April 14, 2023

Budget season is upon us. Next week, the Mayor will unveil her proposed budget and hand it off to the Budget and Finance and Innovation (BFI) Committee —  the committee on which I now serve as Chair — for review, analysis and alteration. I will lead days of public hearings where we bring in the General Manager and budget chief of nearly every City department to discuss their budget line-by-line. We will produce a balanced budget that enables the City to function, reflects our values, takes bold steps to address our City’s biggest challenges and is the product of genuine stakeholder engagement and compromise.

Toward that end, I would love to get your input. Please fill out my annual budget survey by clicking here. Also, I welcome your input when it comes to asking questions of the Departments and other expert witnesses who will be giving testimony during the hearing process. I have created a portal for you to submit questions. I will select some questions from this portal to formally ask during the hearing and will use others to help me formulate other questions to ask and topics to cover.  

I will also be formally requiring departments to justify their budget asks with a clear articulation about their goals and the metrics by which these goals can be judged. As most departments have an unacceptably high vacancy rate which generally translates into reduced services to the public, I have also asked them to specifically address this in their budget request. And, finally, I have asked Departments to employ an equity lens so that we can have a better understanding of the impact of proposed changes on people and communities.

With the end of COVID-19 federal funding, with the City’s crumbling infrastructure and deferred maintenance, with inflation and the possibility of another recession looming, with Homelessness and other major problems requiring more and more of the City’s limited dollars, balancing this year’s budget will be very challenging to say the least. And, while being Chair of this committee is new to me, I’ve been a member of the Budget committee since I started on the Council in 2013 and have the benefit of previously serving as the Budget Chair of the State Assembly, and as a staff member designee to the House of Representatives Budget committee. I also have the benefit of some very smart colleagues who each bring a wealth of experience and diverse perspectives to the table. Together and with your input, we will create a solid blueprint for the next fiscal year.


In Depth with Spectrum News

Councilmember Blumenfield was grateful to sit down with Tanya McRae at Spectrum News to discuss the state of the West Valley and the importance of public service. Watch the segment here to get to learn more about Blumenfield and his top priorities during his last term on the City Council.

Reduce Home Fire Risk

To protect lives and properties along hillside communities, LAFD provides a thorough and comprehensive brush program to prevent fires in Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones. If you live in a hillside community, you may have received notice from LAFD to maintain and clear brush located on your property. Unmaintained properties are subject to fees and penalties. To avoid the assessment of an inspection fee, brush clearance shall be conducted and completed within the requirements defined in L.A.M.C Section 57.322 by May 1, 2023.

For general questions or concerns, please contact the Brush Clearance Unit at (800) 994-4444 or [email protected] or visit www.lafd.org/brush. For billing questions please contact the LAFD Accounting Department at [email protected].

In addition, to help reduce homeowner’s fire risk, CalFIRE is offering grants for Free Ember Resistant Landscape Upgrade to the 5 feet nearest homes, the most critical space for fire defense and firefighter safety. The program is offered through the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the upgrades will be designed and built by FormLA Landscaping, a Tujunga-based business well-known for its fire defense savvy. Included is a free home ignition zone evaluation to help homeowners prioritize home retrofits. Click here to see if your property is eligible and apply by May 1st.  

LA Renter and Landlord Protections

The City of Los Angeles’ emergency order has ended, including certain COVID-19 protections. Information about just cause eviction protections, COVID-19 rental debt assistance and more can be found on the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) website. To help tenants and property owners learn more about the changes and new rental protections, LAHD will be hosting several webinars in the month of April. Click here to register.

Palm Vista Accepting PSH Applications

Palm Vista, the much needed 91 permanent supportive housing (PSH)/affordable unit project in Winnetka is opening soon! Councilmember Blumenfield worked hard to help make this happen and it one of several sites that will be opening in the near future. The site comprises 58 one-bedrooms and 33 two-bedrooms with 16 accessible units. 45 of these units will be available via computerized lottery and the remaining units will be referral based. The housing provider, Hollywood Community Housing, will be accepting applications until April 30, 2023. More info and application can be found here.

Permanent Al Fresco Dining Update

Councilmember Blumenfield has been pushing hard to get the City to transition from the temporary LA Al Fresco program to a permanent outdoor dining program. Just recently, a revised Al Fresco Ordinance was released. 

When key departments announced their first draft of how to move forward with permanent outdoor dining, it was riddled with cumbersome and confusing rules and was antithetical to the spirit of the temporary effort. Councilmember Blumenfield quickly met with the Planning Department and the Mayor’s office to help loosen overly strict standards and requirements and the revised draft is much more in line with the intent of the LA Al Fresco program — to encourage outdoor seating that so many people now enjoy. The original Al Fresco program was incredibly successful and embraced by so many patrons who felt it was simply a better way to dine- that’s why Blumenfield will continue to cut more red tape and help streamline the outdoor dining process. At the same time, safety for diners must be provided and assured with some level of inspection.

This new Ordinance will apply to outdoor dining areas on private property, and is being handled by the Planning Department. Outdoor dining areas in the Public Right of Way (sidewalks or street parking spaces) will be handled differently by either the Bureau of Engineering or the Department of Transportation. 

Key provisions include:

  • Removing the 5 parking space maximum allowed for outdoor dining; 
  • Allowing outdoor dining in courtyards, patios, plazas, balconies, and other private property spaces, not just the ground floor;
  • Allowing restaurants which meet the eligibility criteria to serve alcohol in outdoor dining areas through a streamlined administrative process; 
  • The Al Fresco Ordinance permissions supersede conflicting provisions of any Specific Plan, Supplemental Use District or other overlay, to allow for consistent outdoor dining standards citywide.

More information can be found here.

Free Metro Rides on Earth Day

In celebration of Earth Day, Metro is offering free rides on their buses, trains, bike share and Micro on Saturday, April 22 from 4am- 3am on April 23.

How to access free rides:

  • Metro Bus and Rail: No tapping required. Simply board the train or rail.
  • Metro Bike Share: Redeem a free 30-minute bike share ride by selecting ‘1-Ride’ at any Metro Bike Share kiosk, online or in the Metro Bike Share app and enter the promo code 042223. This code can be redeemed multiple times throughout the day.
  • Metro Micro: Redeem unlimited free rides by using the Metro Micro app and enter coupon code EarthDay23. 

Around Town

Councilmember Blumenfield helped kick off Spring Egg Hunts at Winnetka and Lanark Parks and thanked LA Parks staff for bringing the community together to celebrate and participate in fun filled activities.

Councilmember Blumenfield spoke to participants of Inside Safe West Valley to see how the transition has been since moving indoors. 

Community Events

Historic West Valley

Taken in 1962, this week's photo is from the Herald Examiner Collection of Ventura Blvd looking east from Topanga Canyon Blvd. Ventura Blvd continues to be the West San Fernando Valley's "Main Street" where folks can socialize, support local businesses, and enjoy a variety of cuisines.