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.
Welcoming Consul General Kim
At this week’s Board meeting I was honored to welcome Wan-joong Kim, Consul General of Korea in Los Angeles.
Consul General Kim joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990, serving in various diplomatic posts in Japan, Singapore, New York, and Peru. Before coming to Los Angeles, he served as Director-General for Overseas Koreans and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Los Angeles area is one of the two principal regions of Korean settlement in the United States, the other being New York City. Around 15% of the Korean American population resides in Los Angeles. Aside from Koreatown, one of the largest concentrations of the Korean community is in the Third District’s own San Fernando Valley, with 1,500 Korean-owned businesses and over 50,000 Koreans and Korean Americans. The contributions of the Korean community to the County, both economically and culturally, have been immeasurably valuable.
It was my pleasure to welcome Consul General Kim to our County, and to wish him a successful tenure as Consul General of Korea in Los Angeles.
Temporary Rent Stabilization Passed!
I was extremely pleased that the Board passed my motion, co-authored by Supervisor Solis, directing County agencies to draft an ordinance and bring it to the Board within 60 days to temporarily freeze rents, limit rent increases and stop evictions without just cause in our unincorporated areas.
The effect of rising rents coupled with decreasing income in Los Angeles has generated an increase in “rent-burdened” households, or households spending at least 30%, and as much as 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 and require just cause for the eviction of tenants.
With actions such as the passage of Measure H, the County has shown it is committed to stemming the tide of the housing affordability crisis. While the Board deliberates on the creation of a more permanent rent stabilization ordinance, this temporary measure will help protect tenants from displacement and afford them stability in their homes.
Read all about it: Supervisors protect renters at risk of homelessness
Addressing Suicide Among First Responders
This week at the Board meeting, we passed a motion authored by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn that addresses a serious issue: suicide and trauma among first responders, emergency service professionals, and death investigators.
Our first responders, such as firefighters, members of law enforcement, emergency room personnel and crime scene personnel, are hailed as heroes and extolled for their bravery, and rightfully so. However, it is seldom acknowledged that those who serve in this capacity regularly experience the constant specter of death, trauma, and tragedy, sometimes on a daily basis. This constant exposure to death and destruction exerts a psychological toll on first responders, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, depression, and even suicide. Studies have shown that individuals in these fields experience a higher rate of suicide than the general population.
The motion put forth this week seeks to examine and further develop protocols, policies, education and outreach in these departments aimed at suicide prevention, in consultation with experts in the field. I feel the best way to honor our first responders for the vital work they do every day is to make sure we give them needed tools and create an environment that allows them to take care of their mental health and well-being!
Rim of the Valley Corridor
On Tuesday, the Board passed a motion I authored with Supervisor Kathryn Barger that formalizes our support for Rep. Adam Schiff’s bill, The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act.
The bill would incorporate approximately 191,000 acres, referred to as the Rim of the Valley, into the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, expanding the area and bringing important federal assets to areas previously excluded from a host of resource opportunities. The proposed expansion would include Griffith Park, the Santa Clarita Valley, and the Santa Susana Mountains, as well as much of the Los Angeles River. If passed, the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act would authorize the National Parks Service to build or improve existing trails and roads, to carry out ecosystem monitoring, and to take part in conservation and recreation planning. It would also allow the NPS to fund natural resource protection efforts in the area.
During my tenure in the State Senate, I pushed for and secured the protection of key wildlife corridors and watersheds with over $80 million of land acquisitions for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. I am heartened to see other representatives continuing the critical work of securing access to natural spaces, and improving the quality of life of LA County residents for generations to come!
Adult Residential Facilities
I am delighted that during the Board meeting this week, we passed a motion I authored with Supervisor Janice Hahn that calls for a plan to support Adult Residential Facilities, which are a crucial part of the public safety net that keeps our needy and most vulnerable residents housed.
These board and care facilities have been shown to be effective living environments for adults experiencing mental health issues, substance abuse disorders, non-complicated medical comorbidities, and psychosocial challenges. Unfortunately, at the current time, our county system does not receive alerts from operators at risk of financial and/or staffing shortages until a closure is imminent, and closures have been occurring at an alarming rate. For the County to maintain and expand its network of these critical facilities, it will be necessary to develop consistent monitoring strategies and unified approaches for funding Adult Residential Facilities.
The motion directs the Health Agency to report back to Board in 60 days with a plan to stabilize and grow our existing Adult Residential Facility network across the County, including strategies for data collection, investment, and support for any relevant legislation. The current homelessness crisis demands that we do a better job of supporting and maintaining these essential residential facilities!