Reseda Economic Study Nearly Complete: Defines Impact of Parking on Local Businesses

Economic and Planning Systems, a contracted economic research firm, last week released preliminary results of their Reseda Microeconomic Study evaluating the impact of public parking lots on nearby businesses. Preliminary results showed that either partial or full removal of City-owned parking lots would have a negative economic impact on area businesses. I commissioned the study in 2019 in order to provide support for local businesses and so that I could require data-driven mitigation measures in the event that development was proposed for any one of these lots, as all City properties are being scoured as potential locations for  affordable housing projects.  


In 2019, The Mayor’s Office and City Administrative Office identified four parking lots in Reseda that meet basic standards for potential redevelopment opportunities, including low income housing or permanent supportive housing developments. Understanding that the four identified lots are critical infrastructure to many Third District small businesses, I introduced a motion to fund the study to learn exactly how the lots are utilized by businesses and how partial or full removal of the parking lots would impact area businesses. 

The City Administrative Office contracted with Economic and Planning Systems, an economic research firm, and Nelson/Nygaard, a transportation planning firm to conduct the study. While some initial research was conducted in 2019 and early 2020, much of the work was delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid skewed results. Research resumed in the fall of 2022.

The Process

The study examined four City-owned parking lots: two adjacent lots on Baird Street north of Sherman Way, one lot on Baird Street south of Sherman Way, and one lot on Canby Avenue south of Sherman Way (see Image 1). It also looked at other parking options in the area, including on-street parking and privately-owned lots.

The consultant team divided the studied area into three separate zones, as depicted in Image 2 and studied how either partial or full removal of the City-owned lots would impact nearby businesses.

The study consisted of two parts: data collection and stakeholder engagement. During data collection, the hired consultants observed parking usage in City-owned lots as well as street parking. They also evaluated potential parking mitigation options that could alleviate any negative impact on businesses.

Preliminary Results

Economic and Planning Systems released the results during a virtual town hall on Wednesday, March 15, where business owners and residents were invited to provide feedback. Prior to the event, my staff went door-to-door to invite nearby businesses to attend the meeting and offer their input. Under my direction, staff delivered fliers to more than 200 businesses in the vicinity of the four parking lots.

According to the Economic and Planning Systems preliminary results, the current parking supply in all three zones is sufficient; however, off-street parking options, including the City-owned lots, are over capacity during peak utilization hours. However, the study showed that a scenario where 50 percent of City-owned parking was eliminated would create a parking deficit during peak hours in Zones A and B. Meanwhile, elimination of 100 percent of City-owned parking would create parking deficits in all three zones, with Zones A and B being hardest hit, having parking deficits throughout nearly the entire day.

For businesses, a parking deficit could translate into a loss of customers. The study’s preliminary results found that a 50 percent parking reduction in City-owned lots would create a two to four percent loss for businesses in Zones A and B, while a 100 percent parking reduction in City-owned lots could mean a 2 percent loss for businesses in Zone C, a 37 percent loss for businesses in Zone A, and a 38 percent loss for businesses in Zone B. Such a significant impact would be insurmountable for many small businesses.

While Economic and Planning Systems also found that utilizing parking mitigation efforts could help reduce the negative impact to businesses; even taking advantage of mitigation efforts such as shared parking agreements and increased parking enforcement techniques would not completely alleviate the impact on businesses. 

Next Steps

Economic and Planning Systems will be reviewing feedback from the virtual townhall and incorporating feedback into their final report. I expect the final report is to be completed by early summer 2023. I will make sure the final report will be available to the public and I will welcome additional feedback from the community as well.

Although Mayor Bass is taking inventory of City-owned properties to explore for development opportunities; it is important to remember that there are currently no proposed development plans for any of the City-owned parking lots in Reseda. I will use the results of the study, along with additional community feedback, to advocate for the needs of small business owners and support mitigation efforts should there be any proposed plans in the future. I will continue to oppose any potential project that would have a negative impact on Reseda businesses.

If you weren’t able to make it to the town hall, you can view Economic & Planning Systems’ presentation and discussion here. You can also download their slideshow here.

