Recently the City Council took a step forward to reduce the amount of waste in the restaurant and food service industry with the approval of a motion by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and Councilmember Paul Koretz to reduce the use of polystyrene (aka Styrofoam) in the city. The new policy will increase the recycling of this material by waste haulers by encouraging consumers to clean it first to allow recycling, and also to reduce its use in city programs. Most families don’t know that polystyrene can be recycled in the blue bins if it is rinsed well, though it’s difficult to clean well enough to recycle. The Bureau of Sanitation has an education program to help spread the word about recycling and keeping these containers out of landfills. Additionally, the motion requests that the city identify and phase out the use of polystyrene in the Home Delivered Meals Program in the Department of Aging, and assess if vendors in city owned locations such as the LA Mall use polystyrene food containers to require phase-out of their use. By working with vendors to gradually shift to other materials, Blumenfield’s efforts can give consumers a way to reduce their waste.
Team Blumenfield joined the office of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to host a community open house for the proposed Bridge Housing site in Canoga Park. Earlier this year, Blumenfield secured funding for the purchase of this site, and he has been working closely with the Supervisor to complete renovations and provide services for the site. Construction will begin in a few months, and the first residents are expected to move in by the end of 2020.
The property, located at 7621 Canoga Avenue, had been privately owned, but used to serve as a County mental health facility. Under the plan outlined by Blumenfield and Kuehl, the City gave $4.3 million to the County to purchase the property, now the County will renovate it and provide no less than fifteen years of Bridge Housing services for homeless people.
Unlike an emergency shelter where the clients must leave in the morning and return at night, Bridge Housing enables clients to actually live on site and receive wraparound services until they can transition to a permanent home. It has proven to be a much more successful model with less impact on the neighboring community.
“Though in the West Valley we have fewer homeless people than anywhere else in the City, we still have a serious humanitarian and quality of life crisis in our community,” Blumenfield stated. “Homelessness continues to be the most pressing issue facing our City and we are making strides to address this emergency in the West Valley with new services and housing.”
During the Open House, visitors were able to see renderings of the design and talk with service providers and officials about what to expect when the site is open.
Though this site will be a ‘permanent’ Bridge Housing facility, it will provide homeless people with ‘temporary’ and transitional housing, just like other ‘bridge’ sites opening up around the city. This site will provide housing for no less than 70 people at any given time. Having this site will unlock additional police presence in the vicinity and will enable enhanced enforcement as well. Learn more about the Councilmember’s efforts to address homelessness here.
Wildfire and Disaster Prevention and Response Addressed in Final Woolsey Fire Task Force Meeting
On November 17, Councilmember Blumenfield joined Supervisor Sheila Kuehl for the final meeting of LA County’s Woolsey Fire Task Force. He and his staff have participated in each task force meeting for the past year to review recommendations from the Woolsey Fire, the most destructive fire in Los Angeles County history, to help the City prevent and prepare for future large scale fires and assist in the recovery of damaged or destroyed communities. Sadly, the reality of climate change makes multiple large scale fire disasters more likely, and local and state agencies must be prepared to fight them when they happen.
Over the course of these Task Force sessions, hundreds of residents affected by the fire came forward to share their experiences and concerns, which have all contributed to the Task Force’s recommendations. During the fire which burned approximately 150 square miles and destroyed approximately 1,600 homes and other structures, California firefighters were simultaneously fighting the Paradise fire in Northern California and the Hill fire in Ventura County. The report’s recommendations include plans to improve the response, communications, evacuation, repopulation, transition to recovery and a request for building more fire resistant structures in fire prone areas in the future.
The report outlines steps we must take in order to better ensure community safety in light of heightened fire risk, and it will help guide Councilmember Blumenfield in future legislation on wildfires. To learn more about these recommendations, please click to read LA County’s After Action Review.
To read about Councilmember Blumenfield’s proposed legislation to improve building standards related to fire safety, click here.
Blumenfield Convenes Small Business Community for BLOOM Symposium
On November 7, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and his Community Action Team on Economic Development (BobCAT) brought over 75 small business owners from the West Valley to the first ever small business symposium BLOOM (Business Leadership Optimization & Opportunity Making). The symposium took place at the West Valley Police Station Community Room and featured speakers from the Small Business Development Center, Cowe Consulting, Clark Construction, Valley Economic Alliance, Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley, West-Valley Warner Center Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department.
