Supervisor Sheila Kuehl - Update 8/8/20 - Food Drives in the Third District + Justice Reform

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August 08, 2020


Update 8/8/20 

📊 How does your city stack up? 

This is a critical time!  We need you to step up for your community- and you don't even have to leave your home. Some of our cities have excellent response rates (keep it up Westlake Village!), but there are still many Third District residents that need to be counted for the 2020 Census. I'm looking at you, Malibu! 

Trump has made attempt after failed, unconstitutional attempt, to create a census undercount in vibrant and diverse regions like LA County, hoping to divert crucial federal funding away from us and cut our number of representatives in the House of Representatives. With his plan to cut the self-response period short, we can’t procrastinate one more minute. We must #BeCounted. 

Filling out your 2020 Census form is way easy, but time is running out. You can do it online or by phone, and an array of different languages are available. No excuse! The survey will ask you simple questions like your name, age, sex, date of birth, and details about the people who live with you. Under federal census law, your responses are kept confidential and can only be used to produce statistics. 

Every single person counted makes a difference. A full count in our county means better schools, roads, parks, and health care for your neighborhood. Visit my2020census.gov to be counted TODAY! 
 
FOOD DRIVES IN THE THIRD DISTRICT
In our county, millions of people are still struggling with food security. Yes, I said millions. In particular, our children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of food insecurity and need nutritious food to support their growth and development. Food insecurity can set up children for a lifetime of health problems, and we have a duty to provide access to healthy food for families that need it. 

To address these needs, our office is once again helping to organize drive-thru food distribution events in high-need areas. The first event is on August 12, at the Santa Monica Airport – Airport Interim Open Space (adjacent to the Santa Monica Airport Park). The second event is on August 14 at El Cariso Park. Both events are from 9:00 AM- 12:00 PM, but cars can begin lining up at 8:30 AM. 

Whether you are struggling to keep food on the table or have enough to be able to share, please check out covid19.lacounty.gov/food to find local food pantries and community organizations, or connections to volunteer opportunities. 

Of course, food insecurity is just one of the many challenges residents face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help you stay safe and stay informed, LA County has a variety of resources, news, and up to date public health guidelines at covid19.lacounty.gov
 
JUSTICE REFORM? LET THE VOTERS DECIDE!
This week, the Board approved the final reading of the Reimagine LA County Initiative, which would place a charter amendment on the ballot in November, asking the voters to ratify our decision to direct a minimum of 10% of our locally generated funding to a range of community services. 

Racial inequity in our custody system is extreme and unjustifiable. The outdated and punitive uses of law enforcement to cure social ills are not working. In most cases, they are only perpetuating a cycle of incarceration that destroys families and fractures communities. Investments in preventative measures and community services like housing, treatment, and diversion, can revitalize underserved communities and lead to a safer LA County for all. Of course, law enforcement unions are already massing resources and working to keep the measure from even coming to you for a vote.  

Don’t be fooled by misleading claims that law enforcement jobs would be lost. Read the facts. The Charter amendment is just one tool to help make the budget adjustments needed to bring the County's spending into alignment with our actions of the last few years. We're prepared to make a long-term commitment to this important justice reform effort. The voters should be allowed to decide if we’re on the right track. 

ReadL.A. County voters to decide whether to divert millions to social services and racial justice

That and much more in this week's Board of Supes' Take 5

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Update 7/11/20

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is so severe, it is significantly jeopardizing our ability to care for all the people who are getting sick. When we began to reopen various businesses, we counted on businesses, customers, and residents to take the limitations and directives seriously and do everything required to slow the spread.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of every one of our LA communities and business sectors failed, which means that we had to roll back some openings and ask everyone to redouble their efforts if we are to avoid a strict stay at home order.

On Tuesday, the Board unanimously passed my motion with Sup. Janice Hahn imposing fines on businesses that do not comply with the directives and guidelines issued by the County Department of Public Health and considering, after further violations, whether to revoke their permits. We asked for a report back on July 21st, suggesting the various levels of fines that might be imposed and the best ways to enforce these orders. 

