Lindsey Horvath was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2022, and is the youngest woman and first millennial to hold the office. Her Third District covers from the Ventura County Line to Hollywood and north to Sylmar. She previously was the longest consecutively serving Mayor for the City of West Hollywood. Valley News Group interviewed her on the issues facing the board.
VNG: How has your tenure as a Mayor of a city of 34,000 translated to being a supervisor of a county of 98 million?
LH: I knew by order of magnitude the impact of our work would be different. But it is similar in that the Board of Supervisors interacts with a CEO. In West Hollywood I worked collaboratively with the City of Los Angeles on homelessness, and learned that there can be no more finger pointing, no more delegation of blame as to the crisis. We need to take the lessons of responsibility and collaboration and institutionalize change moving forward. Not just with the homeless but in all sectors – health care services, supportive social services – whatever the county delivers we need to make it more effective and efficient.
VNG: Your predecessor (Supervisor Sheila Kuehl) was criticized for never showing her face in the valley. What are your specific goals for the San Fernando Valley?
LH: I was in the valley this week to kick off the homeless count. I spoke to the Valley Economic Alliance January 12. I am trying to be in the valley every week. We’re not trumpeting about it, but we’re making sure we’re on the ground in places we need to be hearing from the people. We need to lead by listening as well as doing.
A never-ending topic in the valley is the homeless crisis. The Mayor outlined her Inside Safe program. The Board of Supervisors declared our own state of emergency so our department is in alignment and able to be responsive. I am working with Councilmember Nithya Raman who asked us to partner with her on the homeless in Sherman Oaks Library Circle. I am meeting with each councilperson to talk about what the needs are in their districts.
From my vantage point it’s not about pushing people from one place to another. It’s about getting them off the streets for good.
VNG: When talking about the homeless a lot of answers from the city are, “That’s a county problem” and from the county that, “That’s a city problem.” How to reconcile those?
LH: LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority) is a joint venture between the City and the County. I’ve met with service providers from LA Family Housing to assess what the needs are, what the issues are and what experiences have been. There are deficits in contracting – some applications for housing are seen 140 times before help is given one person. That is unacceptable. There are inefficiencies in hiring support staff, specifically in the Department of Mental Health, where it can take up to a year from interview to hiring. Again, unacceptable.
Each Supervisor can appoint someone to the LAHSA Commission. I appointed myself so there are no more layers of bureaucracy – just myself. I won’t supervise direct hiring but can assist in hiring practices.
It’s not just with the homeless problem – but with all issues cutting through the red tape. We need to reimagine and strengthen partnerships, working with all departments. We can’t let bureaucracy get in the way.
VNG: What do you see as the biggest issues in the district itself?
LH: We need to invest in water sustainability and water structure. I welcomed Vice President Kamala Harris to the valley to see the Tujunga Spreading Grounds that utilize stormwater to recharge groundwater supplies in the region. I met with Las Virgenes Municipal Water District officials on how we could work together.
I will continue to address concerns about flood control and water capture – so water doesn’t just run to the ocean but is stored and used. The recent storms provided enough for 6,000 families to have clean water. We need to invest in that infrastructure.
I’ve also heard about the lack of investment and transportation infrastructure in the valley. I’m prepared to work with valley partners to see results. I have a seat on Metro and want to invest in regional structure for transportation that works.
VNG: One of your campaign goals was public safety. Do the supervisors have any power over gun control?
LH: The Board just had an emergency motion by Supervisor Solis on how we deploy services and resources in case of a shooting. Also the Department of Probation was doing online sales of firearms they weren’t using; the Supervisors passed an emergency motion directing them to stop selling and destroy the guns instead. We need to keep guns off the street. We are also working with the Sheriff’s Department on how they are addressing hate crimes and antisemitism. When we get their report we’ll work with them to engage community partners.
VNG: Another of your campaign goals was economic development. However, the Board of Supervisors just extended the rent moratorium another month with the possibility of extending it to June. You’re a renter and can empathize. But what about landlords that haven’t been paid for three years?
LH: What was actually proposed was an extension of emergency protection through the end of March. The extension was for both renters – and landlords for mortgage assistance. We authorized an additional $2 million for renters and $3 million for property owners through Program Rental Assistance at Keep L.A. Housed. The caveat is that property owners get money from the county with the agreement to keep people in housing. We cannot afford more people falling into homelessness.
VNG: The Board of Supervisors used to be known as the “Five Kings” – five men with tremendous control over the county. It has been all women now for several years. What does that dynamic bring to the board?
LH: I would say there is a desire to be collaborative – to work together. This is especially seen on the homelessness collaboration between Mayor Bass and the Board of Supervisors. I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t that way in the past.
I don’t know if it’s just in our nature, or if we women leaders are stepping up to work together to solve the pressing issues of our times.
I’m proud to join the board as the youngest woman ever, the first millennial, with a whole new perspective.