Supervisor Janice Hahn Delivers First State of the County Address
San Pedro, CA– Today, Supervisor Janice Hahn delivered her first State of the County address at a lunch hosted by the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce at the Port of Los Angeles Cruise Terminal.
Supervisor Hahn told the 600 person crowd that she believes the County of Los Angeles can and will be a “model for the nation– not because we do not have any challenges– but because we are able to be honest about problems we face, earn the trust of residents, and face big challenges head on with even bigger solutions.” She discussed her first 11 months in office and reflected on her decision to leave Washington and come back to local government. She lamented failures of Congress and pointed to LA County’s ability to rise up to meet residents’ needs when Washington fails.
The Supervisor’s speech focused on the County’s budget, economic development efforts, her view of the homelessness crisis and solutions to it, and the several initiatives that the Supervisor has undertaken since coming into office.
On homelessness, Supervisor Hahn expressed hope for Measure H funded policies providing services to the 58,000 homeless individuals in the County and said that she is worried our biggest obstacle “is not a lack of funding, but NIMBYism.” She challenged local city leaders in the 4th District to fight back against NIMBYism and propose new plans to build housing for homeless individuals in their cities. Supervisor Hahn pledged that she would stand by them and put County funding behind the project to ensure it gets built. Hahn also announced her plan to partner with Habitat for Humanity to build permanent supportive housing in Downey for homeless veterans. She promoted the County’s landlord incentive program and touted local landlords as “LA County’s secret weapon in the fight to end homelessness.”
You can read the transcript of the Supervisor’s entire speech below:
State of the County 2017: From Congress to the Board of Supervisors
It has been almost a year since I was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. I can say without hesitation that this is the honor of a lifetime.
I am still getting used to it. Members of my staff sometimes slip and call me Congresswoman. I even do it once in awhile. But honestly I could not be happier that my days in Congress are behind me. People in DC could not believe I was leaving “the pinnacle” of American political positions for a spot on a county board. And I would tell them, I am running to represent 2 million people, on a board that represents 10 million people, in a County bigger than all but seven states, with a budget of $30 billion dollars– PLUS my name is already on the building.
Partisan politics never suited me. I was raised in a political family but not a partisan one. I cut my political teeth in a non-partisan office and I will admit that I was not wholly prepared for the level of partisanship that had taken over Congress when I arrived in 2011 and it only went downhill from there.
That is why I am so happy to be a part of this Board of Supervisors. I know it is a place where I can get real things done for the people I represent. Where the federal government falls short, LA County has already shown it can step up to the plate and deliver for people.
I believe that LA County can and will be a model for the nation. We operate on a scale bigger than any other county. We face bigger problems than any other county but we combat them with even bigger solutions. We are an innovative, caring, forward-thinking county and we stand in stark comparison to what Americans have grown to expect from government.
I may serve on the same Board of Supervisors that my dad served on for so many years… but it looks quite a bit different these days.
For the first time in the history of the Board of Supervisors we have a female majority. It is about time! For decades we were lucky to have one woman on the board and nobody gave that a second thought.
The 4th District
Each of my colleagues probably thinks that they have the best district but I really do.
The 4th District is the economic powerhouse of LA County. It includes LAX, one of the largest and busiest airports on the globe. It is home to LA’s formidable and innovative aerospace industry rooted at the Los Angeles Air Force Base. It is the center of the young but growing biotech industry which employs 700,000 LA County residents in some of the highest paid jobs in the country. Our beaches and beautiful coastlines attract visitors from around the world and fuel our tourism industry. And here we are at the Port of Los Angeles, which together with the Port of Long Beach are responsible for 40% of our nation’s imports and billions of dollars in economic activity and tens of thousands of local jobs. The port itself is becoming a promising new hub for education and ocean exploration with the development of AltaSea.
Economic Development Policy
With over 100,000 employees and a $30 billion dollar budget, the County itself is an economic powerhouse for the region. I want to use those resources to help YOUR businesses expand, grow, and create good paying jobs.
Over the next five years, $60 million dollars will be available through our County Economic Development Program. About half of the $60 million will be invested into high-growth sectors like bioscience, manufacturing and clean-tech. We are also creating a brand-new loan fund for businesses who want to relocate their offices near transit lines– giving their employees easier commutes and cutting down traffic for everyone.
