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.

Woolsey Fire

With great sadness, we added some time to our regularly scheduled Board Meeting to talk about the devastating Woolsey Fire. Fire Chief Daryl Osby provided an extensive report and update, and we passed two motions related to the fire.

The first action proclaims a local emergency and asks that a Governor’s Proclamation be provided under the California Disaster Assistance Act.  We also passed an Emergency Public Health Motion that includes a requirement that there be no removal of fire debris from impacted properties until a hazardous materials inspection is performed.

LA County departmental leaders began meeting daily this past Saturday morning to organize a series of coordinated recovery efforts to ensure that residents displaced by the Woolsey Fire can rebuild their lives as quickly as possible. We understand that constituents lives have been profoundly affected and we are doing everything in our power to jumpstart the recovery effort and ease the hardships.

County officials, in partnership with State and Federal partners, are planning a number of disaster recovery and assistance centers for affected communities. These centers will provide a central location where those affected by the recent fire can apply for temporary housing, consult with Building officials regarding reconstruction, and replace government-issued documents such as birth certificates and drivers licenses, as well as access other needed services. More detailed information will be released as plans are finalized.

Interim Rent Stabilization Ordinance

I am very happy to report that the Board adopted a temporary Rent Stabilization Ordinance! We had passed a motion directing County Counsel to draft the ordinance and this was the first vote on it.

The effect of rising rents and decreasing income in Los Angeles has generated an increase in “rent-burdened” households—households spending at least 30%, and even up to 70%, of their income on rental housing. Rents have continued to spiral upward, making it necessary for us to take action now to protect tenants from unreasonable rent increases and evictions without just cause. To achieve this, the Board is implementing an interim ordinance, which would place a temporary limit on rent level increases above 3% annually, limit rent increases to once per year, and require just cause for the eviction of tenants.

Several recent local studies indicate that rent stabilization, thoughtfully adopted with other market regulation measures, can successfully protect tenants at risk of eviction with minimal negative impact on the housing market. If we want to stem the tide of people falling into homelessness and be sure our seniors, as well as other renters, are protected from eviction, we have to curb unrestricted growth in rents.

Remembering Stan Lee

At this week’s Board Meeting, we adjourned in the memory of Comic book artist and creative visionary Stan Lee, who died on November 12.

Stan Lee revolutionized the world of comic books in the 1960s by imbuing its characters with self-doubts and neuroses of average people, as well as sensitivity to social causes. His work included the creation of Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man and many other successful Marvel Comics characters that make up the Marvel Universe. As the editor-in-chief and later publisher and chairman, he led Marvel Comics’ expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation that included some of the top-grossing superhero films of all time.

This week, we mourned the loss of a great imagination, but know his legacy will live forever. Mr. Lee is survived by his daughter Joan Celia Lee, and his brother, Larry Lieber.

Bayard Rustin Stamp Campaign

I am proud that this week, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis that formalized our endorsement of the Bayard Rustin Stamp Campaign, which seeks to honor an admirable and underappreciated social justice leader.

A strong proponent of nonviolence and civil disobedience, Rustin greatly influenced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a key advisor and leading strategist in the civil rights movement. He was a lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. In addition to his work for the Civil Rights Movement, Baynard Rustin was a tireless advocate for the LGBT community, of which he was a part, and workers rights.

The Bayard Rustin National Stamp Campaign seeks to recognize the exceptional work of this dynamic, inspiring individual by creating a commemorative U.S. Postage Stamp in his honor. This week’s Board motion signals the Board’s support for this endeavor.

Services for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children

This week, the Department of Children and Family Services, Probation, and Sheriff’s department delivered an informative report to the Board on the progress of the First Responder Protocol and services for commercially sexually exploited children. The First Responder Protocol, a victim-centered, trauma-informed law enforcement approach that was initiated in 2014, is the first of its kind and has become a national model. The protocol defines key steps for law enforcement, county agencies, and community-based partners to take within the first 72 hours after they come into contact with a suspected victim of commercial sexual exploitation.  A report on the protocol’s first four years of implementation was presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Los Angeles County’s intensive effort to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children and teens is already having a meaningful impact, with 361 young people recovered since the launch. The immediate wrap-around services provided through the protocol resulted in a significant drop in the number of youth who ran away, and continued support and engagement showed promising results.