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Inside Quickly

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - On this coming Tuesday's City Council Agenda, there are thirty items, of which three are open for comment.  

One is Mr. MCosker's effort to illuminate City Hall to recognize Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, also known as DIPG. It is an aggressive, malignant (cancerous) brain tumor that develops in a part of the brainstem called the pons.  

And Monica Rodriguez, who has chaired the Public Safety has scheduled a self-serving hearing to revise the noise variance application fee, the false alarm fee, and the fee for issuance of charitable solicitation information cards. She is trimming back some pointlessly high fees, by approximately 25%.  Praise accepted and encouraged.  

Item 26 is not open for comment but calls for a de-escalation grant program, to be put on the City Council agenda on July 1, 2024, or the first meeting day after that. Sneaky!  I assure you it will appear on a day with a million items just before the independence day holiday.  

There is also an item on the agenda re-affirming the roles and responsibilities between the City of Los Angeles Housing Department (lahd) and the Housing Authority for the City of Los Angeles (hacla).  One city group charging another! 

The rates are included for your amusement. 

Inside Quickly

City and county stakeholders have done very little to fix the deficiencies ahead of another round of strong winter storms.  

This Tuesday, the county has shamefully canceled it's regular meeting.  

Last Tuesday, the County Board was busy slapping itself on the back while torturing its constituents.  “Los Angeles County is using the powers of the emergency declaration to accelerate and scale homelessness solutions countywide,” said Board Chair Lindsey P. Horvath, who co-authored the motion to proclaim a state of emergency on homelessness on January 10, 2023. “Our crisis response will continue as we focus on homelessness prevention and further dismantling bureaucracy to deliver lasting solutions to homelessness. 

 “Emergency powers enabled LA County to more effectively coordinate, align, and steer the complex network of local jurisdictions, departments, and programs that constitute our region’s homeless services system,” said Chief Executive Officer Fesia Davenport. “We have built a strong foundation over the past year. Today, we’re better positioned to deploy solutions at the scale that is urgently needed.”   

In a May 2023 report sent to the city, county, and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), 211 LA outlined major operational challenges from the 2022-23 winter shelter season, including having only “one-third of the resources necessary to handle the call volume.”  They had 17 operators available during that period, which is four more than this season, but just a third of what the report said is necessary to staff 211 around the clock. 

“LAHSA works with 211-LA in its capacity as the region’s official information and referral line operator, as designated by L.A. County,” was the only written response to the questions. Horvath told LAist that she’s looking to ensure 211 is adequately staffed.  “The wait times were too long and prevented all who called to seek shelter from receiving it.”  

The public has not been buying it.  

Pete White, the founder and co-executive director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), said that they stopped referring people to 211 because it took “forever” to get an operator on the phone, and the information they provided wasn’t always reliable. 

“There were still thousands upon thousands of Angelenos that just suffered with nothing.“ 

On Friday,  Pat McCosker trotted out the Banning pilots and reminded everyone of Freeman McNeil. who led Banning High School to the 1976 Los Angeles City 4-A football title.  McNeil was 5 ft 11 inches and 214 lbs and attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a running back, where he was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection. 

 

In his final game, McNeil caught a deflected pass from quarterback Jay Schroeder that was tipped by USC defensive back Jeff Fisher and went 57 yards for the winning touchdown with two minutes left in the Bruins' 20–17 win. 

After a brutal verbal attack by the city council and public on Matt Szabo, the CAO, who started many years ago as Antonio Villaraigosa’s communications hack, for fudging the numbers on a Measure HLA that would enforce LA's Mobility Plan — an eight-year-old policy that aims to end traffic deaths in the city by 2035.   

The Los Angeles Fire Department is against it.  

After another exhaustive saber-rattling discussion about public safety, copper, and graffiti, it was time for a little homelessness. This is a very rare occurrence in city hall, but the way it went down was instructive.   

“It's annoying but it's the only way we can hear you,” Paul Krekorian said to the speaker who had come down as part of a verbal update from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and County 2-1-1 regarding the Augmented Winter Shelter Program.  Please speak into the microphone.  

As it relates to accessing a shelter, here are the basic steps.  

1) FIND A SHELTER Use the list of shelter locations provided and pick one close to you.  

2) CALL TO CHECK AVAILABILITY  All shelters require you to call first before coming. Dial 2-1-1 to be referred to a shelter closest to you, or call 1-800-548-6047 for faster service.  

3) PACK YOUR BAGS  All shelters have a two (2) bag restriction. Anything more will not be allowed on the site.  

