times these changes are necessary to restore public health and safety in a specific area. If you have questions about parking restrictions or the laws regarding vehicular dwelling, please call Blumenfield’s District Office at (818) 774-4330.
Local Business Spotlight- U-Frame-It Gallery
U-Frame-It is a framing business based in Van Nuys and Tarzana that has served the West Valley for several decades. Owner Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo purchased the framing business back in 1988 after having worked there throughout her high school and college career. When Cruz-Ocampo purchased U-Frame-It, she had a vision to expand the business into the local film and television industry. Through hard work and networking she branched out the framing business to get the attention of Set Decorators who were dressing their film sets. Cruz-Ocampo is proud to mention her business does all their framing in-house and everything they make is built to the customer’s exact needs—even if a client needs the frames hung in their spaces.
Today Adrianna runs her business in Tarzana and Van Nuys with her family. Her husband, Francisco, and her two sons, Andres and Sebastian, all work between the two stores, continuing the legacy for years to come. Their business has been featured on the TV show, “Making it” and HGTV’s “Design Star”. Cruz-Ocampo is a proud member of the Warner Center/Woodland Hills/Tarzana Chamber of Commerce as well as VICA and the Mid Valley Chamber of Commerce and various trade groups.
West Valley Animal Shelter Pets of the Month
" Bella" ID# A1824703- Bella is one year old with a Dachchund face, floppy Doxie ears, and mystery freckles. She bonds really fast and close to her person and will be a close companion.
Zorro ID# A1834161- Who is this oh-so-dashing cat, in his stunning all-black wardrobe, ready to defend you against harm? He's Zorro. His pistachio-green eyes, so full of expression are too handsome to hide behind a mask. to stay safe always, Zorro needs to stay indoors only. He will gladly do his fun swashbuckling indoors, with kitty toys and a cat tree. Please adopt beautiful Zorro, and see his movie star personality come out and shine.
Bring home forever love, smiles, purrs and wags -- come adopt a shelter pet today! Dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, bunnies, all sizes, types and fur lengths, from playful youngsters to gentle, loving seniors -- they are waiting for you at your local CD 3 Animal Shelter! Come fall in love at the West Valley (L.A. city) Animal Shelter at 20655 Plummer St., Chatsworth, (818) 756-9325. See all the L.A. City Shelter animals at http://www.laanimalservices.com/.
On January 23, Councilmember Blumenfield joined the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization to offer remarks on the state of the West Valley, discuss initiatives he is working on at City Hall, and answer questions on all topic of interest the group.
On January 16, Councilmember Blumenfield marched with local West Valley teachers. During the recent LAUSD strike, tens of thousands of teachers left the classroom to demand lower class sizes and more nurses in their schools – the first protest in 30 years.
“There are few jobs more important, and underappreciated, than teaching our kids. For the sake of the students who rely on their teachers and school staff every day, I’m so grateful that the parties finally came to an agreement that improves fairness to teachers, quality education and support for our youth,” Blumenfield said.
The six day strike ended on Tuesday, January 22.