Council Approves Permanent Tenant Protections

Today the LA City Council passed new, permanent tenant protections that will help keep thousands of Angelenos housed. When the pandemic began, the City Council had to act fast to protect renters. Every industry was hit hard, people were losing their jobs and the risk of sickness and death was a constant reality. Early on we passed a COVID emergency order and as part of that effort, we enacted unprecedented tenant protections which essentially halted evictions and offered millions of dollars in rental relief.

We are no longer in that incredibly dark place. Many of those protections were entwined in that emergency order. Possibly the last City in the country to let its order end — LA’s COVID protections will expire at the end of this month. However, we are still in a housing crisis and we want to make sure that when these COVID protections sunset, vulnerable renters are protected from evictions. Consequently, we needed to enact new, non-COVID specific renter protections right away that will keep people housed while ensuring property owners get payments they are owed.

If you live in a Rent Stabilized (RSO) unit (generally means your building was built before 1978), you already have wide ranging protections against harassment and eviction. Whether an apartment, house, ADU etc, these rules apply. The new legislation really focuses on folks who live in non-rent stabilized units and who currently have no lease.

One of the big protections is referred to as ‘Just Cause,’ meaning a property owner can’t evict a tenant if rent is paid and lease terms are not violated. With the passage of this new law, Just Cause protections now extend to most non-RSO units. Relocation assistance also expanded to cover more renters if they are evicted. With the extensive expansion of Just Cause protection, short term leases (less than 6 months) are not included, hoping to encourage property owners to take a chance on folks who might not have good credit or be a good risk from their perspective. These tenants should be given a chance to prove that they would be good long term tenants. The short term carve out also allows people who are away for months (traveling nurses, actors and others) to rent out their units without fear that they will have to prove Just Cause and pay relocation costs if their temporary tenant doesn’t move out as promised. 

While we will continue to look at other ways to help people rebuild after the height of the pandemic, this is a big step. 

Thank you to my colleagues for a unanimous vote. Reaching consensus wasn’t easy, but time was of the essence and together we were able to provide permanent tenant protections for the first time in the City of Los Angeles. Today was a banner day for renter protection!

Reseda Opportunity Economic Impact Study

The City of Los Angeles faces a housing and homelessness crisis. To meet that challenge, various entities have evaluated all municipally-owned parcels across the City to determine which are potentially feasible for affordable or supportive housing projects. Both the City Administrative Officer (CAO) and City Controller have identified the five Department of Transportation (LADOT) surface parking lots near Reseda Blvd and Sherman Way as potential housing sites. There is currently no conceptual or actual project proposed for any of these lots. 

Given the magnitude of the housing and homelessness crisis, Councilmember Blumenfield believes that no option should be taken off the table. Many local businesses rely on the LADOT parking lots for customer parking so Blumenfield has requested an in-depth analysis of the economic impact of any temporary or permanent loss of parking. An economic study will take place over the next few months and your input is critical to provide a comprehensive and accurate analysis of the economic impact of redevelopment of any of the five parking lots. Read more about the study below.

2022 Homeless Count Results

Last Thursday, the first round of data from LAHSA’s latest Homeless Count was announced and it highlights progress as well as challenges. Based on these preliminary numbers, homelessness has barely increased city-wide (1.7%), but in the West Valley, specifically in John Lee’s and my districts, the unsheltered homeless population has increased by about 300 people in each of our areas. 

On the positive side, we have seen a 200% increase in people being sheltered in CD3 (meaning people who are no longer on the street, but are in temporary/interim housing where they have access to case workers and services). This is because we were able to quickly utilize state/federal funding opportunities to build cabin communities, Bridge Housing, hotel conversions and more. In the coming months, several new Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)/Affordable sites will open in the third district and more hotel conversions are underway. But, even more housing and services of all kinds are desperately needed. It’s not about PSH vs transitional housing or mental health care vs homeless outreach- we need more of everything but we have to be strategic — we can’t just throw money at the problem. Also, to achieve progress we need to be more efficient in cutting through red tape with better accountability and oversight.

It is extremely discouraging to see the homeless count numbers in CD3 still rise during a period of unprecedented investment in shelter/housing and services. While I’m very grateful to all the LAHSA workers and service providers who, day in and day out, work with my team to bring people indoors, I am also frustrated with the overall system. We simply are not getting the help we need to make a permanent improvement for people on the streets and sidewalks because the system is still too cumbersome and opaque.