We also have over $750 million in capital and infrastructure projects going on, all over the region. Our County is giving itself a make-over, with new libraries being constructed, new office buildings, and expansions to LA County hospitals. And I’m proud to say that all of this is being done by working hand in hand with our friends in labor. If there is even one dollar of County funding invested in a project, we insist on a project labor agreement, because we know taxpayer dollars go further when they not only invest in infrastructure, but invest in the people who build that infrastructure.
By far the best economic development policy involves investing in an educated, well-trained workforce. That is why you will see me put money every year towards job training programs, youth education, and afterschool programs, like the Boys and Girls Club, that keep our kids on track to go to college.
The Budget and Contracting to Small Businesses
As a Supervisor, one of my most important roles is as a responsible steward of your tax dollars. This year we approved a $30 billion balanced budget.
28% of our budget, about $8.1 billion, goes to public safety that funds the brave men and women of our sheriff’s department, firefighters, and county lifeguards. When natural disasters befall our neighbors and friends, we all struggle with how we can do our part to help. But being a part of LA County means you ARE helping. This budget funds the Search and Rescue Teams made up of our best and bravest that have gone to help in the aftermath of hurricanes in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico, and the devastating earthquake in Mexico.
27% of the budget, around $7.7 billion, goes to the broad category of public assistance. This includes everything from child protection services and care for foster youth, services for the disabled, and hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue dedicated to addressing OUR homelessness crisis.
32% of the budget, about $9.1 billion, will fund health and sanitation programs. That includes everything from our four county hospitals, our 18 health clinics, our departments of public health and mental health, and everything that goes into keeping LA County neighborhoods clean and healthy.
Lately more of that money has gone to purchasing Hep A vaccines and going to fund outreach workers who are going to our homeless encampments to try to prevent the spread of Hep A like we saw in San Diego.
A huge portion of our services and projects are not actually implemented by the County itself but are carried out by businesses and nonprofits that we contract with. These contracts are great business opportunities especially for locally owned small businesses.
Right now, the County has a goal to award 25% of its contracts to locally owned small businesses making them eligible for about $1 Billion in contracts. But last year, small businesses were awarded just $214 million in contracts. There is money being left on the table that should be going to you!
If you own a small business and you are wondering how you can get in on this action — the first step is get registered and certified with the County as a locally-owned small business. Getting registered is easy– you can do it online or to make it easy for you, we have someone here today who can help you. Once you do that you will be contacted about opportunities and ways your business can contribute to LA County.
By the latest count, there are 58,000 people without homes in LA County. I say that number so often I fear it has lost its meaning. That is more people than fit in Dodger Stadium. There are families with children living in cars, veterans living in tents, and people who have no option but to sleep on the sidewalk every night. It is a humanitarian crisis.
Last year at my first meeting as a Board Member, I led the effort with Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas to put Measure H on the ballot– a quarter cent sales tax that will raise $355 million dollars every year for the next ten years for homeless services. Thanks to the generosity of LA County voters, Measure H passed with overwhelming support.
While we only started collecting the tax on October 1st, we have already been putting YOUR money to work. We are sending mental health professionals out with sheriff’s deputies on difficult cases to make sure mentally ill individuals end up in treatment, not our jails. We have hired mental health specialists, doctors, and addiction treatment professionals to go into encampments and deliver help to people in need.
Ultimately we know that nobody can put their life back together if they are living on the streets. That is why we are expanding our shelter system, putting millions of dollars toward hotel vouchers and funding rental assistance to give a hand to people on the brink of losing their homes.
What we really need to do is to build more homes people can afford. But we have also seen communities unleash huge backlashes against affordable housing projects.
The biggest obstacle facing us is not a lack of funding but NIMBYism, and a lack of willingness by communities to take on a fair share of the problem.
This is a shared problem and it demands a shared solution. There are 58,000 people in LA County who need homes. No one community will bear the burden of housing all 58,000, but no community can house zero either.
The City of LA and Councilman Joe Buscaino are doing their part.
Councilman Buscaino is getting 160 new units of housing for those previously homeless built in Harbor Gateway!
And I will do my part. My office is identifying County-owned land in the Fourth District where we can build units.
I am happy to announce today that I will be partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build housing for homeless veterans in Downey at a County-owned lot. The new building will have 40 units of housing for homeless veterans and 40 units for previously homeless families.
