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.
Justice, Care and Opportunities Department
I’m really proud of the many steps the County has taken towards a “Care First, Jails Last” justice system, including establishing the Office of Diversion and Reentry, the Alternatives to Incarceration Workgroup, the Gender Responsive Advisory Committee, and other critical efforts. This week, we built on that vision by passing my motion to begin to establish a Justice, Care and Opportunities Department (JCOD) to bring many of these scattered efforts under one roof.
Although we have put together several strong programs that serve our justice-involved populations, they do so in isolation, in silos. This new department will help the County identify and address gaps in services and the continuum of care, and begin to create a strategically sound, effective justice infrastructure.
Read More: L.A. County supervisors advance new department to centralize justice reform efforts
Land Bank for LA County
Over the past few years, the Board has expanded the number of creative tools we use to acquire, preserve, and develop affordable housing, including Community Land Trusts, ADUs, and the Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act. This week, we passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis asking our departments to explore Land Banking as another tool to help preserve and protect our communities.
While we were updating the LA River Master Plan, one of the primary requests we heard through public comment was to be thoughtful about how the Plan may impact the communities surrounding the River, especially those with a large percentage of lower-income renters. Land-banking, through which government entities can acquire, redevelop, and manage abandoned properties, can be integrated with our overarching affordable housing strategies, helping us prevent the displacement of current residents due to gentrification and create new opportunities for affordable housing.
Tackling Misinformation and Disinformation
Over the past several years, major world events such as national elections and the COVID-19 pandemic have given us at least two vivid and frightening illustrations of the power and danger of disinformation. Deep, problematic divisions were amplified due to widely proliferated, demonstrably false information, some of which was spread with malicious intent and some out of pure ignorance. Regardless of motive, all false content leads to the same result: compromised public safety, integrity, and health.
This week, the Board passed a motion authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis calling on County departments whose work is directly impacted by this problem to collaborate on a Countywide Toolkit to combat misinformation/disinformation in various priority areas, including, but not limited to, voting, public records, immigration, consumer protection, and health.
Creating Climate Resilient Communities
In response to our recent County Climate Vulnerability Assessment, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Holly Mitchell outlining the first steps to establishing a Chief Climate Resilience Office (CCRO) within the Chief Executive Officer’s domain.
The science is clear: in our very near future, LA County can expect increasingly frequent, long-lasting, and severe heatwaves, wildfires, and droughts, punctuated by periods of heavy rain that lead to inland flooding and the complications of an ever-rising sea level. Our communities desperately need infrastructure that can withstand these hazards and mitigate their impact- and they need it soon.
The CCRO will work collaboratively with the Chief Sustainability Office to assess the specific threats to each of our widespread communities as well as aggressively pursue the state and federal funding needed to create climate-resilient communities, with a focus on making certain these improvements are distributed equitably.
Increasing Participation in State Rent Relief Program
With LA County facing a potential wave of evictions, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to significantly ramp up our outreach efforts so that as many people as possible can apply for the State Rent Relief Program before the March 31 deadline.
The motion calls for our departments to collaborate with community-based partners, including Stay Housed LA, to expand outreach and get the word out to as many eligible tenants and landlords about the deadline as possible. We still have tens of thousands of people in our County who could and should benefit from rent relief, and it is urgently important we make sure they know about the help available and access it before it is no longer an option.