HIV/AIDS Testing in the Valley

My first job, when I was in high school, was educating my peers about HIV/AIDS and safe sex.  I worked for the Northeast Valley Health Corporation, and it was during a time when HIV/AIDS was killing many people in our community.  Times have changed, but I continue to be alarmed at how the AIDS crisis has not ended in the Black and Latino communities.  You can read more about it on NPR. Continue reading

June Clean-ups

      We’ve been very busy this month cleaning-up Council District Six!  These pictures above come from a Sun Valley clean-up we held on June 28th.  Along with the Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council and Sun Valley Graffiti Busters, we were able to clean and do weed abatement along Old San Fernando Road from Tuxford St. to Sunland Blvd.  We also cleaned Sunland Blvd. on and off ramps of the I-5 freeway, Crockett St., Roscoe Blvd. and surrounding alleys, totaling over 200+ bags collected! Continue reading

Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Holding Them Accountable

When a woman walks into a crisis pregnancy center, she expects to speak to a trained professional who will provide her with all the information she needs to make an informed decision about what is best for her and her pregnancy.  When a woman doesn’t get all the accurate information about what options she has available to her, it creates unnecessary roadblocks and delays that can be detrimental to her health and well-being.  Throughout the state there are places billed as crisis pregnancy centers.  We have two such locations in the San Fernando Valley.  Unfortunately, too often these places will keep vital information from pregnant women and pressure them into making very specific decisions aligned with the center’s pre-determined course of action.  That can put the mother’s life and health at risk, unnecessarily.  I am working closely with City Attorney Mike Feuer on his enforcement of a state law that requires these locations to provide every woman withl the full list of services.  I stood with City Attorney Feurer recently to announce the City’s intention to enforce the state law requiring all pregnancy centers let patients know about services available to them.  I’ve also introduced a motion that will ask the City Attorney and other city departments to report to the Council if other measures are needed to make that enforcement more effective. 

Street Lighting

Sun Valley and North Hollywood Lighting Districts begin their first phase with the installation of 40 permanent lights on 7 residential streets serving 180 households! I’m absolutely committed to bringing much needed lighting projects to Council District 6 through competitive Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).  In the past two and a half years I’ve secured CDBG money for lighting projects in Van Nuys, Sun Valley, and North Hollywood.  Two have recently completed construction and installation (Hinds Avenue in North Hollywood as well as Bakman Ave, Elmer Ave, Klump Ave, Fair Ave, Case Ave, and Ensign Ave in Sun Valley).  We are currently doing outreach to neighbors and preparing for installation in two additional locations in Sun Valley and North Hollywood.  We also have begun the planning process for two additional locations in the Sixth District. If you live in a neighborhood that could use street lighting, please call my Sun Valley office and let us know! 818.771.0236

Continuing to Clean District Six

My team continues to partner with community members to keep our neighborhoods clean.  On May 21st, we joined the Arleta Looky Loos Neighborhood Watch to pick up trash around Filmore Street.  The week before, we were out with the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council, tackling the overgrown vegetation, litter and illegal dumping along the Sepulveda Blvd medians (pictured here).  On June 18th, I hope you’ll join us for another clean-up in Van Nuys.  We’ll be meeting at Delano Park on the corner of Noble Ave. and Erwin St. to clean up the area nearby.  Find out more and RSVP on my website.  Over the past month, we’ve also had clean-ups along Bessemer Street in Van Nuys and another with Iglesia Ni Cristo in Panorama City where we collected over 50 bags of trash!      

Stopping Toxic Smoke from Valley Wrecking and Junk Yards

The Sixth District is home to many auto wrecking yards and waste transfer stations.  All too often, these waste sites end up catching fire, and when they do, the fires are massive.  In April, when a Sun Valley wrecking yard caught fire, you could see the dark smoke from miles away, and residents throughout the area, had to close their windows and stay inside to keep from breathing those awful toxic fumes caused by the fire.  Our communities already deal with the noise, smells, and other impacts of living near these places, we shouldn’t have to worry about the toxins our children will breathe every time one of these places catches on fire.  Therefore, immediately after that last Sun Valley fire, I introduced a motion at the City Council calling on the LA Fire Department and other city agencies to look into what is causing these fires, and what can be done to contain the smoke when these fires do break out.  I’m working to find out if people are cutting corners or ignoring building and safety codes, and if that increases the likelihood of fires.  We need to make sure these places are following the toughest safety standards.  Regardless, even when accidents happen, these places should have measures in place to capture as much smoke as possible, so it doesn’t infiltrate our homes, schools, and put us all in danger.  The City Council passed my motion, and I will keep pressure on the City agencies to get that report back to us just as soon as possible so we can determine what next steps we must take to protect our neighborhoods.  

