Council approves motion to include seismic upgrades in PACE program
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles City Council today took necessary action to include seismic retrofits in the state’s successful Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. PACE allows property owners to finance specific upgrades through an assessment on their property taxes. The move is designed to give property owners a practical tool to help finance the costs of necessary retrofits that will enhance our city’s resiliency in the event of a major earthquake.
“For Los Angeles, the question is not ‘if’ but rather ‘when’ we will face our next major earthquake,” said Councilmember Blumenfield. “It is crucial that state and local governments work collaboratively with property owners to help them manage retrofit costs, because the costs of inaction are too great.”
In December, Mayor Eric Garcetti and his Science Advisor for Seismic Safety, USGS Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones released a series of recommendations to enhance Los Angeles’s earthquake resiliency. Among the recommendations made by Dr. Jones and her team of technical experts is mandatory retrofit of Los Angeles’s approximately 16,000 soft-first story buildings. Soft story buildings are wood frame buildings where the first floor has large openings, for example tuck-under parking, garage doors, and retail display windows.
Los Angeles lost 49,000 housing units in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, two-thirds of which were soft-first story buildings.
“Without such a tool, compliance would be financially out of reach for many property owners. It’s important that we add PACE financing to the toolbox ahead of the passage of a retrofit mandate,” concluded Blumenfield.
LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles City Councilmember and California Film Commission Member Bob Blumenfield joined his colleagues on the Commission as they approved a set of emergency draft regulations for the expanded and improved California Film & TV Tax Credit Program. The approval comes in time to get the program up and running in time to accept applications for the network TV season in May.
“As one of the primary economic engines of the San Fernando Valley and surrounding region, the film industry has provided untold numbers of Angelenos with well-paying jobs, both above and below the line, for generations” said Councilmember Blumenfield. “As the media landscape shifts, it’s critical that we take action to protect those jobs, and the families they support, throughout the Valley and Los Angeles, and across the state.”
The expansion of California Film & TV Tax Credit Program is the result of the California Film & Television Job Retention and Promotion Act, which was signed in to law by Governor Jerry Brown at a Los Angeles press conference last September. The program more than triples available tax credits to $330 million for California film and television productions.
Council calls on state and federal governments to raise reimbursement rates
LOS ANGELES, CA – Ahead of an important state legislative deadline, the Los Angeles City Council today urged state and federal lawmakers to increase reimbursement rates for nonprofit service providers. The resolution, authored by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, is designed to guard against any loss in services as the result of proposed increases to the City’s minimum wage.
Many nonprofits, particularly child-care centers and those who serve people with developmental disabilities and other vulnerable populations, rely almost exclusively on financial support from state and federal reimbursements but these reimbursement rates do not take in to account cost of living data, including local minimum wage. Consequently, unless that changes, they will likely have to cut services.
“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,” said Blumenfield. “As we work together to lift families out of poverty, it is crucial that we be deliberative and get it right.”
Motions follow Mayor’s release of preparedness recommendations by Dr. Lucy Jones.
LOS ANGELES, CA –Councilmember Bob Blumenfield today introduced a pair of motions that will begin the process of implementing recommendations put forward by Mayor Eric Garcetti and his Science Advisor for Seismic Safety, USGS Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones, in a report released last month and presented to the Los Angeles City Council today.
The report, Resilience by Design, developed over the course of the past year by Dr. Jones and a team of technical experts, highlighted three key areas: building retrofits, securing the city’s water supply, and strengthening Los Angeles’s communications infrastructure.
Among these first policy initiatives is a proposal to strengthen the City’s communications infrastructure by ensuring that cellular communications towers are built to withstand vigorous shaking. The measure requires future towers be built to an Importance Factor of 1.5—the same standard currently required by public safety facilities. Ensuring that communication can continue uninterrupted is central to emergency response and rebuilding efforts.
“In the event of an earthquake or major disaster Angelenos rely on our wireless communications networks to coordinate response, check-in on family and loved ones, and call for help. We must be proactive in our efforts to strengthen and expand that infrastructure,” said Blumenfield, who as Chair of the City’s Innovation, Technology and General Services Committee is also leading efforts to expand public access to high-speed wireless broadband—another critical communications resource highlighted in Resilience by Design.
