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.
As millions of Angelenos have received COVID-19 vaccinations, I’m very grateful that those of us who are vaccinated are finally at a place where we can have a safe, event filled summer with friends, family and neighbors. If you are not vaccinated, please get vaccinated as soon as possible or you may face serious risks.
It’s so exciting to share that the Blumenfield July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza is happening!
Once again, it’s wonderful to be partnering with the Valley Cultural Foundation on this great annual tradition. On July 4, from 6-9:30pm, join me and thousands of Angelenos at Warner Center Park for live music, food from over 20 local restaurants, many unique local vendors, topped off with an incredible fireworks show. It’s one of the best displays in the region so please come out and have a wonderful time with us.
Also, every Sunday evening throughout the summer, come enjoy even more great live music events with the VCF’s free Concerts at Warner Park series. After the past year and half, we can all use some fun and as more summer events are announced, I’ll make sure to share them here and on my social media.
We should not take lightly how great an achievement this return to in person events is. The last eighteen months have been hard on all of us. So many families lost loved ones, folks continue to suffer from the long-term ramifications of COVID-19, and many holidays and special events were missed.
As we celebrate summer, let’s not forget those we have lost and suffered, and give thanks to the essential workers, health care workers, and scientists whose hard work made this return to normalcy possible.
Last week Councilmember Blumenfield joined friends from Providence Cedar Sinai Medical Center as the first completed public benefit project from their $540 million expansion was unveiled- a brand new traffic/pedestrian signal on Burbank Blvd., between Reseda Blvd. and the 101 freeway.
When they met with Blumenfield at the start of this project, these sorts of infrastructure improvements were not the only community partnerships that were agreed upon. Together with Tarzana Treatment Center, Providence and Blumenfield launched an innovative drug treatment/mental health program for unhoused Angelenos that continues to get the most vulnerable on the West Valley streets into life-saving services.
Many more improvements will be made around the hospital to improve traffic and pedestrian safety. Set to be completed in October of 2022, the new facilities are taking shape with more updates to come as other projects are completed.
More than any recent issue, Councilmember Blumenfield received the most calls and emails about the homeless situations around the Bowlero and Corbin underpass. He’s met with the people there several times during his regular homeless outreach, he continues to speak with law enforcement about various issues at those locations, and he continues to work with local homeless services providers to continue engaging with people experiencing homelessness (PEH) so they receive needed services. While providing more interim housing than ever, Blumenfield would need support for his proposals that would help address street maintenance issues around these sorts of encampments. Please read his recent editorial from the Valley Vantage about what is being done.
Last week, the City Council approved moving forward to draft an ordinance that will ban the sale of various flavored tobacco products, including vapes. A major hit to big tobacco, this effort was supported by a plethora of health advocates, clergy and community advocates. This move aims to stop the sale of tobacco products that are often advertised and targeted to youth like bubble gum and fruit flavored vapes and cigars. This would also include products like flavored liquid used in e-cigarettes that are often cited as teen’s first exposure to nicotine.
“I’m proud that we took this critical step toward further addressing this longstanding public health crisis,” said Blumenfield. “The evidence is clear, flavored tobacco has hooked many kids into nicotine addiction and for the health of future generations, it needs to stop.”
The traditional Shisha flavored tobacco that is smoked in Hookah lounges where only those 21 or older are permitted was not included in this ban. However, menthol flavoring, whether in cigarettes or vapes, was included in the ban.
Similar bans are already in place in nearby cities like West Hollywood and Long Beach.
If you have any questions, concerns, or are curious about what Cabin Communities are, come take a tour and see this facility for yourself. Set to open in just over a week, this is the second Cabin Community Councilmember Blumenfield and Hope of the Valley have opened in the Third Council District for unhoused people on West Valley streets.
Just go to this link to schedule a tour.
Recently Councilmember Blumenfield joined Diana Williams and the West Valley Chamber of Commerce to connect with local business owners about reopening the economy. Throughout the pandemic, Blumenfield worked with many small businesses and nonprofits to provide resources to those struggling. Resources included grants, utility and rent support, cutting red tape, and lifting onerous restrictions- but many are still hurting. As Los Angeles reopens, please shop local when you can and help continue to lift up and support the many unique stores and restaurants in the West Valley.
If you are a local business owner, please join Councilmember Blumenfield for a forum on the future of retail and restaurants. The panel will include Theodora Trindle, Planning and Development Manager for the Mayor's Office of Economic Development; John Saffell, owner of Nicola's Kitchen; Ryan Selvin from Westfield; and Celeste Ramos from Pacific Coast Regional- Small Business Development Center. Together, they'll discuss the reopening of the economy and various issues facing local businesses.
This week's photo from the Los Angeles Public Library's archives was taken in 1964 at the corner of Owensmouth and Sherman Way in Canoga Park where Warren Dorn, LA County Supervisor; Sharon Wolcott, Miss Canoga Park; and James Ross, president of the Canoga Park Camber of Commerce launched a beautification project.
Since Blumenfield became Chair of the City’s Public Works Committee, his goals have included getting Public Works back to pre-recession levels of resources and staffing and focusing on proactive measures to create and sustain a healthy urban tree canopy. This includes conducting a thorough tree inventory; increasing tree trimming, dead tree removal and root pruning to ensure safe sidewalks; and creating jobs for more Targeted Local Hire workers instead of contracting out work which is often less cost effective.
Last week, as the final touches were being completed on the West Valley's latest Cabin Community, I spent a night there. There is more on our grand opening event and information about the site below but I wanted to share with you my experience that night. It’s one thing to list off what’s included in our Cabin Communities but it’s another to try, even in a small way, to put myself in the shoes of someone who is moving into this facility and to experience it as they would to some extent. Joined by my City Council colleague Kevin de Leon, who the next day was breaking ground on his first set of cabins, and a few folks from Hope of the Valley (HotV), we met at the entrance on Topham. We went through the standard security screening, put our things in our respective cabins and got ready for evening.
The first thing that everyone did when they got in their homes was turn on the personal air conditioners to help combat the lowering, but still intense, triple digit temperature outside. Extreme heat is not something new to us in the West Valley and when my staff and I have been doing outreach with homeless people in the past few months for the cabins, the question of AC comes up every time.
Together we shared dinner prepared by the same provider who’ll be serving three meals a day to the new residents. Kevin and I spoke at length with HotV staff about the ongoing homeless crisis, what’s being done at City Hall, and their stories as frontliners of this emergency.
