By Councilman Rick Rodriguez
Within the first four months of being elected to the Downey City Council, I have had the opportunity to get an inside look at our community. I’ve started working on some key issues affecting our city but most importantly I’ve seen firsthand the many areas where our city shines and excels.
Community involvement and veteran recognition pride are high priorities in Downey, but I also wanted to help involve all service groups. From our council meetings, I have heard the concerns of our residents and I’m proud to see the recognitions that we bestow on so many deserving Downey citizens.
Some issues such as homelessness and coyote attacks on our small pets do not have simple solutions. However, the DNA of Downey involves the big heart of volunteers. Recently, I was proud to host a gathering of our service groups, churches and non-profits organizations with in the City of Downey. Over 120 volunteers showed up to help organize and effectively manage the problems we face as a community. I was excited and encouraged to be reminded what an amazing city we have.
Here is an update on some of the things I have been working on for the past 100 days:
Volunteers: From our roundtable discussion held at Apollo Park a few weeks ago we decided that an assessment was needed. We are working with all our volunteer groups to determine what is already being done in our city and where we can help each other.
We are working on setting up sub committees to deal directly with various issues based on skills and availability. We will continue to have follow up meetings and this is a high priority for me.
Veterans: I want to thank my council colleagues for passing my initiative to create a Veteran’s Sub Committee to deal with veteran issues. We have started the discussions with Operation Re-Boot, that specializes in job training and career planning for veterans, to bring their program to Downey.
And as a board member of SEAACA, I was excited to help start a new program called Pets for Vets. It includes having a rescue dog selected by a veteran, given a tactical vest to display the veteran’s military patches, their first bag of dog food donated by PetSmart along with an optional 6 week discipline training course. All at no cost to our veteran.
We can never say thank you enough times to all our veterans.
Homelessness: By visiting several cities in LA County I’ve seen some of the best practices by other communities. I’ve been able to get additional education regarding this serious problem in our state. I’ve participated in the Regional Homelessness Advisory Council Meetings (RHAC) which functions as a strategic body for cities’ in Los Angeles County.
I’ve also met with all four Downey food pantries and have been able to introduce several other churches to their services. This is a long term problem with no easy solutions but one that we must work on together.
Public Safety: One of the things we are proudest of in Downey is our public safety first responders. We continue to seek ways to improve the services and safety to Downey residents. I have reviewed our 911 process and discussed how we can introduce new technology to enhance our safety.
We recently approved a Smart 911 software that will do just that. I also helped facilitated a location for active shooter training for both our Police and Fire.
I am proud to have created a Volunteer Program for Chaplains and Volunteers within our first responder departments. The goal is to have 10 chaplains and 10 volunteers of each by the end of the year. We are currently accepting applications for positions for both our Police Department and our Fire Department.
Coyotes: After numerous complaints and incidents we met with the State of California Animal and Wildlife agency to begin discussions regarding this growing problem. We visited several cities including Whittier, Torrance and Culver City to see how they are dealing with this issue.
With the help of the Department of Fish and Wildlife we have created a Coyote management plan that works in conjunction with our Neighborhood Watch Program.
This new technology would include the implementation of a Coyote sighting map on the City of Downey website and have implemented a Downey Hotline to report all coyote sightings and attacks.
Upcoming Items: I am excited about the future of our community and I look forward to working together. While my future agenda includes working with our youth I want to assure everyone that we all can make a difference. There are plenty of opportunities for everyone who wants to volunteer.
From helping the Downey Fire Department fill bags with sand, to being a crosswalk aid, or helping a homeless person find shelter and a decent meal. There is a resource for almost every community need in the City of Downey. Thank you for being such a great community.
If you would like to help, give ideas or voice concerns please feel free to contact me at RRodriguez@DowneyCA.org or call me at my council office 562-904-7274.