January 14, 2022

COVID-19 infections are rampant and over the past few weeks it has felt harder and harder to get tested. I’m very glad that as of last week we were able to set up a new, large-scale surge testing site at Pierce College. Thanks to our friends at CORE and the leadership at Pierce, we were able to launch this drive-thru site swiftly, offering free PCR tests for at least the next month.

Our Pierce testing site (6201 Winnetka Ave.) is open from 10am-4pm Tuesday through Saturday. The entrance is located on Mason Ave., just off of Victory Blvd. No appointment is needed, but pre registration is critical for efficiency. Go to forms.flowhealth.com/access/Core-PierceCollege to sign up and get your QR code. Once you are registered for the Pierce site, you can come back whenever a test is needed without any further documentation.

Unfortunately, with the spike in cases we’ve seen a bottleneck of specimens that need to be tested at a finite amount of facilities, leading to delays in results. This has been a problem not just at the Pierce site, but throughout the region. I’ve been told the backlog is temporary and should be remedied soon. I know how frustrating it is to wait days for your results, but if you think you are sick or are exhibiting symptoms, please help our community and do your best to stay home.

If you still haven't been vaccinated or are eligible for a booster and still haven't received it, now is the time. Go to Covid19.LACounty.gov to find convenient vaccination sites near you. Practically every person hospitalized with COVID-19 is unvaccinated and we’ve lost way too many West Valley residents to this horrible virus. Vaccines help limit the chance you get infected in the first place and if you do test positive, it will likely prevent you from having to go to the ER. Vaccines save lives.

Let’s follow the science- get tested, get boosted, stay masked when gathered and together we’ll stop the spread.


Moving Forward on Key Elements of New Unarmed, Non-Violent Response Teams

Councilmember Blumenfield authored new legislation to support and streamline his vision of having unarmed, non-violent response teams fully integrated into the City’s emergency dispatch apparatus. In 2020, Blumenfield co-authored legislation to establish a community-based public safety program to respond to calls on nonviolent matters involving mental health and homelessness. This new legislation directs City agencies to get to work now on necessary logistical elements to jump start the service, such as identifying spaces throughout the city that can help house these mobile crisis teams as well as find funding to support the implementation of a new 9-8-8 mental health crisis hotline. 

“To meet the needs of people in crisis with unarmed responders, we need to be prepared with all the logistical elements so these teams can be up and running as soon as possible,” said Councilmember Blumenfield. “My hope is that we can integrate these hotlines into our dispatch system as well as find homes for mobile team bases in every corner of the City. We must take the stress of dealing with non-violent homeless and mental health situations off the backs of our established first responders, and deploy more specialized service providers.”

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 designates 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for a suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system in the United States. Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is the ten-digit number 1-800-273-8255, and on July 16, 2022, an easier to remember three-digit 9-8-8 will take effect. Local nonprofit, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, is helping lead the effort to administer this change and are helping assess infrastructure needs. Blumenfield’s measure aims to advance this process by asking the CAO to identify extra funding to not only support 9-8-8 implementation but also to better connect it with mobile crisis teams currently operating in LA.

First Steps Toward Overhauling the City’s Sidewalk Repair Program

As Chair of the Public Works Committee, Councilmember Blumenfield took steps to improve the City’s sidewalk repair efforts. Blumenfield’s first action is to formally call on his colleagues to support a comprehensive assessment of all city sidewalks to better understand the magnitude of the repairs, and inform future policy discussions. In addition, he calls on City departments to develop a proposal to respond more quickly to sidewalk problems with short- and medium-term fixes. This hearing followed an audit by Controller Ron Galperin that found several areas of concern.

Chairman Blumenfield’s recommendations will soon be heard in the Personnel, Audits, and Animal Welfare Committee, followed by the full City Council.

2022 Homeless Count Postponed to February

Due to the surge of COVID-19 cases, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) is postponing the annual Homeless Count to February 22-24, 2022 and the count for the San Fernando Valley will be conducted on February 23. Though the count is postponed, there is plenty of time for you to learn more and sign up to be a volunteer. 