We then got ready for bed, brushed our teeth and turned in for the night. From having running water at your fingertips, access to wi-fi, plugs next to your bed, lights to turn on and of course the incredible staff and resources of HotV readily available, it was clearer than ever that these cabins are night and day different from living on the streets. And the biggest amenity that I hear about from unsheltered people is having a door to lock. That feeling of being protected is priceless, and the ability to let your guard down safely is absolutely critical. These communities offer that and more.
When I woke up in the morning I was excited for the fact that in just a few days, folks who were on our streets would soon get to move in. Homelessness is inherently a trauma packed experience and for too long we have not had the resources to truly help. That’s now changing.
As Ken Craft, CEO of HotV says, the streets can’t be the waiting room for permanent housing. The cabins offer an opportunity for stability and aren't meant to be ‘THE’ solution to homelessness. Mixed with other efforts of ours like green lighting and funding new Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) sites, Bridge Housing in Canoga Park, converting old motels into permanent housing through Project Homekey, expanding capacity at a local Domestic Violence nonprofit as well as drug treatment center, we now are well on our way to properly addressing the crisis on our West Valley streets. And all this is happening while the City Council is poised to finally pass legislation I co-authored that will allow the City to have a no-camping buffer zone around homeless services centers, freeways, and some other sensitive sites.
In the West Valley we have the beds, now we need to double down on outreach. We also need laws to maintain the safety, passability and cleanliness of our sidewalks and public right of ways.
As of this week, local unhoused folks in the West Valley are finally moving into the Sunflower. They are going through the steps we took that day and are being welcomed in. We are working on many other endeavors to help address homelessness but getting these cabins open was an important step. I’m incredibly grateful to Ken and Laurie Craft, Rowan Vansleve and their entire Hope of the Valley family for their partnership and everything they do to help combat the biggest crisis facing our generation.
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission (HotV) opened the West Valley’s latest Cabin Community for local unhoused Angelenos. The ‘Sunflower Cabin Community’ boasts over 70 tiny homes with 140 beds that will be made available to those experiencing homelessness on the streets of the West Valley.
“With today’s opening of our second Cabin Community, we are opening more life-saving opportunities for the unhoused folks in my district,” said Blumenfield. “This site will serve as the first step out of homelessness for so many and I’m so grateful to our friends at Hope of the Valley for being incredible partners on this effort.”
Each cabin 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, 24/7 security as well as case management and drug and mental health counseling. And pets are welcome as well and there is an on-site dog run.
Blumenfield is also leading on many other projects to expand available temporary and permanent housing solutions. Separate from his first Cabin Community in Reseda which recently opened, there are also several other PSH and affordable housing developments that recently broke ground and more that have been green lit and funded. He also spearheaded an extension of the Safe Parking program adjacent to his District Office, opened the Willows which is the West Valley’s Bridge Housing site and recently opened an additional lot for those living in their vehicles in Canoga Park. Also, at the end of last year, Blumenfield successfully pushed the city to purchase two local motels as part of Project Homekey to be converted into PSH.
Check out a video recap of our grand opening by clicking this link.
To learn more about Blumenfield’s Cabin Communities, please go to blumenfield.lacity.org/cabin_communities.
With immense hardships over the past 18 months, Blumenfield was grateful to present his annual 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza at Warner Center Park. This event wouldn't have been possible without Nora Ross and her incredible team at the Valley Cultural Foundation, who overcame many obstacles to put it all together.
Blumenfield said, ‘It was truly inspiring to see so many folks come together to celebrate community, country and the aspirational values of freedom and independence to which we as Americans hold dear.”
See some highlights from the event by clicking here or the image below.
On July 1, the City Council overwhelmingly supported legislation co-authored by Councilmember Blumenfield that will establish constitutional, enforceable laws prohibiting encampments in certain sensitive areas, require notice and an offer of housing before prohibiting encampments in others areas, and enable the enforcement of disability access laws. The ordinance was heard and passed with a 13-2 vote. Because it wasn’t unanimous, it has to come back for a second vote which is scheduled at the end of the month in which a simple majority of votes will be needed for approval.
This motion, which was co-presented with Councilmembers Ridley Thomas, de Leon, O’Farrell and Council President Nury Martinez, would allow the City to have buffer zones including around freeways (i.e. Corbin underpass) and around shelter sites (i.e. the Willows and the Sycamore and Sunflower cabin communities).
This comes at a time when hundreds of more beds in the West Valley are opening through Cabin Communities and other interventions. With other efforts like Project Homekey and Bridge Housing, Blumenfield is finally within reach of having enough housing for every single unhoused person in CD3.
Every ten years, an independent commission is assembled to analyze each City Council district and determine if changes need to be made to district boundaries. This process is critical to make sure the many communities that make up Los Angeles are well represented and bring more people into the process. The commission is hosting virtual events in each district and it’s important that they hear from as many residents as possible about what in our communities are important to them.
Though the process is independent from elected officials, Blumenfield encourages everyone to take part in this meeting or submit your testimony in writing to [email protected].
Join the commission on July 15 at 6pm for the CD3 specific meeting. Learn more about how to register here.
This week's photo from the Los Angeles Public Library's archives is from the Valley Times, July 23, 1965: "Joining hands in symbolizing the friendship between the United States and Mexico are these six students, some of whom are from Canoga Park and some of whom are from Taxco, Mexico, Canoga Park's Sister City. The Taxco students, part of a group of 15 who are visiting in Canoga Park, and their hosts took a tour of Topanga Plaza. The six are, from left, Juan Luis Bustamante, Taxco; Yuette Velazquez, Canoga Park; Cesar Garcia, Taxco; Martha Ellertson, Canoga Park, and Jaime Chew and Alba Rosa Bustamante of Taxco."
More than 99% of the people who are dying from COVID are among the unvaccinated. These deaths are preventable.Please encourage everyone you know to get vaccinated. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over and sadly cases are rising in Los Angeles. Once again LA County requires everyone- vaccinated and unvaccinated- to wear masks inside public places. When everyone wears a mask indoors it not only reduces everyone’s risk of both getting and transmitting the virus, it helps prevent non-vaccinated people from carelessly or intentionally going maskless at a time when their doing so is not only endangering their own lives, but is literally prolonging this pandemic and the devastation that goes along with it.
Since the start of the pandemic, my office has given away over 30,000 masks. If you are in need of an extra mask, we can provide you with one. Please email [email protected] to reserve yours today.
