Stop A Homeless Cabin Community From Being Built In Our Residential Neighborhood
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As homeowners and residents who live near the West Valley Municipal Building, we are deeply concerned about Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s plan to build a “cabin community”, aka “pallet shelter,” to provide temporary housing for the homeless in a small parking lot behind his office located at 6700 Vanalden Avenue in Reseda, California. This initiative involves building 50 tiny pallet homes, with 104 beds, for homeless adults. While we empathize with those experiencing homelessness in our community, building a temporary homeless shelter in a residential neighborhood is not a productive solution.
The municipal building is located in a quiet residential neighborhood adjacent to a park, playground, and library, all of which are family-oriented public spaces that are used by the residents of the surrounding neighborhood daily. There are also childcare facilities, schools (including preschools and an elementary school), and the local YMCA located within walking distance of the proposed site. Out of the eight proposed temporary housing sites throughout Los Angeles, this is the only homeless facility that will be located in the heart of a residential neighborhood.
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield is an elected official who serves the constituents of District 3, which includes the communities of Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka, and Woodland Hills. As tax-paying residents of Reseda (and beyond), we deserve to have input on how public programs are implemented in our neighborhood.
By signing this petition, you are joining us in:
- Expressing opposition to Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s plan to build a homeless cabin community near family homes in a residential neighborhood.
- Requesting a public town hall meeting with Councilmember Blumenfield to demand more information and transparency. We ask that city officials make the following items available to the public:
- Financial records for the project
- List of site locations considered for the project
- Criteria for selecting site locations
- Reasons for denying other site locations, while approving the one in Reseda
- Criteria for selecting service providers
- Details regarding the “24/7 security” that is to be offered at the site
- Entry requirements and application process for homeless individuals who want to live in the cabin community (in regards to “vetting”)
- Plans for homeless individuals in the district who do not want to live in the cabin community or who do not qualify
- Data or references demonstrating how this type of homeless shelter may impact the area’s safety, cleanliness, and property values
- Most importantly: Demand that Councilmember Blumenfield relocates this Cabin Community to a more appropriate location that is not predominantly residential.
Background: In response to the ongoing homelessness crisis in Los Angeles and the federal lawsuit, L.A. Alliance for Human Rights v. City of Los Angeles, overseen by U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter, all Los Angeles City Councilmembers are rushing to build dozens of temporary homeless shelters throughout the city. Since the locations for the temporary housing facilities were often met with intense opposition, Assembly Bill 1197 was passed as an emergency order in September 2019, which allowed city officials to bypass the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and permitted them to make decisions about alleviating homelessness in their districts without needing to perform community impact studies, inform the public, or receive feedback from the surrounding neighborhoods. Councilmember Bob Blumenfield is tasked with building these shelters in the West Valley. The only notice that the residents in our area have received about the project was a letter from Councilmember Blumenfield's office (dated October 20, 2020), which was mailed to some residents who live in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site to notify them of the plans to build this cabin community. As of November 28, 2020, construction has not yet started, with the anticipated completion to be Spring 2021.
There is little to no data regarding the long-term positive impacts of this type of temporary housing for the homeless in Los Angeles, but there are known results that highlight the harm these homeless shelters can bring to the surrounding communities. The Los Angeles Times recently published an article regarding temporary housing programs in other locations, which provided mixed results and troubling statistics. For example, in regards to the bridge housing facility located in Venice: “Between late February, when the shelter opened, and last week the LAPD stated there has been an 88% increase in violent crime in an area surrounding the shelter compared with the same period last year” (source: Los Angeles Times, November 2020).
Furthermore, during the Los Angeles City Council meeting on November 24, 2020, Councilmember Blumenfield himself stated that homeless shelters have the potential to draw more homeless encampments to the surrounding area, where there were none before. This has been shown to be true in other districts - at the three most problematic temporary housing sites currently operating: the Venice bridge home on Sunset Avenue, the El Puente bridge home on Alameda Street, and the Van Nuys bridge home on Aetna Street. He wishes to counteract these potential issues by enforcing anti-encampment “buffer zones” around each shelter. This does not take into account that on November 20, 2020, the LAPD underwent severe budget cuts and was forced to disband several specialty units, including the homeless outreach unit, which will have an impact on their ability to respond to calls regarding homeless encampments or disturbances (source: ABC 7, November 2020). This is not to prove that homeless communities will inherently cause issues. Rather, this shows that temporary housing hastily built in confined spaces do not address the needs of the homeless population and the city is not equipped to combat problems should they arise.
We know that the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles is a systemic issue and not the fault of the homeless individuals. While this may be a well-intentioned initiative by Councilmember Blumenfield, temporarily housing up to 104 homeless people in an existing residential neighborhood is a short-sighted attempt and will do little to help our neighbors impacted by homelessness. Instead, Councilmember Blumenfield should consider using the $1,676,419 of funds allocated for this project from the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program (HHAP) Special Fund Grant towards the construction of permanent housing structures at locations that are better suited to serve the homeless population.
We also urge others who live outside of the immediate vicinity to consider that if the city council is legally allowed to put a homeless shelter in our neighborhood without approval from the residents in the area, they have the ability to put a homeless shelter in any neighborhood without any approval.
To find out more information about this project, we invite you to visit ResedaLocal.com. Follow us on social media (@ResedaLocal on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to stay up to date on news and next steps. We also encourage you to visit Councilmember Blumenfield’s website http://blumenfield.lacity.org/ to read more about his plans for temporary housing in the West Valley. Thank you.
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