Buzz October 2020

I hope you are staying safe.  While my office is now a hybrid of virtual and socially distanced in-person work, please know we are open and always ready to help.  Please don't hesitate to call my office at (818) 774-4330 or email me at councilmember.blumenfield@lacity.org anytime. Thanks and stay safe.

 

ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS IN THE WEST VALLEY

LAHSA with LA Family Housing to House All Homeless at Winnetka and Corbin Underpasses by Thanksgiving

Blumenfield doing regular outreach to underpasses to speak with homeless folks and encourage them to seek services.

This month Councilmember Blumenfield announced that LAHSA agreed to expand a new pilot program and will house an estimated 33 people currently living under the Winnetka and Corbin underpasses using focused Rapid Rehousing by Thanksgiving. Originally this pilot, which will offer housing to residents of six entire encampments in the city, was only going to include the Winnetka underpass for the West Valley. Blumenfield was able to convince LAHSA to include the Corbin underpass as well since the two locations are linked as the unhoused individuals often move back and forth between them.Learn more about Winnetka/Corbin initiative here: http://blumenfield.lacity.org/lahsa_pilot_update.

Blumenfield hopes to expand it to include all of the other underpasses in his district. Spectrum News 1 Television recently did a segment on Blumenfield's latest homelessness efforts. Click here to watch the video or click on the thumbnail below.

Pursuant to a Federal Injunction issued by Judge Carter, living by a freeway is not safe or healthy and the people who are doing so must be moved to a shelter or housing. Signage will be installed at the underpasses to notify individuals that camping at these freeway underpasses is not safe and will no longer be permitted after a certain date. The details about what the posted signage will look like and how the City will ensure that the area remains off limits are still being worked through with the City Attorney and others, but more details will come in the near future and the final “choice date” for moving into shelter or leaving the underpasses may even be moved earlier if enough shelter is available and notice is posted. 

Blumenfield's goal is to have housing options available for all 704 homeless people who are living in the 3rd District and, if needed, be able to enforce anti-camping laws throughout the district. Anti-camping laws have been legally unenforceable, but Judge Carter’s hands-on involvement with these efforts has been a game changer.  If a district-specific settlement agreement can be reached on the pending lawsuit, these laws could be enforced once a certain percentage of shelter beds are available.  There is precedent for this, as a similar settlement agreement has been reached in 28 cities (mostly in Orange County) where Judge Carter has presided.  These cities are smaller in population than a single LA Council district.  The basic idea is that anyone living on the streets of the third district would have the opportunity to live in a decent shelter bed that is also in the third district, but they would not be allowed to store property or build their own shelter on the public streets and sidewalks.

Having homeless people live on the sidewalks is unconscionable — legally and morally the Valley needs alternatives. To take advantage of recent funding that the County has agreed to per the Judge Carter litigation, as well as COVID-19 related funds, City funds and State funds, Blumenfield is trying to create shelter opportunities as fast as possible. These efforts include:

  • Building several new tiny home cabin communities, starting with his District Office parking lot, then using a Metro parking lot next to the Orange line that they have made available, and then potentially another lot that might be leased in Canoga Park.
  • Purchasing two Project Roomkey hotels to create more permanent units
  • Opening Bridge Housing (Canoga Park opens in January)
  • Supplementing non-profit efforts (providing funds to enable more beds for homeless domestic violence survivors with Haven Hills)
  • Developing creative partnerships (recently secured additional City funds for a Providence-Cedars/Tarzana Treatment Center mental health/drug addiction housing project he helped create where homeless ER patients are temporarily housed to help rehabilitate mentally and physically)
  • Expanding SafeParkingLA options and more.

Screen grab of a cabin community shelter being constructed.

Also, the City Council just set aside $97 million for LAHSA to house 3000 people through focused Rapid Rehousing. And lastly, HHH permanent supportive housing (PSH) units are finally coming online and soon there will be a groundbreaking for two approved in CD 3.

