Blumenfield at a mobile COVID-19 Vaccine site in Canoga Park
Over the last few weeks, LA has ramped up vaccine distribution at mobile sites and has made it possible for folks to get their vaccine without needing an appointment. To be more accommodating, Pierce College will stay open and has expanded its hours from 8am-8pm and they offer your choice of the three approved vaccines.
As vaccinations continue to rollout, it’s important to see how far we have come and how much we have been able to reopen. But we cannot afford to let up or go backwards.
We have all heard plenty of PSA’s from celebrities and elected officials telling people to get vaccinated, but what also helps build trust is when you make a call to a friend or family member and personally encourage them to get their COVID-19 vaccine. Make a one-on-one connection, and give them the facts from the CDC and other reputable sources about why it is safe to get vaccinated.
The ads on your TV and social media can only go so far, but you can make a difference. If we want to end the pandemic and reach herd immunity by late July, it is going to take a village.
This week’s newsletter includes important updates on addressing homelessness, the new City budget, and more. If you ever have questions for me, please do not hesitate to email me at [email protected] or call 818-774-4330.
Cabin Communities Making Progress
Blumenfield touring the construction site for the Tarzana Cabin Community
The Reseda Cabin community is expected to open in just a few weeks and the Tarzana Cabin community is expected to open shortly afterward. The major construction for the Reseda site has been completed, and recently painting and other cosmetic improvements have wrapped. These two sites are part of the first batch of city cabin communities that are being built throughout the City of Los Angeles. There is already two up and running in North Hollywood in Council District 2, and both are next to a park and in a residential area. Please check out Councilmember Blumenfield’s various Q&As and resources here. He’s answered over 200 questions in writing and over the past year he has attempted to contact everyone in the immediate area through mailings, a virtual presentation, social media, written articles, an interactive virtual town hall, presentations to the Neighborhood Councils, a two hour outdoor in-person meeting with concerned neighbors, meeting with the local homeowner’s associations, personally calling neighbors, holding one-on-one virtual meetings and responding to all emails/letters.
He also meets monthly with a Reseda and a Tarzana Cabin Community Committees composed of neighbors and stakeholders. Nonetheless, there are still neighbors who remain fearful and opposed. Councilmember Blumenfield remains open and available to conversation with any constituent by appointment and he will not only assure people that their worst fears will not be realized, but he will work with them to make sure of it.
Blumenfield Measure Protects Vulnerable from Dangerous Air Quality Days
The City Council recently approved Blumenfield’s measure to have City departments create a comprehensive plan to protect those living unsheltered from exposure to unhealthy environmental elements. With the weather starting to warm up, there is greater exposure to unhealthy air due to fires and subsequent smoke. There have been instances where the unhealthy air, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic and excessive heat, have required people to temporarily stay inside and avoid strenuous activity. Similar to when Blumenfield worked to secure cooling centers throughout the City, this measure asks City Departments to write a plan and protocols to open certain City facilities during times of dangerous air quality. The plans need to identify staffing, facility and outreach needs, and to address the needs of unhoused individuals who have nowhere to go on unhealthy air days.
Over the past few weeks as the Vice Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, Blumenfield has been going over the Mayor’s proposed budget and discussing every line item with heads of city departments in committee hearings. Though there are a few more steps before the July 2021-June 2022 budget is finalized, Blumenfield is proud that the City is on a path toward restoring and expanding many core city services like street services, sanitation and the urban forestry division as well as investing in communities throughout the city. Here are some of the district specific items in the budget Blumenfield has championed that will help make a big difference in the West Valley:
Soon the entire City Council will hear the budget and it will be finalized. Stay tuned for more updates.
