While Bob Blumenfield ran unopposed in his last election, he still has a duty to represent his constituents of the 3rd council district. Instead, he continually leaves his constituents in the dark, ignores phone calls, and does not seek any community input regarding issues that will materially affect our community for years to come. His preferred method of community outreach is silence, while crossing his fingers that you don’t notice.
Case in point - a few days before the monthly Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization meeting on January 26th, it was revealed that L.A. County is requesting that the State of California purchase 19 L.A. County hotels to convert them into homeless facilities. The 818 Hotel, located at 20157 Ventura Blvd., across the street from Taft Charter High School, is among the 19. When questioned about the purchase at the well-attended public meeting, Blumenfield said he was blindsided by County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl about the addition of the 818 Hotel to their list.
According to Kuehl’s Housing and Homelessness deputy, Blumenfield was made aware of the 818’s addition to their list on the 18th and their two offices decided Blumenfield would be the one responsible for alerting the community. Their logic? Blumenfield’s district size is much smaller than Kuehl’s and as a Woodland Hills resident himself, he would be the better elected representative to make it public.
With a full week’s notice before the County Supervisor’s took their vote on the 818 Hotel being funded, Blumenfield stayed, well… silent. He chose to “alert” the community via a Facebook post after we already found out about it from the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization meeting announcement. On Wednesday 26th, a day AFTER the L.A. County Supervisors voted to approve the list of hotels, Blumenfield revealed the plan after it was too late for the community to weigh in.
At that evening’s public meeting, Blumenfield was bombarded with questions about the 100 room 818 Hotel purchase. In each of his responses, he took no accountability and tried to spin the hotel conversion into homeless facility as an “upgrade to the community.”
But wait, there’s more.
Less than a week later, it was discovered by my campaign that the 146 room Extended Stay America Hotel, located at 20205 Ventura Boulevard, and IMMEDIATELY NEXT DOOR to the 818 Hotel, was also under consideration to become a homeless facility. However, this time it was L.A. City wanting to purchase the hotel, not the County. Did Blumenfield bother to mention this development during the public meeting? He did not. He withheld that information from his constituents and only made the news public on Facebook after I revealed it first. I revealed that the L.A. City Council’s Homelessness Committee, which Blumenfield is a member, was going to vote on the issue the next day. Once again, his excuse, “he just found out.”
However, according to the Los Angeles Housing Department, who is the agency in charge of locating available hotels for purchase, they have been having bi-monthly Monday meetings with Blumenfield’s staff for months about hotels in his district, including the Extended Stay America. Being aware that the 818 Hotel will likely be purchase by L.A. County (with your tax dollars), why then did the Councilman vote to approve the purchase of the Extended Stay America? Why didn’t he stand up in committee and say the Hotel next door is already slated for purchase and we just don’t need a second one across the street from our local High School?
We have been told time and time again that our has the lowest number of homeless individuals in the entire City and we have enough beds to service everyone. So why is the Councilman fighting so hard to open up 2 new major facilities across the street from a High School to service homeless from all over the City and County? Don’t be fooled by the pull at your heartstring’s misperceptions of a best-case scenario that Blumenfield is now trying so desperately to sell us. His best intentions for the facilities are currently just hopes with his fingers double crossed. There is nothing in writing and no way to reverse course if the sites bring problems, like we’ve seen at other facilities all over the City.
Just ask our local businesses who have been subjected to The Willows facility in Canoga Park. They have reported problems since it opened one year ago, including encampments being set up, fights, noise complaints, and customers too afraid to get out of their cars to enter their store.
I toured a homeless facility a few weeks ago and the amazingly dedicated staff was really honest with me. While they absolutely advocate for housing, they cautioned against placing a facility right across the street from a high school. In their words, “it’s a bad idea asking for problems.”
So, while I question the merits, I am even more astonished at the arrogance and cunning actions of our elected representative. His job is to represent the voice of the community, not surreptitiously insert his own political agenda.
Bob Blumenfield has something else to tell you. The City also intends to purchase another 100-unit apartment building located at 21110 Vanowen, in Warner Center, also to turn it into a homeless facility. This third project, in a safer location away from a school, is at least worth a discussion. So why has Silent Bob not revealed it to the community yet?
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