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
Banning Pepper Spray
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Board unanimously approved motion I authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to phase out the use of oleoresin capsicum spray (pepper spray) in all of our County juvenile facilities.
The burning sensation caused by law enforcement-grade pepper spray is 1000 times stronger than the heat of a single jalapeno pepper and much much stronger than commercial mace sprays. It causes intense eye pain, and can lead to temporary blindness, burning in the throat, blistering of the skin and an inability to breathe.
Research indicates that the use of this spray on young people can also cause psychological harm. Juvenile justice experts have determined that its use is needlessly punitive and can even be counter-productive. California is 1 of only 15 states that continue to permit the use of pepper spray.
Disciplinary alternatives include verbal de-escalation, increased staffing and programming time, cognitive behavioral therapy, and non-violent redirection.
This motion lays the groundwork for the safety of our young people and our Probation staff in juvenile facilities by calling for a plan to be developed within 60 days that considers best practice alternatives and phases out the use of pepper spray in a thoughtful way.
Read More: Supervisors Vote to End Use of Pepper Spray
More Affordable Housing on the way
Since passing the Affordable Housing Programs Budget Unit in 2015 and committing Mental Health Services Act funding for supportive housing beginning in 2017, the County has dramatically increased its investment in affordable and supportive homes
I’m thrilled that we continued to build on that progress and passed a series of motions to approve the first of 1,600 new affordable housing units that will be funded this year.
These homes will be built all across the County from Palmdale to West Hollywood and from Pomona to Torrance and will continue to increase our investment in affordable and supportive housing in the coming fiscal year.
Preserving Affordable Rents
In addition to building new affordable housing, we have to use all the tools at our disposal to prevent residents from falling into homelessness due to skyrocketing rents.
The Board passed my motion to implement an Emergency Preservation and Tenant Assistant Fund which will help preserve the affordability of rental units whose covenants are expiring.
We think this funding stream could help residents preserve affordability throughout the County, and we’re beginning with one set of units in Calabasas where the affordability covenant will soon expire with up to $500,000 to allow tenants to continue to pay affordable rents until more units are made affordable.
Office of Violence Prevention
In recent years this Board has recognized a variety of County violence prevention programs as highly innovative and effective. However, even though the County manages a wide range of excellent violence prevention programs, these initiatives have not been organized or coordinated holistically.
Last year, just days after the attack in Parkland, Florida, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and I introduced a motion asking our Department of Public Health and the CEO to report back with suggestions about how we could create an office dedicated to violence prevention across the County.
Today, just days after the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Board voted to officially establish the Office of Violence Prevention within our Department of Public Health.
We hope this new entity will help us think in new strategic ways to prevent violence — saving precious county resources even more precious lives.
Hope for the Coast Blueprint
The Board adopted the “Hope for the Coast” vision for Los Angeles County — joining others in committing to protect and increase our natural landscape along the California coast to face down the threats of sea level rise.
A comprehensive, statewide habitat assessment by the California State Coastal Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy, “Conserving California’s Coastal Habitats: A Legacy and A Future with Sea Level Rise,” found that 59% of current coastal habitat by area throughout California is highly vulnerable to up to five feet of sea level rise. In the County, nearly 70% of our beaches are highly vulnerable a 5ft sea level rise by the year 2100. The long-term protection of our remaining precious coastal habitats is critical to the economic, environmental, and social health in Los Angeles.
The Hope for Coast vision promotes five bold science-based strategies for climate leaders and coastal managers to adopt to protect the plants, animals, and natural landscape that define the California coastline:
– Maintain existing protected coastal areas and manage them to maintain resilience to sea level rise.
– Conserve natural areas that can withstand sea level rise
– Restore coastal areas that can be made more resilient with intervention.
– Avoid further development of lightly developed coastal lands like coastal farms that, with sea level rise, could transform into natural shoreline.
– Adapt developed lands using natural infrastructure like wetlands and dunes for defenses against sea level rise.