4) FIND TRANSPORT  Transportation is limited - refer to the list of sites that offer transportation. 

The verbal ONLY update was presided over by Nithya Raman (CD4) the czarina of homelessness herself. She trotted out Miguel Fernandez, the acting director of interim housing at LAHSA and the COO of 211 LA County, Amy Latzer.  

Latzer claims to have led a transformation of 211’s operations to focus on excellence in quality, productivity, and customer service in every aspect. 

So, how are things going?  Not well.  

“So 211 LA is a private non-profit organization That is primarily funded by the county of Los Angeles to provide social service referrals,” explained Ms. Latzer. 

She said over 13,000 calls had come in during the last rains and with only 13 people, 211 LA was only able to answer about 5,700 calls.  A huge number of calls were just left unresponded to.  She said a lot of calls are abandoned and the wait times are extremely high.  

There were days during the peak parts of the storm where one could be waiting for four hours, she noted, “And that's a very painful thing to say.” 

Though she was quick to point out, callers do have the option of being called back, when they are next in line.  

Nithya Raman, who has locked arms with the Mayor asked, “What are the changes that you're making for this next set of rains to prevent four-hour wait times?”  

“There’s not a lot we can do,” she said, noting that staffing up is not as easy as it sounds, because funding sources dictate how many people and require training and recruiting. 

"More than half of our funding comes from the 211 LA core contract with the county,” she said. 

The service level requirements are very stringent and “quite frankly, quite underfunded.”  

Latzer said 211 LA were currently funded to answer 77 percent of the calls they get. Leaving a 23 percent abandonment rate on calls. "It’s very challenging when we see spikes.”   

Nithya Raman, who the mayor said was a perfect example of the type of person who should run for public office, asked what 211 LA was being done to fill the gap.   

The response: “You know, we shared it with some people at the mayor's office in the city and the County at the CEO's office (Fesia Davenport)  the homeless initiative and LAHSA.  You know, we shared it with a lot of people. I don't know if it got to all of your offices.”  

“Um, I don't believe so,” winced Raman. 

Cautious, Latzer, said, “I don't want to, you know, speak out turn here.”     

Smart Speaker: Of course not.  

Council members spoke up saying they had issues where people were issued vouchers and then took the vouchers to a hotel and were told they actually couldn't get into the hotel, based on that voucher, because the hotel had either used their allocation or the voucher wasn't a good fit.  

Eunisses Hernandez (CD1) said she thought the vouchers are a valuable and a good tool if it's one of several in the Toolbox. But what I'm seeing in my district is families… family upon family upon family that we cannot house regularly. let alone during the rainstorm. So, that's why I’m pushing on these vouchers because we need a place for these families to go and I just have a couple more questions. I am already over time.” 

Then came the heartbreaker just two days after Valentine's Day, “I do want to let you know that the winter shelter program for vouchers at least through 211 LA Is for individuals only.”   

Smart Speaker: What about families?

 

Eunisses Hernandez (CD1) is not pleased.  

Ms. Hernandez issued one more lump of fake gratitude before admitting that was… “even more heartbreaking.”Council member, Curren D. Price (CD9), who remains indicted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, and will eventually face trial, was in a decent mood. He thanked everyone repeatedly for their efforts with what he called “really challenging times.” 

How many beds are there for the county and city?   

Someone explained, that there are 11 sites totaling 388 beds. In the City of LA, there are seven sites with a total of 258 beds. 

Another member of the council said, “My office had to coordinate ride shares for 15 to 20 miles for people to get a hotel with the voucher they received.”    

As to the plethora of questions about the location of these hotels and motels.   

“The network of hotels that we use are throughout LA County. In certain areas, it’s a lot easier to enter into agreements with motels for this program and others are more difficult. Particularly because of costs. Certain areas are much more expensive than others. With that said we continuously work to expand the network of hotels that are willing to work with us.” 

211 LA goes out to the sites and makes sure that the site is habitable and their outreach teams do have relationships with hotels themselves, but that won’t change the capacity challenges across the system.   

For the overflow, Amy said they try to push people to “self-serve” on the website.  

Nithya Raman, elected in December of 2020, whom the Los Angeles Times has endorsed as a smart and courageous representative for District 4 had some detailed notes.  

There was a feeling that her timing, after mail-in ballots had been sent out,  for offloading her thoughts on February 16, was not accidental, in the final days of her first term. 

Lightning Flash! Thunder.  

