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United Chambers Hosts State of the County 

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 Photo: ScottBogunia/Storm Labs

United Chambers of Commerce hosted their annual State of the County lunch and board installation on March 21.

County Supervisors Lindsey Horvath (Third District) and Kathryn Barger (Fifth District) addressed the gathering of business owners and discussed issues relevant to the valley.

UCC Government Affairs Chair Richard Fisk asked how the  County could help the business community, as so much of permitting and licensing is done through the City.

Horvath replied there were multiple ways the County could  help small businesses, from the Department of Economic Opportunity to no-cost counseling and legal services.

Barger added they were excited about their Elevate Youth Program, where LA County businesses can boost their business and elevate a career by mentoring a youth participant, whose wages will be paid by the County up to 400 hours.  

On the subject of the homeless crisis, Barger said that previously the City and County have not worked well together, but the County is now working hard to get people the services they need immediately. Horvath agreed and said that the City seems to be more concerned about getting homeless into housing without providing them services such as mental health and transitioning into permanent housing. She was concerned that the recently passed Proposition 1, which supposedly would provide more money for mental health counseling, would actually focus more on housing than help.

Both Supervisors concurred that there are too many departments trying to solve the homeless crisis, and said that Judge Carter is trying to set up an auditor to track where all the money dedicated to housing the homeless is actually going.

“There are too many agencies and not enough coordination,” said Horvath. She actually offered a motion to audit LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority) about what is working and what needs improved in the agency. Horvath appointed herself to the LAHSA board, concerned about the lack of direct oversight, saying “there are just too many committees.”

Other topics the two addressed was if there were enough County health inspectors. The answer was a clear no, and one issue was making sure the same person who went out to inspect a property would be the same person who came back. Barger added they are definitely down in numbers of inspectors but are actively recruiting and hiring.

Along those lines on the subject of food vendors, they agreed there are just too many departments overseeing the problem – from public health, permitting, building and safety to the Sheriff’s Department.

“It’s frustrating we can’t coordinate this, because brick and mortar businesses walk out their front door to find a vendor on their sidewalk,” said  Horvath. 

Both Barger and Horvath decried the situation at the County jails, particularly for juveniles. Horvath said criminals need separated from mental patients – but that there is no alternative. They both agreed the Men’s Central Jail needs shuttered.

Their biggest concern was that City and County departments need to coordinate more and talk to each other.  Barger added, “Each department gets a rating and goes over it. But no departments talk to each other . We’re trying to get better coordination between departments to better serve our constituents.”

Also that the size of Los Angeles County, which Barger says is 11 million residents, needs more supervisors. “With the size of the county we need to look at how to be more efficient and more transparent.”

Horvath said,” Business is the backbone of L.A. We the County need to support what you’re doing by working better on our end. We need to learn from your experience and expertise, and we need to ‘get out of your way.’”

Barger laughed and said “We all need to work together – isn’t that what you expect your politicians to do.”  

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