“Today we had a packed house of small business owners who all came out to network, gain peer to peer interactions and learn about free City resources to help their businesses blossom,” Blumenfield said. “This symposium was a product of my community action team, which is made up of 40 local business owners who regularly get together to figure out how we can take action to make a better business environment in the West Valley. These volunteers are really making a difference and I am very grateful for their work.”
Attendees left BLOOM with valuable business insights, such as learning about free business consultation from the Small Business Development Center, low-interest loans from the City of Los Angeles EWDD, and free LED light panel installation from LADWP.
This event would not have been possible without Blumenfield’s incredibly talented Community Action Team on Economic Development (BobCAT) and especially his economic development deputy Kevin Tamaki and Chairperson Ronda Jackson.
Be sure to stay on the lookout for future symposiums featuring amazing speakers and more city resources to help West Valley businesses thrive.
Councilmember Blumenfield runs several BobCATs, filled with dozens of passionate community leaders who work to address issues such as economic development, aging, veterans’ rights, domestic violence and emergency preparedness. To join a BobCAT, click here.
Be sure to watch the recap here.
Supporting Public Safety in the West Valley
Blumenfield secures funding for youth program, LAPD Police Activity League
Recently Councilmember Blumenfield secured $125,000 each for the LAPD West Valley Division and LAPD Topanga Police Activity League (PAL) in the City Council’s annual budget process. For several years, Councilmember Blumenfield has worked hard to secure funding for these important programs that provide youth crime prevention activities, including educational experiences and sports to local kids. These programs are aimed to grow a bond between youth and police officers and have been successfully fostering youth leaders all across Los Angeles.
Blumenfield thanks Mark Vetter for his dedicated services, who sits on the board of the Topanga Police Station Community Youth Program and the entire PAL program for its critical work.
CPAB Police Appreciation Day
Councilmember Blumenfield has been a longtime supporter of the Community Police Advisory Board at the LAPD West Valley Police Station. He recently spoke at their monthly meeting to discuss pressing issues in the West Valley, such as crime, homelessness, affordable housing and fire prevention policies.
Blumenfield also attended their annual Officer Appreciation Luncheon to thank all the officers, employees and volunteers who tirelessly served the community. Blumenfield thanks CPAB Chair James Brown for all his work and to Galpin Ford and the CPAB volunteers for providing over 100 lunches for everyone.
Providing Closure for Families Who Have Lost Pets
Hoping to give closure to families who have lost pets who are killed by cars or found dead, Councilmember Blumenfield introduced a measure to require the Bureau of Sanitation to check any dead animals for a microchip before disposal. In the sad event that a beloved pet goes missing, there is currently no way for Sanitation workers to provide notification to families when the animal is found on the street. The City Council approved his measure for Sanitation to implement a plan to scan any found deceased pets for microchips in an effort to provide closure to families. The Department of Animal Services provides microchip services in addition to licenses, and if a pet is lost these both help an animal to find its way home.
On Veterans Day, Blumenfield Honors Local Heroes
Blumenfield Recognizes local veteran Corporal Alfredo Castillo in City Hall
As part of the City’s Veterans Day celebration, each Councilmember honored a local veteran in their community. From the West Valley, Councilmember Blumenfield recognized Corporal Alfredo Castillo who served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Alfredo Castillo immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua in 1962 and three years later was drafted into service. On April 9th, 1967 he was awarded a Silver Star Medal for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Machine Gun Squad Leader.
In 1971, Alfredo was honorably discharged and moved to Woodland Hills to begin a 40 year career in the construction trade building homes in the Valley and greater Los Angeles. Alfredo continues to give back to our community in many ways including by performing songs with his guitar at convalescent homes to bring cheer to residents and their families going through difficult times. He is also a fixture at his church, Our Lady of the Valley in Canoga Park.
Corporal Castillo’s story serves as an important example of the contributions immigrants have made to this Country through their service in the United States Military. He also holds another very important role in our community, proud father of Blumenfield’s legislative deputy Cecilla Castillo.
Honoring Veterans at San Fernando Valley Veterans Day Parade
In 2002, when Blumenfield was serving as Congress member Howard Berman’s District Director, he helped create the San Fernando Valley Veteran’s Day Parade. This idea was born when Fred Flores’ son, Alfred Flores (May he rest in peace) complained to his father about having to go to Long Beach to see a parade. His father also worked for Berman and was a Marine. Blumenfield and Flores then put together a Founder’s Committee comprised of local community leaders to rectify the situation. Then Councilmember Alex Padilla and then Assembly Member Tony Cárdenas happily supported organizing the committee—and the parade was born. Many members of the original committee still help organize the annual parade and it has grown every year, boasting tens of thousands of spectators.