Honoring Local AAPI Leader Corinne Ho
A pre-pandemic photo of Blumenfield and Corinne Ho
This month is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and today Councilmember Blumenfield would like to honor a true civic leader from the West Valley, Corinne Ho. Blumenfield first met Corinne many years ago when they worked together to raise awareness of human trafficking and provide a path out of prostitution for exploited immigrant women and others. She later served as President of the Canoga Park Neighborhood Council and over the years she has championed social justice causes including continuing her work with the taskforce on human trafficking, supporting survivors of domestic violence, advocating for the Everyone In LA campaign to house the homeless, and guiding the Neighborhood Partners In Action Program to get Canoga Park residents better connected with civic resources. In service to the AAPI community, Corinne has also connected many local residents with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which helps AAPIs participate in the economy and broaden financial empowerment. Corinne is a local civic giant and a AAPI leader and the West Valley is lucky to have her.
Fighting Hate Against the AAPI Community
In a continued effort to address the rise of hate crimes against the AAPI community, Blumenfield seconded a measure requesting the LAPD identify additional resources to effectively combat hate crimes. According to the LAPD, there has been a 114% increase in hate crimes against the AAPI community over the past year. Learn more at CF 21-0264 Whether targeted at the AAPI community, religious communities, African Americans, Latinos, Armenians or any group, there is no place for hate in Los Angeles.
New Speed Humps Installed
Recently there has been new street work between Calabash Charter Academy and Avenue San Luis including these brand new speed humps which will help deter speeding and dangerous driving around the neighborhood. Blumenfield is happy to see families and neighbors walking around more and hope these improvements and refreshed streets will help keep everyone safe and more comfortable when walking.
3rd Annual Beautification Conference
Team Blumenfield is partnering with the Los Angeles Public Library’s (LAPL) photo archive to highlight historic photos of the West Valley. In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, this week’s photo was taken in 1957 at LA Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda during high holy day services. Originally founded in 1912 in Boyle Heights, the LA Jewish Home for the Aging has been serving Angelenos for well over a century. Ever since they opened their doors in Reseda, seniors have enjoyed quality programming and a strong community. Most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, Blumenfield organized PPE donation drop offs to Jewish Home for the Aging and has directed thousands of dollars from his distrectionary office account to help maintain their vital operations. To learn more about this photo, click here.
Blumenfield at the Sycamore Cabin Community Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
There are many updates to share on COVID-19 vaccines as LA nears its June 15 date of fully reopening. In my district, some neighborhoods are almost halfway to fully vaccinated, while others are only a quarter of the way there. To reach true herd immunity and prevent the spread of dangerous variants, we need to help people get vaccinated by reducing barriers and fears.
Every week since January I have visited and/or volunteered at vaccine sites to see firsthand our City’s efforts and to make sure constituents feel safe and comfortable throughout the process. I have been extremely proud of the City workers and volunteers who have stepped up to the call and ensured the vaccine rollout in the West Valley was a huge success.
If you haven’t gotten your vaccine yet, it’s never been easier. Show up at Pierce College or any other site featured on the City website and get your vaccine today. Even if you think you’re not at risk, getting vaccinated opens the door to resuming more normal social activities, events, and provides peace of mind.
In this newsletter, I’d also like to share some exciting updates, such as the opening of the Sycamore Cabin Community in Reseda, some updates on the City budget for the next fiscal year, and more. If you have a question or issue you’d like to discuss with me and my team, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or 818-774-4330.
Sycamore Cabin Community Grand Opening
Blumenfield speaking at the recent ribbon cutting ceremony for the Sycamore Cabin Community.
On May 26, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission (HotV) opened the West Valley’s first Cabin Community for local unhoused Angelenos. Located right behind Blumenfield’s District Office, the ‘Sycamore Cabin Community’ boasts 52 tiny homes with 100 beds that will be made available to those experiencing homelessness on nearby streets in his West Valley district.
The Sycamore Cabin Community will improve the lives of both the homeless and the housed residents in the West Valley, providing a safe and stable environment for people experiencing homelessnesss. The site features several changes that have reduced the cost of construction when compared to those previously opened in LA. For example, simple anchors replaced concrete pads for the foundations. Light colored paint treatments on both the cabins and surrounding asphalt will help reflect heat and reduce the heat island effect. All existing trees on the site were preserved, creating a green shady environment to resist some of the high West San Fernando Valley heat which typically reaches over 110 degrees in the summer. Each cabin also has its own air conditioner and heater to keep the interior a comfortable temperature year round and there are many shared amenities like laundry, three meals a day, restroom facilities, Wi-Fi, 24/7 security as well as case management and drug and mental health counseling. And pets will be welcome as well with an on-site dog run.