Read: LA County aims to put teeth in enforcement of coronavirus orders

Under the motion, which passed unanimously, the first time businesses are found to be non-compliant, a fine would be assessed. In the case of repeated offenses, the County will revoke business permits. The motion will cover tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, retail stores, gyms, and other businesses across LA County.

Both business owners and customers: PLEASE take this seriously. You are part of our community and essential in slowing the spread of COVID-19.  Prepare now to comply with orders and, when the fines are put in place, you will not be among those paying!

And please keep visiting covid19.lacounty.gov for the latest information on testing, public health orders, and available resources.
 
CARE FIRST, JAILS LAST, THE NEXT CHAPTER.
After decades of relying almost entirely on punishment-based community safety strategies that incarcerated people struggling with poverty, homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse, LA County is taking its next big step on the road to change by creating a 'care first, jails last' system.

In March, we voted to develop new and extensive community health and safety efforts designed to build on proven treatment and diversion programs that have already helped thousands of men and women access mental health and social services instead of going to jail.

On Tuesday, the Board unanimously voted for a pair of motions Sup. Mark Ridley-Thomas and I teamed up on to build on those efforts and move us even closer to a vision of transformational change.

The first motion establishes an ongoing funding reserve dedicated to the new Office of Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI). The second secures a dedicated funding stream for our Office of Diversion and Reentry -- an entity that will play a critical role, along with the ATI Initiative, to realize our care first, jails last vision.

The Board also unanimously adopted a motion by Supervisor Hilda Solis, which I was proud to co-author, to determine a plan for the closure of Men’s Central Jail. Read more about these important justice system decisions here

Read: County officials move to close Men’s Central Jail in downtown L.A., invest in health care-based responses

These efforts set LA County on a logical, humane, and fiscally prudent course centered on real rehabilitation and community healing.
ASSISTANCE FOR RENTERS
If COVID-19 wasn't troubling enough on its own, the 1st of each month when rent is due has become an especially difficult time for renters impacted by the pandemic.

Thankfully, the City of Los Angeles has allocated $103,000,000 for its new Emergency Renters Assistance Program to provide rent subsidies to an estimated 50,000 Los Angeles households impacted by COVID-19. Applications open this Monday, July 13th, at 8:00 AM. Learn more and apply here.

The City of Santa Monica has established a similar COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which has a July 17th application deadline.

If you need assistance, please apply. And please share these links with the renters you know who are struggling right now -- and note both programs are open to residents of their respective cities regardless of immigration status.

And more help is on the way, as the County is close to finalizing a renters assistance fund prioritizing tenants in the unincorporated areas and small cities in Los Angeles County. I will keep you updated as soon as details are available.
 

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Update 7/4/20 

This week, the County Department of Public Health reported growing and alarming trends of community spread of COVID-19. On Monday, the County reported a one-day count of 2,903 new cases, the largest one-day count since the pandemic began.

We must do better. We all know how to get these critically dangerous case numbers down and now, more than ever, we need to take these actions seriously: Washing hands frequently, wearing a mask or face-covering indoors and outdoors, and maintaining at least a six-foot physical distance from others.  Just do it!

Read: 'People in LA County flunked.' Sheila Kuehl on the return of COVID closures

And for those of you who attempt to excuse your lack of mask by shouting “I’m not old!” (True story)—Over forty percent of cases are now among individuals between the ages of 18 and 40. And, while cases in this age range typically have a lower risk for serious illness or death, they may also unknowingly infect parents, grandparents, friends, and family who have underlying health conditions and are at even greater risk. 

If this experience has taught us anything, it is that self-centered, science-averse behavior may be as deadly as the virus itself. The only way we are going to get through this is to cultivate a culture that values our collective good over selfish whims and puts an end to the fairy tales we tell ourselves. Our aversion to comparatively minor personal inconveniences needs to be set aside.  As one friend put it, “If you think a mask is uncomfortable, wait till you’re on a respirator.”  

We will be living with the major disruption of shutdowns and quarantines for much longer than we would like. Wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and avoiding large gatherings are small sacrifices that can make a huge difference, but only if we all do it. 

Whether you do it out of respect for the grieving families or the hope of a brighter, healthier future, please do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19. 
 