I want to encourage the city leaders here today to identify sites in your community where you can build new housing units. I know this is not a simple ask. We have seen neighborhoods turn against politicians for homeless housing proposals. But we cannot allow this to become the new third rail in our local politics.
If city leaders in my district propose a project, not only will I stand by you, but I will put county resources behind you to make sure you get it built.
The City of Long Beach has proposed building 95 units of affordable housing on Long Beach Blvd. It is an innovative, mixed-use proposal that makes sense for Long Beach and I was happy to commit $1.5 million of the Fourth District’s housing fund to make it happen.
Of course, none of these projects will be built overnight. And while I believe we need to build more housing stock if we want to solve this crisis long-term, there are policies at work right now that can get people off the street and into homes.
The County has launched a new program to give incentives to landlords who accept housing vouchers from previously homeless individuals. This includes paying landlords to hold a unit while we identify a tenant, paying a person’s first and last month’s rent as well as monthly rental assistance if-needed, and guaranteed reimbursement for any damage to the unit. This gives landlords peace of mind and a reliable check at the first of every month.
Since this program launched last year, 875 people who were living on the streets have signed leases and are living in homes they can call their own.
Landlords are the County’s secret weapon in the fight to end homelessness and I know we have plenty of landlords in this room. This is a program that works and I challenge every property owner here today to put it to the test. Pledge to rent just one of your units to a formerly homeless family. To make it easy for you, we have put packets on every table with forms so you can get registered today.
My dad, Kenny Hahn, served as an LA County Supervisor for Forty years. Obviously this was long before the days of term limits. But during those four decades he was a force in LA County and proved just how impactful an LA County Supervisor could be.
There are parts of my dad’s legacy that forever changed the landscape of LA County that people take for granted.
My dad brought the Dodgers to LA. He designed the County Seal and the County Flag. He brought a hospital to Watts. He had the idea for emergency call boxes on the sides of freeways.
And let’s not forget one of my dad’s greatest accomplishments– raising Jim Hahn! My brother, the Dodger’s first honorary bat boy, grew up to be City Controller, City Attorney, Mayor of Los Angeles, and now Superior Court Judge and I am so glad he was able to make it today!
And in the late 1960s, when my dad’s cardiologist told him that doctors could save more lives after heart attacks if they could treat them before they got to a hospital, my dad went to Sacramento to lobby then-Governor Ronald Reagan for the creation of the nation’s first Paramedics program.
Mobile Stroke Unit
Today we are facing a new challenge.
Doctors are seeing evidence that they can save more people after strokes and prevent lasting brain damage if they can treat them in the field before they ever get to a hospital. Doctors in some of the nation’s top hospitals are developing mobile stroke units
which carry CT scanners and specialized equipment to identify and treat stroke victims. Evidence shows that mobile stroke units can help prevent debilitating paralysis, memory loss, brain damage, and even death. This could be the next breakthrough in stroke treatment and I want Los Angeles County to have one of these Mobile Stroke Units.
I have been working with doctors at UCLA who are developing a pilot program. I was able to get UCLA the $1.5 million it needed and the mobile stroke unit will be on the road next week.
Bring Our Loved Ones Home
Another health challenge here in LA County is the increasing rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Many of you have seen the stress it puts on families to have to supervise a loved one 24/7 and live in fear of what could happen if they left your sight.
Last October, 56 year old Manhattan Beach resident Nancy Paulikas visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with her parents and her husband, Kirk. For years, Nancy worked at Northrop Grumman but in 2015 was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. She lost her ability to communicate. That day at LACMA she wandered away from her family. Twelve months and three days later, Nancy is still missing. Kirk has spent every day for the last year searching for his wife.
Sadly, Nancy’s story is not unique.
60% of individuals with Alzheimer’s and half of children with autism will wander at some point.
In February I launched the Bringing Our Loved Ones Home Taskforce with the goal of developing a countywide program to locate individuals faster and return them to their family.
One model they are considering is already being used in Glendale. It is a system of wristbands distributed to interested families each equipped with a small transmitter. If a person goes missing, police can activate the receivers and be led directly to the person in a matter of minutes. So far 7 people in Glendale with wristbands have gone missing and all 7 were found and brought home safely.
Kirk believes that this kind of wristband could have brought Nancy home to him that day. This is a system that gives families support in a worst case scenario and much needed peace of mind. I think it is one solution that could work for LA County and I look forward to implementing it as soon as possible.
