The Los Angeles City Council today approved a motion by Councilmember Paul Krekorian creating the first-ever position of Chief Heat Officer to oversee the City’s response to the devastating rise in temperatures across the region. The Chief Heat Officer will work with city departments to take immediate action on extreme heat; set city-specific goals on extreme heat; and work with community-based and nonprofit organization to increase public awareness about severe climate risk.
“Los Angeles experiences the most extreme heat waves in the State of California,” said Krekorian. “We have seen the terrible effects; horrific wildfires, a year-round fire season, severe public health risks, especially for seniors and people living in underprivileged communities, and widespread damage to infrastructure. It’s imperative that the City have a detailed plan in place to address this ongoing climate catastrophe. The Chief Heat Officer will be responsible for bringing this to fruition, among other critical responsibilities.”
The motion requires the Chief Legislative Analyst to report in 90 days on establishing the position.
"The aim of my extreme heat legislation and that of my colleagues' is to really get the City’s act together on extreme heat preparedness," said Councilmember Paul Koretz, "But also to ensure we are taking very serious steps to protect outdoor workers and vulnerable populations including the elderly and the very young. If inaction or neglect results in someone's death, the parties responsible for their safety will be held accountable."
“In 2021, once again, Los Angeles reached another alarming milestone in the climate crisis, as September saw the highest temperature ever recorded in the City,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, the chair of the Council’s Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Los Angeles River Committee. “Today’s action will ensure that the City’s response to extreme heat is met with the sense of urgency the moment demands of us, while being well-coordinated and in alignment with our goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2035.”
“Extreme heat kills more people than every other natural disaster combined in the United States,” said - Cindy Montanez, Chief Executive Officer, TreePeople. “We are so excited about the passage of this motion to establish the first ever Chief Heat Officer for the City of Los Angeles and create a Heat Action Plan to better protect our communities, especially those heat-vulnerable communities, low-tree canopy communities, and communities of color.”
"The designation of a Chief Heat Officer builds on the City's breakthrough policies on cool roofs and cool pavements," said Jonathan Parfrey, executive director of Climate Resolve. "With over 50,000 cool roofs and over 200 lane miles of cool streets, it's clear that the City of Los Angeles now leads the nation in protecting the public from extreme heat."
Other components of the motion include mandating that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power report on strategies it is implementing to mitigate the effects of extreme heat on the power system; recommendations from several departments on how to improve cooling spaces; and a report from the Department of Building and Safety on updating building codes to ensure new and existing buildings provide cooling or be cooling-ready.
“Along with my initiative to convert the City to 100 percent clean energy by 2035 and the inclusion in the 2021-22 budget of $30 million for solar power at City of Los Angeles facilities, this latest motion furthers the City’s groundbreaking efforts to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change,” said Krekorian.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian represents Council District 2, which includes the east San Fernando Valley. His website is paulkrekorian.org, where you can sign up for news updates. Visit him on Twitter (@PaulKrekorian) or Facebook.