When the emergency COVID and special state funds are exhausted, we will not be able to keep allocating the same level of funding year we have these past years, especially if we are not seeing visible improvements to move unsheltered people indoors permanently. Hopefully, the major investments we have been making will ultimately prove to be the foundation for more serious progress moving forward.

To say we need more help from the County is a huge understatement. More than half of the unsheltered population in CD3 suffers from serious mental illness and/or drug addiction and the crisis has dramatically increased the need for services and access to their programs. In the West Valley, I’ve had to redirect district specific city funds to bring in district specific professional assistance, including crisis response teams from the San Fernando Valley Mental Health Care Center as well as SHARE! to help house people faster. This is because many of our service providers say they don't have the resources for more intensive services to help address the crisis in our community. For the billions that we are collectively putting into solving our homelessness emergency, we urgently need help for people with unmet needs for health services including substance abuse treatment and mental health care.

It’s important to remember that the projections are based on the visible population on one night and that a continued review is critical. At the request of LAHSA, prior to the count my office prohibited any comprehensive clean ups of encampments in the immediate weeks leading up to the event. This was done to avoid artificially displacing people which might cause an underestimate of the count. This was not done in some other parts of the city and may have contributed to skewed results. Another contributing factor may relate to the difficulty of removing tents from the street even when they are unoccupied. There are a significant number of people who have beds in interim sites but still keep their RVs or tents on the sidewalk or street for storage or discretionary use. A count of RVs and tents can’t assess if the owner also has a shelter bed. I hope more work will be done to make sure these numbers are the best reflection of what’s happening in the West Valley. 

Homelessness continues to be the most critical issue facing our region. Rents are high, wages aren’t rising as fast as inflation, and critical health services are out of reach for many- the pandemic just compounded these existing societal problems. My team and I are committed to staying focused on housing, growing our network of assistance and finding out where our systems can be more efficient. Angelenos in need must receive the health, drug addiction and mental health services they deserve and are due. In the short run, we need better transparency between agencies, better data and we need to streamline and cut costs for building affordable housing. 

The numbers revealed by LAHSA are helpful clues as to what is happening around homelessness. However, the numbers deserve further scrutiny, and require other data and interpretation to truly understand where we are headed and how to best adjust our course when it comes to effectively preventing, reducing and solving for homelessness. 


LA Pierce College Professional Clothing Drive

To help local students enter the workforce, Councilmember Blumenfield is partnering with Pierce College and the West Valley Warner Center Chamber of Commerce for a Professional Clothing Drive. From now to August 26, 2022, you can make a real difference by donating office appropriate clothing to the Brahma Career Closet. This is a new resource for students who need professional attire for interviews, career fairs, and job placements. Your generous donations will allow job seekers to feel confident to successfully enter the workplace and launch their careers. Most Pierce College students and alumni are from the San Fernando Valley and nearby communities, and this clothing drive will help them connect with employers to succeed in their job searches. 

Instructions to donate:

Hours and Location Dropoff: Monday-Friday, 8AM- 4PM, until Friday, August 26.

LA Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave, Woodland Hills 

From Winnetka Ave entrance, follow Brahma Drive and continue to Student Dropoff / Flagpole. Staff will meet you there to receive donations.

Please email - [email protected] with your expected day and time of arrival, along with how many items you have (for example: 1 suit, 1 box, 2 bags, etc.)

Donation Guidelines:

We are accepting new or lightly used professional or business casual attire including clothes, shoes, and accessories (including sealed make-up). All adult sizes are needed. Undergarments are not accepted. Additionally, we ask that you please wash all the clothes you intend to donate before drop-off. 

For any questions, please contact Mirna Ezquivel at

Thanks to Diana Williams from the WVWC Chamber and Team Blumenfield’s Kekeli Gbewonyo, who is also a Pierce College student and Peer Mentor, for their support to collect donations and spread the word to support this effort.

