Last week the LA City Council passed legislation, which I co-authored, that will establish constitutional, enforceable laws prohibiting encampments in certain sensitive areas. Sufficient notice and an offer of services and shelter will be made before most areas can be designated and made off-limits to encampments. It will also enable the enforcement of disability access laws. On July 2, the ordinance was heard and passed with a 13-2 vote but as it wasn’t unanimous, it had to come back for a second vote. I had introduced a version of this last year and have been working ever since to get it passed— this is a big win for the community.
So what does this mean for the homeless crisis in the Valley?
This will allow the City to have designated zones including around freeways (i.e. Corbin underpass and Bowlero) and around shelter sites (i.e. the Willows and the Sycamore and Sunflower cabin communities) where encampments will not be allowed. This ordinance addresses people and their belongings, but not vehicles. Each area needs to not only fit particular location characteristics, but they must be presented to the City Council for a vote before they can be made off-limits for encampments. Getting key locations throughout the district to go through that process will still take some time. We will continue sending outreach workers to all of these locations in the interim and, of course, intensively during the two week process that will be triggered by the resolution to make such an area off-limits for encampments. During the two week process people living in the designated encampments will be offered shelter or housing. It is a process that is very similar to what occurred last year during the pilot process we conducted at our local 101 freeway underpasses and it is very similar to what has recently happened at Venice Beach. The major change is that now, once the process has been completed, the area can legally be made off limits to future encampments.
This comes at a time when hundreds of beds in the West Valley are opening through Cabin Communities and other interventions. Housing, services, and outreach are critical components to address the crisis. With other efforts like Project Homekey and Bridge Housing, we’re finally within reach of having enough shelter beds for every single unhoused person in CD3 to come indoors. While the rest of the City is still far from this goal, more permanent housing is getting built in the West Valley and we are bringing more services to our local streets. While I believe everyone has a right to a roof over their head, I don’t believe that everyone has a right to encamp anywhere they want. As we increase our transitional housing opportunities and services, this law is desperately needed.
Over the past few months, there’s been progress made on Reseda Blvd. Street Improvement Project. City crews have been actively working on the west side of the street between Victory Blvd. and Gault St., reconstructing portions of the sidewalk and driveways in greatest need of repair, rebuilding corner curb ramps to meet current accessibility standards, and rebuilding broken curbs and gutters. The result will be safer, smoother surfaces for people walking, rolling, and driving on Reseda Blvd.
Crews have completed these elements between Gault St. and Victory Blvd., and have started on the segment between Kittridge St. and Victory Blvd. on the east side. Crews will return to these segments in 2022-2023 to install the other project elements such as signals, bus boarding islands, trees, and lighting. At intersections where changes to the traffic signals are planned, corner curb ramps will be upgraded later, at the same time that the signal work is completed.
Through Spring 2022, sidewalk construction activity will continue progressing northward from Victory Blvd., on the east side of the street. You can continue to expect intermittent sidewalk and driveway closures and temporary parking restrictions in this area. Please be mindful of the work crews – and thank you for your patience with work to improve this street.
Throughout the pandemic, Team Blumenfield has heard from constituents concerned with airplane noise over residential communities. In 2017 the FAA implemented Metroplex, a new GPS-guided routing system, at all Southern California airports, including LAX and Van Nuys. Because the FAA is a Federal agency, the City didn’t have any role in the decision about where to locate those routes or which neighborhoods would be affected.
Many in the West Valley know the continuous and frustrating impact of these airplane paths directly over our homes. On July 28, the City Council voted to increase funding to retain an outside law firm to support the City Attorney's lawsuits against the FAA. While the policy is set by the FAA and Congress has oversight authority, Blumenfield is looking for any way to exert leverage on the situation to lessen the problem and is working closely with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to obtain more data about flight patterns and altitudes over the West Valley to ensure that the correct path is being followed under the federal Metroplex rules.
On Monday, August 9 from 6pm-9pm LAWA will be hosting the FAA for a briefing on the proposed redesign of the Van Nuys Airport departure procedures based on the recommendations of the Southern San Fernando Valley Airplane Noise Task Force. Blumenfield encourages all those who have been affected by the noise or who are interested to participate. RSVP here.
The City Redistricting Commission held a virtual meeting to take comments from CD3 residents and stakeholders, and continues to hold these meetings for people throughout LA. Feedback and input from residents will help guide the process as the Commission begins drawing new lines for Council districts once census data is made available this month. If you were not able to attend the meeting you can still share information about your community, and communities of interest, via this online form.
The Bureau of Street Lighting (BSL) has long battled against copper wire theft that puts stretches of street lights out of commission. With approximately 10,000 damaged street lights in one year, the problem has increased dramatically as copper prices have reached all-time highs. As Chair of the Public Works Committee and a member of the Budget & Finance Committee, Councilmember Blumenfield has highlighted this issue and secured additional funding to combat it.
In an April 2021 report to the Public Works Committee, BSL stated that in FY 19/20, copper wire theft affected nearly 10,000 streetlights in the City and the average theft took 63 days to repair. In FY 20/21, BSL was able to reduce the average repair time to 35 days, which is still unacceptable. In the FY 21/22 City Budget hearings, Blumenfield helped secure $2.4 million to address the backlog of repairs, further reduce that repair time and ‘harden the targets’ by making the copper harder to access. He will continue to tackle this issue.
When repairs are made, BSL attempts to make future thefts more difficult, such as by welding shut access plates. Nevertheless, some locations get hit multiple times, so it may seem (incorrectly) like repairs have not been made. While BSL is improving its ability to automatically detect outages, you can help by reporting street light issues at myla311.lacity.org or the MyLA311 app, or by contacting Councilmember Blumenfield’s office at (818) 774-4330.
Thank you to Dr. Corey Hodes for collecting welcome kits for new residents of the Sycamore and Sunflower Cabin Communities. This type of generous and thoughtful support helps folks take the next step toward better lives.
Whether providing welcome kits to unhoused neighbors, donating toys for struggling families during the holidays, or supplying necessities for neighbors affected by emergencies such as the Woolsey Fire, the generosity of West Valley residents is unmatched. The needs of cabin community residents vary. If you are interested in donating items, please contact the service provider, Hope of the Valley at 818-392-0020 or [email protected] to ensure donated items match with local needs. If you or your organization are looking for ways to help the community through donation drives or community clean ups, please contact Senior Field Deputy Safi Lodin, at 818-774-4330.
Metro is conducting an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)/ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed 1-405 Sepulveda Pass ExpressLanes project. They are exploring ways to improve traffic flow and increase vehicle pass on the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass, which could include adding a dynamically-priced high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane--like the ones on the 110 and 10 Freeways--and/or converting the existing carpool (HOV) lane to a HOT lane.
The 405 is a critical route for many West Valley residents to reach jobs, schools, and other areas of LA. Your feedback is needed on the project alternatives and to identify issues that may need to be addressed. Please submit comments here or join a virtual meeting.
Blumenfield celebrates National Night Out with LAPD Topanga Division at a community block party and LAPD West Valley Division at Randall D. Simmons Park with a movie screening of Disney Pixar’s “Onward.” For 35 years this event has brought residents and law enforcement together through festivals and local activities, continuing to grow a positive bond in the community. Today, events are held in all 50 states in more than 16,000 communities.
Blumenfield spends time outdoors at Lanark Park for Summer Night Lights where grab and go meals were distributed to families and kids enjoyed playing some baseball.
This week's photo from the Los Angeles Public Library's archives is from the Valley Times on June 13, 1963. Reseda Park Lake is still in use for families to gather and people to come and try their hand at catching some fish. Learn more about this photo here.