Blumenfield Proposes to Expand Smoke Relief Centers for Homeless/Vulnerable Angelenos

On September 15, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield introduced legislation to develop comprehensive protocols for how and when to open ‘smoke relief’ centers, expand accessibility across Los Angeles, and ask City Departments for a report back on how to improve emergency protocols for more people in need. Combined with the COVID-19 pandemic and excessive heat, heavy toxic smoke from the Bobcat and El Dorado fires is the latest crisis to impact local residents, leaving unhoused people and other vulnerable Angelenos with no place to seek refuge. As climate change continues to drive up the frequency of fires, there will be a greater need for folks to use these smoke relief centers to escape adverse conditions. 

When temperatures become too extreme, ‘cooling centers’ are opened but a similar protocol does not exist for when air quality is dangerous. Even with ‘cooling centers,’ there are not enough and often they are too far away to be fully useful. For example, on September 6th, when temperatures surged in Woodland Hills to 121 degrees, there was only one city ‘cooling center’ open in the West Valley with space for only ten people. It was miles away from most CD3 encampments, leaving 700 homeless people in the district to suffer in the extreme elements with no relief. Additionally, tens of thousands of housed residents of all ages and health histories don't have, or can't afford to use air conditioning or air filtrations systems. Learn more about this motion here.

Have You Completed Your Census Form? Deadline Extended to October 31

If you or a friend haven't filled out your census form, please do so as soon as you can because October 31 is the new deadline. Completing the census only takes a few minutes and is a critically important civic duty that helps our communities get the Federal resources we need. It's a simple and painless process that starts by visiting https://2020census.gov/

Blumenfield poses with community members during his latest Census outreach in Canoga Park. Special thanks goes out to Vallarta, MEND, Canoga Park Neighborhood Council, and ONEgeneration for the push of getting people to complete the 2020 census. 

 

ADVOCATING FOR SAFETY ON THE STREETS AND IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE 

Putting Streets Removed from Public Use Back into the Fold

Councilmember Blumenfield joins crew from StreetsLA for street reconstruction

Making steady progress to repair roads in the West Valley, Blumenfield joined StreetsLA for the reconstruction on the latest 'street removed from public use.' As the city continues to fix the over 300 removed streets, it's great to connect with neighbors who are getting their street serviced like longtime Woodland Hills resident and Los Angeles Dodgers legend Ron Cey. Neighboring streets are slated to be fixed in the coming months. One of the problems with this endeavor is that based on age and wear and tear, even streets next to each other can demand completely different treatments. Some may need a slurry seal, while others need a complete street reconstruction. As of now, all the previously removed streets in the West Valley have been surveyed and are being integrated into the Streets LA queue.

There is a lot of history to the issue. As Chair of the Public Works Committee, Blumenfield led a large policy change so all of these streets, many of which haven't been serviced since the mid-1930s, are added to the StreetsLA waiting list and finally fixed. Learn more about this history from the Los Angeles Times.

LADOT Parking Enforcement to Resume October 15

Due to the pandemic, the Mayor and City Council had suspended enforcement of many types of parking violations, including the 72-hour rule, peak-hour lanes, and street sweeping. This week, the City Council voted to resume parking enforcement for the following categories:
  • Residential street sweeping 
  • Expired registration on a vehicle 
  • Overnight/oversize parking districts
  • Peak/rush hour and gridlock zone parking restrictions
  • Ticket/tow for abandoned vehicles (72 hour rule)
  • Vehicles displaying recently expired permits within preferential parking districts 
Between October 1 and October 15, LADOT parking enforcement officers will be putting warnings on cars. Actual ticketing will begin October 15. Learn more about this and new relief programs by visiting LADOT.

Reseda Complete Streets Project Major Update

Councilmember Blumenfield is excited to announce the start of construction on the Reseda Blvd. Complete Streets Project. This multi-agency project is one of the first of its kind, and will vastly improve Reseda Blvd. from Parthenia St. to Victory Blvd. by investing $19.5 million in multimodal transit improvements. The project will greatly improve the speed and efficiency of buses along the corridor, and make the street more green, safe and comfortable for residents and businesses. 

Between 2009 and 2019, 110 people were killed or severely injured on this section of Reseda Blvd. Critical improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, and traffic signals, and a dedicated space to ride a bicycle will make this segment safer, more vibrant, and more accessible for everyone.

Construction begins in October 2020 and will continue for approximately 28 months through Spring 2023. During this time, people traveling on Reseda Blvd may experience temporary impacts to sidewalks, driveways, bus stops, travel lanes, bicycle lanes, and parking. For questions or concerns during the construction period, please contact the project hotline at 213-978-0333 or Eng.Reseda@lacity.org. Additional details about the project are available on the project website. You are also encouraged to view the informational video outlining the project background, design, and construction process.

