While temperatures soar into the triple digits this week and multiple brush fires burn, L.A. County supervisors discussed plans for how the 4,084-square-mile area can best prepare for future heat waves.
The idea was to maximize partnerships, make sure the county was getting all of the resources it can to beat the heat, so to speak, and to start moving the mercury on a heat action plan, a county-specific agenda that includes a summary of existing initiatives, gaps and opportunities to address those gaps, and includes measures, such as public warning systems, improvements to the network of cooling centers and heat-resilient infrastructure planning, according to officials.
The board’s discussion wasn’t just because the forecast for parts of the county, including the Santa Clarita Valley, is expected to stay in the triple digits through at least Friday.
“I fully support our county doing more to keep our communities safe from extreme heat,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the 5th District, which includes the SCV. “We’re facing hotter days and longer stretches of hot weather — a dangerous combination that can harm seniors and other vulnerable individuals. The rural communities I represent bear the brunt of our high temperatures. I look forward to seeing how the forthcoming County Heat Action Plan will incorporate North County needs and gaps.”
The talk was a follow-up for the L.A. County Climate Vulnerability Assessment, an October 2021 report that stated heat waves are expected to increase in intensity and duration until at least 2050. The county also is trying to capitalize on the opportunity for federal dollars that are being made available by the Biden administration, according to the agenda item for the discussion, as well as line up with the goals of the governor’s heat action plan from April 2022.
“These measures include the establishment of virtual research centers to assist communities in enhancing their extreme heat resiliency, the development of a National Heat Strategy and a conference to support local elected leaders and tribal officials prepare their communities for prolonged periods of extreme heat,” according to the county’s agenda item.
The idea is to expand the services the county already offers and to make sure those most vulnerable to extreme heat have protections in place. The motion also mentions Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Office of Community Partnerships and Strategic Communications’ “Heat Ready CA,” a two-year, $20 million advertisement and communication campaign to address heat, which is part of the state’s action plan for extreme heat.
The discussion is particularly timely in Santa Clarita, as the forecast high is expected to be between 100 and 105 degrees until Friday, according to Ryan Kittell, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
“We do have a heat advisory, one step down from a warning, that’s in effect through Wednesday, but it may need to be extended through Thursday or Friday,” he added.
“A heat advisory is to raise the awareness, notify those populations who are at an elevated risk — the very young, the very old, those without A/C, those who will be very active for many hours outside. Those folks should adjust their activities and seek places to stay cool, especially during the peak of the day,” Kittell added.