On Monday evening, the Culver City Council discussed a number of issues. Here are the highlights on three items:
- A staff report on the progress made to the stated Homeless Emergency in the city
- A proposed $100,000 grant for a feasibility study to extend the Ballona Creek Bike Path
- Whether to Support an Amicus Brief in support of the Federal DACA Program
Because the Culver City Council has declared a State of Emergency regarding the homelessness crisis, they will receive a report from staff during every city council meeting going forward that updates them on progress made to confront the challenges facing the unhoused.
Staff provided comment on the following:
- Winter Safe Haven Program
As recently as this past weekend, staff coordinated with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and the St. Joseph’s center outreach team to house seven homeless persons as we experienced cold, wet weather. They committed to continue working with LAHSA to expand the number of winter shelter beds next year.
Staff reported that two hotels being used to shelter the unhoused are currently at 87 percent and 78 percent completed, respectively. They then shared with the council several photos showing workers constructing and upgrading the once-shuttered hotels that will be put back to use. To get the hotels back in compliance, workers have had to take several steps including termite abatement, installing new showers and tubs, patching drywall, installing fire sprinklers and new heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, and electrical fixes and upgrades. Several other pieces of work are pending at the first location, Deano’s Hotel on Sepulveda, including stucco and exterior painting, data and cable installation, soft story retrofitting, and other site work. Much of the same work needs doing still at the second location on Sepulveda, the Sunburst Hotel, as well as kitchenette installations.
Formerly known as the Safe Camping program, staff was informed by a homeless service provider that Safe Sleeping was a more appropriate term and that tents should be referred to as suites. The staff will return to the council within about 30 days with a contract with a service provider likely ready to move forward to provide services at Safe Sleep sites. A separate contract for a food and nutrition program will also be negotiated in the weeks to come. Staff also described the Safe Sleep site being developed on Virginia Ave., which will include decorative lighting and infrastructure for pets. Suites will also be propped up on platforms six inches above the ground to protect from rain and flooding.
- Crisis Intervention Program
City Staff is working with Human Resources on recruitment for a Human Services Intervention Director, who will oversee the mobile crisis intervention team. They hope to onboard someone within 30 days, and at that point will begin bringing on other staff for the mobile team, including a mental health clinician, mental health specialist, and two dispatchers.
Following the staff report, Vice Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin shared concerns about a number of reports she had heard about long delays on the county’s 2-1-1 helpline, as well as complaints by some who said they never received a callback. Staff said they, too, have tested the line, and admit it is insufficient. They will be entering conversations with the L.A. Housing Services Authority (LAHSA) and other neighboring jurisdictions (including L.A. City Council Districts) about ways to improve 2-1-1. In the meantime, staff said, with due respect to the county, to call the city hotline for help.
After speaking with representatives from several other cities, Councilmember Göran Eriksson inquired as to what he heard was only a dearth of mental health professionals available. But staff assured him they have several interested candidates ready to take on the roles with the mobile crisis team.
Ballona Creek Bike Path
This item asked the council to approve an allocation of $100,000 to Streets For All, a nonprofit that advocates for greater mobility options. Streets For All has partnered with a company called SWA, who will conduct a feasibility study on whether the Ballona Creek Bike Path can be extended by an additional 2.3 miles, all of which fall in Culver City.
Michael Schneider, the Founder of Streets For All, was on hand to present some history and potential for the bike path. It was constructed in the 1970s, and Phase One went from Syd Kronenthal Park to the ocean. Phase Two was never built, and that’s what Streets For All is trying to make possible. It would take the path up to Venice Blvd. and Cochran.
Green infrastructure would also accompany both sides of the bike path, which will benefit groundwater, augment flood control, and beautify the area along the path.
Councilmembers were largely excited by the prospects presented. Said Councilmember Dan O’Brien, “I couldn’t get this on the agenda fast enough.” Later adding, “In my mind, it’s a no-brainer. Let’s do it.”
Councilmember Freddy Puza was happy to hear a lot of public support during public comments and said he was happy that L.A. Council District 10 (Heather Hutt) was in support. He hopes the Baldwin Hills Conservancy will follow.
Citing traffic fatalities are the biggest killer in Culver City in recent years, Vice Mayor McMorrin added, “For me, being smart about how we build out our city, making sure that our roads are safe for pedestrians, folks in wheelchairs, bikes, scooters – all modes of transportation is incredibly important.”
The council passed the grant toward the feasibility study 5-0.
Culver City was asked by the County of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles if it would sign on in support of an Amicus Brief to support the defense of the Federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). This is the effort to support the Dreamers who were brought to this country at no fault of their own, have been raised American, and only really know the United States as home.
“I don’t even think we need a staff report. I think this is a no-brainer going forward,” said Mayor Albert Vera.
And sure enough, within just a couple of minutes, the council voted 5-0 to sign on to the Brief.
Photo by Focqus, LLC