Fighting Bicycle Theft: Blumenfield and LAPD Announce Partnership with Bike Index

At Blumenfield’s request, The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has recently partnered with Bike Index, an online bicycle registry database, to aid in the return of stolen bikes to their rightful owners. After hearing from LAPD officers who believed a voluntary bike registration program could help deter bike theft and reunite owners with stolen bikes, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield introduced the motion that authorized this program, and provided seed funding to make the program possible. Bike Index is a free, non-profit bicycle registry that is available to the community and will help individuals recover their stolen or lost bicycle regardless of where it is found. Be sure to watch Blumenfield’s video announcement for the program.

Amidst Pandemic, StreetsLA Continues to Service the West Valley

StreetsLA crew completing weed abatement request on Ventura Blvd

Concerned with maintaining public spaces, Blumenfield has worked hand-in-hand with StreetsLA to get a crew out to cut the weeds on the median on Ventura Blvd between Oakdale and Jumilla, which was supposed to be maintained by a private commercial owner, but was left alone without maintenance for many months. Due to budget cuts, the Department did not have the funding to complete these services, but Blumenfield stepped in and provided the necessary funds from his office to get them to complete the project. Thank you StreetsLA for your constant partnership. See below for before and after pictures of the median.

Before (top) and after (bottom) of the median on Ventura Blvd between Oakdale and Jumilla

SUPPORTING THE WEST VALLEY'S WORKING FAMILIES

West Valley Food Pantry Serves More Local Families Than Ever

As more West Valley families are struggling to make ends meet during the Pandemic,  the West Valley Food Pantry has stepped up to meet the needs of the community.

Before the pandemic the Food Pantry assisted thousands of Angelenos each week but over the past months, the need has dramatically increased and the Pantry now serves four times the amount of families. The West Valley Food Pantry is always seeking new volunteers or donors so they may continue their operations. Find out more about how the WVFP serves West Valley families and ways you can make a difference at http://westvalleyfoodpantry.org. Recently, Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) added their support to the West Valley Food Pantry by donating $5,000.

SoCal Gas Presenting $5,000 check to West Valley Food Pantry

Months into the Pandemic, Councilmember Blumenfield created his Emergency Nonprofit COVID-19 Relief Program and donated over $100,000 from his discretionary funds to support 20 local nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including $10,000 for the West Valley Food Pantry. As part of his program, Blumenfield created a solicitation letter to urge individuals and companies to contribute to these outstanding nonprofits. The full list may be viewed here.

Blumenfield regularly works with the West Valley Food Pantry's CEO Debbie Decker on a number of community efforts.

Small Business Angel Fund Available

Next Rounds of LA Regional COVID -19 Recovery Fund for Small Businesses and Nonprofits

Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Los Angeles (LISC LA) is the non-profit partnering with the City and County to disseminate the $100 million in grant funding that the City and County have provided. LISC LA is reaching out with some timely information on the LA Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund.

Created by the LA City Council and the Board of Supervisors, the LA Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund was designed to provide a much-needed wave of relief and recovery for micro-entrepreneurs, small businesses, non-profits, and diverse owned enterprises who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 due to financial, technical, and/or cultural barriers. 

Applicants can apply for grants ranging from $5,000 - $25,000 during the two remaining application periods. These periods include:

  • Round 5: October 5 – October 9
  • Round 6: October 26 – October 30

For all eligibility requirements and to learn more, you can visit the LA Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund website. Also, if your business is in the third district you can apply for an interest free loan through Blumenfield partnership with ChangeReaction, see flyer.

 

AROUND TOWN

New completed sign for West Valley Regional Branch Library

 

Blumenfield hosted the Big Fix Spay/Neuter Event right outside his District Office to give West Valley residents in financial need a low barrier access to spay/neuter services for their furry companions. A special thanks goes out to The Little Angels Project, Fix'N Fidos,  Rescue Train, Team Spay4LA, and VEMA Solutions.

{{broadcaster.name}}
{{settings.site.full_url}}


MyLA311 Meet with Bob Contact Us

get updates