Welcome to the Valley!

I love the San Fernando Valley. It's where my wife and I are raising our children, where my parents are enjoying their golden years and home to the best people in the nation. It is an honor to serve and a privilege to represent the Valley on the Los Angeles City Council.

Please explore the resources offered on this website and remember that my staff and I, whether based out of my district office in Reseda or at City Hall, are here to serve you above all else. Please feel free to stop by – we are ready to help. Together we will work to achieve our shared goals and create the Los Angeles it should, can, and deserves to be. 

Thank you.

 

BOB BLUMENFIELD

Councilmember, Third District

[email protected]

 


  • Latest from the blog

    New Approach to Clean Ups Around Bridge Housing

    When my staff and I were doing community outreach for our new transitional Bridge Housing site ‘The Willows,’ we promised the neighbors and local business owners that if they welcomed this needed project, the streets and sidewalks around the site would receive extra care and cleaning. This is a promise I will keep. However, for transparency, decency, and building trust within the unhoused community, the protocols for clean ups within these “special enforcement and cleaning zones” (SECZ) around Bridge Housing sites need to be clear, predictable and about cleaning up, not about making an already difficult living situation even more difficult for an unhoused person. Many areas have not had a comprehensive cleaning in over a year. This is true for the SECZ around the Willows that will become officially operative on Monday. A comprehensive cleaning, unlike a standard spot cleaning, requires that an unhoused person remove all of their possessions, including their tent, prior to the cleaning. Possessions that are left behind during such a clean up are either labeled and stored by the City or thrown away if the Environmental Compliance Officer (ECI) on site determines they are soiled or hazardous. SECZ near bridge homes can provide notice to folks by having signage that indicates when the clean up will occur.  I regularly visit the people who live in the encampments within the Willow’s SECZ. Some of the folks keep their areas clean, but others do not and I have seen vermin within layers of trash on a regular basis. This is inhumane and while we are building more and more housing, I don’t think the answer is to allow encampments to become an unmitigated health and safety disaster in the meantime. There must be balance between cleaning our community and the humane treatment of unhoused Angelenos. From my outreach with Pastor Huck on Friday morning (2-26) discussing upcoming cleanups with unhoused residents near the Bridge Housing SECZ.
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    Update on Homeless Housing and New Storage Issue

    As the City works to build new shelter, housing and services for homeless Angelenos, we face a number of complex and uncomfortable policy questions that arise when people leave the streets. How do we store or remove people’s possessions that remain on public property after they have moved into a shelter? My district is finally on its way toward getting a fair share of help for its homeless population, in part thanks to federal Judge David O. Carter’s proceedings in the LA Alliance case. We’ve opened the Willows Bridge Housing in Canoga Park in partnership with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl guaranteeing 15 years of County services, and purchased two hotels to convert into housing. Also we will open two tiny home cabin communities and a new Safe Parking lot. At the Willows, Kevin’s troubling situation raised some glaring problems right away. I first met Kevin a few years ago at the farmer’s market and we’ve been checking in ever since. A long time Canoga Park resident, he attended Canoga Park High School over 30 years ago. For years he’s been living in the public right of way just blocks from the Willows. His encampment was the largest on the block with bicycles stored on the curb and a lot of stuff. Kevin is a talented artist/mechanic who built interesting custom bikes for people. Trained as a machinist, he treasures his custom tools. I have been fighting to ensure that this new West Valley shelter actually houses people from our community, and Kevin was a perfect match. He was very excited and was literally the first in on opening day. However, the Willows allows clients to store some belongings, but they don’t have room for all of Kevin’s possessions. He had a plan and was loading his property into an RV and a pickup truck that he borrowed. Unfortunately, the Department of Sanitation and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) came by to spot clean, and things went south. Spot cleanings in and around encampments remove trash and hazardous materials. By law, anything blocking ADA or street access can be taken, but Sanitation logs and stores every item so people can reclaim them. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what happened and why. Some of Kevin’s things were stored or thrown away. Kevin was understandably very upset and a number of activists took videos and protested. Some spread misinformation claiming that this was a special enforcement zone cleanup, which it wasn’t; claiming everything was thrown away including his tools and bicycles, which weren’t; some claimed that I was directly involved. None of that is true. But, they were correct that Kevin deserved to be treated better. Ideally he needed better communication, a chance to decide what he didn’t need and enough time to pack up. Personal possessions on the street need a solution. Some think that leaving items in the public right of way is acceptable, even if the City/taxpayers are paying for a person to have shelter/housing. I disagree. As more housing opens, this will continue to come up. What to do with someone’s belongings on public property? We can’t and shouldn’t leave everything as a monument to a past encampment. That unfortunately happened in some spots along the 101 freeway after 59 people got shelter working with Judge Carter last fall in our LAHSA pilot project. Most belongings were removed with consent when people took shelter. But piles of stuff remained in a few locations and attracted new people to set up there. I urged Sanitation to clean up these encampment vestiges, they were not legally allowed to remove seemingly abandoned property. Our streets and sidewalks must be clean and usable while preserving the rights of unsheltered people who have nowhere else to go. The courts have said if someone is unsheltered, their belongings should be left alone. Per the Boise v. Martin case, if a city offers shelter, it can regulate where people are allowed to sit, sleep, lie, or store belongings to allow clear public right of ways. When people move into government subsidized shelter or housing, they might have todownsize. However, storage programs would make this easier and help prevent them from storing things in public spaces. A few weeks ago, my team and I worked with “Pastor Don” to convince a chronically homeless man with mental health issues to accept housing. Pastor Don solved this problem by paying for a temporary storage unit. This was the help he needed that LA rarely provides. As people take shelter we must have the tough discussion about what to do with belongings left on the streets. Can we build trust with unhoused people who have traditionally been let down by the system? We can’t let stuff sit on the streets and sidewalks forever. We need clear protocols so everyone understands the rules and how they are implemented. Otherwise, many more people will be in Kevin’s position- with both housing and tents,preventing the City from being able to keep the sidewalks clear. Communities that say yes to more housing and services for the most vulnerable deserve better.
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