FEEDING OUR MOST VULNERABLE
On Thursday, my office partnered with the LA County Department of Parks & Recreation, LA County Library, New Horizons, and LA Regional Food Bank for a food distribution event in North Hills. We provided 1300 families with healthy produce from local farmers and shelf-stable items. 

As the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis reverberate through LA County, more and more families are struggling just to put food on the table. The County has mobilized a robust response to the challenge of widespread food insecurity, partnering with charitable organizations and local restaurants to help meet residents' nutritional needs.

For struggling seniors, LA County implemented the Great Plates Program, providing three home-delivered meals a day to qualifying older adults and adults over 60 who are high-risk as determined by the CDC, enabling them to minimize their trips out of the house. Several local restaurants helped with this endeavor, making the Great Plates Program doubly beneficial, supporting small businesses and feeding seniors in need. 

LA County has a one-stop-shop connecting people struggling with food insecurity to people who can help. For food insecurity resources, or to find out how you can get involved, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/food
 
LA REGIONAL COVID FUND
Small businesses and non-profits have suffered as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but LA county is here to revitalize our local economy and lift up underserved businesses. 

Although there are a number of federal COVID-19 relief programs, financial, technical, and cultural barriers have left many of our neighborhood businesses behind. The County of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles, in partnership with institutional and corporate philanthropy, have come together to create the LA Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund, and address those gaps in aid. The regional fund will offer loans and grants to micro-entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profits. This recovery effort is three-fold, providing grants, loans, and coaching and technical assistance. 

To learn more, please visit LACOVIDfund.org
 
SUMMER ART CAMP AT LACMA
Calling all young artists! Looking to spark some creativity this summer? 

In an effort to follow State and County public health guidelines, the in-person Summer Art Camp at LACMA will pivot to an engaging online art-making experience. At these digital art camps, your children and teens can learn from inspiring museum educators and artists safely from the comfort of your own home. 

Along with formal painting, sculpting, and mixed media classes, you will also find unique programs like "Electric Art," a science and art mash-up where students will light up their work by learning the basics of building a conductive circuit using simple materials like copper tape and small batteries. Many classes are taught in Spanish and can double as a fun and engaging way to learn a new language! 

Spots are filling up quickly, so reserve yours today!  


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Update 6/27/20

As LA County grapples with the COVID-19 crisis and its subsequent economic fallout, government safety nets like CalFresh and WIC struggle to serve a growing segment of people who need nutritional aid. In response, the County has mobilized a countywide response, bringing together public agencies, nonprofits, and a network of volunteers to fight hunger in our most vulnerable communities. 

This week, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Janice Hahn to develop a sustainable and just food system in LA County. The motion calls upon the Chief Sustainability Officer (acting as director of the Food Security Branch), related county departments, and other food system stakeholders to develop a plan outlining policies and strategies to effectively address the issue of food security. 

There is a high degree of interdependence across the different sectors of LA County's food system, meaning that any efforts or actions aimed at eradicating food insecurity require extensive collaboration and coordination. Regular coordination among County departments, local nonprofits, food providers, and philanthropic institutions will help us better prepare for future disasters and economic shocks and ensure that anyone who needs food in the months to come will be able to access it. 

In a perfect example of that kind of coordination, my office teamed up with several local organizations on Tuesday for a drive-thru food distribution event at El Cariso Park in Sylmar, helping to feed families in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. A big thank you to our partners, El Nido Family Centers, North Valley Caring Services, First 5 LA, Cedars Sinai, See LA, and the Department of Parks and Recreation, who helped make this happen, and to all the members of my staff who volunteered! 

LA County has a one-stop-shop that can connect people struggling with food insecurity to people who can help. For food insecurity resources, or to find out how you can get involved, visit https://covid19.lacounty.gov/food/
 
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Our country is finally recognizing the persistent systemic racism present in our criminal justice systems and renewing calls for reform. In LA County, we have been taking meaningful steps to transform our systems from a long-time dependence on incarceration to a Care First-Jails Last commitment. 

On Tuesday, Supervisor Hilda Solis and I introduced a motion to be considered on July 7th calling for a study on what steps would have to be taken in order to close the Men’s Central Jail in one year. The Men's Central Jail population has already been dramatically reduced in order to contain the spread of COVID-19, putting us in a much better position to find a way to divert the remaining population, particularly those with serious mental illness, whose needs are better met by treatment environments. 