It’s our shared responsibility to stop the spread of the virus and help to save lives. By getting vaccinated you are doing your part toward ending this pandemic and moving toward recovery. To find a vaccine site near you, please click here or call 833-540-0473. While the City’s mass vaccination sites are closed, vaccines are now widely available at pharmacies and through health care providers. Also, the City and my office are focusing on delivering vaccines directly including a new effort to have a vaccine brought to your home if you are unable to go out to get one. If you are homebound, please contact my office at 818-774-4330 or [email protected] to schedule an in-home appointment.
This week’s newsletter includes important updates on renter protections, pedestrian friendly improvements, and more. If you ever have questions for me, please do not hesitate to email me at [email protected] or call 818-774-4330.
Even before the pandemic local housing costs were extraordinarily high and too many Angelenos were on the brink of homelessness. That is why Councilmember Blumenfield is proud to have strongly supported and voted to approve a bold and meaningful ordinance enhancing renter protections - specifically by preventing harassment of tenants.
The ordinance defines tenant harassment as willful conduct directed at tenants that cause detriment or harm without legal purpose. Examples include:
· Failing to perform necessary repairs, or follow standards to minimize exposure to toxic materials.
· Reducing or eliminating services required by a lease, such as parking spaces.
· Threatening physical harm.
· Misrepresenting the need to vacate.
· Coercing a renter to vacate with one-time payments.
· Refusing to accept lawful rent payments.
· Disclosing or threatening to disclose information about a tenant to the government to get them to vacate including immigration or citizenship status.
Please know that COVID-19 related protections continue and supplement the anti-harassment actions noted above. For example, the City’s eviction moratorium prohibits landlords from charging interest or late fees for late payments due to COVID. This eviction moratorium protects tenants with unpaid rent due to COVID-19 until August 1, 2022.
If you receive an eviction notice during this period, please file a complaint by calling (866) 557-7368 or online or seek legal assistance at Stay Housed L.A. Further, to get answers to your particular situation, you can consult with one of the region’s housing advocacy or legal aid organizations which partner with the City as part of LA Represents for pro-bono legal assistance. To access LA Represents please visit https://corona-virus.la/LARepresents.
In preparation for a new and updated Sidewalk and Transit Amenities Program (STAP), StreetsLA is giving the public the opportunity to see and provide feedback on proposed new bus shelters and technology features. The public displays of proposed shelters will give Angelenos a chance to see how they look in the real world and provide comments about the design--including comfort of seating, concerns about loitering, brightness and distraction from digital signs, and other issues.
Please visit the displays in front of Blumenfield’s District Office at 19040 Vanowen Street this Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24 from 12pm-10pm. Your feedback will be used to negotiate with the winning contractor on the features to incorporate into the next generation of bus shelters so that the City of Los Angeles has shelters that are customized and designed to meet the needs of Angelenos.
Pedestrian safety, especially for our children walking to school, is a priority of Councilmember Blumenfield. He listened to the needs of the community and during the latest budget hearings advocated for an increased number of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT)’s crossing guards for local Valley schools.
LADOT is hiring an additional 138 crossing guards Citywide to enhance the safety of students, specifically those walking and cycling in school zones, while also increasing the visibility of their presence to drivers. Currently, the number of crossing guard requests exceeds the number of available guards. Given limited resources, crossing guards will be assigned to locations where they can provide the greatest benefit to children crossing, while reducing risk of collisions. Council District 3 schools in the City’s Crossing Guard Program include: Blythe St, Fullbright Ave, Garden Grove, Melvin Ave, Serrania Ave, Sunnybrae Ave, Sutter, Tarzana, Vanalden Ave, Welby Way, Winnetka, and Woodland Elementary Schools. For more information and to apply to be a crossing guard, please click here.
To assist nonprofits, schools, and senior organizations in his district, Councilmember Blumenfield sets aside a limited amount of funds each year to provide special bus transportation to events or outings. He does this to encourage groups that might otherwise have access issues to take advantage of educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities in the area.
For example, an elementary class might take a field trip to a local museum, or a senior citizens group may want to attend a musical performance. If you would like to be considered for a bus donation from Councilmember Blumenfield this year, let us know six weeks in advance and sign up at blumenfield.lacity.org/bus.
Recently Councilmember Blumenfield helped bring Rec and Parks' Universal Play Program to Lanark Park and kicked off a city-wide series of low-cost youth sports clinics hosted by USA Field Hockey in the lead up to the 2028 Olympics. The Universal Play Program helps local kids experience new sports and will host many more over the coming months. This is part of his ongoing effort to increase local park programming and bring new opportunities for youth to explore non-traditional sports.
Blumenfield continues outreach to homeless individuals throughout the district. He was joined by Pastor Kathy Huck and volunteers in promoting services and handing out frozen water to the unhoused during the latest heat wave. He also did outreach with LAHSA workers who are working hard to make sure that all of CD3’s homeless are offered shelter. As the Cabin communities have recently opened up, there are many homeless people who are currently transitioning from the streets to the cabins.
This week's photo from the Los Angeles Public Library's archives is from the Valley Times on May 21, 1963. Hall of Fame Dodger and Valley native Don Drysdale gets a golf lesson at the Woodland Hills Country Club from two year old Mark Dowaliby, son of PGA pro Mike Dowaliby. Learn more about this photo here.
Last week the LA City Council passed legislation, which I co-authored, that will establish constitutional, enforceable laws prohibiting encampments in certain sensitive areas. Sufficient notice and an offer of services and shelter will be made before most areas can be designated and made off-limits to encampments. It will also enable the enforcement of disability access laws. On July 2, the ordinance was heard and passed with a 13-2 vote but as it wasn’t unanimous, it had to come back for a second vote. I had introduced a version of this last year and have been working ever since to get it passed— this is a big win for the community.
So what does this mean for the homeless crisis in the Valley?
This will allow the City to have designated zones including around freeways (i.e. Corbin underpass and Bowlero) and around shelter sites (i.e. the Willows and the Sycamore and Sunflower cabin communities) where encampments will not be allowed. This ordinance addresses people and their belongings, but not vehicles. Each area needs to not only fit particular location characteristics, but they must be presented to the City Council for a vote before they can be made off-limits for encampments. Getting key locations throughout the district to go through that process will still take some time. We will continue sending outreach workers to all of these locations in the interim and, of course, intensively during the two week process that will be triggered by the resolution to make such an area off-limits for encampments. During the two week process people living in the designated encampments will be offered shelter or housing. It is a process that is very similar to what occurred last year during the pilot process we conducted at our local 101 freeway underpasses and it is very similar to what has recently happened at Venice Beach. The major change is that now, once the process has been completed, the area can legally be made off limits to future encampments.