Unlike other parades, the politicians and dignitaries watch—it is the veterans and military members who are featured on the floats and in the vehicles. Blumenfield is no longer on the committee, but he has never missed being at the parade to honor those who have served. This year Blumenfield’s father, who is an Airforce veteran from the Vietnam War era joined him at the parade.
Proposed California Excise Tax on Firearm Sales would Generate Funds for Prevention
Heartbroken by another shooting in our own backyard at Saugus High School, Councilmember Blumenfield is supporting AB18 which would charge $25 in Excise Tax on the sale of every new firearm in California with money raised going directly to the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program. “It’s sickening that our kids are growing up in a world where they're not safe at school, and where gun deaths from suicide, crime, mass shootings, and accidents take far too many young lives each year. This bill would provide funding for prevention programs to reduce violence and save lives,” said Blumenfield.
This state legislation was introduced by Assemblymember Marc Levine (San Francisco) and is pending before the legislature, but has stalled. The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution authored by Blumenfield to support this bill.
CicLAvia is Coming to the West Valley!
Councilmember Blumenfield is excited to announce that CicLAvia is coming to the West Valley for the first time on Sunday, December 8, 2019! From 9 am to 3 pm, Sherman Way between Shoup and Lindley will be open to people on foot, bikes, scooters, skateboards, rollerblades and other non-motorized modes of transportation; it is family-friendly and perfect for people of all ages and abilities. This isn't a race with a starting time and place, so come out whenever and wherever it is convenient, and stay and play as long as you like.
For more information, click here.
This is also a great opportunity for local businesses and organizations to shine with special deals, performances or visibility opportunities. With the help of 11:11 A Creative Collective, Blumenfield will also host a day full of musical performances. See below for the lineup.
While Sherman Way will be closed to cars, there will be car crossing points at many major north-south streets.
Blumenfield Converted District Office Lot into Safe Parking for Homeless
Many Angelenos literally cannot afford to live in this City and have turned to sleeping in their cars rather than on the street. Living in their car is no easy feat. These folks are constantly moving from one lot to the next, being kicked out, threatened, and intimidated by passerbyers. Frustrated with this situation in the West Valley, Councilmember Blumenfield partnered with Safe Parking LA to convert his District Office parking lot into a secure overnight space for folks to park theirs cars and get the rest they need.
Many patrons work full time jobs, and some are even enrolled in college programs. To learn more, watch the video here or click on the image below.
Equipped with a bathroom and overnight security, Blumenfield's safe parking lot is helping those in need sleep at night so they can actually bounce back.
While this isn't the solution to ending homelessness, its the least we can do to prevent folks from sleeping on the ground. If you have a parking lot and want to join Safe Parking LA, visit their website to learn more about the application process.
LAPD Cyber Literacy Program
East Valley Animal Shelter Pets of the Week
Local Business Spotlight: Wireless Connections & El Camino Insurance Services
John Azmery and his family have owned and operated two businesses - El Camino Insurance Services and Wireless Connections - in one location in Canoga Park since 2007. On the insurance side, El Camino offers its customers protection for life, health, home, auto, and commercial. The other business is Wireless Connections, which provides sales and service for all major wireless carriers. John is proud to be a member of the Canoga Park business community and those who prefer to speak Spanish are more than welcome at his two businesses. To learn more about El Camino Insurance Services and Wireless Connections, click here.
Wireless Connections & El Camino Insurance Services
21508 Sherman Way #2015,
Canoga Park, CA 91303
Blumenfield was honored at the Israeli American Civic Action Network (ICAN) on November 12 and given the Visionary Award.
On November 16, Blumenfield joined Calvert Elementary School Library to partner with the nonprofit Access Books and local volunteers to refurbish their library.
Blumenfield kicked off the YMCA’s Annual Missile Run on November 16, their biggest fundraising event to help raise money for the programs and scholarships to help families become members of the Y.
Team Blumenfield partnered with Metro BEST, LACBC, and CicLAvia to host three bike safety classes from the Councilmember’s District Office. As the West Valley gears up for CicLAvia the Valley, Blumenfield is working hard to ensure everyone is ready to get on their bikes on December 8.