Picture: The West LA Courthouse, which will be converted into affordable housing.
Securing an Additional 599 Homeless Housing Beds for West LA and the Valley
I am happy to report that, at Tuesday’s Board Meeting, we approved four motions that further carry out my longstanding dedication to reducing homelessness and expanding both interim and permanent affordable housing.
Current county tenant protections, enacted to address economic hardship due to the pandemic, call for eviction protection for nonpayment of rent through December 31 of this year. However, those protections have been challenged in court due to “vague” language. The first motion approved clarifies language which allows these protections to continue through the end of the year for County renters at 80% Average Median Income and below, and extends the No-Fault eviction protections until December 2024 for tenants across the County who utilized the County’s nonpayment of rent protections this year.
The three additional motions direct the County to significantly increase interim and permanent housing in the Third District by purchasing two properties and leasing a third: two properties in West Los Angeles- one to be used for interim, and the other for a significant number of affordable and mixed-use housing; as well as a property in Van Nuys which is to be dedicated to the interim housing needs of trans and nonbinary people. These three properties are expected to provide nearly 600 permanent and interim housing beds.
The solutions to homelessness are strong renter protections and housing. I’ve been advocating for those policies every day for the last eight years, and even before. Available properties in the Third District are usually expensive and certainly scarce, and that makes me even happier that, at my final Board meeting, the Board took action to ensure that nearly 600 households in my district will have a stable roof over their head in the future.
LA County Gender Impact Assessment Implementation
Early this year, the Women and Girls Initiative embarked on a countywide mission to coach every department on conducting a Gender Impact Assessment (GIA). GIA is a methodology that helps the County improve its understanding of people’s different needs, experiences, and opportunities, which may vary based on gender, race/ethnicity, age, and other social-demographic variables. This week, the Board approved a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis implementing that process.
This motion creates an ongoing gender equity standard by putting “Gender Impact Assessment” directly into each department head’s annual objectives and evaluations, giving LA County a concrete and measurable way of tracking gender equity.
I’m proud of my office’s work to advance gender equity in our region, and I’m confident that Supervisor Solis and the rest of my colleagues will continue to ensure that the women and girls of LA County have the opportunities and support they deserve to succeed.
Mission Canyon Park & Calabasas Landfill
In a big win for our environment and sustainability goals, we addressed the transformation of two landfills, one defunct landfill and soon-to-be park, and another poised to play a role in climate change mitigation.
The Board approved a gratis lease with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority to develop a passive park at the former Mission Canyon Landfill. Once the passive park is built, it will be accessible to all Los Angeles County communities, giving access to a beautiful mountainous park, including 2.5 miles of walking trails, a set of fitness trail stairs, open space, picnic table, seating areas, restroom facilities, drinking water stations, Ranger Residence, parking. In addition, this park will provide suitable habitat for various plant and wildlife species, a variety of vegetation types, chaparral, coastal sage scrub, annual grassland, and riparian woodland. It will truly be a magical environment, one that has been eight years in the making!
We also passed my motion pursuing a new Anaerobic Digestion Facility at the Calabasas Landfill, a move that would help the County achieve new State and County climate and waste management goals. As part of the treatment of biodegradable waste, Anaerobic Digestion Facilities reduce greenhouse gas emissions, capturing methane gas that may have otherwise been lost to the atmosphere.
Pretrial Services in LA County
In LA County, and throughout much of the country, we are over-incarcerating people before they even get a trial, leaving people (disproportionately poor people and people of color) who have not been convicted of a crime in jail and disrupting lives, families, and communities. We can and will do better.
As part of our pretrial reform efforts, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Solis allowing our newly formed Justice Care and Opportunities Department to enter into contracts to help establish pretrial services.
Given that there is evidence that releasing people who meet specific risk-assessment criteria pretrial does not impact public safety, we have a moral imperative to do so where appropriate.
Public Health Councils Program to Protect Workers
Finally, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Solis updating the anti-retaliation ordinance related to Public Health Councils and the ability of workers to report possible violations of health orders at the workplace without retaliation. The motion directs County Counsel to prepare an ordinance allowing these Public Health Councils to continue educating and informing workers on public health protections and public health-related emergencies beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the pandemic, we saw that, when health guidelines were conscientiously implemented, lives were saved. Employees can be extremely helpful in ensuring compliance with the protocols that keep County residents safe and healthy. Today’s motion institutionalizes the County’s use of public health councils, a COVID-19 innovation, and will protect employees from retaliation when they report lapses in compliance.