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.
Strengthening the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO)
Last month, Supervisor Solis and I introduced a motion make several protections for tenants living in our unincorporated areas and mobile homes permanent, and this week, the Board approved the updated ordinance.
The ordinance updates our current permanent RSO to create an affirmative defense against evictions for back owed rent of less than one month, and caps allowable rent increases at 3% through the end of next year (5% for luxury units.)
The Board remains committed to keeping people housed and promoting fair tenant protections, and the updated ordinance reflects that.
Digital Equity: the Federal E-Rate Program
It’s an unfortunate reality of the digital age: lack of digital access means falling behind, especially for students. Closing the digital divide is an equity issue that demands our attention, so the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis allowing LA County to formally advocate for changes to the Federal E-rate Program.
Schools and libraries have access to the Federal Universal Services Schools and Libraries Program (E-Rate), which allows for internet services and equipment at a nearly 90% discount. However, due to current E-Rate rules, schools and libraries cannot extend the services beyond their physical borders. As LA County works to expand broadband access, the ability to leverage E-Rate-funded infrastructure in schools and libraries in nearly every community would have a substantial cost-saving impact, allowing us to provide more people with broadband access much more quickly. By advocating for changes to the E-rate program, we can get more people connected to the internet, more cheaply and quickly.
Approval of an All-Gender Restroom Board Policy
This week, the Board approved an All Gender Restroom Policy that ensures that future County buildings, whether constructed, leased, or renovated, contain single-user, all-gender restrooms.
In part a response to the anti-trans “bathroom hysteria” that dominated the mid-2010s, gender-inclusive or gender-neutral bathrooms have become increasingly commonplace in public spaces. Per the 2019 CA Building Code, all existing single-user restrooms in County-owned and leased facilities have received signage and are designated as all-gender restrooms. This new policy ensures that all-gender restrooms will be easily accessible both to staff and to the public in County facilities.
Budget Adjustment to Support Care First, Jails Last
The new Justice, Care and Opportunities Department (JCOD) has real potential to be a driving force in realizing our Care First, Jails Last system, so we want to ensure the department is set up for success with the appropriate funding and staffing.
That’s why the Board passed my motion, co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn, approving a budget adjustment that transfers all existing funding from the Re-entry Division of the Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) to the JCOD budget unit to fund the positions needed to establish the Office of Adult Programs. The motion transfers $59.9m from ODR and $24.4m in Care First Community Investment funding, an allocation that will help us build out JCOD.
Aliso Canyon Disaster Health Research
Finally, the Board approved a contract with UCLA to conduct a Health Research Study to assess the long-term effects of the Aliso Canyon Disaster. The study will be funded through a settlement with SoCal Gas and will examine the health impacts, quality of life, and well-being outcomes in communities affected by the Aliso Canyon Disaster.
The Aliso Canyon Disaster was the largest UGS facility disaster in the history of the United States, releasing an estimated 109,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere, along with other oil and gas elements, over nearly four months. It was an unprecedented environmental disaster that displaced 8,000 households and caused significant stress, hardship, and potential health impacts. This study will help us understand the long-term adverse effects of the Aliso Canyon leak and how to protect the health and address the concerns of impacted communities.