Crunch time at the Capitol
It’s crunch time at the Capitol, and things are moving fast. Because of our Constitutional obligation to end our legislative session on August 31st, the Legislature is bound to honor a specific schedule, and that’s been an extraordinary challenge as we work to try to address as many of the problems caused by the pandemic as we can.
Unfortunately, my colleagues and I have had to dramatically reduce our legislative measures to target only those issues related to COVID-19. But there are also some measures moving forward that have been in the works for a long time, and it just so happens that right now could be an opportunity for real change - especially for those who have paid their debts and are now returning to society after living behind bars.
I want to share one of my latest articles published in the Daily News about why we need a qualified Re-entry Commission to support those who working hard to get back on their feet and put improved programs in place to help them achieve their goals and reduce the likelihood of repeat crimes. And the LA Times agrees - their editorial board recently wrote a powerful editorial of my efforts, and I couldn’t be more appreciative.
Meanwhile, I am working non-stop with my colleagues in both houses of the Legislature to try to prevent our state budget, and the services we all rely upon, from being too damaged by the unprecedented economic fallout from the pandemic. I hope today’s newsletter will continue to be of assistance as you deal with your own pandemic-related challenges here in the Valley. As usual, if you need assistance, have a question, or even have some good news to share, please reach out to me on Facebook and Twitter, or send me an email.
Stay safe and be well,
HEALTH AND SAFETY
COVID CASE COUNTS REMAIN STEADY IN THE VALLEY
The LA County Dept. of Public Health says that we’re battling about 31,634 cases of Coronavirus in the San Fernando Valley. That number grew by 2,838 new patients in less than a week, and the highest number of infection rates are in North Hollywood, Pacoima and Sylmar.
The Governor and the CA Dept. of Public Health are reporting that our numbers are flattening out and remaining steady rather than surging, which is good. But we still have a really long way to go, and we need your cooperation to get to the next phase. Please keep wearing your masks, resist going to parties and other major gatherings, and keep washing your hands. Your actions are making a difference!
THREE NEW COVID-19 TESTING SITES NOW AVAILABLE
I am happy to report that there are three new drive-up COVID-19 testing sites opened in LA County this week in Panorama City, Montebello, and South Gate. Experts say testing is one of the best way we can get a handle on this virus, so if you don’t know your current COVID-19 status, now is the time to find out.
These new sites can test almost 2,000 people a day, five days a week. It’s recommended that you schedule an appointment, but remember that testing will be prioritized for people who show symptoms, essential workers, and people that remain at high risk of contracting Coronavirus.
Getting started is easy. Call 2-1-1, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing, or go to coronavirus.lacity.org/testing to schedule your test today.
LA COUNTY WON’T CONSIDER WAIVERS FOR SCHOOLS TO RE-OPEN FOR FALL
Because the county remains on the statewide Monitoring List, officials have already confirmed that area schools won’t be able to submit waivers for in-person instruction for the fall.
We still have a few hurdles in our path - starting with getting off that Monitoring List, and that requires the County to have no cases reported for three days in a row. Once we have that, the County can consider beginning the re-opening process for a lot of places. But as of today, we’re told it may still be a little while before we hit that goal.
We all know how disappointing this news can be, but I know we all appreciate how important it is to ensure the health and safety of our children, schoolteachers, staff and our Valley neighbors.
DMV EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR EXPIRING LEARNER’S PERMITS
Due to COVID-19, the CA Dept. of Motor Vehicles reported that it recognizes the challenges many of our young drivers face when trying to re-new their information, and receive their driver’s license. This requires an in-person visit, which isn’t possible right now because of our current pandemic guidelines.
But the DMV has announced that you or your child can get an automatic extension if you have an existing permit that’s set to expire soon. Student drivers also have from now until November 30 to prepare for and schedule their behind-the-wheel drive test. Visit the DMV website for more information.
REFILL YOUR PANTRY WITH HELP FROM MEND
We’ve been hearing a lot about how people have had to make drastic changes as we all do our best to get through this pandemic. Unfortunately for many of our friends and neighbors, some of the COVID-19 related stress can come from wondering when and where your next meal is going to be.