I cannot talk about the State of the County without talking about the State of our Transportation System. Traffic is worse than ever. Last Thursday I was stuck in so much traffic on the harbor freeway I missed a commission meeting! The traffic in our county is taking its toll on productivity, on goods movement, and on quality of life.
I heard loud and clear that residents have felt left out, left behind, and misled about transportation projects in the Fourth District. The fact is my constituents do not have a lot of good alternatives to the freeway.
As a Metro Director, my pledge to you is to speed up the projects in this district. I want to see the West Santa Ana Branch go from Downtown LA to Artesia. I want to see the Gold Line Extended to Whittier. I want to see the Green Line actually connect to Torrance. I want to see big improvements
to the 710 so we can get trucks in and out of our ports faster. And I don’t want to wait until 2050 for these projects to be built. We have the funding to get these projects started now.
We are going to raise over $120 billion because you — the taxpayers– are paying a half-cent extra to fund a 21st century transportation system. I am going to make darn sure we get our fair share.
Metro funding is also fueling job creation.
But it is clear to me that these great jobs are not equally accessible to everyone. Women make up just 2% of the workforce on any given Metro project right now. That includes engineers, architects, project managers, and everyone else needed to get huge projects to the finish line.
We know that women are just as qualified as men for these jobs and Metro has already started building a pipeline of women who are getting the training they need to enter the transportation workforce. There will be no excuse for not having more women in these jobs.
Public Safety and the BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION
On February 20, Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer was shot and killed by Michael Mejia, an ex-convict who was serving probation under LA County’s supervision.
The incident was heartbreaking for the City of Whittier and raised alarm among people who worry that recent statewide criminal justice reforms like AB109 and Prop 47 have threatened public safety.
The fact is, we as a county cannot and should not attempt to roll back these reforms. They were passed by voters and our state legislature to address real problems with our incarceration system that have kept low-level, mostly minority offenders behind bars for decades. Our state prisons were inhumanely overcrowded and packed with people who would be better served in a mental health facility.
LA County is set to admit hundreds more former inmates into our probation program in the next year. That is why I joined Supervisor Barger to create a Blue Ribbon Commission on Public Safety. This commission will take a critical look at how we have implemented AB 109, Prop 47 and other reforms, what their impact has been on public safety, and what we can do to implement them better.
Not everyone on this Blue Ribbon commission will agree. There are heated opinions on both sides of this issue. Law enforcement and their allies understandably want a justice system that keeps both them and our communities safe and keeps dangerous people off our streets. Criminal justice activists want a criminal justice system that treats people fairly and allows people who have served their time to have a second chance.
There is no reason those two concepts cannot be compatible. This is a conversation that we need to have and this Blue Ribbon commission is the venue to have it in.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
I would like to wrap up this speech with an issue that has become very important and personal to me.
Six weeks ago it was announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA would end.
Unfortunately, one of the hundreds of thousands of young people affected by this announcement is a member of my staff. Carlos was born in Mexico and brought to LA as a baby. This is the only country he has ever called home and he considers himself a proud American. President Obama signed DACA the day that he graduated high school and he told me it was the best graduation gift he could have asked for.
Because of DACA, Carlos is working full-time in my downtown office and finishing his degree at night. And yet– finds the time and energy to go above and beyond to help every one of my constituents he talks to. Carlos asked me if he could come forward with his story. He has done interviews, helped develop resources for Dreamers in our district, and has even volunteered after hours with the Office of Immigrant Affairs to help people renew their DACA status.
Carlos can you please stand up so we can give you a round of applause? Thank you, Carlos.
Carlos is one of 800,000 young people nationwide and 100,000 here in LA County hoping and praying that Congress will take action. When experts testified about this at our Board meeting, even the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce said Dreamers contributed billions to the County’s economy and that we would damage not only our communities, but our economy, if Congress failed to act.
While our representatives in Congress struggle to fight against a broken system in DC, I am hopeful that LA County can emerge as a better alternative. LA County will be a model for the nation– not because we do not have any challenges– but because we are able to be honest about problems we face, earn the trust of residents, and face big challenges head on with even bigger solutions.
I have found my home on the Board of Supervisors. I am proud to go to work every day to fight for my constituents and the 10 million hardworking, generous, diverse, passionate people who make up Los Angeles County. This is the honor of a lifetime and I will not waste one minute of it.