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and his team have been leading the Homeless Count in the West Valley area for the last six years. The purpose of the Homeless Count is to obtain a comprehensive number of all the unhoused people in the County of Los Angeles. The numbers from the Homeless Count help to formulate many strategies to help the unhoused population in the district and region. The Homeless Count also gives insight into the necessary funding that is needed, including for mental health services, healthcare services, and housing. 

Northridge Earthquake Anniversary and Emergency Preparedness

Photo Credit: LA Times

On January 17, 1994, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck Northridge, California and sent shockwaves throughout Los Angeles. The event caused the destruction of several buildings, homes, and communities. The catastrophe continued with several fires, floods, and aftershocks as a result of the quake, further distressing residents of the area. 

As the anniversary of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake approaches, we are reminded of the importance of emergency preparation. Emergency preparedness is one of Councilmember Blumenfield’s top priorities especially since he witnessed the devastation that it caused as he helped the San Fernando Valley recover from this tragedy while working as a staff member for Congressman Howard Berman. Click here to read Blumenfield’s reflection about his experience and role in the recovery efforts. 

Natural disasters and emergencies can occur at any time and emergency kits are key. While it can be overwhelming to prepare for the worst, here are a few simple things that should be ready on the go:

  • First Aid Kit: It is important to be able to provide basic care after an emergency. You may find it necessary to include hand sanitizer, personal medication that you need such as insulin or an inhaler, and face masks.
  • Food and Water: There is no telling the availability of access to your home or food and water when disaster strikes. Keep canned food (and a can opener) or dehydrated food ready as well as water bottles and water treatment supplies. 
  • Light: During an emergency, there may be little to no sources of light. Therefore it is important to keep flashlights in your home in case the power goes out.
  • Batteries and portable chargers: Keep a backup pair of batteries for any necessary battery powered devices such as a flashlight or radio. Cellphones can be essential in the event of an emergency and it’s important to be able to keep your cellular device on.
  • Local Maps: In the event that you need to evacuate and have no access to the internet or a cell phone, it is important to be able to find your way to safety.
  • Cash: Keep at least $200 in cash in your emergency kit as you may need to purchase necessities like gas, food, and water when credit and debit card services are not available.
  • Copy of important documents: Copies of important documents such as a birth certificate, a social security number, driver’s license, and passports are all documents that you want to protect in the event of a disaster. 

LA Green River Infrastructure Project Grows Community Support

Blumenfield thanks the community groups and residents who submitted public comment and written testimony in support of the LA River Green Infrastructure Project. Greening the valley and improving the infrastructure and environment along the LA River are top priorities of Councilmember Blumenfield. Pierce College fellow, Keke Gbewonyo (pictured above), read a prepared statement from Councilmember Blumenfield to the LA Green River Infrastructure Project steering committee in support of grant funding for bioswales to improve water quality, new trees/landscaping, and naturally filtering urban runoff with benefits to residents, pedestrians, and LA River recreational zone users as well as the wildlife that calls the LA River their home.

Small Business Spotlight-Tali Tails

As we head toward year three of the pandemic, Councilmember Blumenfield continues to engage and support determined and resilient local business owners. In Canoga Park, during one of his regular business outreach efforts, he recently met Tali of Tali Tails Dog Grooming & Daycare. Opened last year, Tali and her staff provide caring and professional services that have dogs and their human friends coming back again and again. Tali Tails dog grooming and daycare facility will leave your pooch looking great. Need convenient dog sitting? No problem. Tali will make sure your best friend gets taken care of while having a great time.

Historic West Valley

On January 15, 1961, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to the West Valley as a guest of the Woodland Hills Community Church and gave a lecture at Canoga Park High School focused on the future of integration. At the time, local schools were essentially segregated and it wasn't until the early 1970s where there were court rulings forcing LAUSD to take steps to integrate their campuses. Listen to the audio of Dr. King's speech here.