This week we honored Timonthy Morris for his achievements as part of the Department of Children and Family Service’s Enrichment Plus Awards, an annual presentation that honors students in DCFS’ care who are going above and beyond to excel in school.

Emergency Preparedness at Animal Care and Control

As the Woolsey Fire raged through Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, the Department of Animal Care and Control led a commendable effort to rescue and secure a sudden influx of thousands of displaced animals. Due to the hard work of staff and dedicated volunteers, many of these animals were reunited with their families.

But of course, there is always room for improvement, which is why the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Kathryn Barger that directs DACC to work with other Departments to develop best practices and protocols for emergency preparedness. This will enable the department to communicate better and coordinate internally, as well as with the communities they serve, and efficiently manage resources during a chaotic situation.

Safe Parking in Hollywood

The Board also passed a motion I authored this week to continue operating a current Safe Parking site for houseless people living in their cars and also to seek out new opportunities to expand this excellent program.

The motion does three things. First, it extends a lease with the Department of Public Health to allow the Safe Parking site in Hollywood to continue operating for 12 months. Second, it provides approval for a second Safe Parking program at a DPH clinic in North Hollywood. Finally, this motion delegates authority to the Chief Executive Office to expand the Safe Parking program by identifying suitable county-owned lots for new sites.

Safe parking areas not only provide people living in their cars with a secure place to sleep, but they also create a centralized location where people can begin to receive help in finding permanent housing. Hopefully, this unique program will help more people in need as we make more and more County-owned lots available.

Homeowner’s Exemption Awareness Month

To promote a tax-saving exemption program, we passed a motion authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn that proclaims January 2019 as “Homeowners’ Exemption Awareness Month” throughout Los Angeles County.

Residents who own a home that serves as their principal place of residence may qualify for a Homeowners’ Exemption. The Homeowner’s Exemption will reduce the home’s assessed value for property tax purposes by $7,000, which means a lower property tax bill for homeowners. However, nearly one in three homeowners in the County do not take advantage of the program despite their eligibility, leaving $30 million unclaimed each year.

To apply for the Homeowners’ Exemption visit the Assessor’s website at http://assessor.lacounty.gov or call the Assessor’s Office at (213) 974-3101 to have one mailed!

Tobacco Control Services

On Tuesday the Board also approved a measure that enables the Department of Public Health to execute 21 contracts with qualified agencies to support tobacco control and prevention efforts throughout Los Angeles County.

Tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Moreover, the harmful effects of tobacco do not end with the user. There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Since 1964, 2.5 million deaths have occurred among nonsmokers who died from diseases caused by secondhand smoke exposure. Through their advocacy work, the agencies with whom DPH contracts will help the department achieve their goals of reducing youth access to tobacco products and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing and outdoor areas.

Organizations in the Third district include Koreatown Youth and Community Center, National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse, and Pueblo y Salud.

Mureau Road Bikeway

Good news for cyclists in the West Valley! The Board approved a construction contract with R.C. Becker and Son for the Mureau Road Bikeway and Roadway Improvements project. This project will provide a bikeway connection between existing bike lanes on Las Virgenes and Calabasas Roads, and will involve roadway reconstruction to improve rideability for riders and driveability for vehicular traffic.

This new path comes on the heels of an October motion calling for the development of a county-wide guiding document for all County Bike Paths. The guiding document will recommend consistent rules on allowable usage that can be adopted by any jurisdiction to draft policies and adopt municipal codes. The ultimate goal is to enhance the safety and enjoyability of public recreation spaces for all residents.