Beginning Thursday, May 27 – Saturday, May 29, Hope of The Valley staff will be conducting both private and public tours of the new location as part of a larger preview for the community. Just go to Hope of the Valley’s web portal to schedule a time slot to see the cabins firsthand before the new residents move in. This summer Blumenfield and Hope of the Valley will open their second cabin community in the West Valley, located on an underutilized Metro lot in Tarzana. Stay tuned for more updates.
Restoring Critical Services
Blumenfield out with StreetsLA and learning about their critical City services and innovations. Photo captured before the COVID-19 Pandemic.
On May 26, Councilmember Blumenfield and his Council colleagues adopted a $11.5 billion City Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22, which begins July 1. Over the past few weeks, as Vice-Chair of the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee, Blumenfield reviewed and revised the Mayor's Proposed Budget. As part of that process he met with the Mayor's office, City department heads, City stakeholders, and participated in multiple public hearings and listening sessions.
Thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which will provide more than $1.2 billion in federal relief to the City (½ this fiscal year and ½ next), the new budget will be able to restore many of the deep service cuts that the City was forced to make due to pandemic-related drops in revenue. These include several of Blumenfield's priorities such as
Addressing Homelessness and Public Safety
Blumenfield conducting regular homeless outreach and offering shelter and services.
The new budget also includes more than $800 million to address homelessness, the most critical issue facing the City. Events of the past year, including the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and attention to our history of racial injustice, have revealed a need to devote City resources to addressing inequities. Consequently, this budget includes numerous new programs which are designed to do just that, including a pilot program to provide a Guaranteed Basic Income to certain impoverished residents. And, while this budget provides important new funding for alternatives to traditional policing which may ultimately help divert certain 911 calls, it does not reduce critical LAPD funding.
Stimulating the Local Economy
This budget is also about helping stimulate the economy and helping local people and businesses get back on their feet. The Budget includes $25 million for restaurant and small business recovery and $25 million for business assistance programs in disadvantaged communities, $30 million for assistance to child care centers; $10 million for utility debt relief; and $10 million toward universal broadband, a program long championed by Blumenfield.
Delivering on Local District Projects
The Budget also includes funding for specific projects that will benefit residents of the West Valley:
Empowering the Los Angeles Animal Cruelty Task Force
Blumenfield recently visiting the West Valley Animal Shelter to check in on local animals' wellbeing.
With the passage of this years budget, Councilmember Blumenfield is very proud that his effort to re-establish LAPD’s active involvement in the Los Angeles Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF) was successful. Established in 2005, their work led to over 30 felony arrests and helped get some of the most vile animal cruelty perpetrators off our streets.
“Animal cruelty is a crime and it must be treated as such,” said Blumenfield. “Now we will have more tools to properly address the criminals who engage in it and bring them to justice.”
This breakthrough would not have been possible without Melya Kaplan and Voice for the Animals. Blumenfield is so grateful for their partnership and all they do to help make our city safer, and better for animals.
Since the last recession, the ACTF had essentially been powered down, leaving the city with too few LAPD officers to conduct investigations to break the direct connection between animal abuse and human violence. In this year's budget, Blumenfield was able to secure the funding for six officers to further the critical work of the ACTF alongside the Department of Animal Services and City Attorney.
Team Blumenfield is partnering with the Los Angeles Public Library’s (LAPL) photo archive to highlight historic photos of the West Valley. This week we are highlighting a “day in the life” style photo of a man watering his lawn in Reseda, circa 1960. According to the digital archive, houses in Reseda at the time cost anywhere between $14,500-$30,000. Calculated to today’s price ranges, these houses would be valued somewhere between $130,000-$270,000 if the market conditions were the same today as the 1960s. In LA it's abundantly clear we need to build more housing for people at all stages of their lives, families, seniors, young people, who want quality housing they can afford that meets their needs. In the meantime, astronomically high rents are preventing renters today from becoming property owners and further exacerbating the homelessness crisis. LA also has made great strides in water conservation since the 60’s, encouraging drip irrigation and alternatives to green laws using native plants. Learn more about this photo here.