Acceptable Items for Donations: 

  • Clothes
    • Shirts
    • Blouses
    • Pants
    • Trousers
    • Blazers
    • Dresses
    • Skirts
  • Shoes
    • New or VERY lightly used
  • Accessories
    • Watches
    • Jewelry
    • Purses
    • Sealed Make-Up
  • Clothes Racks
  • Hangers


2022-2023 Budget Summary

On May 18, the City Council approved an on-time, balanced $11.8 billion Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23, which begins July 1. As a member of the Budget & Finance Committee, I have spent the last month reviewing Mayor Garcetti’s proposed budget, meeting with general managers and budget officers of more than 40 City departments (from Aging to Zoo), listening to stakeholder comment, and participating in more than 40 hours of public hearings to ensure that the final Budget meets the needs of the City as a whole and the West Valley in particular. 

I am proud of this Budget, which funds Citywide priorities and many individual projects for the neighborhoods and people of the Third Council District.

For the past two years, the City’s Budget has been largely shaped by the COVID pandemic: steep reductions in certain City revenues, such as hotel occupancy tax and parking revenue; increased costs to respond to immediate needs, such as COVID testing and vaccine centers, and in-home meals for seniors; a 10% cut in the City’s civilian workforce, which has affected our ability to sweep streets, pick up trash, or tow abandoned vehicles; and a $1.1 billion federal bailout that kept the City afloat. 

As the economy has largely recovered from the pandemic, the City’s finances have stabilized, allowing us to draft a “back to basics”budget for FY22-23 Budget. This budget focuses on core city services like public safety and infrastructure, while also tackling problems such as homelessness and climate change. 

My highest budget priority has always been public safety. This year is no different. Next year, LAPD’s budget will be $3.1 billion, the highest ever. The new budget provides funding to hire 780 new officers, well above expected attrition, to increase the size of the force by June 2023 to 9,615. We also increased funding and staffing in the Personnel Department so that we can reach that number by filling every academy class with high-caliber recruits.

The budget also boosts our Fire Department budget to $967 million. It includes funding to hire 300 additional firefighters with five new academy classes. Currently LAFD has about a 18% vacancy rate in their sworn positions, and the new recruits will provide the much needed relief to our firefighters and paramedics who have been working throughout the pandemic, administering COVID tests and vaccines, in addition to their regular firefighter duties. In addition, the Budget & Finance committee added 15 civilian positions to maintain LAFD vehicles and equipment.

Because the West Valley is threatened by wildfires, I supported funding for a new “Wildland Fuel Management Crew” that will assist LAFD with brush clearance, and be available to be dispatched throughout the City and State of California during an active fire. This can start young adults on a pathway to a firefighting crew, and I initiated a special study to explore how this can dovetail with existing youth employment programs such as the LA Conservation Corps.

Events over the past couple of years have emphasized that public safety also means creating alternatives to a uniformed, armed police response. The City is expanding our alternative response programs such as CIRCLE which deploys a nonprofit to respond to homeless-related calls that come into 9-1-1 and will be investing $8M FY 22-23 to expand the program to other parts of the City. We are investing $960K to have a trained clinician respond to suicide calls that come into 9-1-1.  

The Budget substantially increases funding for the Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) and the Summer Night Lights programs. That includes expanding GRYD programming to Reseda Park. 

In the West Valley, more people die in traffic collisions than from homicides. While I have directed $100,000 of my discretionary funds to increased LAPD traffic enforcement against street racing, we also need to build safer streets. During the budget hearings, I successfully fought to restore 32 positions to the Department of Transportation to enhance traffic safety, including our West Valley traffic engineer and workers who build, install and maintain traffic signals, signs and striping; and to add 20 positions for active transportation projects and to address the backlog in the speed hump program. The Committee added nearly $3 million toward upgrading all unsignalized crosswalks in the City. 

As Chair of the Public Works Committee, I am committed to ensuring that every Angeleno enjoys safe, well-maintained streets and sidewalks. The Budget & Finance Committee added more than $7 million to address copper wire theft, including funding and positions to repair outages, make the street lighting system more theft-resistant, and install solar-powered lights. In addition, I secured $380,800 to install new solar-powered lights along the LA River Path from Mason to Vanalden.

The new budget adds more than $15 million to the street resurfacing and slurry seal program, and continues our more than $30 million annual investment in sidewalk repair. Much of our sidewalk damage is caused by poorly-maintained street trees. Over the years, I have fought to steadily increase our tree maintenance budget to get to a best-practice 7-year trimming cycle (we are currently on a 20-year cycle), and secured a $2 million increase in the tree trimming budget. The City is conducting a comprehensive analysis of street sweeping needs across the City; in the meantime, this Budget restores early morning sweeping of all our commercial corridors.

