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Several LA Cities Consider Abandoning County Health Department Over Dining Ban – Eater LA

Posted: December 4, 2020 at 12:56 pm


As LA Countys Department of Health mandates stricter shut downs for restaurants, like outdoor dining and evening curfews, municipalities from around the county are threatening to break away from its jurisdiction. Just this week, Lancaster, West Covina, Beverly Hills, Whittier, and Hawaiian Gardens either announced they would create their own health departments, or at least stated their displeasure in being roped into the countywide measures, reports ABC 7. This despite LA County hitting a record 7,567 new cases on December 1, with 2,439 hospitalizations.

Last night, Beverly Hillss city council unanimously opposed the outdoor dining ban, though they plan to follow the order for now, according to the LA Times. Last week, when county officials affirmed the health departments order to shut down outdoor dining, the city of Pasadena, which has its own health department, announced that it would not follow the LA County order.

City of LA mayor Eric Garcetti, whose al fresco dining program helped establish outdoor dining operations across Los Angeles, received criticism from restaurant operators, including AOCs Caroline Styne, who told the LA Times, I would like the mayor to actually support restaurants and say I dont believe the spread [of COVID-19] is coming from restaurants. Jar chef and owner Suzanne Tracht also said the mayor needed to speak up for restaurants. The outdoor dining shut down has forced Tracht to lay off 10 employees. Garcetti, meanwhile, said he supported the temporary cessation of outdoor dining by the county.

LA Countys local government structure looks increasingly fragile as various cities within its borders opt out of what they perceive as an overreach. Lisa Dererian, Pasadenas public information officer, noted that cities used to have their own health departments, but decided to use the county system beginning in the 1920s due to difficulties in operating such departments. The pandemic has opened up fissures in the nations most populous county (over 10 million residents), which some might equate with the city of Los Angeles. However, LA County is made up of 88 incorporated cities, many with their own governments, plus nearly a hundred unincorporated areas. Some local politicians, like Whittier mayor Joe Vinaitieri, say the countys health order is a one size fits all approach while others, like Beverly Hills councilmember Lili Bosse, are considering a separation from LA Countys health department altogether.

Los Feliz Ledger says the Lancaster city council will meet this week to consider a vote of no confidence in county health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer and create its own health department; Lancaster consistently had some of the highest case rates and total cases according to county data. If cities decide to opt out of LA Countys health department, creating their own would inevitably take time and money, and require state regulatory approval.

Bosse told ABC that breaking away and creating a Beverly Hills health department would be a better option for the future: I think it goes beyond just the health pandemic that were in, and I believe thats something that will be for our children or grandchildren and generations to come.

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Several LA Cities Consider Abandoning County Health Department Over Dining Ban - Eater LA

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