Next week, on June 15th, California will fully re-open, and like so many of you I am very eager to be able to take off the mask, return to the office, visit local businesses, attend community events and enjoy the LA summer. We are fortunate that vaccines have been made widely available, and the Biden administration’s support for our community is helping keep us afloat. With the state’s “Vax to Win” lottery, a chance to win up to $1.5 million, there’s even more reason to get your shot ASAP if you haven’t done so already.
I strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated to take advantage of the Pierce College site before it winds down on June 19th. Pierce is open from 8:00am-8:00pm, no appointment needed, and Angelenos can request their vaccine of choice. The City will transition to focusing on vaccinating hard to reach and vaccine resistant populations through pop-up sites and local outreach and vaccinations will still be available at pharmacies and through health care providers.
Even if you think you could survive COVID19 exposure, getting vaccinated opens the door to workplaces, attending social events, and is reassuring to everyone around you who may be at risk.
In this newsletter, I share some news about our efforts to help the unsheltered people in the district get the help they need, improving the fire resistance of local multi-family buildings, and more. If you have a question or issue you’d like to discuss with me and my team, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or 818-774-4330.
LA Family Housing (LAFH) has successfully secured some of the voter approved Prop HHH funding to deliver another housing project in the West Valley. As part of the “Housing Challenge,” six development teams were awarded a total of $120M for the construction of 1,000 PSH units at 17 project sites. The program’s goals include building at a lower cost using innovative designs because reducing construction costs is an essential component to meeting the city’s urgent housing needs. The West Valley is on deck to receive this funding with a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project at 18722 Sherman Way. This new site will offer 63 PSH units and will be operated by LAFH, the lead service provider for unsheltered individuals throughout the San Fernando Valley and operator of the Willows Bridge Housing and two new Project Roomkey to Homekey hotel conversions.
Although Blumenfield has approved every single unit of permanent supportive housing proposed in his district, more is desperately needed. In addition to the almost 100 existing units in Winnetka Village, the Reseda Theater Senior Housing (photo above of the construction progress) and Bell Creek development in Canoga Park are now underway, and combined with the pending Palm Vista project, altogether his district will have about 260 more PSH units. Well managed supportive housing apartments with services blend into neighborhoods and are a crucial solution to ending street homelessness.
As you may know, the City does not have a health department and drug addiction and mental health services are the responsibility of the County of Los Angeles. The City relies entirely on the County when it comes to funding and creating drug treatment and mental health programs. This has been the source of great frustration for Blumenfield because he realizes that there are many homeless people in desperate need of these services who aren’t receiving the help they need. Consequently, he not only spends enormous energy prodding the County to provide more of these services, he also looks for ways where the City can help fill the gap.
Last week, Councilmember Blumenfield secured $337,300 of state funding from the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) grant for the Tarzana Treatment Center to help continue and grow an innovative local housing and drug treatment program. Created by Blumenfield and the Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center and Tarzana Treatment Center (TTC), the Homeless Housing and Recovery Project offers real, life changing help to unhoused people in the West Valley struggling with drug addiction and mental health issues.
When unhoused people end up in the Providence ER with an overdose or other issue, an onsite patient navigator is ready to build trust and connect folks with inpatient TTC services. So instead of just treating the immediate issue and discharging them back to the streets, vulnerable folks have access to further treatments and intervention, including housing that helps them immediately.
Councilmember Blumenfield’s legislation to help strengthen multi-family building standards in high fire risk areas passed the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. This ordinance change would expand a half century old fire code called Fire District 1 (FD 1) which currently only applies to denser areas like Downtown, Hollywood, Century City and parts of Venice. In subsequent decades other hillside adjacent communities like Warner Center have become much denser, but FD 1 hasn’t grown an inch.