Valley Human Trafficking Task Force Funded in 2016-17 Budget

Recently the City Council passed the 2016-17 city budget.  I supported the increased funding for basic quality of life services like sidewalk repair, tree trimming, and street repair, and will work to bring those services to the Sixth District. We also put substantive funding towards addressing the homelessness problem in our city.  Specifically, I was able to secure $1million to continue the incredible work of the Operations Valley Bureau Human Trafficking Task Force!  Since October, the Valley Bureau Human Trafficking Task Force has issued 1,442 citations, impounded 52 vehicles, arrested 117 “Johns” and 19 pimps, and had 38 other miscellaneous arrests. Some of the other highlights of the 2016-17 budget include: $138 million for the City’s Comprehensive Homeless Strategy $17.3 million for LA Fire Department to hire 230 new firefighters $1.4 million for Phase I restoration of the Department of Recreation and Parks park ranger program $484,000 for Girls Play Los Angeles Sports program to increase girls’ participation at Recreation and Parks sports leagues $750,000 for restoration of the Day Laborer Program for seven day laborer sites $150 million for street and pothole repair $31 million for sidewalk repair $9.3 million for Clean Streets and Alleys to clean up abandoned waste and illegal dumping citywide $7.4 million for tree trimming 15% increase for graffiti removal $540,000 for restoration of the speed hump program $2.6 million for the Office of Wage Standards to enforce minimum wage and wage theft laws $17.7 million for the Library Department to buy new books, computers, e-books, and other technology $300,000 for new signal construction at Fillmore Street and Arleta Avenue I will work tirelessly to bring all of these services to our district!

Improving Sixth District Streets & Sidewalks

My team has been busy at work making the streets and sidewalks in Council District Six safer – and flatter. We’re resurfacing streets, and replacing torn-up sidewalks. Previously, I announced my work with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI) to replace damaged sidewalks throughout the district using discretionary funding – and I’m pleased to announce that we’re wrapping up work on the first phase of that project, and preparing to move on to other communities like Van Nuys, Lake Balboa, and Sun Valley in the near future. Already, working with LANI, we’ve replaced 7,471 square feet of sidewalks and 525 linear feet of curb in the Sixth Council District this year alone! Additionally, we’re working with the Bureau of Street Services on getting some of our most problem streets resurfaced. In the last month, we’ve seen street paving work done on Strathern Street, Natick Ave, and Cedros Ave. To date, the Bureau of Street Services has repaved over 40 lane miles of streets in Council District Six!

Addressing Homeless Encampments

Homelessness in Los Angeles is a serious and complex issue. The City Council is united in our efforts to tackle the many causes of homelessness – but we must also address the issues that homeless encampments bring in our neighborhoods, parks, sidewalks and other public places. My commitment is to keeping the Sixth District clean and safe – so families and children can walk down the sidewalk in the neighborhood, or a senior citizen or person with a disability doesn’t have to step into an unsafe street to get around someone who has set up camp. That’s why I was incredibly proud to work with my colleagues on updating the City law (called 56.11) to limit the belongings that people can store on the street, and to give law enforcement and other city departments the tools they need to keep our communities safe for everyone. We shouldn’t be alright with people in Los Angeles relegated to living on our sidewalks, and we should do everything we can to help them, and keep our neighborhood public spaces safe and clean for everyone to use.

Fighting Sexual Exploitation

My team and I participated in the Center for Assault Treatment Services (CATS), “Victory for Victims,” walk and run in Lake Balboa on Sunday, April 17th. CATS is a program of Dignity Health – Northridge Hospital Medical Center, and has been serving the area since 1997. Their mission is to provide compassionate, comprehensive care to victims of domestic and sexual assault and child victims of sexual abuse in a supportive and comforting environment. Along with my colleague Councilmember Mike Bonin, I sponsored a resolution declaring Wednesday, April 27th as “Denim Day” in Los Angeles. Denim Day is an opportunity for us to demonstrate that there’s never any excuse for sexual abuse or violence, and that rape is rape, regardless of excuses.