Turning Extended Stay into PSH
Recently, the City of LA’s Housing Department started the process of submitting a proposal to the state for Project Homekey funding to purchase 10 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 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.
On February 10, the Homelessness and Poverty Committee will vote to match funds for all of the Homekey applications, meaning that if any or all of these projects are approved by the state that the City will be prepared to provide needed matching dollars. RFPs will be issued by the end of February to secure a service provider for each of the projects and the approval of state funding will not be known until the middle of March.
This 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. 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. Coincidentally, these two hotels, owned by separate private parties, desired to sell their property at the same time.Read more
Correcting the Record on the Future of the 818
On Wednesday, January 26, my staff and I saw some misinformation about a potential homeless project for families in Woodland Hills and I want to share what exactly is going on.
This week the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to send a list of 19 sites from throughout the region to the state for potential funding with the goal of converting those locations into homeless housing. One of those 19 sites is the 818 Hotel (on Ventura Blvd. off of Winnetka Ave.). Recently, when they confirmed this plan to my staff and I, I successfully got them, and the pending service provider Hope of the Valley, to agree that this site would serve families. This is a key component for me as over 17,000 LAUSD students experience homeless and there are very few locations where families can live together and get the services they need.
Supervisor Kuehl’s staff told me that they will know if funding is approved by the middle of March. So right now, all that has been done is the County submitted a list of sites to the state requesting funds to convert them to permanent housing. I got the parties to agree that this would be for families, and we’ll know if funding is approved in a few months. I’m incredibly heartened by the fact that the County is partnering with Hope of the Valley on this, as they has been an incredible partner in other efforts in CD3 to get folks off the street.
Tonight, I’ll be talking with the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization about a variety of issues and the County’s plan will be one of them. Both Supervisor Kuehl and our friends at Hope of the Valley have told us that they will soon be scheduling open houses in our community to further discuss this idea.
41.18 Update- Outreach and Housing Placements Continue as Some Key Locations Become Off Limits for Encampments
Published in the Valley Vantage on December 2, 2021
This year I’ve been updating our community on my ongoing efforts to expand housing and shelter opportunities, and I’ve been helping lead our city to adopt humane, constitutional laws that allow for encampment restrictions along certain critical corridors. Progress has been intensely slow, but over the past year we’ve created more transitional housing opportunities than people on our CD3 streets (according to the last LAHSA Homeless Count in 2020) and this week our “41.18” ‘no encampment zones’ took effect at three key locations. The underpasses at Corbin and De Soto as well as the area surrounding Winnetka Park are now officially off-limits to encampments. The other 23 locations approved for 41.18 designation will follow shortly.
First and foremost, we have led with services and available housing, consistent with the law and my sincere belief that while everyone deserves a roof over their head, that does not mean they are entitled to occupy anywhere along the public right of way. We have talked with people at these locations over the course of the year and have been offering shelter to people at the 101 freeway locations repeatedly since our first ‘cabin community’ opened in June.
On December 1st, we became the first district in LA to officially have some ‘no encampment zones’ in effect— specifically two underpasses along the 101 freeway (where we housed 70 people in fall 2020 working with federal Judge David O. Carter) and one at Winnetka Park. While there are many other locations that community members have proposed for encampment prohibition, we must move deliberately, thoughtfully, and constitutionally so these new rules can both withstand legal scrutiny by the Courts and be implemented fairly, humanely and in a manner that is beyond reproach.
Our goal is to move people indoors and onto a path toward permanent housing, targeting our outreach teams at these specific locations so they can better connect with each person. This focus is key as we want people to really hear us, trust us, and understand both how life changing our housing opportunities can be and how serious we are about keeping certain critical corridors free of encampments.Read more
Moving Forward With Hybrid Redistricting Map
On Friday the LA City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Redistricting, of which I’m a member, convened to review the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission’s final report/map and deliberate on the almost 40 motions that were introduced for changes. Three maps were presented including the one put forward by the LACCRC, a different map that was designed to cause the most minimal population adjustments to current district boundaries and a hybrid map of the two. The committee adopted the latter with a few additional changes. I am pleased to report that we maintained my district communities mostly intact, and a small adjustment in population was made by slightly changing the existing split in Reseda without splitting any other communities.