Blumenfield also put forward concrete steps to include Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs as an option for soft-first story retrofits. PACE is a state-run program that assists property owners to finance upgrades by paying them off through their property taxes. The PACE program explicitly allows for earthquake retrofits.
“The PACE program will make implementation possible through sensible financing. As an Assemblymember, I championed the PACE program as an innovative financing mechanism for critical energy and water upgrades. Last year, as a Councilmember, I made sure the City was taking advantage of those programs, and now it’s time for the City to include earthquake retrofits for soft-first story buildings to help business owners absorb costs,” concluded Blumenfield.
LOS ANGELES, CA – Councilmember Bob Blumenfield made the following statement regarding the agreement signed today creating a $60 million fund to distribute reparations to thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families who were deported by France's state rail company SNCF during the Nazi occupation.
In 2010, Blumenfield passed AB 619, the Holocaust Survivor Responsibility Act, legislation that would require companies seeking contracts to build California’s High Speed Rail system to disclose their involvement in deportations to Nazi concentration camps.
SNCF, paid per head and kilometer, transported about 76,000 French Jews to concentration camps, but had long failed to take full accountability for its actions.
“Although it took far too many years to achieve this resolution, I am gratified by the admission of accountability by SNCF for its role in the horrific crimes of the Holocaust—it is only by coming to terms with the past that we can ensure a better future.
My efforts in California to bring SNCF to account for its crimes were replicated in states across the country where the railway was seeking lucrative contracts from the taxpayers while simultaneously fighting tooth and nail against efforts to achieve financial restitution. I believe these efforts helped get us to today’s settlement.
While in many ways too little and much too late, this action is an important victory; first for the holocaust survivors and their families; second for those of us who have been doggedly pursuing justice on their behalf; third and most importantly, for the memory of those who perished.”
City to develop strategy to reduce usage of City’s largest users.
LOS ANGELES, CA –The Los Angeles City Council today backed a measure authored by Councilmembers Bob Blumenfield and José Huizar that would develop a strategy to improve the energy and water efficiency of Los Angeles’s largest users.
Preliminary analysis by the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA and the nonprofit City Energy Project shows that half of the City's electricity demand comes from just 4% of its buildings.
Following today’s action, the City will engage with its largest users—whose reductions will be the most impactful—to find ways to cut their overall consumption and identify City steps to drive that process. A package of policies and programs to address energy and water efficiency in existing buildings could include financing support, incentive programs, regular benchmarking and performance tracking, and an expansion of the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge, or development of similar programs.
“By working collaboratively with our city’s largest consumers of water and energy we are creating a force multiplier that will reduce Los Angeles’s overall use while saving businesses and taxpayers money,” said Blumenfield. “I want to thank Councilmember Huizar and Mayor Eric Garcetti for their collaboration on this effort.”
"If we can tailor programs to support conservation at high-electricity use sites, we can achieve significant results and get closer to our goal of meeting 15% of our energy demand through conservation by 2020," said Huizar.
Council approves multiple measures to increase utilization of innovative energy efficient and water-wise materials and landscaping at parks and City facilities.
LOS ANGELES, CA –This week, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield secured Council approval on a series of measures designed to increase the utilization of innovative energy efficient and water-wise materials and landscaping elements at homes and City park and facilities. The new policies were introduced as part of Blumenfield’s ongoing efforts to “green the Valley,” and city.
Based on today’s action, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks will work to incorporate innovative permeable materials in parking lots when renovating or building new park facilities. This is a critical step to allow for water to seep in to the water table, which will reduce harmful runoff while promoting groundwater recharge and combating urban heat island effects.
Recreation and Parks was also directed to remove unnecessary turf at City parks in favor of drought-tolerant landscaping and low maintenance alternatives. These initiatives expand existing water conservation efforts already underway.
Yesterday, Blumenfield passed through Council a motion to engage the City in the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE), which allows for residents and businesses to finance water and energy efficiency upgrades through an assessment on their property tax bill. The current PACE program was enabled by legislation passed by then Assemblymember Blumenfield in 2009.
