I’m proud that the San Fernando Valley is home to a range of industries, boasting everything from film production to aerospace. These businesses have established a thriving economic climate for residents, making the Valley a great place to live. Local leaders know these businesses and the challenges they face to retain and create jobs that stimulate economic development. It is this type of hands-on approach to governing that helps our region thrive.
In my work representing the Valley business community, I know that our local councilmembers, mayors and supervisors know our community well and want what’s best for the Valley. We may disagree on how best to get it done, but these are quarrels among friends. With our local leaders’ close ties to our community and understanding of the area, we can work together to do what’s right for those who choose the Valley as a place to live, work and raise a family.
Yet that hands-on approach is threatened by California Senate Bill 1387, a proposal designed to dilute local control and send more power to legislators in Sacramento – who are far removed from the unique needs of our community. Local leaders across the state are in danger of losing their power to Sacramento as the State Assembly approaches its vote on SB 1387 in the next few weeks.
Specifically, the bill proposes to weaken the local control element of the South Coast Air Quality Management District by adding three more appointees from Sacramento – giving Sacramento six appointees to the board, or six out of 16 seats. This bill sends a message that local representatives are not capable of making decisions for their communities. That biased assertion overlooks both the reasons that local governments were created and the results local representatives have been able to achieve.
Local representatives are dedicated to the communities they serve. They walk the same streets, breathe the same air and frequent the same establishments. They know their districts and the delicate balance that policies must strike. Our local officials have an allegiance to the communities they serve, as it’s their home too.
The air quality results in the South Coast basin speak for themselves. Over the past two decades, the SCAQMD’s board policies have lowered annual health advisories in the region from 96 to 0, and have completely eliminated Stage 1 smog alerts, which used to occur 100-120 times each year. Historically, the SCAQMD board has successfully used its regulatory authority to adopt policies that leverage technology advancements to create positive changes for the health of the community and the entire South Coast Air Basin. I remain confident the board will continue to make advancements with air quality regulations without adding three more appointees.
SB 1387 would set a dangerous precedent that could allow Sacramento to erode local control over parks, water and fire safety policies. It’s for this reason that I call on our representatives in the Assembly to vote “No” on SB 1387 and do what’s right for communities across California.
Stuart Waldman is president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a Sherman Oaks-based business advocacy organization that represents L.A. County employers at the local, state and federal levels of government.