This comes at a time when hundreds of beds in the West Valley are opening through Cabin Communities and other interventions. Housing, services, and outreach are critical components to address the crisis. With other efforts like Project Homekey and Bridge Housing, we’re finally within reach of having enough shelter beds for every single unhoused person in CD3 to come indoors. While the rest of the City is still far from this goal, more permanent housing is getting built in the West Valley and we are bringing more services to our local streets. While I believe everyone has a right to a roof over their head, I don’t believe that everyone has a right to encamp anywhere they want. As we increase our transitional housing opportunities and services, this law is desperately needed.
Over the past few months, there’s been progress made on Reseda Blvd. Street Improvement Project. City crews have been actively working on the west side of the street between Victory Blvd. and Gault St., reconstructing portions of the sidewalk and driveways in greatest need of repair, rebuilding corner curb ramps to meet current accessibility standards, and rebuilding broken curbs and gutters. The result will be safer, smoother surfaces for people walking, rolling, and driving on Reseda Blvd.
Crews have completed these elements between Gault St. and Victory Blvd., and have started on the segment between Kittridge St. and Victory Blvd. on the east side. Crews will return to these segments in 2022-2023 to install the other project elements such as signals, bus boarding islands, trees, and lighting. At intersections where changes to the traffic signals are planned, corner curb ramps will be upgraded later, at the same time that the signal work is completed.
Through Spring 2022, sidewalk construction activity will continue progressing northward from Victory Blvd., on the east side of the street. You can continue to expect intermittent sidewalk and driveway closures and temporary parking restrictions in this area. Please be mindful of the work crews – and thank you for your patience with work to improve this street.
Throughout the pandemic, Team Blumenfield has heard from constituents concerned with airplane noise over residential communities. In 2017 the FAA implemented Metroplex, a new GPS-guided routing system, at all Southern California airports, including LAX and Van Nuys. Because the FAA is a Federal agency, the City didn’t have any role in the decision about where to locate those routes or which neighborhoods would be affected.
Many in the West Valley know the continuous and frustrating impact of these airplane paths directly over our homes. On July 28, the City Council voted to increase funding to retain an outside law firm to support the City Attorney's lawsuits against the FAA. While the policy is set by the FAA and Congress has oversight authority, Blumenfield is looking for any way to exert leverage on the situation to lessen the problem and is working closely with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to obtain more data about flight patterns and altitudes over the West Valley to ensure that the correct path is being followed under the federal Metroplex rules.
On Monday, August 9 from 6pm-9pm LAWA will be hosting the FAA for a briefing on the proposed redesign of the Van Nuys Airport departure procedures based on the recommendations of the Southern San Fernando Valley Airplane Noise Task Force. Blumenfield encourages all those who have been affected by the noise or who are interested to participate. RSVP here.
The City Redistricting Commission held a virtual meeting to take comments from CD3 residents and stakeholders, and continues to hold these meetings for people throughout LA. Feedback and input from residents will help guide the process as the Commission begins drawing new lines for Council districts once census data is made available this month. If you were not able to attend the meeting you can still share information about your community, and communities of interest, via this online form.
The Bureau of Street Lighting (BSL) has long battled against copper wire theft that puts stretches of street lights out of commission. With approximately 10,000 damaged street lights in one year, the problem has increased dramatically as copper prices have reached all-time highs. As Chair of the Public Works Committee and a member of the Budget & Finance Committee, Councilmember Blumenfield has highlighted this issue and secured additional funding to combat it.
In an April 2021 report to the Public Works Committee, BSL stated that in FY 19/20, copper wire theft affected nearly 10,000 streetlights in the City and the average theft took 63 days to repair. In FY 20/21, BSL was able to reduce the average repair time to 35 days, which is still unacceptable. In the FY 21/22 City Budget hearings, Blumenfield helped secure $2.4 million to address the backlog of repairs, further reduce that repair time and ‘harden the targets’ by making the copper harder to access. He will continue to tackle this issue.
When repairs are made, BSL attempts to make future thefts more difficult, such as by welding shut access plates. Nevertheless, some locations get hit multiple times, so it may seem (incorrectly) like repairs have not been made. While BSL is improving its ability to automatically detect outages, you can help by reporting street light issues at myla311.lacity.org or the MyLA311 app, or by contacting Councilmember Blumenfield’s office at (818) 774-4330.
Thank you to Dr. Corey Hodes for collecting welcome kits for new residents of the Sycamore and Sunflower Cabin Communities. This type of generous and thoughtful support helps folks take the next step toward better lives.
Whether providing welcome kits to unhoused neighbors, donating toys for struggling families during the holidays, or supplying necessities for neighbors affected by emergencies such as the Woolsey Fire, the generosity of West Valley residents is unmatched. The needs of cabin community residents vary. If you are interested in donating items, please contact the service provider, Hope of the Valley at 818-392-0020 or [email protected] to ensure donated items match with local needs. If you or your organization are looking for ways to help the community through donation drives or community clean ups, please contact Senior Field Deputy Safi Lodin, at 818-774-4330.
Metro is conducting an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)/ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed 1-405 Sepulveda Pass ExpressLanes project. They are exploring ways to improve traffic flow and increase vehicle pass on the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass, which could include adding a dynamically-priced high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane--like the ones on the 110 and 10 Freeways--and/or converting the existing carpool (HOV) lane to a HOT lane.
The 405 is a critical route for many West Valley residents to reach jobs, schools, and other areas of LA. Your feedback is needed on the project alternatives and to identify issues that may need to be addressed. Please submit comments here or join a virtual meeting.
Blumenfield celebrates National Night Out with LAPD Topanga Division at a community block party and LAPD West Valley Division at Randall D. Simmons Park with a movie screening of Disney Pixar’s “Onward.” For 35 years this event has brought residents and law enforcement together through festivals and local activities, continuing to grow a positive bond in the community. Today, events are held in all 50 states in more than 16,000 communities.
Blumenfield spends time outdoors at Lanark Park for Summer Night Lights where grab and go meals were distributed to families and kids enjoyed playing some baseball.
This week's photo from the Los Angeles Public Library's archives is from the Valley Times on June 13, 1963. Reseda Park Lake is still in use for families to gather and people to come and try their hand at catching some fish. Learn more about this photo here.
