Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield is running for reelection this year without opposition, leaving voters with no choice, no debate and little opportunity during the campaign to raise issues or concerns in the district. That's a shame, especially because the coming term is unusually long: 5½ years instead of the usual four, because of a voter-approved change in city election schedules.
That said, Blumenfield has performed ably in the relatively comfortable West San Fernando Valley District that includes Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka and Woodland Hills. He has our endorsement for another term.
Four years ago, his opponents for this seat derided him for his tenure in the state Legislature, which at the time had a poor reputation because of the seemingly perpetual budget crisis. They also criticized him, fairly, for running almost simultaneously for reelection to the Assembly and a seat on the City Council. In the Legislature, though, Blumenfield handled budget problems ably, and that experience has served Los Angeles well on the council.
Although Council District 3 includes some of the city's wealthiest communities, it has several areas that have lagged economically and stood to benefit greatly from redevelopment. But the state eliminated local community redevelopment agencies in a budget move, despite Blumenfield's legislative attempt to keep them alive. Once on the council, he skillfully redirected unused redevelopment bond money to keep projects going in Canoga Park and Reseda. It is taking a very long time to finish the job, but Reseda, especially, is undergoing a revival with new affordable housing and commercial development.
Now that he's assured 5½ more years in office, it's time for Blumenfield to step up and take a more public role — on prudent water management, development, technology and other subjects that he has made his own. Up to now, he has found a way to make his low profile work to his advantage, but we'd like to see and hear more from Blumenfield.
Other development issues include the makeover of the Promenade shopping mall into a mixed-use housing, retail and entertainment complex. The project could be the fix that the area has long needed since the closure of Rocketdyne and the decline of related aerospace industries in the area — or it could be an out-of-scale complex exacerbating traffic problems and adding more upward pressure on housing costs. Whether it goes the right way will be largely up to Blumenfield, who will have a key role in determining important details.
One of Blumenfield's self-assigned tasks has been to ensure that everyone in the city has Internet access through a citywide broadband network. Progress so far has been at dial-up speed, and Blumenfield's vision may prove too ambitious for the city to realize. Nevertheless, it's a project we hope can be concluded in his coming term.