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.