Because the number of COVID-19 cases has increased in LA County due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, it is very important for everyone to help slow the spread of the virus by wearing masks indoors and in crowded outdoor areas. If you aren’t fully vaccinated, your mask is one of the most powerful tools you have to protect yourself and others. It is super easy to get vaccinated, not only can you go to your doctor or pharmacy, but this month you can get vaccinated for free at our Valley Cultural Center’s Movies and Concerts in the Park series.
To reach true herd immunity and better prevent the spread of dangerous variants, we need to help people get vaccinated by reducing barriers and fears. Getting vaccinated reduces the risk of needing medical attention and reduces your risk of contracting the virus. I have heard heartbreaking stories from individuals who did not get vaccinated and are now in the ICU wishing that they had and are now urging their family and friends to get the vaccine. It’s our shared responsibility to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help save lives.
By continuing to wear a mask and getting vaccinated, we are on the path to returning to normalcy and having more gatherings with family and friends. Let us enjoy the last summer weekends together and safely. Join me and Valley Cultural Center for the remaining Movies and Concerts at Warner Center Park. All are welcome at this free event and a free vaccine mobile clinic will be on site.
These are trying times, but by taking some simple steps, we can get through them safely.
Councilmember Blumenfield declared August 18 (818), Brody Stevens’ Day, in honor of the late comedian and San Fernando Valley native. Stevens was a legendary and unique standup comedian who was in many films and television shows from The Hangover to Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Beloved by his fans and fellow comedians, Stevens performed all over the world. But, regardless of where he was, he would always share his love for Reseda, the Valley and Los Angeles.
“Brody loved our community and he made such a positive impact on so many,” said Blumenfield. “It’s truly special to be joined by his family and friends to name ‘818 Day’ after Brody, a proud West Valley native and one of the best comedians of his generation.”
He played baseball at Reseda High School, took his talents to Arizona State University, and he’d regularly blend his passions for comedy and baseball and appeared on a variety of sports shows as well.
In 2019, Stevens passed away after a long battle with mental illness but his memory lives on through his friends, fellow comedians, fans and family. Blumenfield was joined by Brody’s sister Stephanie, his mother Jackie, as well as comedians and fans. The event was held at ‘Brody’s Bench’ at Reseda Park that was procured through his friend Tommy Godlove, who also helped organize this event. Other comedian friends who shared memories at the event included Jeff Ross, Teina Manu, Yoshi Obayashi and Darren Carter.
Requiring vaccinations for eligible LA City workers, or for folks patronizing certain indoor establishments, is not something that should ever be done lightly. Such temporary restrictions are being moved forward by the City Council because the increased risk of spreading COVID-19 when people are unvaccinated is substantial and the impact of that spread is both lethal and incredibly costly, financially and health-wise. Blumenfield believes that to responsibly address this COVID crises we must take these bold steps quickly, however he also recognizes that there are many details that need to be hammered out to make sure that it is implemented appropriately. For example, it must be decided who enforces these requirements and what the consequences are for non-compliance.
While these important details have not yet been worked out, the City Attorney has been directed by the Council to put forward draft ordinances. Blumenfield will work to make sure that these ordinances are nuanced enough to address the complexities and legalities associated with these new requirements. He also believes that we cannot ‘let the perfect be the enemy of the good— whatever verification system is enacted, it will be modified over time as it is implemented.
Soon the City of Los Angeles will launch “Comeback Checks,” a COVID-19 financial recovery program for small businesses. So many local business owners are continuing to struggle through the COVID-19 crisis and the first round of this program will offer $37 million in grants. The Economic and Workforce Development Department’s Business Source Centers can help Angelenos ready their applications so please click here to find out more.
Enhancing the quality of life for residents by upgrading our public infrastructure has always been a priority of Councilmember Blumenfield. As Chair of Public Works, Blumenfield sees firsthand StreetsLA’s commitment to improving our sidewalks, preserving our tree canopy, maintaining the safety and accessibility of our streets, and more. Last fiscal year, StreetsLA trimmed over 1200 trees, removed over 7000 cubic yards of debris, and repaired 78 miles of road in Council District 3 alone. To learn more about the work of StreetsLA, please take a look at their just released 5-Year Strategic Plan here.
The LA City Redistricting Commission (LACRC) is still receiving testimony from residents. If you haven’t already, please complete the Community of Interest Form here. The LACRC will present the redistricting plans to the City Council by no later than October 29, 2021. The LA City Redistricting process is behind schedule because of the delay in receiving Census data. The 2020 Census was impacted by COVID and new online submissions.
Similarly, you have an important role to play in helping the LAUSD Redistricting Commission redraw the LAUSD School Board Member (Board of Education) district lines. The Commission will be hosting seven virtual hearings over the next couple weeks to build people powered maps, but they need to hear from you first. Join the conversation and advocate on behalf of your community. RSVP and submit public comment here.
This week's photo from the Los Angeles Public Library's archives is from the Valley Times on February 10, 1960. “More than 100 mothers of Winnetka Avenue School pupils massed at the school’s entrance, Winnetka Ave and Roscoe Blvd, to march with placards protesting absence of sidewalks and crossing guards for their children’s safety.”
Pedestrian safety, especially for our children walking to school, is a priority of Councilmember Blumenfield. LADOT is hiring an additional 138 crossing guards Citywide. For more information and to apply to be a crossing guard, please click here.
Since the onset of this pandemic over a year ago, I’ve worked to provide protections that will help those impacted by COVID-19 receive the security and peace of mind necessary to avoid the worst possible outcomes - health and financial. A top priority has been ensuring that renters are protected from evictions due to COVID related loss of income. Such evictions would not only be untimely and cruel, but they could make it impossible for folks to shelter-in-place and therefore worsen the health crisis. As you may know, with my strong support, the City implemented one of the strongest eviction moratoriums in the country, implemented new laws to prevent tenant harassment, and paid more than 100 million dollars of rent for struggling Angelenos. Before State and Federal funds were even available, I got the program started for my constituents by using money from my office’s discretionary funds.
The latest good news on this front is that with the funds provided by the American Rescue Plan, the City and State are combining efforts to streamline rental assistance for a new Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Angelenos will soon have access to a much larger pool of resources to ensure that qualified demand for assistance is met. “Housing is Key” is the central location for renters to apply for funds. Eligible households can get 100% of their rental debt paid. If there is insufficient funding for rental assistance from the City of Los Angeles to cover everyone, applicants will be notified that their application has been referred to the State program.
Applications are now being accepted and City of Los Angeles renters and landlords will be able to apply online via HousingIsKey.com. Residents can also call the appointment call center at 833-687-0967 if they need help filling out an application. To get past COVID’s devastating economic toll, we need to do everything we can to make renters and their housing providers whole. Please share the informational flyer at the end of this newsletter.