In a related issue, our office has been studying research showing that in-person contact with loved ones tends to support the well-being of those in custody and also reduces the risk of recidivism.  We concluded that, on balance, it was time to relax restrictions imposed  because of the pandemic and restore this valuable and integral component of rehabilitation, of course, with stringent health protocols in place. On Tuesday, the Board passed my motion calling for a two-week report back from both the Sheriff and the Probation Department on how we can reinstate visitation, allowing those in custody to return to participation in programs provided by community nonprofits as well as to safely connect with members of their families.  

Finally, with a great deal of questioning arising on the roles played by law enforcement in our communities, discussion has increased concerning the negative outcomes that can result from having police respond to mental health emergencies. Police officers are not social workers, and when they are called to situations that require that type of training, they can actually make things worse for the person they are trying to help. The Board passed a motion to deploy alternative crisis response teams when armed law enforcement are not appropriate, re-routing non-violent emergency calls to groups like the County's Psychiatric Mobile Response Team or the LAHSA Emergency Outreach Team. You can read more here
 
HOUSING, HOMELESSNESS, AND COVID-19
Housing affordability and the prevention of homelessness continue to be among the Board's highest priorities. The financial hardships created by the COVID-19 crisis have made that mission more urgent than ever. At this week's meeting, we passed three motions to help keep LA County residents in their homes, and LAHSA presented a comprehensive COVID-19 Recovery Plan related to homelessness and housing. 

LAHSA has helped to shelter over 6,000 people since the start of the pandemic, including 4,000 through Project Roomkey. This is a considerable achievement but a temporary solution. LAHSA is setting the ambitious goal of rehousing 15,000 people experiencing homelessness, focusing on individuals over 65 or those with existing health conditions. Once housed through the lease-up effort, participants will be assessed and supported in exiting to permanent housing. Higher acuity individuals will be placed in supportive housing that will meet their needs, and lower acuity individuals and families will follow a pathway to housing supported by subsidies to help them establish themselves in a new home. Read more about LAHSA's plan here

The Board also passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas that expands the County's Rent Relief Program, prioritizing households most at risk of homelessness in high-need areas.   

In addition, there is a growing fear that LA County, and indeed, all areas across the country, will start to see a slew of evictions and foreclosures as eviction moratoria are lifted. Recognizing that we need to be proactive, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas that asks the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, CEO, and County Counsel to collaborate on a preventative plan to address the expected increase in evictions, once the emergency declarations are lifted. 

Finally, I submitted a motion that was approved by the Board to extend the eviction moratorium across the entire county for another month. The COVID-19 crisis is ongoing, and the process of reopening has only just begun. We need to provide individuals and families a little more time to get back on their feet and protect tenants from eviction as they work to rebuild their financial security. 
 
METRO BOARD MEETING
At this week's Metro Board Meeting, the Board directed the CEO, Phil Washington, to initiate a comprehensive reimagining of the agency’s transit policing contracts and how we deliver public safety on our system.

During the meeting, a large number of riders expressed concerns about police conduct in the Metro system and how the current structure leaves many feeling vulnerable and unsafe. Metro will convene a new Transit Public Safety Committee that will include riders and advocacy organizations to guide our public safety efforts. Specifically we will be examining replacing our armed security guards with Metro ambassadors to provide customer support and security for our riders.

The Metro Board stands united against racial injustice and inequity. We can, and must, do better to provide true safety for all. 
 
COVID-19 CRISIS CONTINUES
Across the Country, states (including California) are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases. The truth is, this virus will be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future, and we need to adapt accordingly. Everyone must begin incorporating basic infection control protocol into their daily lives, because doing so saves lives, helps us to continue on the road to recovery, and prevents the need for more disruptive measures like the re-imposition of shutdowns. 

One of the most effective preventative measures you can take is wearing a mask. Last week, the Governor announced that all Californians are required to wear face coverings in common spaces and public areas, both indoors and outdoors when distancing is not possible. Just as you wouldn't drive a car without your seatbelt, you shouldn't be leaving your house without a mask. 

