Photo Caption: We kicked off this week’s Board Meeting with an Invocation lead by Daniel Hathaway, a Firefighter Paramedic, and Chaplain for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. He is currently assigned to L.A. County Fire Station 107 in Canyon Country and, in addition to his regular job duties, he provides and coordinates support as a Chaplain for Fire Department employees and their family members, often in times of loss or crisis, including providing spiritual support, when asked, for firefighters battling the Woolsey Fire. Watch his invocation here!

Opposition to the Centennial Project

In a decision with which I respectfully disagreed, the Board approved the controversial Centennial Project at Tejon Ranch, a development which critics believe will contribute to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, urban sprawl, fire vulnerability and more.

I articulated the reasons I believe that this is not the type of development Los Angeles County needs. I believe it promotes inefficient land use by consuming open space and valuable agricultural land, completely changing the character of the area from rural to urban. A slew of urban planners, land-use experts and ecologists have raised grave concerns regarding the project’s location in a highly fire-prone area. Because of its remote location, residents will be heavily reliant upon fossil fueled vehicles which further impacts our overburdened and congested roadways and has a negative effect on the environment. The affordable housing element was extremely vague. For these and numerous other reasons, I was unable to support the project.

Of course, I agree that the County needs more housing, particularly affordable housing. But we need that housing in a more convenient place – where we have a strong network of jobs, services, and transit.

McCadden Campus Senior Housing

I am very pleased that the Board voted this week to approve $1.5 million in funding from the Homeless Prevention Initiative to the McCadden Campus Senior Housing Project.

Based on Census data, more than 800,000 renter households would qualify for affordable housing, were it available. However, fewer than 300,000 units are available across the county. Increasing Los Angeles County’s stock of affordable housing is necessary to close the gap between needed and existing housing. The Board is committed to fighting the housing shortage by supporting projects like McCadden Campus Senior Housing, an affordable housing development in Hollywood.

The McCadden Campus Senior Housing is a ground-up, new construction project located in the heart of Hollywood. It is designed as a 5-story building with 98-units serving seniors, of which 25 are specifically set aside as supportive housing for formerly or chronically homeless seniors. McCadden Campus Senior Housing will be adjacent to the LGBT Center campus’ senior service center, which provides comprehensive supportive services and amenities for the LGBT community and others in Los Angeles.

Woolsey Fire Recovery Efforts in Planning

I am very grateful that the Board passed a motion I authored this week that makes some temporary changes at the Planning Department to ease the burden of residents displaced by the Woolsey Fire as they rebuild.

The Woolsey Fire was the largest fire in modern history within Los Angeles County. Many of those impacted by the fire have begun the process of rebuilding their homes and others will be embarking upon that process, a process that includes County review and approval. The motion I put forth this week waives basic fees for victims of the fire who are rebuilding, provided they had legal structures built with permits. Furthermore, it would allow for recreational vehicles to be used by those who lost their homes so that they may stay on their property while their house is rebuilt, so long as they meet proper standards regarding water, sewage, and electricity.

For our displaced constituents who have already been through so much, I hope these changes will help remove a few barriers and ease the process of rebuilding. We are in this together!

Supporting the Violence Against Women Act

This week the Board voted to formalize our support for continued funding for the Violence Against Women Act, as well as opposition to any cuts in the program, by passing a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Janice Hahn.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed into law in 1994, with bipartisan support, to improve the nation’s response to violence against women and to create services that are responsive to the identified needs of survivors. VAWA has been both effective and efficient by successfully reducing the prevalence of domestic violence and by saving over $14 billion in averted social costs. Despite being renewed in 2000, 2005 and 2013, funding for this critical piece of legislation is now in jeopardy. Absent the support from VAWA funding, our capability to move forward and provide and expand services to those who need it will be dependent on limited County resources to fill the gaps.

In addition to the trauma and difficulties experienced by victims, issues related to domestic violence have a ripple effect that damage society as a whole. It is imperative that our elected officials in Washington protect this crucial and meaningful piece of legislation.

Public Health and Air Pollution

In a win for public health, the Board passed a motion authored by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger that advocates for legislation that would increase the Department of Public Health and County Haz Mat’s ability to address the problem of air pollution.

While the Department of Public Health has the authority to cite and even shut down businesses that are contributing to the spread of communicable diseases, the County remains limited in its power to address businesses that are causing dangerous pollution and therefore contributing to non-communicable diseases like respiratory and heart disease. Unfortunately, due to this distinction, there have been incidences where the County lacked the authority to shut down businesses that were violating health and safety standards, posing a risk to public health. The County would prefer not to have to rely solely on State agencies to address such violations, and instead is seeking legislation that would grant the Local Health Officer the authority to respond to these serious public health hazards directly.