Raman paused for one more moment of self-congratulation, before delivering a series of withering broadsides herself that gave the impression that she had just tested the system’s effectiveness for the first time… last week.  

She said, “I think there's a lot of room for improvement and greater communication and these council meetings, I think are important forums for us to be able to do that.”  Then she said, “I had one last question, which was who was making the decisions on increases in the number of vouchers available?  And how were those decisions being communicated out to you?” 

The answer is, “Uh, it's uh, the mayor's office communicates to us what they what they want. We parade the budget and if they decide to increase budgets for this activation, they'll let us know through email.  We then collaborate and communicate to make sure the number of vouchers and the duration of it and then we share that with 211 LA and our stakeholders. “ 

“Okay, great. That’s helpful,” said Raman.  “I wanted to bring up a few other issues that um, we encountered as we were utilizing the process that I think… some of them are relatively easy fixes.  

For example, 211 LA has two separate pages the website 211LA.org has two separate pages for a winter shelter program that have slightly different pieces of information on them. Having one page with accurateinformation, I think would be very helpful, especially in advance of the next set of rains.  

The page includes only four of the 11 seasonal winter shelter sites. And so making sure that it includes all of the sites as well as the walk-up sites would be great Including information on when the information on availability like bed availability was last updated.   

As part of any update to the site, that would be very useful because it's not clear from looking at the site when the last numbers were updated. There is no direction actually on the LAHSA winter shelter page for how you can self-serve, I know you mentioned that,  and no mention of sites actually being able to be walked up to.   

There's no availability of a list of where these sites may be or where you can go for updated information of where these sites may be.    

How do I access a winter shelter, which is a page that's on the LAHSA site and also does not mention walk-up capability?  

All of these, seem like basic updates that need to be made. I would say going through and doing an audit of all of the information available taking down extraneous or outdated information and making sure that all pathways lead to the places that are being updated and to the correct and accurate numbers for how to get support will help us figure out how to adequately resource that place that we're asking people to go to for support, with what you need to actually keep people safe during the next set of rains. 

Finally, and this is my last question, my office also heard a lot of confusion.  And communication issues even after people experiencing homelessness are approved for vouchers.  

In one example,  one couple was approved and sent to a hotel 15 to 20 miles away, only to be told by the hotel when they arrived that they were not on the list. 

And in another case, we were told vouchers had been extended but then participants were told they had to move out immediately.  

No further questions. 

 

A grumpy termed-out President Paul Krekorian, who may work in the Solar industry, is essential to a vibrant discu-- 

 

Last Speaker:

Smart Speaker:  Interesting to see Raman Enthusing to help the the rich hillside residents.  These are the same rich hillside people, who Yaroslavsky fought for in the Bulgari battle.  She stood with her Constituents to oppose that horror show. But Nithya Raman, who could very well lose her seat over it, despite being the G.O.A.T in terms of city council elections,  did not stand with the people of Studio City.  Instead, she packed up with Paul Krekorian and the crooked evil empire known as Harvard-Westlake School.  

She ignored the people, the good people of the valley and that's why unfortunately despite such a weird day with Traci Park and Eunisses each equally disgusted... as she stood there conducting the whole mess. It's quite sad because I always liked her.   I thought you know, this is a person who might be helpful to us, by trying to stick up for the residents.   

She went in the complete opposite direction.   

She folded on everything and now she sees herself as something like  --  

Jonathan Groat:  You've exhausted your one minute on item 17.  Please move on to the other items. 

Smart Speaker:   Those comments were on item 18, sir.  

Anyway, to put several million dollars, maybe 3.7 million, into cleaning up the graffiti for the Chinese group.  I have a proposal. You're not gonna like this.  Let's back away from that plan. Let's not do it.  Let's not spend those dollars. Let's pursue the legal vise on the entity in China, but until they can get the money.  But let's not front the money because it doesn't look that bad. It looks a lot better than the Shining Tribute to Greed.    Let's Regroup and send it to the Innovation Committee.  And let's ask head innovationist, Bob Blumenfield (CD3), now, how many items are there in the city's budget?  We know there are almost 40 departments, but how many items?  

Just one, silly.  If you are drinking Paul Krekorian's Kool-Aid, as is required.  If you do, you will believe that this was a great meeting where everybody spoke up for their constituents about how... there are 65 vouchers in a city of 4 million people -- 

Bob Blumenfield, Council Member (CD3):  Your time has expired! 

Smart Speaker:   Who sets the budget, Bob? Paul? Karen? Matt? 

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions are of Mr. Preven and not necessarily those of CityWatchLA.com.)