My office reached out to one of our local food pantries to get a status update, and organizers at Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) in Pacoima had some startling news to share. MEND reports that for the month of July, there was a 400% increase in demand for food compared to this same time last year. Since March, they say they’ve distributed almost 500,000 pounds of food to over 50,000 people here in our Valley. This is done thanks to strong collaborations, donations and help from volunteers. And I want you to be aware of this resource, and please know that it’s ok to ask for assistance if you or your family needs it.
MEND has a drive-thru food pickup available on Tues. & Fridays from 9-11 a.m.. Please be sure to connect with their team if you want to donate, volunteer, or even pick up a few essentials.
JOBS AND ECONOMY
GET COUNTED! PARTICIPATE IN THE CENSUS, AND HELP THE VALLEY GET OUR FAIR SHARE
There’s power in numbers, and we need all the strength we can get behind the 2020 Census. Our voices in the Valley are stronger together, and when we get counted, it means we're fighting for the funding and the representation we deserve. With help from the Census, we could get a portion for community programs like Head Start, childcare and development programs, community mental health programs, nutritional programs, educational and health care resources, and much more. The accuracy of the Census also supports better equity and justice, and it’s an easy, inclusive civic activity we can all engage in. The questions are easy to answer, the process is confidential and secure, and despite the rumors, there is no citizenship inquiry. Please be counted today at my2020census.gov
AT&T GIVES BACK WITH GRANTS FOR OUR LOCAL NON-PROFITS
My office regularly works with AT&T to help award the “Investing in California” grant to non-profits that do exceptional work in our Valley. This year, Valley Inter-Community Council and North Valley Care Services were selected because of how much these organizations are able to do in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Valley InterCommunity Council, (previously known as Valley Interfaith Council), has provided Meals-On-Wheels services to many of our senior residents. We often refer people to this establishment when someone needs assistance with hot meals or groceries.
North Valley Caring Services has been feeding homeless people that are participating in Project Roomkey. They service places that don't have easy access to grocery stores like northwest Sylmar, and they often host drive-thru food banks in west North Hills.
It’s important that we recognize the challenges these places take on every day, and especially right now. A special thank you to the workers, volunteers, organizers and so many others that deserve this critical investment. And thank you for helping make our Valley a better place!
CELEBRATE BLACK RESTAURANT WEEK
This weekend kicks off the annual Black Restaurant Week in LA. It’s especially important that we support our local restaurants right now, and lift up our Black-owned businesses here in the Valley. There is a wide variety of places to choose from, and it’s easy to check out many different menus from all around the region.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have also expanded their mission by building digital versions of their key events, including a nationwide virtual bartending competition. Please follow Black Restaurant Week on Instagram to get the latest information, and where they’re headed to next.
WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE? JOIN THE CITIZEN REDISTRICTING COMMISSION
If you live in LA, care about equity and equality, and want to exercise a unique civic duty, consider applying for the Citizens Redistricting Commission. It might sound complicated, but it’s actually really important. As a volunteer, you would help ensure that county districts are as equal in population and geographic size as possible. You must meet the qualifications to join this 14-member team by currently living in LA County, you’ve registered to vote for the past five years, and more. You can go online or complete the mail-in application, but the last day to turn it in is August 31st. I encourage you to look more into this opportunity today.
NEED HOUSING ASSISTANCE? FIND YOUR FAMILY SOURCE CENTER
The Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department has a new network of centers for those of us that need a little more support right now. Their Family Source System provides social, educational, and other services for low-income families in the Valley. At no cost, you can even get job assistance and sign up for programs to help rebuild your credit. There are 16 locations to choose from, so reach out and get connected today.
REMEMBER, WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER
We have revised these updates to focus on issues important to the San Fernando Valley during the COVID-19 outbreak, but we also want to keep you informed on legislative news, and about the places and people that matter in the San Fernando Valley. We appreciate your feedback. If you have a specific question or concern, please click here to send an email or call my office at (818) 901-5588. You’re also invited to share your own stories and experiences, so please feel free to connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.