Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County 5th District supervisor, and Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean discuss Metro transit and other topics at the City Council special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

Barger talks homelessness, transportation with City Council

The Santa Clarita City Council met with Los Angeles County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger on Wednesday to review ways they can continue working together on issues such as homelessness and transportation needs. 

“It is an honor to represent this part of the district,” said Barger. “I hope that not only statewide, but nationally, we can serve as an example of how you can work together to achieve what people who put us in office expect and that is the services and collaboration and public safety.” 

Homelessness, for example, has been an expensive and challenging problem for the city and the county in recent years, with one of Wednesday’s biggest discussions revolving around how the two entities can work together on Santa Clarita’s allotment of Measure H funding. 

Homelessness

The city and Los Angeles County officials talked about the potential for streamlining the process on how local jurisdictions access funding from Measure H, the 2017 ballot measure that authorized a 0.25% county sales tax for 10 years to fund hundreds of millions of dollars in services for the homeless, Barger said. 

“I’ll put out a motion, hopefully next week, with Supervisor (Hilda) Solis, because I’ve been hearing from my communities that they’re very frustrated at how slow it is to get the Measure H dollars,” Barger said.

The supervisor plans to provide her direction to councils of governments, which represent member local governments, and provide assistance on issues like homelessness, so that they may allocate funding based on the homeless plans that have been put forward by cities. 

Though not yet set in stone, Barger said she feels confident in the success of the motion, and believes it will help relieve the logjam jurisdictions face, as well as offer more flexibility in addressing homelessness, which differs from city to city. She added her proposal would look to make the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority feel less L.A.-“centric.” 

“It’s important for us to know, and I say ‘us’ because I’m a taxpayer, to know that my Measure H dollars are going countywide, and not just staying in the city of L.A. Stay tuned,” said Barger.

“Santa Clarita feels like we’re ahead of other cities in being proactive, and so the ability to access some of those additional funds can help us put some of those plans in motion,” said Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Smyth. “That’s going to be great.” 

In January, the city was awarded $375,000 in Measure H funding for homeless housing and a homeless coordinator, who joined the city team this summer. 

Other topics discussed during the public meeting held at City Hall included open space, arts, public safety and the Metro Antelope Valley Line study to improve train ridership. Barger indicated funding has been provided for double-tracking near Bouquet Canyon Road and just south of the Newhall tunnel and exploring the possibility of extending night hour operations on weekdays. 

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