The Budget also funds additional programs to keep the City clean, including: $46 millon for the Comprehensive Cleaning and Rapid Engagement (CARE/CARE+) program that focuses on encampments and other problem areas; $1.3 million for additional sidewalk trash receptacles; $2 million more to address illegal dumping; and $1.9 million more for the Clean and Green program. 

Our parks and libraries serve everyone in Los Angeles, especially our youth. Under the City Charter, the Recreation and Parks (RAP) and Library departments are guaranteed a share of the City’s general tax revenues. While the Library’s share has proven sufficient to meet their needs, RAP is historically underfunded. The Council boosted RAPs budget by more than $14 million to enable them to fill critical positions and provide important services. Of particular interest, we added funding to reduce the cost of summer recreational programming to $10/week at parks serving disadvantaged communities, including Lanark and Reseda Parks; and added positions to ensure all Senior Centers in the City have a full time Facility Director.

Homelessness remains a focus, and the City continues to invest in homeless prevention, housing, and services. $600 million of the City’s $1.2 billion Homeless Budget will be dedicated to building 3,768 new units and beds. Solid Ground, a homeless prevention program for families will be expanded to the Canoga Park Family Source Center. And the City will continue to fund outreach workers and I will continue to fight for more funding and mental health services in the West San Fernando Valley. 

As always, I work to ensure that the City funds important projects and programs in the Third District. In addition to the items mentioned above, I obtained funding for the following:

  • $24.7 million to construct the Reseda Boulevard Complete Street Project
  • $1.5 million to close a funding gap in the $26 million Reseda Skate Rink
  • $200K for the Madrid Theater Cultural Hub/Canoga Park Stage Arts Lab Activation
  • $450K to bring the Reseda Theater rehabilitation closer to realization
  • $5.3 million to begin construction of the last phase of the LA River Path in the West Valley from Vanalden Avenue to the Sepulveda Basin
  • $650K for the MRCA River Rangers program to help keep the River Path safe and clean
  • $860K for restrooms at Serrania Park
  • $500K to design improvements along the north bank of the LA River in Reseda Park 
  • $1 million for HVAC upgrades to the West Valley Police Station
  • $2 million allocated for bulkhead projects on Mulholland Drive and Medina Road
  • $125K each for the West Valley and Topanga PALS program

Participate in Blumenfield's 2022 Budget Survey

Every year at this time, your City government adopts its budget and I would like to hear from you before that process begins. Next week, the Mayor will unveil his proposed budget. On April 26, the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee (of which I am Vice Chair) will begin reviewing it with a fine-tooth comb, holding days of public hearings where we bring in the General Manager and budget chief of every City department to discuss their budget line-by-line. 

Our budget is a statement of our values. As a steward of your tax dollars, I take these hearings very seriously to make sure our budget reflects the priorities of Los Angeles residents. The most important voice in this process is yours, so please take a few minutes and complete my annual Budget Survey and let me know your priorities. 

Exciting Times in Warner Center

Recently I met with the Warner Center Association (WCA) to talk about some of the exciting projects in the works, both private development and infrastructure investments in the Warner Center 2035 Plan (WC2035). This year the WCA’s dedicated group of property owners and businesses remains deeply involved in the local community and celebrated their 40th anniversary.

The most exciting recent news in Warner Center is the sale of the Westfield Promenade site. While I don’t have specifics to share, it has been widely reported that the Superbowl Champion LA Rams owner Kroenke Group has purchased the property. The Rams and Stan Kroenke are active community partners in LA, and I’m confident that they will be good neighbors if they pursue a practice facility at the stadium that is already entitled for that location. 

The Promenade redevelopment plan approved by the City Council includes over 1,400 new units with the first ever affordable housing units in Warner Center, hotels, offices, retail, and over 5 acres of public open space. The approved entitlements will carry over to the new owner to guide any construction plans, and once information is available about their designs I’ll share them with you.

