Barger asks county to analyze Santa Clarita’s request to expedite reopening

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

In response to the opposition of the “Safer at Home” order from cities in the northern region of Los Angeles County, Supervisor Kathryn Barger has directed the county counsel and the Department of Public Health to analyze whether cities can safely speed up their reopening stages. 

“I think it’s important for cities to be able to meet their own benchmarks and safely reopen, so they are not dependent only on the county. The cities of Santa Clarita, Lancaster and Palmdale, have approached me to discuss how they can meet the benchmark criteria,” said Barger during a live broadcast on Friday. 

Her statement comes after the Santa Clarita City Council sent Barger a letter of opposition to any new extensions of the county’s Safer at Home order, saying that due to Santa Clarita’s rate of infection remaining “very low” for COVID-19, officials believe the city is ready to safely reopen its economy. 

As of Thursday, Santa Clarita accounted for 549 confirmed cases of COVID-19 of the countywide total of more than 35,300. 

“After two months of adhering to the guidelines and directives issued by both state and county Public Health officials, the city of Santa Clarita can continue the progress against the virus, while allowing our local economy to slowly and responsibly initiate the recovery process,” read the letter. 

The request to reopen Santa Clarita at its own pace follows seven counties in northern California that received a variance from Gov. Gavin Newsom to start opening their economies quicker than the state altogether. 

The Santa Clarita City Council said Tuesday at its regular meeting it planned to connect with the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale to start a coalition and plan for how the three cities in the northern region of the county can once again open their communities. 

Mayors of Lancaster and Palmdale said earlier this week they have communicated with Santa Clarita and have also reached out to the county Board of Supervisors about reopening. 

“Over a week ago, the city of Palmdale presented a safe and sensible plan to the county for our reopening. We made the case that here in the Antelope Valley we have a different situation than the L.A. Basin. We are far less dense. We are in contact with (Lancaster and Santa Clarita) about forming a north county coalition to present our ideas for a measured and safe opening,” said Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer in a video on Thursday. 

In Lancaster, City Manager Jason Caudle said during its Tuesday City Council meeting, “They (Palmdale and Santa Clarita) have the same concerns, not only being treated differently but also having different numbers as well.” 

Barger said Friday public health must be considered should cities reopen. 

“But understand, we have to do this, taking into consideration public health. I know that working together, we are on the path to safely returning to the activities that make L.A. County so special,” she said. 

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