Businesses should be aware that it is their right to refuse to serve individuals who put their customers and employees at risk by deciding not to wear a mask, unless they are under the age of 2 or have a disability that prevents them from doing so. Fraudulent "mask exemption" cards are being circulated, but these are NOT valid and are NOT endorsed by the DOJ or any other governmental agency. You can learn more here

To eliminate any financial barriers people may face that would prevent them from wearing a face mask, the Board approved a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to develop a plan for purchasing and distributing three million cloth face masks, prioritizing County residents most in need, or those who live or work in communities most impacted by COVID-19.

Read: LA County to Purchase, Give Away 3 Million Cloth Masks

Beyond its practical purposes, a mask sends a message of unity and compassion. It tells everyone from your neighbors to strangers that you are with them in this fight against an invisible and deadly enemy. Now is not the time for recklessness and selfishness, so wear your mask, save lives, and #SlowtheSpread. 
 
SIDEWALK SERVICE AT LA COUNTY LIBRARIES
Looking to get a jump on your summer reading? Select LA County Libraries are open for sidewalk services! 

Although libraries are closed to the public due to COVID-19, sidewalk service enables people to access all that these valuable institutions have to offer with minimal risk. You will have your items in 6 easy steps:
 
⏰ Call the Library once you have received notification that your hold is available to let them know when you will pick up your holds.
🚗 Park in a space designated for Sidewalk Service Holds pickup. Please bring a face covering with you; you must use one while picking up your holds.
📞 Call the Library at the number listed on the parking sign.
⚠️ Follow staff instructions. You’ll be asked to wait in a designated area, wearing a face covering, while your holds are brought to a table for you to pick up.
📚 Enjoy your items!
🔄 Return to a bookdrop by the due date. All items will be quarantined for 14 days. 

You can learn more, and find out if your local library is participating, here. Happy reading!

 

Updated on 4/1/20: 


There is no question that dealing with this virus is definitely taking a toll on our collective mental health.

During these difficult times, the LA County Department of Mental Health is available for those who are struggling to cope, whether you have been previously diagnosed with mental illness or are just now experiencing symptoms. For help, please call 800-854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741.

Be kind to one another, and be there for one another. We will get through this, together.
 
Help is a click away



FINALLY... SOME GOOD NEWS.

Going stir crazy at home? Kids need to be entertained? So much of what we love about living in LA is having amazing places to visit, and now, you can experience it all right in your own home! 

🦒 Follow LA Zoo’s social media for fun facts, virtual tours, and stunning wildlife 

🌌 See the stars in your own backyard with the Griffith Observatory’s Weekly Sky Report 

🎭 Raise the curtain on your home stage with LA Opera’s Family Opera Time 

📚 Join LA County Library for Story Time live at 11 am and 3 pm on Facebook 

🎨 Watch short films, exhibition walkthroughs, and documentaries with LACMA@Home

🐠 Learn with the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Aquarium Online Academy


From 3/19/20: 
Dear friends and community partners,
 
On behalf of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and our staff at the West/Metro LA Office, we hope you (and your team/clients/constituents) are staying dry, warm, and healthy. I am attaching FAQs (including a link to below), “What You Need to Know” Infographic (including a link below), Cover Your Cough handout, and Handwashing Steps handout to this email.
 
If you go to the publichealth.lacounty.gov website, a pop up will appear where you can subscribe to updates, which I strongly recommend. Here are some helpful links as well:
 
Department of Public Health’s dedicated page to COVID-19 information: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/
There is information for:
  • specific populations like schools, colleges, families, event organizers, healthcare professions, businesses, faith based orientations, homeless shelters, and many others
  • what to do if you’ve been exposed, how to cope with stress, and cleaning tips
  • recent news and updates
 
FAQs for COVID-19: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/FAQ.pdf
What You Need to Know Infographic: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/CoronavirusInfographicEnglish.pdf
Today’s press release: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/phcommon/public/media/mediapubhpdetail.cfm?prid=2262
 
Please know that our office is available to you and your community members via email or telephone. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.
 
Contact:
Fernando Morales, District Director
Fmorales@bos.lacounty.gov, (213) 974-3333