Please know that if you are a renter or property owner who previously applied for the City’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, you can check your application status online at hcidla.lacity.org. If you are on the waitlist for the City’s program, your application will be prioritized under Housing is Key. If you already received funds from the City’s program but need additional months of rent covered, you can apply to the new Housing is Key program as well.
Again, I encourage you to visit housingiskey.com to apply for rent relief as soon as possible. You can also see your rights and other important resources for yourself. Knowing your rights is important and you can find yours at stayhousedla.org.
These are challenging times but we will get through them together.
Recognizing the importance of fighting hate in schools and communities, the City Council recently approved Councilmember Blumenfield’s resolution calling on the Los Angeles Unified School District to direct all schools and offices to affirm the rights of Jewish students, staff, and families; to report acts of anti-Semitism; and to establish a curriculum and professional development working group to recruit teachers and administrators with expertise in Jewish history and culture. The measure includes updated bulletins, curricular and instructional resources, and training to address anti-Semitism.
It is particularly important now because anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise in California, Los Angeles, and across the country. Also, the timing and context is important because there is currently a well-organized and systematic effort among some educational stakeholders to demonize Israel and disenfranchise Israeli immigrants in Los Angeles. Some of these folks have been pushing a one sided, pernicious Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) resolution at UTLA. Blumenfield thanked the hundreds of parents and teachers who wrote in to support it and Dillon Hosier of the Israeli-American Civic Action Network.
Providing a new service for people who use transit or don’t own vehicles, Blumenfield joined local mobility leaders to welcome Mocean Carshare to Warner Center. This low-cost carshare service fosters sustainability, helps fight traffic and reduces parking needs. It is the latest step in Blumenfield’s effort to encourage transit ridership and reduce dependence on automobiles in Warner Center.
Last year, he designated Warner Center as the City’s first Transportation Technology Innovation Zone to test new mobility solutions, paving the way for companies like Mocean to come to the West Valley. Mocean provides drivers with quick and convenient access to hybrid-electric vehicles for up to three days, at a price comparable to renting an electric scooter. With the touch of a button, the app-based service allows drivers to rent the low-emission vehicles by the minute, hour or day, providing a much-needed alternative to privately owned vehicles.
On Saturday, September 11 at 11am, the LA City Redistricting Commission will be completing the first phase of public hearings. This is the last opportunity for Angelenos to participate and provide public testimony on their communities. Redistricting helps assure that communities have equal access to political representation. How and where district boundaries are drawn can shape the communities’ ability to elect the representatives of their choice. To attend this virtual meeting, please click here.
Joining many cities around the world in observing International Overdose Awareness Day, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield recognized local advocates, Dr. Laura Berman and Samuel Chapman, whose tireless advocacy work turned their family’s tragedy into a message of awareness and strength for others. In February, their son, Sammy, was the victim of an accidental Fentanyl poisoning and passed away. Too many families have experienced this pain with almost 100,000 overdose and poisoning deaths in the US, just since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please watch this PSA Blumenfield made with Dr. Laura Berman to learn more.
Blumenfield and his colleagues voted to support AB1400 which would create the California Guaranteed Health Care for All program (CalCare), to provide comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage and a health care cost control system for the benefit of all residents of the state. Blumenfield stated, "When people have unexpected expenses for health care, they can end up homeless on the street. So many social issues and justice issues are inextricably linked with health care, and single-payer would help improve the lives of families.”
A longtime supporter of a single-payer system, Blumenfield was the co-author of SB 810 (in 2011) while a member of the State Assembly, fighting for a single-payer system in California.
Last week, Blumenfield joined Ken Craft and Rowan Vansleve from Hope of the Valley to visit Roya in her new home and make a special delivery. Not long ago she and her adult son were living in her car in the West Valley because they were priced out of their apartment and had no other options. Things started to get better for them when they were able to move into the Safe Parking program behind Blumenfield’s office. Soon after, Blumenfield’s team was able to help them become residents in the Cabin Community that is also behind his office. There, they were able to get stabilized, get signed up for appropriate assistance programs and the son was able to work a job at a pizza restaurant. Working with caseworkers they were able to find an apartment that they could afford and the team at Hope of the Valley helped them move in. Southern California Gas Company generously donated funds to help they acquire some furniture and basic supplies and Blumenfield helped deliver a brand new refrigerator and vacuum as part of these move-in efforts.
Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of LA (JBBBSLA) has been serving Los Angeles County, including the West Valley, for over 100 years. JBBBSLA’s signature mentorship program pairs local, disadvantaged Jewish youth with a Jewish mentor to help them thrive and build confidence. Right now, JBBBSLA has a huge need for West Valley based mentors (Bigs). If you are looking for a worthwhile volunteer experience, please visit jbbbsla.org/mentorship or call 323-761-8675.
In addition to the mentoring program, JBBBSLA offers disadvantaged youth of all faiths and backgrounds many programs including free college guidance and scholarships, Teen Talk App for social and emotional support, and weekend camp retreats that provide a safe, nurturing environment where children learn to be creative, responsible, and thoughtful individuals. More information can be found here.
This week's photo from the Los Angeles Public Library's archives is from the Valley Times on September 26, 1957. “Residents of California Home for Aged in Reseda, 19260 Sherman Way, worship in a tent as their ancestors did thousands of years ago in Israel. They are shown at Rosh Hashanah services which opened Jewish High Holy Days.”
Originally known as the Hebrew Sheltering Home for the Aged, the Jewish Home for the Aging was founded in Boyle Heights in 1912 and in 1967, acreage was purchased in Reseda and a facility was built on Victory Blvd. A second campus on Tampa Ave in Reseda was created in 1979 with a merger with the Menorah Village.
The sundown of September 6th marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the end of one year and the beginning of a new year. Blumenfield wishes you and yours a Shanah Tovah U'metukah, a good and sweet new year.
Because of CDC guidelines and the County’s ‘shelter in place’ COVID restrictions, CARE+ cleanups of homeless encampments had been prohibited for the past 17 months, except adjacent to Bridge Home sites. Because of vaccine availability and other health restrictions being lifted, the City has just recently resumed CARE+ cleanups citywide. CARE+ cleanups are much more extensive than regular spot cleanings as they require everything in the public right of way to be temporarily removed so that the sidewalk can be power washed and CARE+ cleanups also require that Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) be on site to offer services.
