Bob Blumenfield

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Bob Blumenfield
Member of the Los Angeles City Council from the 3rd district
Assumed office
July 1, 2013
Preceded by Dennis Zine
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 45th district
40th district (2008–2012)
In office
December 1, 2008 – July 1, 2013
Preceded by Lloyd E. Levine
Succeeded by Matt Dababneh
Personal details
Born (1967-09-13) September 13, 1967 (age 49)
Brooklyn, New York
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Kafi Blumenfield
Residence Woodland Hills, California
Alma mater Duke University
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Southern California
Occupation Politician
Religion Judaism[1]
Signature
Website http://blumenfield.lacity.org/

Robert J. Blumenfield (born September 13, 1967) is an American elected official in Southern California.[1] Blumenfield is the Los Angeles City Councilmember for the 3rd Council District which encompasses the southwestern San Fernando Valley neighborhoods of Los Angeles, including Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka, and Woodland Hills. Blumenfield took office on July 1, 2013. Blumenfield previously represented the 45th district in the California State Assembly, which also covers the southwestern San Fernando Valley.

Prior to his election to the City Council, Blumenfield served in the California State Assembly from 2008 – 2013. He was the first Democratic freshman Assemblymember to ever serve as the Chair of the Budget Committee. During his four-year tenure as Chair, he led the State from the brink of economic insolvency to structural balance and surplus. He delivered his last three budgets on-time and balanced – a feat that hadn’t been achieved during the prior 25 years. In addition, he radically changed the budget process to make it more transparent and accountable.

Capitol Weekly called Blumenfield “a shining light” with a “reassuring amount of perspective that is uncommon among so many politicians.” He was extraordinarily prolific and effective in the Assembly, having had over 50 bills signed into law. He is considered an environmental and consumer champion and has won numerous accolades and was named “Legislator of the Year” from a diversity of groups which included, TechAmerica, Easter Seals, New Horizons, ONEgeneration, the California Chiropractic Association, the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters and Californian’s Against Waste. Planned Parenthood gave him both their prestigious “Champion for Choice” Award and their “Advocate for Access” Award.

Early life and education[edit]

Blumenfield was born on September 13, 1967. He is a graduate of Duke University and the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

From 1989 – 1996, he worked in Washington, DC as a staff person to Senator Bill Bradley, Congressman Howard Berman and as staff designee to the House Budget Committee. He later worked as Director of Government Affairs for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and then as District Chief of Staff to Congressman Berman in the San Fernando Valley. In addition, he has served on numerous non-profit boards including the Anti-Defamation League, Children’s Express, and the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters.

California State Assembly (2009-2013)[edit]

Blumenfield took office as a member the California State Assembly in 2008 after defeating Republican candidate Armineh Chelebian in the general election.[2] During his time in the Assembly, Blumenfield represented the San Fernando Valley in District 40 and, following redistricting in 2012, District 45.

He achieved a high rate of success in getting his bills enacted into law. In 2012, the Governor signed 18 of 19 bills authored by Blumenfield that year. A year earlier, he recorded a 92 percent success rate on his legislative package. He served as chair of the Assembly Budget Committee for four years and was the first freshman Democratic Assemblymember to be appointed to this position.

While in the Legislature, Blumenfield authored more than 54 bills which have since been signed in to state law. These bills not only stabilized the budget, but improved the environment, increased access to technology in schools, and form the foundation of his ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles.

The Budget[edit]

As chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, Bob oversaw the shaping of a state spending plan in 2013 that marked a new beginning for California's fiscal future. When he was sworn in as a freshman legislator in December 2008, the State faced a looming fiscal emergency and a state deficit of $40 billion. In the years that followed, Blumenfield would deliver three on-time balanced budgets—a feat not seen since the mid-1980s. Blumenfield delivered a spending blueprint that maintained fiscal responsibility, tracked the governor’s conservative revenue estimates, paid down $5.2 billion in debt and established a rainy-day fund for emergencies.