For larger developments within FD 1, wood must be treated with fire retardants. More sprinklers must be installed during construction and after, and it includes other broader safety measures. If adopted by the City Council, FD 1 would double in size and that means it would still only apply to 4% of the City. But certain key areas that have fire risks like Warner Center would now have those strengthened building codes for large multifamily developments.
There has been some misinformation spreading about how this legislation would eliminate wood use in those large developments or would apply to the entire city. Again, it would only apply to 4% of the city, focused on denser areas near hillsides with high fire risks, and wood would still be allowed but it must be treated with fire retardants.
To learn more about this effort, please read Blumenfield’s recent editorial.
This week, Councilmember Blumenfield and the City Council supported moving forward to establish the Anti-Harassment of Tenants Ordinance. According to many housing advocates, there are reports of an increase in harassment by landlords in order to encourage tenants to ‘voluntarily’ move out. According to a HCID, a minority of unscrupulous landlords are reported to employ coercive tactics such as reducing housing services, issuing eviction.
This ordinance would impact approximately 852,000 rental units (there are 640,000 RSO units). The language to include non-RSO units and corporate owned single-family/condo rentals is based on new state law which allows tenants to be awarded punitive damages for each violation if a court finds that a landlord has influenced a tenant to vacate by larceny or extortion, threat of physical harm, or unreasonable entry to the rental unit.
The final language will soon be drafted by the City Attorney and other relevant agencies and will come back to the City Council for a final vote.
With July 4th right around the corner, it’s important to remind everyone that fireworks are dangerous on many levels, illegal in Los Angeles, and can cause intense harm to those dealing with PTSD. Councilmember Blumenfield receives numerous complaints about illegal fireworks every year. Consequently, every year Blumenfield and his team mount an education campaign, partner with MySafeLA, LAFD, LAPD and others to try to deter and prevent illegal fireworks.
As part of this effort, this year Councilmember Blumenfield has asked LAPD to provide extra patrols during the 10 days leading up to July 4th and he found the funding to make this happen in the 3rd district. They will monitor the impact of this increased presence and hopefully it will result in fewer illegal fireworks being set off in the West Valley.
It is important to note that the MySafeLA Fireworks Survey is now live and Blumenfield encourages everyone to fill it out.
MySafe:LA is a professional fire and life safety prevention and education organization, running programs throughout the greater Los Angeles area. In order to evolve policy and statutes, it’s critical to gather quality data from the public. This is your opportunity to share your opinions, concerns, and to help identify possible steps that may have a positive impact on reducing the various threats to human and pet health, as well as protect property.
Please click here to take the important and anonymous survey.
Last weekend, Councilmember Blumenfield joined over 30 constituents for the Great Woodland Hills Cleanup along Ventura Blvd. Special thanks to Tim Gaspar for organizing this incredible event and the many dedicated community members who spent their Saturday picking up trash along the Boulevard.
Team Blumenfield is partnering with the Los Angeles Public Library’s (LAPL) photo archive to highlight historic photos of the West Valley.
On Ventura Blvd., located on the Chalk Hills between Winnetka Ave. and Serrenia Ave., the Valley Music Theater was an incredible live music venue throughout most of the 1960s and early ’70s. Legends that performed in this 2,900 seat theater included The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Pearl Bailey, Ike and Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr. and comedians like Don Rickles and Johnny Carson.
Taken in May of 1963, this photo shows the Valley Symphony Orchestra assembled in the field where in about a year the Valley Music Theater would stand. Academy Award winning composer Johnny Green stands conducting just behind actress and singer Janet Blair as they entertain the two couples enjoying a leisurely (socially distanced) dinner. Soon after this photo, construction began on the $1,000,000 theater-in-the-round and in 1964 it opened for a 20-week summer season of musical comedies with such already-committed stars like Miss Blair, Gordon and Sheila MacRae and John Raitt.
In 1980 the Valley Music Theater became a religious center and in 2007, the site was converted into an apartment complex.
Blumenfield has multiple initiatives that will help make the West Valley a cultural arts hub once again. From renovating and modernizing old local theaters, to offering more spaces for artists to come together and foster their talents, to empowering local arts organizations, his Reseda Rising effort and the growing Canoga Park Arts Hub continue to make much progress.