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.
Reimagining Los Angeles County: Community Investment
The Board has taken a number of bold and exciting steps in the recent past to reimagine Los Angeles’ justice system by expanding access to housing, mental health treatment and law enforcement diversion programs, and adopting several approaches to find alternatives to incarceration.
Still, it’s essential and prudent to protect the long-term success of these programs so that these gains won’t be lost.
With that in mind, the Board voted 4-1 to move forward a charter amendment on the ballot in November, to ask the voters if we should direct a minimum of 10% of local funding to a range of community services. Right now, law enforcement and the related legal system receive over 40% of our general fund, which is locally generated revenue, about a quarter of our total budget. This motion says we want to make sure that, at a bare minimum, a fraction of that amount –- just 10% –- continues to go to housing, treatment, and diversion programs.
I firmly believe that these adjustments, if adopted by the voters, will align our spending with our actions, values, and priorities for the long term.
This budget priority represents a policy that will outlast any one Board member’s tenure, so we want to be sure voters agree that this is the direction we (you!) want to go.
We also passed a motion authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas that formally declares racism as a public health crisis and asks the County to take concrete steps to evaluate and eliminate biases in each of our services and programs. It calls for a strategic plan to dismantle systemic racism and provide equity for Black residents in health, housing, employment, public safety, and justice.
In recent months, the national dialogue has confirmed that people want to see their representatives meaningfully address racial inequity. Instead of perpetuating an endless cycle of incarceration, we need to make significant investments and actions that lift and revitalize communities of color and low-income neighborhoods.
Coronavirus Relief Fund Spending Plan
COVID-19 has had significant economic and emotional impacts on all of us, but some communities are harder hit than others. Fortunately, the County has received $1.22 Billion from the Federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds to assist in providing vital COVID-related services to our communities. At this week’s Board meeting, we approved a spending plan that allocates this funding towards solutions for a number of critical issues that have been raised by the pandemic. Here is a basic breakdown of the funding:
- $15m to DPH for child care vouchers for low-income families and essential workers.
- $160 million to support small businesses, including childcare centers and non-profits impacted by COVID-19.
- $5m to support domestic violence programs, as the County has seen a tragic uptick in family and relationship violence since the start of the pandemic.
- $12m is allocated to the Department of Public Health and $1m to Public Works for COVID-19-related inspections and enforcement to ensure that businesses such as restaurants and stores that remain open comply with State and local Public Health policies.
- $85m to increase food security for the elderly, our regional food banks, and the Great Plates Program.
- $148 million to support both Project Roomkey and our Homeless COVID Recovery Plan — a significant down payment to address our dual crises of the pandemic and homelessness.
Click here for a more in-depth breakdown.
While there are many significant initiatives funded in this proposal, LA County is the most populous in the nation, with over 12 million people, and even more funding is needed. We hope that the Federal Government will provide additional funding to continue to support our communities during these difficult times.
Extending Eviction Moratorium
More than 90% of renters have been paying at least some of their rent during this difficult time. That says a lot about the integrity of our local renters. Unfortunately, the virus has forced us to slow our economic recovery, and many people are still out of work or working reduced hours.
This week the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to extend the County’s Eviction Moratorium through September.
The motion is in line with Governor Gavin Newsom’s extended timeframe for the protections outlined in Executive Order N-28-20, which authorized local governments to halt evictions for renters impacted by the COVID-19 crisis through September 30.
The motion also directed the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to report back in 14 days concerning tenant protections throughout LA County, to evaluate if our moratorium should serve as the baseline for all County cities and unincorporated areas.
Massive displacement of extremely vulnerable LA County residents in the middle of a pandemic would severely exacerbate an already crisis-level situation. We need to do all we can to prevent a surge in homelessness and allow our residents more time to get back on their feet, and this week’s action is a step in the right direction.
Compliance with County Health Officer Orders in the Workplace
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and more LA County residents get back to work, it is vital to ensure that businesses adhere to County health guidelines designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Who better to serve as our eyes and ears on the ground and hold companies accountable for keeping employees safe than the employees themselves!
Given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and the role of workplaces in community transmission, we need to find more ways to report non-compliance. To address this, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas that calls for a plan to enable workers to identify and report violations, through certified public health councils and community organizations, without fear of reprisal. This motion helps us strengthen our enforcement response and empowers employees to demand a healthy and safe workplace.
Protecting Food Delivery Platform Workers & Customers
When the pandemic hit, food delivery became an essential service, as people did their best to stay home and stay safe. However, as an emerging industry, third-party food delivery services are under-regulated.
These platforms must meet basic standards for food handling to ensure that customers taking steps to be safer at home are also safe from any threat to their food.
This week, we passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to ensure that food delivery apps and their drivers have proper training and certification to handle food properly. The action directs CEO, with the Department of Public Health and Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services, to draft an ordinance by August 4 that requires food handler certification for food delivery platforms and their drivers.
We also approved an ordinance capping fees that third-party food delivery services can charge local restaurants, in response to increases in fees that were seriously straining neighborhood restaurants and virtually eliminating their profits from delivery transactions. The ordinance also prohibits these corporations from reducing driver’s compensation to accommodate these caps, so they cannot pass the cost onto gig workers.