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Opening Date Set For The Cube Ice And Entertainment Center

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The Cube Santa Clarita Ice Rink
Devon Miller / The Valley Post

As renovations for The Cube Ice and Entertainment Center are nearing completion, the City of Santa Clarita has announced an opening date for the facility. 

On April 12, the City is set to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Cube, previously known as the Valencia Ice Station, after Los Angeles County entered the “red” tier, allowing the center to open after a year-long shutdown. 

On Tuesday, Frank Oviedo, assistant city manager, Cruz Caldera, community preservation administrator and Larry Bruyere, the new manager for The Cube hosted a tour for members of the media. 

Bruyere is returning to the facility after working at the former Ice Station and bringing a “hometown feel” to the upgraded complex. 

“There was a lot that needed to be done, but they seem to be tackling everything head-on,”  Bruyere said. “I am excited to see the transformation.”

The Cube Santa Clarita
From Left to Right: Larry Bruyere, Frank Oviedo and Cruz Caldera. Devon Miller / The Valley Post

The City is renovating the property from top to bottom, from the sand beneath the ice to painting all of the walls, and more.

Technology system upgrades and interior and exterior branding changes have been implemented in addition to repairs to the facility’s roof and cooling system, upgraded plumbing fixtures, updated fire safety systems and more to ensure The Cube meets high safety standards, according to the City. 

All three ice rinks, an Olympic size, NHL size and the smallest rink known as “The Pond,” have also been remodeled.

The Cube was purchased by the Santa Clarita City Council in August of 2020 after the former owners put the facility on the market.

After the closure, many local residents formed a “Save the Ice Rink” group, urging the City to purchase the property to preserve the only ice rink in town. 

Oviedo feels The Cube is an investment, not only from a financial standpoint — but a personal one as well.

“Even beyond the dollars and cents, it is an investment in the community,” Oviedo said. “It is another opportunity for our families, because we are such a family-oriented city, to take their kids somewhere to do some healthy recreation.”

Similar to other City sports programs, The Cube is expected to offer entry-level hockey and figure skating to introduce young residents to the ice. For more experienced athletes, advanced levels, including travel teams, are set to return as well.

However, differing from every other recreation program, The Cube is going to be run like a business enterprise, Oviedo said. 

Based on the City’s projections, The Cube is expected to break even by the third year of operation, recouping the costs of operation. 

In February, the city council unanimously voted to award a five-year contract to the Los Angeles Kings, along with American Sports Entertainment Centers (ASEC) which operate 23 sports facilities across the country, according to the City.

As operator ASEC and the Kings act as manager of the Ice and Entertainment Center, providing all staffing, supplies, furniture, fixtures, equipment, inventory for sale, amenities, routine maintenance, repairs, services and other items as may be required to support the operation and management of a quality municipal ice facility.

City staff received multiple proposals for companies to operate the facility, but there was only one that knew the Southern California community, Oviedo said.

The community, by large, has come out in support of the operators, bringing a new wave of enthusiasm for ice sports in Santa Clarita.

Many college and professional athletes have come through the facility, including Kevin Miller who is currently playing for the Boston Bruins, according to Bruyere. 

The new manager of The Cube plans on continuing that tradition for the next generation.

Devon Miller / The Valley Post

In addition to sports, the facility is also an event and entertainment space as well.

Banquets, mixers, conventions, concerts, charity galas, sporting competitions and more can take place on covered ice, said City officials.

The City is working with ASEC and the Kings find a third-party operator for the new restaurant on the second floor of the facility, with many local restaurants already expressing interest, according to Oviedo. 

Overlooking both large ice rinks, the restaurant is also expected to serve as a possible working area for parents bringing their children to skate, as many still work remotely due to the pandemic.

As the final details of the facility are finalized, the community is eagerly awaiting the opening of The Cube. 

City staff members are working with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to ensure all COVID-19 protocols are in place and to determine the maximum capacity. 

As cases decline, L.A. County is expected to advance to lower tiers of the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy increasing the number of guests allowed in the facility. 

The Cube is set to open for the public on April 12, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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L.A. Mayor Signs Camping Ordinance Aimed At Restricting Homeless Encampments

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an ordinance on Friday aimed at restricting homeless encampments in certain areas of the city.

The ordinance, which is set to take effect 30 days from the signing date, bans camping near “sensitive” facilities including within 500 feet of schools, daycares, parks and libraries, according to the  L.A. City Council agenda.

In addition, the measure also restricts sitting, lying, or sleeping as well as storing, using, maintaining and placing personal property in any public right-of-way such as ramps, driveways or bike lanes, among others.

On Wednesday, the council voted 13-2 to approve the measure before Garcetti’s signature. 

Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman voiced opposition to the ordinance, with Bonin recalling his own struggle with housing.

“Some of those nights I slept in the car, some of those nights, when my car was in the shop, I slept on the beach. I cannot tell you how much turmoil is in your heart when the sun is setting and you don’t know where to sleep,” Bonin said. “I cannot tell you how demoralizing and dehumanizing and defeating that experience is when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep.”

