News flash! Every week, following the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl picks five items you might find interesting, important, and/or fun. It’s your way to get a quick rundown of several highlights of the meeting in no more than 5 minutes! Looking for more? Click here to get the entire agenda.
Status Report on Urgent Housing Initiative
This week, the Board received our first bi-monthly report on the shelter crisis and urgent housing initiative, as required by the November motion brought by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger.
The report shows a continuing great need, coupled with a great number of units built and opened to provide housing and shelter. Currently, there are 68 sites, including shelters and other forms of interim housing, in the process of construction. These projects will provide an additional 5,143 beds in the coming months and years, representing a 40% increase in the number of beds available to those in need of a temporary place to live. I am excited to share that the Third District is leading the way in building interim housing, with 24 sites totaling 1,767 beds currently in the works.
Supportive housing is another important part of the County’s multi-pronged housing strategy. The County has identified and funded 211 supportive housing sites, many of which are already under construction, that will add 9,960 apartments, more than doubling our current stock of such units.
The County owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the staff, community partners, and housing developers who help us build and operate interim and supportive housing sites. By working together, we can get more of our neighbors off the streets and into a safe place to call home.
Clean Vehicle Purchasing Standards
In a move to protect state air pollution standards, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to develop a new policy prohibiting the purchase of vehicles from companies that have joined federal litigation opposing California’s ability to set greenhouse gas and vehicle emission standards. I co-authored this motion with Supervisor Janice Hahn.
Disappointingly, some car companies, including General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota, have elected to join the federal government in attacking our state’s effort to protect the environment and the health of our residents. While environmental ethics might not appeal to these companies, money talks. Each year, LA County spends an estimated $54 million to purchase or replace vehicles from the County’s fleet of more than 14,000 vehicles. From now on, barring operational necessity, those manufacturers will not be receiving our business.
For 50 years, California has led the country in setting environmental standards, and we have demonstrated that we can use our market power to persuade manufacturers to build vehicles that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Trump Administration wants to bring back the days of unfettered smog, when residents had to stay indoors to avoid toxic levels of pollution, but today, we have made it clear that we will fight for our right to clean air and blue skies.
Legal Action Against Slashing SNAP
Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final rule slashing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps)—the first guard against hunger—for approximately 700,000 people. The rule affects “able-bodied adults without dependents,” restricting them to three months of benefits during a three-year period unless they satisfy certain work requirements.
In LA County, the local unemployment rate is above the national average, and many residents, including transition-age youth and domestic violence survivors, cope with food insecurity. The rule would also affect people experiencing homelessness, who will now have to contest with insufficient nutrition in addition to the already daunting challenges ahead of them. For reasons I cannot grasp, the federal government has decided that people struggling to claw their way out of poverty and housing instability must also go hungry. This rule serves only to make our most vulnerable residents and communities suffer.
In response to the federal government’s action, the Board passed a motion authored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn, directing County Counsel to file a lawsuit challenging this rule.
State Legislative Agenda
We approved the Board -adopted positions for this year’s Legislative Agenda, which I am happy to say includes several progressive priorities that will move LA County forward to a better and brighter future for all residents.
For the 2019-2020 Session, the County’s advocacy efforts will be primarily concentrated on several key areas including: expanding access to homeless services and affordable housing, health care, child welfare and early childhood development, justice reform, infrastructure investment, promoting business development and employment, and environmental protection and sustainability.
Pedestrian Plans for Disadvantaged Communities
In our latest efforts to save pedestrian lives and create a safer, more walkable LA County, the Board authorized a Department of Public Health and Caltrans partnership to support the Pedestrian Plans for Disadvantaged Communities in Unincorporated Los Angeles County Project.
There is an urgency to enhancing pedestrian safety, especially in our unincorporated communities where people walk every day to get to school, enjoy neighborhood parks, visit friends and family, run errands, access transit, and get to work. Between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2017, the most recent period for which complete data is available, 219 people were severely injured, and 86 were killed while walking in unincorporated communities. To keep our residents safe, challenges to walking should be identified and addressed, such as wide roadways with fast-moving vehicle traffic, insufficient signage, or gaps in the sidewalk network.
Through this agreement with Caltrans, the County aims to create safe, pedestrian-friendly streets that are accessible to all users. This specific project will be implemented in East LA, East Rancho Dominguez, Florence-Firestone, and Willowbrook/West Rancho Domingues-Victoria, communities that we selected based on a high need for pedestrian infrastructure and significant challenges for walking. Funded by the State’s Active Transportation Program, pedestrian planning programs enable the County to work closely with residents, businesses, and other stakeholders to meet the unique needs of each unincorporated community.