By Bob Blumenfield
Last week, we brought Mayor Bass’ homelessness initiative “Inside Safe” to the West Valley. With funding approved from the City Council, the Mayor has been working closely with Councilmembers and local service providers to help bring people from entire encampments into hotels and transitional housing. This is a strategy we’ve been using in the Third District for a while and it has been great to see more of it applied city-wide.
Our recent effort was conducted along the entire length of the Los Angeles River in the Third District from Owensmouth to Lindley, with 44 people moving into motel rooms. The success of this effort was in large part due to the fact that we had rooms available at a nearby hotel, a bus available to take folks right then and there, a coordinated outreach effort, and people knew that we were making the river off-limits to encampments on March 17 via a 41.18 designation so that the status quo would no longer be an option.
This model works- outreach, services, persistence and housing. I’d like to share a little more about what happened with our Inside Safe effort, how it came about, and how we can build on this success in the future.
Especially when it rains, the LA River is an unsafe place for people to set up encampments, and for years I have been working to offer better options for people who have resorted to living in this flood control area and along the bike path. I am so pleased and grateful that Mayor Bass and the Inside Safe team were able to pull together to safely move people indoors and help them get on the path to housing.
This effort was led by Hope the Mission, the service provider for the two Cabin Communities/Tiny Home programs in our district, and incorporated their multi-disciplinary team. Teams from LAHSA, Hope the Mission and the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center, as well as members of Team Blumenfield, conducted weeks of proactive outreach along with rangers from the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) who provide naturalists and patrol along the River.
The area of the LA River in our district includes many storm drain outlets, some of which have been used for habitation and are particularly dangerous when they are filled with water. Additionally, the street underpasses along the River have been used for shelter and storage, creating dangerous conditions above the bike path and potentially destabilizing the roads above when individuals dig in underneath the roadbed to create a cave-like shelter. In addition to the flood control issues, the River has limited access points which means anyone experiencing an emergency in this area is difficult to reach by first responders.
The LA River historically has been a tricky place to offer homeless services because there are so many governmental jurisdictions involved. The City, County, State, Army Corps of Engineers, and METRO are all responsible for different components of the River and this can lead to red tape and slowed progress. Our partner and co-founder of the L.A. River Walkers and Watchers Evelyn Aleman has been leading cleanups along the river for years and knows this all too well. “For seven-and-a-half years during our monthly river cleanups, we’ve tried to connect our unsheltered in the area with resources but have always felt it wasn’t enough. We’re excited and hopeful that this collaboration between Councilmember Blumenfield, the Mayor’s Inside Safe program and our community will turn things around for so many people who need this level of outreach, care and support.”
While I am heartened by seeing this level of collaborations and swift progress, we must continue to push for more resources and help. Over my years of doing homeless outreach, I know that if you have housing at your fingertips, people will accept help. Even though she has been in office just a few months, Mayor Bass has been incredibly effective and collaborative. Together we’ve already started cutting through some of that burdensome red tape and this sort of progress must continue.
As always, if you have any city-related issues, please reach out to my team and I at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With another storm having passed, Southern California finds itself moving from a state of exceptional drought and water supply shortages into a historically wet winter locally, with massive snowpack in the north to help fill reservoirs.
Spring is on its way as Sunday’s early morning time change and move to Daylight Saving Time reminds us. The time change also reminds us now is the time to tune and adjust irrigation systems and timers for the changing seasons.
The easiest way to conserve water right now is to keep conventional automatic sprinkler controllers to the off position.
The consistent rains have saturated the ground and provided enough soil moisture to provide for landscapes well into spring. While off, now is the time to make the proper adjustments to your controller that consider watering during the parts of the day when evaporation is minimal – early morning or late evening.
After making the seasonal timer adjustments and waiting for the rain to pass and landscapes to dry out, many people wonder when they should flip those irrigation systems back to the “on” position.
The most important step to take before returning to a normal irrigation schedule is to check the soil moisture in each irrigation zone to determine what zones, if any, may need watering. Soil moisture can be gauged a number of ways. There are electronic sensors that can be used in concert with irrigation controllers, and handheld analog sensors that are stuck in the ground and return a measurement of the soil moisture. Both of these are widely available at garden centers and home-improvement stores. Additionally, determining soil moisture can be as easy as sticking a screwdriver six inches into the ground. Dry soil will be difficult to push the screwdriver into and when removed will show very little or no moisture on the screwdriver shaft.
There are technologies available to help homeowners keep their irrigation timers seasonally adjusted called Weather Based Irrigation Controllers or Smart Controllers. These smart controllers are designed to connect to the internet and use real time local weather data to adjust the frequency of watering so, in theory, you don’t over water your landscape especially during an afternoon rain event. Their app-based controls make it easy and convenient to create manual schedules that comply with local watering restrictions such as watering on specific days and not during the heat of the day. Most importantly they provide an interface with key information so there is no guesswork on when the system watered or when it is scheduled to water.
The Smart Controller App interface connects the homeowner with the controller to ensure they are more engaged with their irrigation system. This engagement has proven to equate to smarter watering and control over irrigation schedules resulting in water savings.
Most residents in our area can find rebates for moisture sensors and smart controllers through their local water provider.