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.
Making the County Hiring Process Faster and More Efficient
This week, the Board passed my motion, co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn, to further streamline and modernize the County’s cumbersome hiring process.
Following passage of a previous Board motion that requested quarterly reports on our hiring practices and systems, the Department of Human Resources initiated the DHR Hiring Innovation Project, which provided end to end hiring metrics for the first time in County history. In 2019, it was reported that it took an average of 94 to 273 days to hire. Since the advent of the Hiring Innovation Project, DHR has made many changes, including removing gendered language from job postings, making it easier for applicants to determine each phase of their hiring process, preventing external candidates from applying to internal positions, and exploring the use of a text messaging program to communicate with candidates. Further improvements are in the works and will require changes to the County Code.
The County Civil Service Rules for recruitment, examination, and hiring were adopted over 30 years ago, making them not only somewhat antiquated, but also in need of updates that align with the modern job market. For example, communications with prospects are currently required to be sent in writing, not via email. Job announcements must be posted on the County recruitment bulletin board, not on web-based recruitment sites. Most troubling, special benefits are only allowed for “wives” of military veterans. This week’s adopted motion asks for a report back on administrative and process components of the Civil Service Rules and recommendations for changes, updates, or clarifications, along with an assessment of priorities using data culled from DHR’s quarterly reports.
Establishing A Video Arraignment Pilot in LA County
The Board passed another of my motions, co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, to reform misdemeanor arraignments in LA County using an innovative, 21st-century approach.
People arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department on misdemeanor charges who have not yet been arraigned, much less gone to trial, are currently awakened at three or four in the morning so that police officers can sort them, put them on busses, and take them to court. Once at the courthouse, these individuals must wait hours for their arraignment in bare cells, though the actual hearing frequently lasts less than two minutes. It is important to remember that these individuals have not been convicted of anything. We believe there is a more humane way to process arraignments that is easier both on the accused and on police officers. I’m excited by this pilot program that, in conjunction with relevant agencies, will allow video arraignments, which gives those charged with misdemeanors the option for a less taxing process, and a better frame of mind facing the court.
I’m optimistic that this first step could lead to an easier, more comfortable, and more humane way to process misdemeanor arraignments.
Discouraging Development in High-Risk Fire Zones
When the Woolsey Fire hit our mountain communities, the Fire Department ordered the immediate evacuation of almost a quarter-million residents- an action that undoubtedly saved hundreds of lives. We need to make sure those rapid community evacuations remain possible by limiting new development in Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones and Fire Hazard Severity Zones, and this week the Board passed my motion seeking to do just that.
Recent studies indicate that climate change has resulted in wildfires that last longer and occur more frequently. As dangerous, near-annual wildfires become our new normal, our land-use policies must evolve to protect our residents and wildlife. This motion directs the Department of Regional Planning, in consultation with the Department of Public Works, Fire Department, Office of Emergency Management, and County Counsel, to prepare and submit amendments to Los Angeles County Code Title 21 and 22 that will help prevent and reduce damage to life and property in the event of extreme, wind-driven wildfires. Potential amendments include, but are not limited to, requiring that new developments pass strict tests for egress, setting new, higher standards for length of time for safe community evacuation, and mandatory denial recommendation of any project shown to compromise public safety.
Outreach for the Minimum Wage Ordinance
I’m pleased that the Board adopted a measure to help inform people about a higher minimum wage in LA County.
In 2015, the Board enacted the Minimum Wage Ordinance, which ramped up LA County’s minimum wage over five years. This increase will culminate this July with a fifteen dollar county-wide minimum wage. This motion authorizes the Director of Consumer and Business to issue work orders to qualifying agencies to provide linguistically and culturally appropriate education, counseling, and outreach to both workers and employers regarding the Minimum Wage Ordinance.
By providing resources in a multitude of languages, we can better receive worker complaints, address issues, and recover unpaid and underpaid wages for employees.
EPIC-LA at the Treasurer and Tax Collector
In an effort to improve efficiency and optimize our operational systems, the Board approved an expansion of the Electronic Permitting and Inspections County of Los Angeles (EPIC-LA) platform.
In 2014, the Board authorized the Department of Regional Planning to implement the Electronic Permitting and Inspections County of Los Angeles, known as EPIC-LA. Seeing the success of these initial efforts, we expanded EPIC-LA to incorporate the operational systems for our parks, fire protection, and public works projects. This motion further broadens the EPIC-LA system to integrate the Treasurer and Tax Collector, allowing for online applications and payments, more efficient case handling, and a reduction of outdated paper-based systems.
In an increasingly technology-based world, digitizing wherever possible will help us effectively serve our constituents and diminish our carbon footprint.