City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said the measure helps regulate shared public spaces while “acting with compassion and purpose” to help people experiencing homelessness.

“This ordinance establishes fair and clearly defined rules for how sidewalks in Los Angeles are regulated — while linking those rules to a comprehensive, compassionate strategy for street engagement that will establish reasonable pathways to positive outcomes and, ultimately, permanent homes,” O’Farrell said.

In order to enforce the new order, the City Council has to take action through a resolution to designate a certain area for enforcement, according to the ordinance.

The city plans to send out “street engagement teams,” along with law enforcement, to assist those experiencing homelessness in the designated encampment by providing connection to services, including interim housing. 

Last month, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) released a report outlining the number of shelter beds available across the county.

The number of homeless shelter beds in the L.A. region has increased by over 50% in the past three years, however, demand still outpaces the capacity, according to the agency.

LAHSA found that the L.A. region’s shelter capacity on any given night was 24,616 beds — less than half of the estimated 66,000 people on the street countywide. 

The previous Homeless Count was conducted before the pandemic, with many housing experts and community members reporting an increase in the unhoused population in the past 18 months. 

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L.A. Homeless Shelter Capacity Up 57% In Three Years, Still Less Than Demand

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Tiny-Home-Village-Homeless-Shelter-North-Hollywood-Los-Angeles-1-1
Devon Miller / The Valley Post

The number of homeless shelter beds in Los Angeles has increased by over 50% in the past three years, however, demand still outpaces the capacity. 

The 2021 Housing Inventory Count and Shelter Count, released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Wednesday, shows the nightly shelter capacity in the L.A. area has grown despite challenges faced by the pandemic. 

LAHSA found that the L.A. region’s shelter capacity on any given night was 24,616 beds, a 57% increase over the last three years. The agency also reported 33,592 permanent housing options, an increase of 16% over the same period.

Through “unprecedented coordination” and a critical influx of state and federal emergency funding, the L.A. region’s rehousing system’s response to COVID-19 saved lives, according to  Heidi Marston, executive director of LAHSA.

“We must build off of that momentum as we emerge from the pandemic to build the infrastructure necessary to address our homelessness crisis and collectively confront the conditions that continue to push people into homelessness,” Marston said in a statement. 

The Los Angeles region needs to build a more balanced system with more housing options. A balanced rehousing system has five permanent housing exits for each shelter bed; the Los Angeles system is closer to one-to-one, according to the executive director. 

The Housing Inventory Count is a census of all interim and permanent housing options in the homeless rehousing system at a given point-in-time. This year, the Housing Inventory Count occurred on Jan. 27.

LAHSA reported these results despite the global pandemic causing a considerable strain on its shelter supply. 

In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, all of Los Angeles County’s congregate shelters had to decrease their bed count through a process called decompression. 

However, strategic investments by the federal, state, and local governments through Project Roomkey and Project Homekey helped make up for the loss of capacity, according to the agency.

The Shelter Count revealed that there were 17,225 people in a shelter on the night of the count, which is virtually unchanged from the previous year. 

LAHSA cited that without the addition of 2,357 Project Roomkey beds and 497 Project Homekey beds, there could have been a more significant drop in the shelter count due to decompression.

Following the advice of public health officials, LAHSA did not conduct an Unsheltered Count in 2021 to protect the 8,000 volunteers needed to complete the Count each year from COVID-19. The agency is planning to resume the Unsheltered Count in 2022.

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Home Prices In San Fernando Valley Reach New High, Median Nearing $1 Million

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Los Angeles Homes

The median price of San Fernando Valley homes sold during June reached a record high while sales soared 56.9% and the number of properties listed for sale lingered at low levels.

The median price was $955,000, up 28.9% from June 2020, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors (SRAR).

June was the fourth consecutive month with the median above the $900,000 benchmark.

“Not long ago it would have been inconceivable that the San Fernando Valley would see the median home price inching toward $1 million,” said Diane Sydell, president of the association in a statement. “Now it seems inevitable, especially with today’s wealth of buyers, dearth of inventory, and heated competition over virtually every listing.”

The condominium median price for June was $519,000, up 12.8% from June 2020, but 3.9% below the record high $540,000 set this April.

A total of 554 single-family homes closed escrow during June, up 56.9% from a year ago and 11.5% ahead of May’s tally. It was the first month this year above 500 sales and the highest monthly total since June 2018.

The statistics for condominium sales were not as dramatic, in part because of the extremely limited supply of condominiums listed for sale, according to SRAR.

There were 725 active home and condominium listings at the end of June, the first month above 700 listings this year.

“The market has been overheated and buyer fatigue may be a factor going forward,” said Tim Johnson, the association’s chief executive officer. “Too many buyers are weary of competing with unseen competitors and losing to a higher bidder even when they come to the market fully prepared to buy. ”

That may translate in buyers being a bit more cautious, which when combined with the
reopening of the economy may yield a slowdown in sales and a few more listings.

Yet Johnson stressed that a “few more listings” doesn’t go far, even if some buyers are starting to take a bit longer to jump into the market.

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