The map that the committee adopted keeps much of the progress made by the LACCRC, for example ensuring that Koreatown is in one district and the westside Jewish community is unified. The hybrid also makes Valley seats more equitable and avoids the creation of an entirely new district with a new councilmember from another area of the city who hadn’t represented any of those communities before. These specific issues were paramount in the West Valley.Read more
This week Council President Nury Martinez asked me to serve on the Ad Hoc Committee on Redistricting to review and finalize district maps for both LAUSD and the City Council. I commend LAUSD Commission Chair Luis Sanchez, LA City Council Redistricting Commission Chair Fred Ali, and all the commissioners and staff who spent the better part of a year working with stakeholders to craft their maps and reports. As our charter makes clear, the final responsibilities lie with the City Council for district lines, and I take this responsibility very seriously.
While the LACCRC’s map helps solve some long standing issues regarding equity and communities of interest, my colleagues and I will work diligently to further this work over the coming weeks. If it were up to me, I’d keep the borders of the district I represent just the way they are. But this process isn’t about what I want and with the substantial growth in LA over the last decade, there are many components that must guide our decisions. This process is about creating equitable City Council districts in compliance with the Voting Rights Act and as we consider options, that will be at the forefront of my mind. I recognize that it is an extremely complicated puzzle because not only do the pieces have to fit together, but every time you move one piece of the puzzle it changes all of the other pieces. When you solve one equity issue you sometimes create others and every change has political implications.Read more
Three Critical Pieces of Legislation Pass to Help Address Homeless Crisis in West Valley
This week the City Council overwhelming passed three critical pieces of legislation I authored focused on the homelessness crisis in the West Valley. These efforts involved the following:
- Bringing more mental health and drug treatment interventions to our local streets
- Creating new local innovative shared housing opportunities for people experiencing homelessness
- Establishing limited, but sensible ‘no encampment’ locations along certain critical public right-of-ways
I want to share a bit more about each of these endeavors and what specifically they will do.
More Mental Health Care and Drug Treatment for Those in Need— The homelessness crisis is inextricably linked with drug and mental health issues. Not all unhoused people suffer from these afflictions, but every time I do outreach in our community I see the reality that the services simply aren’t as available or accessible as they should be. We can’t wait on the County mental health officials to connect folks with their services. This approach is leaving too many people suffering in the streets. That’s why I am dedicating City funds to support a pilot program to dispatch teams from the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center to specifically serve our district. The initial pilot will last one year and I’m excited to finally have dedicated teams from one of our region’s most reputable community organizations to be on the ground, specifically dispatched to help those on our West Valley streets. They will be providing real treatment for folks on the street and linking them up with appropriate services.Read more
Update on Redistricting
Published in the Valley Vantage- October 7, 2021
Every ten years, the census reflects changes in local population and requires re-drawing of Congressional, supervisorial, state legislative and local city council districts. In 2020, my district had the highest census growth in the city so some change is coming. This year the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission (LACCRC) convened starting in April to engage the community and review how the city has changed, guided by the principles in the federal Voting Rights Act. They are tasked with determining how to re-draw district boundaries to ensure that every community has fair representation. After months of deliberation with public input, last week the LACCRC voted on a new draft map with some major changes that will impact the future of our city - including some very big implications in the Southwest San Fernando Valley.
I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you the facts about what is happening, who is making these decisions, where they are in the process, and how you can get involved and make your voice heard.
Chaired by Fred Ali, president of the Weingart Foundation and appointed by Council President Nury Martinez, the 21 member Redistricting Commission includes diverse leaders in law, equity, and social justice including: Hon. Carlos R. Moreno retired California Supreme Court Justice; Elissa D. Barrett, Esq., Executive Director of the Western Justice Center; former LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo; and Reverend Edward L. Anderson, Senior Pastor of McCarty Memorial Christian Church, among others. I appointed Richard Katz who served as a California State Assemblymember for the San Fernando Valley. Formerly a City Planning Commissioner and Chairman Emeritus of the Valley Economic Alliance, Katz has a deep direct understanding of the Valley and is an unapologetic advocate for our region.
Over the past few months various draft maps have been floating around online, but not until last week’s meeting did the LACCRC narrow down the maps under consideration to just one. If the new proposed map is formally adopted by the City Council, the current 3rd District, which I represent, would be split in two and join some neighboring communities. One district (labeled as 4 or 2) would serve Canoga Park, Reseda, Winnetka as well as Lake Balboa and most of Van Nuys. The other (labeled as 3) would include all the hillside communities from Woodland Hills through Tarzana, Encino and Sherman Oaks, and part of Valley Glen. Prior draft maps considered by the Commission included some that looked much more like the current district, including some that divided Woodland Hills in two.