“These are critical steps in moving towards a more sustainable City in a period of unprecedented drought,” said Blumenfield, who serves as Vice-Chair of the City Council’s Energy and Environment Committee. “The people of Los Angeles are reducing their use, and government must do the same. The key to reducing our City’s water use must be collaboration between Departments and Agencies,” he added.
New landscaping at the West Valley Municipal Center and branch library will educate while conserving water.
RESEDA, CA – As part of his ongoing work to “green the Valley,” Councilmember Bob Blumenfield today broke ground on the Blumenfield Water-Wise Demonstration Garden at the West Valley Municipal Center in Reseda.
The project, a partnership between Blumenfield’s office, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) and the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Department of General Services, will replace 20,000 square feet of thirsty lawn at the West Valley Municipal Center and neighboring West Valley Library with a variety of California friendly landscaping options.
“By replacing our thirsty lawns with California friendly landscaping, the City of Los Angeles is leading the way and educating Valley residents on the range of options for turf replacement, while saving the City water,” said Blumenfield.
By showcasing different styles and plant alternatives, the new garden will guide and inform local residents in their efforts to remove thirsty turf, while lowering the City’s overall water use in a time of unprecedented drought conditions.
The West Valley Municipal Center houses Councilmember Blumenfield’s Reseda District Office, and locations for 5 City departments. The surrounding West Valley community has a high water use for turf on large single family residential lots but has had a relatively low participation in the rebate program.
Blumenfield began discussions on how best to reduce the Municipal Center’s water footprint shortly after taking office in July 2013. Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced an expansion of California friendly landscaping at City facilities as part of his recent executive order that seeks to cut citywide water usage by 20%.
LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield today secured Council support for a long-range spending plan for $86.4 million in unused CRA bond dollars, stemming from the dissolution of the state’s redevelopment agencies.
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. Some $20 million of which is designated for the former CRA project area in Reseda in Councilmember Blumenfield’s West Valley District.
“When the courts struck down my bill, AB 1X 27, and effectively killed the redevelopment agencies, potentially catalytic redevelopment efforts were stopped dead in their tracks and promises made to our communities were on the verge of being broken,” said Blumenfield. “Today’s council action is a critical step towards delivering on those promises.”
Working within the confines of legislation, AB 1418, also authored by then-Assemblymember Blumenfield, which allows successor agencies to utilize unobligated pre-2011 tax allocation bond proceeds, the Councilmember worked to ensure that any future use of the bond dollars would be held to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.
Unique opportunity for collaboration on substantive challenges confronting California and Israel.
LOS ANGELES, CA – Councilmember Bob Blumenfield today opened the inaugural session of the Los Angeles-Eilat Innovation and Cooperation Task Force to facilitate the exchange of ideas and innovation between Israeli companies, education communities and non-profits and their counterparts in the City of Los Angeles.
|Members of the Los Angeles - Eilat Cooperation and Innovation Task Force listen to a presentation by Professor Eilon Adar, one of the world's foremost hydrologists, one how Israel has confronted water scarcity and how California can learn from its example, on October 20, 2014.
The task force builds on the 55 year-old Sister City relationship with Eilat and is designed to promote collaboration and advancement in technology investment, business development and research opportunities in clean technology, water resources, solar energy and environmental technologies throughout Los Angeles and the State of Israel.
“Israel and Los Angeles share much,” said Blumenfield, who chairs the Council’s Innovation, Technology and General Services Committee and will, along with Israeli Consul General David Siegel, serve as Governing co-Chair of the task force. “We are two innovation centers, two promised lands. By establishing this task force, we are ensuring that we share more than just climate and culture, but reputations as two of the most important centers for innovation and technology in the world.”
Earlier this year, Councilmember Blumenfield joined Governor Jerry Brown and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MOU), based on AB 1032, legislation Blumenfield offered as an Assemblymember. That MOU works to strengthen trade, research and economic development ties between California and the State of Israel, with an emphasis on water conservation, alternative energy, cybersecurity, health and biotechnology, education and agriculture technology. The establishment of this task force is an outgrowth of that work.