Warner Center has become the West San Fernando Valley’s thriving downtown and is home to about 14,000 Angelenos and businesses like Anthem Blue Cross, Farmers Insurance, Kaiser Permanente and URW/Westfield, with over 50,000 jobs. Warner Center is a great place to live and work, with thousands of new units open or under construction to help address the housing shortage. Every development pays mitigation fees to help address issues related to growth. The plan assumes that more than $160 million in such fees will be used to implement needed mitigation measures.

Warner Center is envisioned as a transit and pedestrian friendly neighborhood, but with its wide streets and long blocks we have to make some changes to realize this vision. In addition to WCA, the WC2035 Plan Implementation Board (PIB), comprised of local residents, business owners, and stakeholders in and around Warner Center serves as an advisory body that guides the investment in local infrastructure, and makes sure that mitigation measures get done to minimize potential negative impacts from development. The PIB is developing a work plan for crosswalk and signal enhancements to improve safety and walkability. Efforts like the Warner Connects Transit Management Organization will help reduce traffic and carbon emissions while improving mobility for cleaner, greener transportation options in the Valley.

A few years ago we launched the Metro Warner Center Shuttle which replaced the Orange Line Stop at the Canoga Station with a new line connecting riders to 10 new stops including Westfield Topanga, Warner Center Corporate Park, and Kaiser. This local circulator assists with traffic as it helps local residents and workers get around without cars.

We can also bridge the transportation gaps that exist in Warner Center, with help from the State of California’s first-ever Transportation and Technology Innovation Zone (TTIZ). In November 2020, the City Council passed my motion to designate the Warner Center as a TTIZ to support the testing and development of innovative and potentially automated technologies for movement of goods and people. I reached out to Senator Henry Stern who secured a budget earmark for the Innovation Zone, allocating $250,000 toward this effort. The TTIZ encourages transportation-related businesses to start up, locate, and hire locally, with many diverse jobs, spurring investments needed to reduce vehicle miles traveled and GHG emissions from transportation.

Warner Center is a major local asset and my goal is to make the area safer, greener, and the most welcoming destination in all of Los Angeles.

Solving Homelessness Requires Multi-Prong Approach

We recently hit a milestone in the West Valley as right now there are no people living in the 101 underpasses throughout the Third District. If you have been through an underpass recently you may have noticed new signs that prohibit camping in these locations. With these signs up, we are now able to better enforce the 41.18 anti-camping restrictions that became law last year. Enforcement will improve as workers and police receive additional training. Not too long ago, there were many unhoused people and tents, but they have been given shelter and both their suffering and local nuisances have been greatly reduced. This has been a longtime community goal, to provide better alternatives to sheltering under the 101. By creating those better alternatives, we are moving toward keeping these locations and other designated places clear and passable.

I’m continuing to grow services and housing opportunities to build on the unprecedented resources and humane laws on the books that are helping keep major public rights of way clear. I’d like to share where we are in the newest projects to address homelessness on the streets of the West Valley.

Our next step is creating more interim and permanent housing to bring people indoors, provide the services they need to stay off the street, and deliver solutions with urgency to address the crisis. Although about 20,000 people were brought indoors last year in the City, what we have done is not enough to meet the growing need. Building is not enough, we need to deal with all of the root causes.

Much more still needs to be done to help fill the gaps to do what we can to stop people from falling into homelessness and bring people indoors to get the help they need. With the recent announcement of a large state budget surplus, Governor Newsom made more funds available for converting hotels into housing. As I’ve written before, throughout the past few months city and county finance staff negotiated with hundreds of hotel owners to see who would be interested in selling their properties.

They submitted separate funding proposals to the state with the county’s package of nineteen potential sites throughout the region and the city’s proposal with nine more hotels to purchase. Two of these sites are in CD3, including the 818 Hotel and Extended Stay America on Ventura Blvd., which if funded, would serve families and seniors respectfully.  The 818 is specifically for families because, in part, I pushed the County to designate it as such and the Extended Stay is for seniors because I amended the City’s proposal in committee to have that focus. And a third new apartment building is also being considered in Canoga Park for the next round of state funding.

As we’ve been talking about these two sites, I’ve heard several times from people who asked about how big the need is for homeless families and seniors in our district. Per the last LAHSA Homeless Count, there were over 100 homeless seniors in this district alone and another hundred people who were part of families (meaning folks who were homeless together with someone under the age of 18). But the reality is that they are often grossly under-counted as many are living in vehicles, in unregulated garage-type units, or temporary, and unstable living arrangements.