In November 2013, the Legislative Analyst's Office projected a $5.6 billion reserve, reflecting the hard work and tough choices made under Blumenfield's leadership.

Environmental legislation[edit]

Combating the drought, environmental sustainability, and promoting green business were central to Blumenfield's policy agenda. He authored AB 474, which established a voluntary system that allows public agencies and water districts to provide up-front financing for the installation of water use efficiency improvements.

Two other measures authored by Blumenfield saved California State Parks from closure due to budget constraints and preserved parts of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Blumenfield's AB2724 promoted solar power generation on state buildings to save an estimated $20 million. Another bill allows state colleges and universities to receive credit for all the power they generate on campus.

Blumenfield also ensured that single-occupancy drivers of electric vehicles get free access to toll roads and carpool lanes through 2015.

The Economy[edit]

As a member of the California State Assembly, Blumenfield's economic priorities focused on green business, technology, small business, and infrastructure.

Blumenfield helped lead a special task force of legislators who negotiated a plan to build a new NFL stadium in Los Angeles and expand the LA convention center to attract businesses to Downtown.

In an effort to support green business, Blumenfield authored SB71 which established a sales tax exemption for equipment and products used in the manufacture of clean technology and green energy products.

Blumenfield was also able to pass a constitutional amendment that would authorize a statewide ballot measure to lower the vote threshold for communities to approve bonds that pay for infrastructure projects.

The Valley[edit]

During his tenure in Sacramento, Blumenfield fought to ensure the Valley's fair share; working hard to preserve funding for public and charter schools in his district, stopping the proliferation of mobile billboards in the Valley, and establishing a local emergency earthquake preparedness team. When construction on the $125 million Valley Performing Arts Center was halted due to budget constraints, Blumenfield managed to secure funding to ensure the completion of the state of the art facility which ultimately opened in 2011.

Consumer protection[edit]

Blumenfield authored a number of bills that focused specifically on consumer rights and consumer protection, particularly to prevent exploitation of senior citizens and the disabled. With AB 589, Bob established the first protections in state law to help seniors and others against financial investment scams. He also passed AB 1293, which prohibits theft of financial assets from seniors and disabled individuals in the state of California.

With AB 1268, Blumenfield combated unexpected charges by cell phone service providers by requiring them to inform customers when they have reached their allotted airtime of data usage for the month. He would later postpone moving his legislation as the Federal Communications Commission was simultaneously pursuing similar regulation.

Blumenfield also authored the landmark bill AB 1215, which requires used car dealers to alert consumers about any junked, totaled, or salvaged vehicles.

Global affairs[edit]

Blumenfield has been outspoken on international affairs throughout his political career, particularly on issues dealing with Israel and the Middle East.

He authored several bills aimed at divesting California state funds from Iran in response to their nuclear program. Among these was AB 1151, which divested California's public pension funds (CALPERS) from businesses with interests in Iran's energy sector.

In 2011, Bob formally asked the California State University to resurrect its study abroad program in Israel. The program was suspended in 2002 after the US Department of State issued a “travel warning” for Israel in the wake of the Second Intifada.

In 2010, Blumenfield passed AB 619, the Holocaust Survivor Responsibility Act, legislation that would require companies seeking contracts to build California’s High Speed Rail system to disclose their involvement in deportations to Nazi concentration camps. It also created a $60 million fund to distribute reparations to thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families who were deported by France's state rail company SNCF during the Nazi occupation. In 2015, SNCF announced a settlement in excess of $60 million for its role in the deportation of an estimated 76,000 French Jews to Nazi concentration camps.

Commenting on Blumenfield's role in achieving the landmark sanctions, Raphael Prober, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and pro bono counsel to the survivors, remarked that “Bob Blumenfield has been a tremendous advocate for these Holocaust survivors in their quest for justice. Bob’s early support and leadership in the California Assembly represented a true turning point in the survivors’ decades-long efforts to hold SNCF accountable for its Holocaust-era atrocities. California set the stage for similar legislative efforts in numerous other states, sparking a surge of public support and momentum that I believe was invaluable in achieving the historic agreement now in place.”