Designating Locations for 41.18 Camping Limits
Published in the Valley Vantage- September 23, 2021
I’ve written often about my efforts to address the homelessness crisis in the West Valley by expanding services, creating transitional housing, and increasing affordable and permanent supportive housing. In my district, we’ve created hundreds of new beds and recently passed the mark where we have as many beds as unsheltered folks on the street according to the 2020 Homeless Count. Having these beds makes it easier to implement laws like the new 41.18 that allows for certain limits on where people can set up encampments.
This week, as I said I would do as soon as legally possible, I submitted a resolution to make the areas that are within 500 feet from freeway under and overpasses (Corbin and Bowlero), locations within 1000 feet from any of the new homelessness intervention sites (ie Cabin Communities), and around Winnetka Park, which has been dealing with a particularly challenging issues, off-limits to encampments. In all there are 26 specific locations that fall within the described parameters (see map).
A few more steps, including getting the full Council to adopt this resolution, need to be taken before these areas become off-limits. Intensive outreach over a two week period will need to be done to make sure that all encampment residents are offered services and shelter and are not caught off-guard by the change.
Two months ago, the City Council passed the new LAMC 41.18, which I co-authored, that enabled certain streets and sidewalks near sensitive use areas like new homeless housing, schools and daycares, as well as underpasses and locations where ADA access was limited, to be eligible to be declared ‘no encampment’ zones. It did not make all of these areas ‘off-limits’, rather it set a process where limited areas could be deemed, through individual Council resolutions, off-limits to encampments. Last week, the Council unanimously supported a new ‘street engagement strategy,’ with protocols for the outreach to homeless people living within encampments, connecting with housing and services. This was critical as the Council had agreed that no 41.18 resolutions would be considered until this strategy was adopted.Read more
Housing, Services, and New Laws Needed to Solve Encampments at the Bowlero
Published in the Valley Vantage- June 17, 2021
The encampment outside the Woodland Hills Bowlero is the latest to escalate into an unacceptable mess. I share the frustration of many who call and email my office. I’ve watched fire videos, seen LAPD crime reports, and personally visited the occupant of every tent and RV at that location, near Target, and at Corbin. I wish I had a magic wand or ideal services available that people would voluntarily accept — but I don’t. So what are we doing?
For starters, 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. For some activists, any restriction on encampments is “criminalizing homelessness.” I disagree. While I am working feverishly to create and incentivize temporary and permanent supportive housing for local people, a lack of ideal housing shouldn’t mean that encampments continue everywhere.
Last fall I introduced a controversial motion to prohibit camping within 500 feet of freeways or homeless services, but before people could be asked to move, they had to be offered shelter. Specifically, it amended two sections of the LA Municipal Code, 41.18 which deals with sitting, lying or sleeping in the public right of way and 56.11 which focuses on personal belongings in the public right of way. Unfortunately, even though six Councilmembers co-signed or seconded my motion, there was tremendous opposition when the ordinance drafted by the City Attorney came to the Council for a vote, and the Council President sent it back to committee for further review. I’m working to get a revised proposal to Council for a vote.
We’re opening hundreds of temporary shelter and housing units within weeks. With our two cabin communities, the Willows Bridge Housing, hotels that we bought, and other housing opportunities, we have beds for over 60% of the unhoused people on our district’s streets. That’s in addition to hundreds of units of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) that I’ve approved, now under construction or soon will be. While having beds for 60% of the district’s homeless population may satisfy Judge Carter’s threshold in a pending settlement agreement, my goal remains to find beds for 100% of the unhoused population in my district. We’re opening beds faster than ever, but how do we make sure the local unhoused folks accept them?Read more
Prevention Tips for Fire Season
Published with the Valley News Group May 20, 2021
Last week’s Pacific Palisades fire is a reminder that in the West Valley we need to be prepared for “Fire Season” all year round. I watched the Palisades fire very nervously over the weekend, and I am grateful to the professionals at LAFD who saved the neighborhood and surrounding structures from harm. There are a few things that I would like to highlight as we look ahead to a potentially deadly fire season once again.
We all remember the Woolsey Fire, a few years ago. At that time, LAFD captains told me that if Topanga Canyon started to burn, Woodland Hills would be next and we would need to evacuate. There were fire trucks keeping an eye on Warner Center to keep the area safe during the Woolsey Fire, and we must remain vigilant and do everything we can to prevent fires.
First, everyone who lives in a high fire “Red Flag” restriction area needs to prepare to defend their home by clearing brush as required under city ordinances. If you are unable to clear your own brush, please call my office for options to help you get dangerous dry vegetation away from your home to provide a defensible space.Read more