This week I was able to get our city partners to conduct a comprehensive CARE+ cleaning of the encampment outside of the Target on Ventura Blvd. This has undoubtedly been one of the larger encampments in the West Valley. Getting the unsheltered people help and cleaning this site have been top priorities, so when these CARE+ teams resumed work, our Target location was high on the list. I’m continuing to work with city departments and local nonprofits to get similar areas as clean as possible and also connect folks living on the streets with needed services.
I have written about the new 41.18 laws limiting encampments, and I want to make it clear that CARE+ clean ups and 41.18 are different tools.
Before designating any area as a ‘no-encampment zone’ under 41.18, the City Council needed to approve a street engagement strategy, i.e. rules and protocols for departments to follow. That strategy was unanimously approved this week. That means next week, Councilmembers will submit resolutions with locations that meet the location/other criteria outlined in 41.18. Those resolutions will go directly to a full council vote, though it will still take weeks to complete the process in a Constitutional manner.
But for areas, like the Target, that are more than 500 ft from freeway on/off ramps or sensitive use areas (and therefore don’t easily qualify under 41.18), the main tool to keep those sites clean will be the CARE+ clean up, combined with consistent outreach.
The Bowlero is also still high on my priority list. My staff and I will continue to do outreach there, and based on its proximity to the 101, it could qualify to be a no-encampment area under the new 41.18 law. I am taking the steps necessary to make that happen and am continuing to work on a more permanent solution for that area. However, it is important to recognize that even a 41.18 restriction does not prohibit people from living in their RVs or any other vehicle.
The main difference between the CARE+ and 41.18 is that with CARE+ clean ups, unhoused people can come back to the area where they were encamped when the area is cleaned. With 41.18, once the outreach is conducted and folks are given a choice date to accept appropriate shelter or move elsewhere, that area becomes off-limits for encampments.
I know many folks in the community are upset by the layers of regulations and limits in these rules. But the reality is that due to many federal court cases, if the City isn’t careful and meticulous in how these actions are conducted, even these limited tools could easily be ended by another lawsuit. And the main reason why we now even have these limited new rules is because we’ve built thousands of transitional and permanent housing units around the City.
At the end of the day, we need more of that housing and to continue the intense outreach that my staff and I, LAHSA as well as our friends in the non-profit sector have been doing for years. CARE+ and 41.18 are both critical tools to maintain a needed level of hygiene and access through our public rights of way as more and more housing solutions come online. These tools are not a substitute for growing the services, treatments, and housing options available to homeless people. And neither CARE+ and 41.18 nor increased services and housing are a substitute for addressing the underlying factors that are driving homelessness such as poverty, addiction, lack of education and opportunity, and inequity. Homelessness is a complex problem and we need solutions on many fronts and at many levels.
Earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to move forward with their Request for Proposal to create unarmed, non-violent responder teams in LA. Unarmed interventionists can be more cost effective and can develop and rely on a different set of skills and lived experience that is often better suited for certain non-violent types of crises.
“From welfare check-ins, to non-violent mental health/drug issues, to minor health crises in encampments and elsewhere, we need more tools in our tool box to truly help Angelenos in need," said Blumenfield. "We can’t keep asking our police officers to also be social workers, mental health clinicians, and outreach workers and it’s important to move forward with this program."
Blumenfield encourages everyone who is interested in learning more about the CAHOOTS model from Eugene, OR to watch this presentation he hosted with a former CAHOOTS member and the Chief of Police in Eugene. The CAHOOTS mobile crisis team model has proven to be effective and over its 30 year history has become an established organization loved by the community. They typically divert approximately 17% of their 911 calls to alternative interventionists.
Blumenfield thanks his co-authors Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Curren Price, and former Councilmember Herb Wesson for their partnership. More must be done and this is a big step forward to provide the right kind of first responders for all emergencies.
Blumenfield has heard from concerned neighbors throughout the district about ongoing illegal street racing. Like you, he fears for the safety of pedestrians and other drivers when he hears the sound of cars racing in the neighborhood. This week, the City Council approved a motion introduced by Councilmember Monica Rodriguez and seconded by Councilmember Blumenfield that aims to curb illegal street racing by adding deterrents such as street humps, rumble strips, raised center medians, and traffic circles at common locations of races. In the next steps, the Los Angeles Police Department and Department of Transportation will identify a menu of recommendations which can quickly be installed. Blumenfield continues to prioritize safe streets for all in the West Valley.
Blumenfield is also very happy that AB 43, State legislation by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman which provides local government greater flexibility in setting and reducing speed limits, passed the legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Blumenfield and the entire City Council strongly supported this Bill and passed a resolution urging the State to adopt it.
On September 12, Metro increased service on most of the bus routes serving the West Valley. A complete summary of the changes is available here.
All of these changes are part of Metro’s NextGen Bus Plan, which is the first comprehensive overhaul of Los Angeles’ bus route network in more than 25 years. As Chair of the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments’ Transportation Committee, Councilmember Blumenfield is committed to improving transportation options for all residents of the Third District.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second largest school district in the country and the future of public education in Los Angeles is critical. The Board of Education is in charge of selecting the next Superintendent to run the district—and they need your help.
The next Superintendent must reflect the priorities of the entire LA Unified community. You have a unique opportunity to weigh in as the Board of Education chooses the next Superintendent for LAUSD. All you need to do is spend three to four minutes of your time answering 21 easy questions. It is completely free, safe and anonymous—and all of our futures depend on it. Fill out the survey here by September 30.
Movies and Concerts at Warner Ranch Park has come to an end for the season and Blumenfield thanks Nora Ross, Joe Andrews and the entire Valley Cultural Foundation team who worked tirelessly to put on such great programming. He also thanks the CORE volunteers and first responders who offered COVID-19 vaccines and testing to concert and moviegoers. Despite the ongoing pandemic, these events brought a sense of normalcy that brought together family, friends, and neighbors. Blumenfield was proud and happy to sponsor both the Movies and the Concerts. Team Blumenfield looks forward to next summer's events.
Over the weekend, Blumenfield joined community members at Alliance for Community Empowerment’s (ACE) Car Show and Community Healing Memorial where folks gathered to remember those we lost during the last 2 years, heal together from the struggles we have faced and move forward to build a resilient community together.
