Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu, 4th District, held a telephone town hall meeting on July 21 to outline progress in the city’s battle against COVID-19, and to discuss approaches to providing relief for residents and addressing homelessness.
Ryu said more COVID-19 testing is becoming available through the city and county, and he highlighted the testing site at Dodger Stadium as a primary place for people to be tested. The city and county are offering COVID-19 testing by appointment only, and people can schedule a test and view a list of sites by visiting covid19.lacounty.gov/testing. Ryu also said he is advocating for people to be diligent about social distancing and wearing masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19, and is working on a campaign to promote mask wearing in apartment and condominium complexes.
“I know it seems onerous and I know it could be a hassle, but masks are the best way to keep you and other people safe,” Ryu said. “Furthermore, I know how critical coronavirus testing is to understanding and fighting COVID-19, which is why I worked early on to bring about 20,000 tests to the city and county during the first few weeks of the pandemic in March. And, I still continue to support and advocate for testing as the first and most critical tool in our fight against the virus.”
Ryu said the town hall was intended as a way to share information with constituents, and while COVID-19 is a top concern, there are many other pressing problems affecting the district. Authorities are making progress in the effort to end homelessness, he said. Ryu announced that a new temporary bridge shelter is scheduled to open on July 24 in Los Feliz, making it the fourth shelter to open in the 4th District in the past two years.
Ryu also highlighted steps the city is taking to provide relief for tenants and property owners, such as a moratorium on evictions from rent-controlled apartments, and $100 million in CARES Act funding recently used for rent payment relief. He and his City Council colleagues are supporting efforts by leaders at the federal level to create a second round of relief funding under the HEROES Act, which is currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate.
“I am very, very concerned about all the various programs the federal government is currently supporting, whether it’s unemployment assistance, whether it’s PPP and everything else, on top of the potential surge of evictions that we could see,” Ryu said. “We are working with all of our Congress members … and we are pushing very hard that the federal government pass the HEROES Act, which is the next version of federal stimulus dollars that are coming down so we can extend all the benefits. We are looking for the state government and the federal government to step up, but are looking at all [available] measures in case they don’t.”
The councilman also outlined his efforts to root out corruption at City Hall, and highlighted a motion he introduced recently to establish a city Office of Anti-Corruption and Transparency focusing on planning and land-use decisions.
“Everyone has seen the news stories about corruption in City Hall and I’ve got to tell you, I find this news disturbing and shameful, but unfortunately, it’s not shocking,” Ryu said. “Why do I say that? I have been in office for five years and I ran to reform the system, and specifically, I ran to root out corruption at City Hall. My very first legislation when I got elected was to ban developer contributions, as well as non-individual contributions from corporations and LLCs. [Corruption] unfortunately is not new to City Hall, but enough is enough. We need more transparency, we need stricter rules and we go further.”
Ryu also discussed street improvements and said he is taking a comprehensive approach to projects. In addition to repairing potholes, the councilman is looking for locations where bike lanes may be feasible and areas where improvements to crosswalks and other safety amenities can be implemented. Ryu cited a new crosswalk installed on Sixth Street east of Fairfax Avenue that stops traffic with a sequence of flashing yellow and solid red lights while pedestrians cross. He also highlighted the “Slow Streets” program, which was implemented by Mayor Eric Garcetti during the public health emergency to promote walking and cycling on residential streets. Residents and community groups can ask the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to have the program implemented in their neighborhoods. In the local area, it is currently in place on a route that includes Sweetzer Avenue between Colgate and Oakwood avenues, Oakwood Avenue between Sweetzer and Hayworth avenues, Hayworth between Oakwood and Rosewood avenues, Rosewood from Hayworth to Formosa Avenue, and Formosa Avenue north to Willoughby Avenue.
While streets are not closed to cars, signs are placed at intersections indicating pedestrian activity is encouraged. The “Slow Streets” program is temporary during stay-at-home orders, but Ryu hopes to extend and expand it.
“Many neighborhoods have now put in applications for ‘Slow Streets,’” Ryu added. “I think it’s such a great program that I would like to make it permanent. It’s more safety for cyclists, pedestrians and everyone else, and that is something I introduced legislation for. I think that is going to be part of creating a whole network of infrastructure of not just bike lanes but safe streets and walkable streets.”
Ryu urged anyone whose concerns were not addressed to contact his office by calling (213)473-7004, or by visiting davidryu.lacity.org, which includes resources and links to many programs.
“I am here to listen and take action with you to improve the quality of life in your neighborhood,” Ryu added.
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