By John Orona
Last week the Pasadena City Council held a special joint meeting with LA County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, and based on Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the dialogue is already paying dividends.
Barger and the council met last week to discuss a variety of issues, but the allocation of Measure H homelessness relief funds and an update on the Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project took center stage with the representatives and residents.
Residents vented their frustration with the removal project which they say causes traffic, noise and atmospheric pollution, as well as the potential for habitat destruction and an increased risk of cancer due to the now-discontinued use of Roundup herbicide at the project site.
According to County Public Works Director Mark Pestrella, there are “no signs or health indicators” that the chemicals are cancer-causing. However in recent lawsuits juries have awarded big payouts after finding the use of Roundup was a “substantial factor” in subsequent cancer diagnoses. Dozens of countries have banned the product and LA County restricted its use last month.
During Tuesday’s meeting the board approved a motion by Barger to install air quality monitoring devices that the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) would use to evaluate pollution levels and create strategies to address concerns around environmental health.
“I appreciate the input of our community and concerned parents who have been instrumental in the development of this important air quality monitoring strategy,” Barger said.
For Pasadena, truck traffic is one of the biggest drives of air pollution, according to SCAQMD.
Regarding to the allocation of Measure H homeless relief funds, the council told Barger that their share of the tax dollars is unfair compared to the amount that they contribute to the county-wide fund as well as to the size of the homeless population they serve.
“We would like to pursue this idea of Measure H funds being allocated proportionate to our percentage of the homeless population,” Pasadena Housing Director Bill Huang said. “If you take that percentage, we would get about $5.5 million dollars.”
According to city estimates, by the end of June Pasadena will have contributed over $12 million to the Measure H fund but is only awarded $1.3 million for that same time frame. Furthermore, some of the funds were earmarked for programs that have been historically ineffective or not needed in Pasadena, such as money to build more shelters.
On Tuesday, Barger introduced a motion to the Board of Supervisors that would have the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority to report back to the board within 45 days with recommendations to streamline the funding process and work more closely with cities – including regular listening sessions and data exchange – to better address their specific needs.
According to Huang even with this disproportionate funding, the money from the county is still yet to arrive after 21 months.
“On behalf of the County,” Barger said, “I am terribly sorry that the bureaucracy that I always hit the state for, has now hit the County, and I promise you that this will be taken care of.”