Blumenfield also authored AB 1032, which provided a framework to promote green technology research and development by companies in California and Israel. In November 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger appeared in Israel to sign an intent letter leading to a memorandum of understanding modeled on the bill.

Blumenfield authored ACR 144, proclaiming every April as Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month to call attention to genocides throughout history, and to educate people about the need to speak out against contemporary and historic genocides.

Committees[edit]

2013-2014

  • Banking and Finance
  • Budget, Chair
  • Transportation
  • Water, Parks and Wildlife
  • Legislative Budget, Vice chair

2011-2012

  • Appropriations
  • Budget, Chair
  • Governmental Organization
  • Legislative Budget, Vice chair
  • Transportation
  • Water, Parks and Wildlife

2009-2010

  • Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media
  • Budget
  • Joint Legislative Budget
  • Transportation
  • Water, Parks and Wildlife

LA City Council (2013–Present)[edit]

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in March, 2013. He represents the 3rd Council District, which spans the northwest portion of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, including the communities of Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka and Woodland Hills.

Technology[edit]

CityLink LA Broadband Initiative[edit]

A 2013 study by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that 35% of Angelenos lacked access to the internet or could not afford it.[3] With an emerging tech sector in LA's Silicon Beach and an ever-growing demand for high-speed internet in the LA area, Blumenfield, with support from Mayor Eric Garcetti, began exploring options to expand a citywide broadband network. The goal of this initiative was to ensure that every citizen has access to the internet and that ISPs would support net neutrality.[4]

Blumenfield spearheaded an effort to identify one or more providers to commit to deploying advanced wireline and wireless networks that could provide one gigabit broadband speeds to all residences and businesses in the city of Los Angeles. CityLink LA will also give all Angelenos access to free Wi-Fi at slower speeds.[5] In a public "Request for Participants," the City is currently seeking start-ups and private companies to submit proposals that show potential implementations of a broadband plan.[6] Unlike in other municipal level broadband projects, the City of Los Angeles would not pay to build a Wi-Fi or fiber-optic infrastructure. Instead, CityLinkLA would see private companies footing the bill of building a broadband network.

OurCycle LA[edit]

Blumenfield joined with Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Herb Wesson to launch OurCycleLA, a new City of Los Angeles program to refurbish City computers slated for replacement and give them to Angelenos in need. Computers not suitable for refurbishment are recycled by a local e-waste social enterprise company committed to providing job training to previously incarcerated Angelenos who face barriers to employment. OurCycleLA grew out of a motion introduced last year by Wesson and Blumenfield, in response to news that thousands of City computers would need to be replaced following Microsoft’s decision to halt support for machines running Windows XP.

As part of a March, 2015 pilot program, The City collected approximately 10,000 old computers from all city departments to jump start the OurCycle LA program. Of those, approximately 3,000 computers were determined to be refurbishable and are being fully retooled and loaded with software including Microsoft Windows 7, MS Office, and a web browser before being distributed to non-profit partners and families in need.[7]

Economic development[edit]

Minimum wage increase[edit]

When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in 2014 that he would be asking the City Council to raise the minimum wage, Blumenfield expressed support for the initiative. During drafting of the ordinance, he was influential in crafting legislative changes to address impacts of any minimum wage increase to non-profits and small businesses, and how the City would monitor and adapt to changes in the local economy resulting from the increase.[8]

Blumenfield would go on to vote in support of the $15 minimum wage.[9]

Reseda Rising[edit]

In 2014, Blumenfield unveiled a plan, dubbed "Reseda Rising," to revitalize the Reseda neighborhood of Los Angeles by promoting local businesses. At its launch, the program focused on multiple economic development initiatives, including leveraging previously untapped resources to boost investment in the area.

Budget[edit]

As a member of the Council's Budget and Finance Committee, Blumenfield worked to craft a sustainable budget that is reflective of budget priorities for the West Valley. These include increased funding for public safety and other critical services such as sidewalk repair and tree trimming.

