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.