This week's photo from the Los Angeles Public Library's archives is from the Valley Times on August 26, 1959. Decades before the Orange Line, there was the West Valley Freeway Flyer which took commuters from Reseda to downtown Los Angeles in 45 minutes, depending on the traffic. Learn more about this photo here.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have encouraged folks to do all they can to stop the spread of this deadly virus. With thousands of lives lost in the West Valley, we must continue to encourage vaccination and remove barriers to vaccine accessibility. This year I helped secure the City’s second largest vaccination sites in my district at Pierce College, and enabled pop-up and mobile vaccine deliveries. Despite readily available free vaccines, with the entire medical community advocating for them, some folks are still hesitant. Now, with the Delta variant and potentially more serious strains, it’s more important than ever to use every tool to increase vaccinations — including mandatory vaccine requirements to access critical public places. It’s time to stop needless deaths, costly hospitalizations, and the drag on the local economy.
Vaccine mandates in other countries and cities like New York have demonstrated that requiring proof of vaccination in public spaces and private establishments can help push the vaccine hesitant to finally accept the inoculation. The only way to end this public health emergency is by getting every eligible person vaccinated. We cannot afford to go backwards.
The City Attorney has drafted an ordinance that would require proof of vaccination, or a 72 hour negative COVID test if claiming an exemption, to enter businesses where food or beverages are served, gyms, entertainment and recreation venues, and personal care facilities. There are a number of questions around enforcement that need answers and I will keep working with my colleagues on that until the final vote next week and via ‘clean-up’ legislation afterwards. Also, while the need for this is urgent, it needs to be temporary and lifted once the crises abates and the infringement/inconvenience is no longer worth the health benefits because we have either achieved herd immunity or found other ways to get the virus under control.
I also encourage eligible residents to schedule booster doses. Following the CDC’s recommendation, the following groups of people who received the second of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months ago are eligible:
Thank you to the millions of Angelenos who've already done the right thing, but for those who haven't, please do so for the sake of the health of our community.
This month, with the resumption of CARE+ cleanups after a year and a half hiatus due to COVID, Councilmember Blumenfield has been pushing City partners to conduct limited comprehensive clean ups at some of the largest encampments in the West Valley. Recently, he was able to get the area outside the Target in Woodland Hills cleaned and this week crews cleaned the Corbin underpass. Team Blumenfield and service providers have been connecting with all the unhoused individuals and conducting outreach there for months.
The Corbin underpass is included in Blumenfield’s recent resolution to make all CD3 underpasses off-limits to encampments. Most currently do not have encampments, but it’s crucial to avoid simply moving encampments from one underpass to another. These critical corridors should be free from encampments for both the health and safety of the surrounding community and for the folks who have encamped there. With the recent passage of the revised 41.18 law, which he co-authored, councilmembers can now make certain eligible streets and sidewalks ‘off limits’ to encampment. Eligible areas include those within 500 feet of sensitive use areas like schools and daycares, critical underpasses, and areas that have resulted in documented crime problems. Also, areas within 1000 feet of homeless shelters/housing are eligible. The resolution he submitted is currently pending a vote by the City Council. Check out the attached map to see the eligible locations in his first 41.18 resolution.
While the City still does not have enough housing for all of its homeless residents, over the past 18 months, Blumenfield has led the effort to create more beds in CD3 than people who were homeless according to 2020 homeless count. This is important because he wants to make sure that anyone who is living in these areas is given a legitimate shelter or housing option before that area is made off-limits. Due to many federal court cases, if the City isn’t extremely careful and meticulous in how it restricts encampments, even these limited new tools could easily be taken away by another lawsuit.
By week’s end the entire Corbin underpass will be cleaned. Until the CD3 specific resolution is passed by the City Council to make it a no-encampment zone, you may still see tents, belongings and outreach workers there. When the resolution passes he will update you here as well as on his social media accounts and newsletter. If you have any questions, please reach out to Team Blumenfield by calling 818.774.4330 or by sending an email to [email protected].
The Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance (NCSA) and the Climate Emergency Mobilization Office are launching Cool Blocks, a neighbor-to-neighbor organizing effort that aims to reduce your block's carbon footprint, adopt water stewardship practices, prepare for disasters, and improve the quality of life in your neighborhood.
The NCSA hopes to recruit 200 Cool Block leaders. Team leaders will host neighborhood meetings via Zoom over the course of five months and each leader will receive full training, coaching and support. For more information on how to get involved, please contact [email protected], call 323-660-2780, or visit the NCSA or Cool Blocks online.
This Tuesday, October 5 at 1pm, a Scoring Committee will be discussing the proposed LA River Green Infrastructure Project. This initiative will improve water quality as well as increase local water supply and enhance existing bike lanes. Blumenfield encourages West Valley residents to support this project and submit comments to [email protected] by October 4th at 5 PM with the subject line: "Public Comment: Upper LA River 10/5/2021". This regional Enhanced Watershed Management Program Project led by the City of Los Angeles would create a regional multi-benefit dry weather project in the Upper Los Angeles River Watershed.
Join the LADWP for a hands-on workshop to learn how to remove turf, install sustainable landscaping, and capture rainwater. Blumenfield transformed his home and office’s front lawns and they look great. This two day workshop is happening in Reseda on October 2 and October 9 from 9am-1pm. For more information and to register, please click here.
It’s time to clean out those drawers full of utensils and condiments. From now through October 29, LA Sanitation & Environment’s City Facilities Recycling Program (CFRP) is collecting sealed, unused takeout utensils packs and condiment packets, items that many of us receive with takeout and delivery meals, but do not use. Help to keep them out of the landfill by donating them to the West Valley District Yard located at 8840 Vanalden Avenue in Northridge from 9am - 4pm Monday through Friday. Donated items will be given to St. Francis Center for their meal services.
Over the course of the next several weeks, the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission will continue to discuss the proposed draft map. The Commission is continuing to accept written testimony so if you haven’t done so already, please submit your comments and concerns to [email protected] or join a virtual meeting.
Blumenfield recently toured the Bell Creek Apartments project in Canoga Park which will bring 80 more permanent supportive housing/affordable units to the West Valley. Thanks to Meta Housing and Western Housing for partnering with Blumenfield on this project. More updates on this site and other PSH projects to come.
Blumenfield at the 7th annual Inspirational Women of the San Fernando Valley Event organized by the United Chambers of Commerce. Congratulations to the honorees: Nora Ross, Carolyn Rose, Natalie Cortez, Mona Curry, Waltona Manion, and Pegi Matsuda. Blumenfield was honored to recognize the amazing work of these truly inspirational women who bring their knowledge, skills, expertise, and passion to bear for the benefit of our great City.
This week's photo from the Los Angeles Public Library's archives is from the Valley Times on March 10, 1956. Members of the Woodland Avenue Elementary PTA join students in planting trees during Plant a Tree Week. Learn more about this photo here.