Infrastructure[edit]

Seismic retrofitting, cell towers, and PACE[edit]

Blumenfield introduced a proposal to strengthen the City’s communications infrastructure by ensuring that cellular communications towers are built to withstand vigorous shaking during an earthquake. The measure requires future towers be built to an Importance Factor of 1.5—the same standard currently required by public safety facilities in Los Angeles. Ensuring that communication can continue uninterrupted is central to emergency response and rebuilding efforts.

Blumenfield also put forward concrete steps to include Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs as an option for soft-first story retrofits. PACE is a state-run program that assists property owners to finance upgrades by paying them off through their property taxes. The PACE program explicitly allows for earthquake retrofits.[10]

Parks, streets, and more[edit]

A recent settlement agreement relative to the Class action lawsuit Willits v. City of Los Angeles has been negotiated and obligates the City to expend approximately $31 million a year for 30 years to repair Los Angeles’ broken sidewalks. Blumenfield is working to craft a plan to repair LA's sidewalks in an affordable and sustainable way.

Blumenfield is a longtime supporter of efforts to revitalize the LA river. Blumenfield has been among the most vocal advocates of the River as a critical recreation and economic resource, and played a key role in lobbying the White House and Congress to approve Alternative 20, a plan to restore 719 acres of river habitat in Los Angeles.

Approved by a unanimous vote, the Warner Center 2035 Plan is a blueprint for future specific plans based on principles of sustainability, community connectedness, accessible public transit and the promotion of innovative businesses and jobs. It is intended to stimulate job growth and economic development by using a transit-oriented development approach to support the regional transportation investment of the existing Metro Orange Line. Since taking office, Councilmember Blumenfield has actively pushed to incorporate new green building design standards into the plan, including LEED silver or equivalent and green roof or cool roof requirements for new construction. Warner Center provides more than 40,000 jobs in the City of Los Angeles. In 2013 Farmer’s Insurance announced that they would move their headquarters to Warner Center, and it is the home to major entertainment and healthcare firms, as well as extensive retail opportunities.

Global affairs[edit]

Councilmember Blumenfield has been an outspoken supporter of Israel since his time as an Assemblymember. He has led multiple initiatives for closer collaboration with Israel.

LA-Israel Taskforce[edit]

Blumenfield convened the Los Angeles-Eilat Innovation and Cooperation Task Force at the Milken Global Conference, the annual symposium that brings together some of the world's leading experts in financial markets, industry sectors, health, government and education. The task force was created to facilitate the exchange of ideas and innovation between Israeli companies, education communities and non-profits and their counterparts in the City of Los Angeles. It was established following the 2012 signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU), based on legislation Blumenfield authored as an Assemblymember, to strengthen trade, research and economic development ties between California and the State of Israel.

Environmental policy[edit]

Combating the drought[edit]

City Council backed a measure authored by Councilmembers Bob Blumenfield and José Huizar that would develop a strategy to improve the energy and water efficiency of Los Angeles’s largest users.[11]

As part of his ongoing work to “green the Valley,” Councilmember Bob Blumenfield broke ground on the Blumenfield Water-Wise Demonstration Garden at the West Valley Municipal Center in Reseda. Blumenfield began discussions on how best to reduce the Municipal Center’s water footprint shortly after taking office in July 2013. Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced an expansion of California friendly landscaping at City facilities as part of his recent executive order that seeks to cut citywide water usage by 20%.[12]

Committees[edit]

  • Trade, Commerce, and Technology Committee, Chair
  • Energy and Environment Committee, Vice-Chair
  • Budget and Finance Committee
  • Arts, Parks, and River Committee

Prior to Council reorganization on July 1, 2015, Blumenfield served as the Chair of the Innovation, Technology, and General Services Committee, as well as a member of the Council's Audits Committee.

Personal life[edit]

Blumenfield currently lives in Woodland Hills with his wife Kafi and their two children.

References[edit]

External links[edit]