Just last week, my team and I got several people housed in one of our cabin communities including a 67 year old former local neighborhood councilmember who just lost his housing. He came to us asking what resources were available as he couldn’t afford an apartment with his limited social security check and was living in his vehicle. Without more ample housing for unhoused seniors, there are very few options right now for the many older Angelenos in his position.

Last year, as new funds became available for transitional housing, I helped build over 600 beds for homeless people in our district in Canoga Park, Reseda, and Tarzana. These beds were prioritized for local people on our streets and that is where many of the people who were at our underpasses went. This incredible progress is rooted in the fact that we created more beds in CD3 in 2021 than folks counted in the previous LAHSA Homeless Count. This year we are set to open 200 units of Prop HHH funded permanent supportive and affordable housing with more projects on the way.

As we find out more about funding for the Homekey sites and other projects in the West Valley, I will keep the community informed on all these projects in the Valley News Group as well as in my newsletter and on social media. Always feel free to send me questions and comments at [email protected] or call our district office at 818.774.4330.

UPDATE-Turning Extended Stay to Permanent Supportive Housing for Seniors

Recently, the City of LA’s Housing Department started the process of submitting a proposal to the state for Project Homekey funding to purchase 9 hotels, or new apartment buildings, throughout the city to be converted into Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). This week I learned that the Extended Stay America on Ventura Blvd. in Woodland Hills is officially on their list. Since the Project Roomkey/Homekey programs began, City agencies have been working with hotel owners to purchase sites for homelessness interventions. This Extended Stay Hotel is part of a wider deal with the parent company to purchase four of their LA sites — including one north of our community in Council District 12. But a key difference is that with the CD3 site I was able to amend the proposal so ours would only serve seniors.

On February 10, the Homelessness and Poverty Committee approved matching funds for all of the Homekey applications, meaning that if any or all of these projects are approved by the State that the City officially promises to provide needed matching dollars. In Committee, I also added an amendment to the proposal to make our site 100% for seniors who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. The full proposal will be heard by the full City Council soon but this was a critical step.

The City’s Extended Stay-Woodland Hills Homekey proposal is separate from the recent one submitted by the County of LA that included using the nearby 818 Hotel for interim housing for families. Coincidentally, these two hotels, owned by separate private parties, desired to sell their property at the same time. It’s important to note however, that they are being sold for very different purposes. While the 818 is being sold to be used exclusively for families in need of transitional housing, the Extended Stay is being sold to be used for PSH. The Extended Stay would therefore no longer be a place zoned and used for transient housing as it is now, but it would become a place of stability where people would permanently reside — specifically seniors who are in need of supportive services.

Throughout the pandemic, my staff and I have reached out to every hotel owner in our district and until now few in the West Valley wanted to be leased or sold, although we did successfully convert one in Canoga Park and one in Reseda. So between these two sites we will potentially be able to serve two of the most vulnerable homeless populations, families and seniors.

It’s no secret that between these two sites, there has been a long history of serious crime issues. A few years ago I remember getting the report of several people overdosing on fentanyl at the Extended Stay leaving toxic materials littered around the area. That was one of many troubling stories. The conversion of the Extended Stay will serve clients who are already on their road to stability and who were referred by our service providers because they’re ready to be placed into PSH. My goal is that with 24/7 security and wrap-around, on-site, services — including mental health/drug counseling for those who need it — we can bring a level of safety and cleanliness to this area that hasn’t been seen in a long time. A 1000 foot, no encampment 41.18 buffer zone will help tremendously as well.

Again, the Committee’s action is just a first step. We won’t know if funding is approved until mid-March. When a service provider is chosen, I will make sure they do thorough outreach to our community and answer all our concerns. I will also set up a community advisory committee to work directly with the service provider as I have done with the cabin communities located in Tarzana and Reseda.

I understand that many will have fears about the site, but I hope those fears can be allayed and replaced with pride. We are in a crisis and we all, including all five communities of the 3rd district, need to create options for people that help prevent homelessness. All I ask at this point is for people to be open to the possibility of making this opportunity into one that is positive for both people in need and the surrounding community.