Wilk, Lackey urge Newsom to allow cities to decide their reopening

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State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, and Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, have urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow northern Los Angeles County cities to create their own recovery plan and decide when to reopen. 

In a letter to the governor Wednesday, the lawmakers said Santa Clarita, Lancaster and Palmdale should receive variance for a COVID-19 regional recovery plan, rather than following the county’s Safer at Home order, which officials announced this week would conclude, whether fully or in stages, by July 4. 

“As you are aware, these northern communities are, like many areas of California, geographically larger, more rural, and separated from the other more urban areas of Los Angeles County. These local differences are similar to the differences between counties throughout the state,” read the letter. 

Their request comes after Newsom granted seven northern California counties permission to start reopening faster than the state altogether, and more recently, after the city of Santa Clarita sent the county Board of Supervisors a letter requesting the same flexibility to open and start a “North County Coalition” with Lancaster and Palmdale. 

On Friday, county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, announced that she had directed the county counsel and the county’s Department of Public Health to analyze whether cities could safely expedite their reopening plans. 

“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,” she said last week. 

In a prepared statement, Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, said Wednesday, “The target date is good news, and I’m grateful for Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s thoughtful leadership and Los Angeles County’s willingness to listen to local government concerns. I’m ready to work with our county officials in supporting our businesses in the recovery process.”

On Tuesday, Mayor Cameron Smyth said Santa Clarita was still waiting for a response from the county as the three northern cities work on a plan. 

“While we’re waiting, the cities of Palmdale, Lancaster and Santa Clarita are meeting to develop and reach an agreement on a reopening plan that we can bring to our respective councils for ratification and have something ready to present in the event we get the OK to move forward,” said Smyth.

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