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 Justice for Juveniles
The Board has taken a number of innovative steps in moving toward a care-first, jail last system of care for adults in this County. Clearly, the young people in this County deserve no less. This week, the Board passed a pair of motions I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to bring us closer to that ideal.
The first motion reimagines the whole area of youth justice in the County. In place of incremental reform, this motion moves us toward a complete transformation by taking initial steps to establish a Department of Youth Development and convening a Youth Justice Transition Advisory Group to guide this transition.
The second motion expands the Criminal Justice Data Sharing Initiative to include juvenile justice data to inform transitional steps, evaluate decisions and model government transparency.
Our youth deserve to have a countywide network of high-quality services provided by those dedicated to their development. They deserve to heal in homelike, therapeutic settings where they are recognized as individuals. These motions move us closer to a system that invests fully in juvenile offenders’ rehabilitation, rather than warehousing them behind guarded walls.
LA County Health Officer Order
As new COVID-19 cases climb to new and alarming levels and the number of people hospitalized continues to increase, the Board approved a modified LA County Health Officer Order ending in-person dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries, and bars for at least the next three weeks.
Outdoor restaurants are the only place where people can sit for hours without masks, while servers cannot maintain physical distance from them while taking orders and serving food. Given the County’s rapidly increasing caseload, I strongly believe this was a smart and responsible decision that puts people’s lives above all other considerations. If the infection rate continues to climb unabated, it could overrun our hospitals and put everyone, not simply those with severe cases of COVID, at mortal risk.
We didn’t come to this decision lightly, and we understand the sacrifices so many have made. In the long run, we can bring jobs and businesses back, but we cannot bring back a human life.
North Area Plan
At this week’s Board meeting, we approved the updated North Area Plan for the Santa Monica Mountains, featuring robust habitat protections and standards that focus and regulate development in appropriate locations.
The Santa Monica Mountains are home to one of the world’s largest and most significant Mediterranean ecosystems. Habitat loss and fragmentation pose serious threats to the area’s native species and biodiversity. Furthermore, given the area’s high fire risk, we need to be smarter about how and where development occurs in the Wildland-Urban Interface.
The guiding principle for this project has always been, “Let the land dictate the type and intensity of use.” This comprehensive update to the North Area Plan and the Community Standards District will strengthen existing policies and add new provisions to ensure the continued protection of environmental resources.
In addition to the dedicated LA County staff at the Department of Regional Planning, I want to express my gratitude for the residents of the Santa Monica Mountains, who have always been the driving force in preserving the mountains for the enjoyment and benefit of everyone in Los Angeles.
Preventing Retaliation Against Employees
Employees should be able to speak up when employers put their (and their family’s) health at risk by ignoring public health protocols, and they shouldn’t have to fear reprisal for doing the right thing. That’s why, in response to troubling reports, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas passing an urgency ordinance that aims to prevent retaliation against employees who report worksite health violations.
The ordinance authorizes the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to investigate any claims of retaliation taken against workers for reporting violations or perceived violations, issue findings of non-compliance, and impose administrative fines for violations (up to $10,000 per violation per day). The ordinance also allows workers to pursue legal action against their employer in the Courts to enforce their rights.
Collecting Data on Corporate Home Ownership
In the past 15 years, the number of residential units owned by corporate LLC’s and wealthy investors has exploded, contributing to the housing affordability crisis and putting home ownership out of reach for average, middle-class residents. Studies have shown these corporate-owned investment properties have subjected tenants to harassment, displacement, and unsafe living conditions. The fact that investors can use multiple layers of legal channels, including LLC’s, LP’s, Inc.’s, etc., to retain anonymity, makes accountability and enforcement challenging.
The Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to obtain more information on corporate landlords and explore how we can prevent abuses of the system that hurt tenants and contribute to our housing crisis. The information we gather as a result of this motion will help us make data-driven decisions to effectively enhance protections against predatory housing practices.