Before moving to Agoura Hills, I lived in Calabasas off of Las Virgenes, so I’ve been in the area for nearly 7 years.
I was born in Van Nuys but grew up throughout Los Angeles County. I have lived everywhere from Koreatown, Hollywood, Downtown LA, Echo Park, Hancock Park, and Santa Monica. I chose Calabasas (and eventually Agoura Hills) to raise my then two, and now four children. Besides the great schools and open spaces offered here, I was also drawn to how safe the communities are.
If you have not lived in LA, or go to LA often, like I do for work as a Realtor, then you may not have seen first-hand the homeless crisis happening just an hour away from us here in Agoura Hills.
We will get an occasional homeless person in our area… just a couple days ago I noticed two homeless people I had never seen before in Agoura Hills and posted about it on NextDoor. Although at this point it seems like a minor issue, it is something that we should address as a city asap, so that homelessness does not become a crisis in Agoura Hills like in Los Angeles (and throughout other parts of California).
I’m concerned about this as a resident of Agoura Hills. And since I’m running for Agoura Hills City Council, people often ask my position on this issue and my plan for confronting homelessness in our city.
When I lived in Downtown LA in the early 2000s, I was very impressed with the “people with purple shirts on bicycles” and how they rode through Downtown LA, keeping eyes on the area, helping residents and overall making the DTLA area feel safer live and do business in. They are actually called the DCBID Safety Team if you want to read more.
When it comes to homelessness in Agoura Hills, I have a zero tolerance policy, which can be applied in a kind, thoughtful and compassionate way.
A lot of times homelessness is either a temporary financial problem or a more complex mental health issue (which is a bigger problem throughout California). But when it comes to Agoura Hills, I would like to create a unit like the “purple shirt people” known as The Compassion Unit, which can be called by residents and business owners in our city to help homeless people find help and shelter in space outside of our city.
Often times the police or paramedics are called, and I believe this a misuse of resources. The police should be used for safety, and paramedics should be used for medical emergencies. We need something else to help.
My vision is that The Compassion Unit would be trained similar to the CERT volunteers, and be salaried employees of the city with extensive training within the City of Agoura Hills to handle homelessness and mental health issues quickly and effectively. We would be able to have police, paramedics, and nonprofits that work with homeless be part of the training process as well as the process for picking up homeless people within our city.
Let me know your thoughts here.
I have real life experiences with these issues…
I grew up in Los Angeles, born in Van Nuys, and was raised by my single mother who collected food stamps to feed us. She raised my younger brother and me the best she could. She eventually went back to school, graduated from SMC and then UCLA, and then graduated from Southwestern Law School. (Working hard and education are engrained in me).
Shortly afterward though, while I was in 12th grade and my brother was in 10th grade, at Pali High (which we took an MTA city bus to go to and from every day), she was evicted and we were immediately homeless. This was a devastating experience for our family of three. In fact, this eviction and the events afterward changed my life and my relationships forever. Unfortunately, this exacerbated my mother’s undiagnosed bipolarity.
So… I have personal experiences with government assistance and mental health (via my mother), being homeless and living in my car (as a teenager during my last year of high school, yet still graduated with honors and many AP classes).
Shortly afterward, I was committed to not being poor any more, and ended up buying a 4-unit in Echo Park when I was 19.
Fast forward many years in real estate and one of my real estate development projects at 240 Robinson Street ended up in the local news as a “gentrification” hit piece (in which I was smeared for the crime of owning an apartment building).
I believe I understand poverty, struggling, government assistance, homelessness, mental illness, hard work, housing and the nuances in between all of these issues more than most, definitely more than the politicians that were born and raised in Agoura Hills, and sheltered by how lovely it is to live here.
Unlike them, on a visceral level, I appreciate Agoura Hills because I know what LA was and is, and I’m committed as a citizen (and as a candidate for City Council) to keep our city clean, safe and prosperous. I chose to live here, unlike some that by default grow up and live here. Knowing how hard it can be…
I’m committed to keeping Agoura Hills clean, safe and prosperous, without overbuilding and losing our small town charm.