Supes approve Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness

Los Angeles County Seal.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took strides Tuesday to solving homelessness with a 3-2 vote to create a Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness. 

The motion, co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, and Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, is set to assess existing structures and systems and provide recommendations on reforms that are expected to help the county and its 88 cities solve homelessness. 

“Homelessness is a major crisis affecting our communities at every level and it’s time for sweeping changes to the system,” Barger said in a prepared statement. “This Blue Ribbon Commission will be critical to help the county, in partnership with our 88 cities, identify the reforms and changes needed and to move forward with actions that can finally help our vulnerable residents who are suffering on the streets.” 

This year, more than 740 homeless people have already died, which is already more than 100 additional deaths than this same time last year, Barger added, as she stressed the urgency in creating the commission.  

The motion was approved with an additional amendment offered by Supervisor Janice Hahn to expand the makeup of the commission, which is set to include 12 members: five to be appointed by each supervisor; one nominated by the mayor of L.A.; three nominated by the L.A. City Council president; two nominated by the councils of government; and one nominated by the Contract Cities Association.  

The appointees are set to be presented to the board by Aug. 10 and are expected to convene immediately, along with county counsel, the chief executive office and Homeless Services Authority, to begin their research and assessment of the existing homelessness governance reports and best practices from across the nation. 

The commission is expected to present its report to the board within six months and then sunset. 

Other SCV-related matters 

Additionally, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to send a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission, opposing any increase in natural gas storage at the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Facility in Porter Ranch. 

The board has previously sent a letter to state officials in January 2020, calling to accelerate the permanent closure plan for the facility, following a 2015 blowout and leak. 

The 2015 leak was the largest natural gas release in American history, resulting in 97,000 metric tons of methane and 7,300 metric tons of ethane being released into the atmosphere, some of which reached the SCV.  

However, in May, a group of oil companies appealed to the CPUC to modify its earlier decision and raise the allowable gas inventory in Aliso Canyon from its current value, which prompted the decision to send a letter to the CPUC, opposing the move. 

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