Believing L.A. County’s Public Health Department was too big to be nimble and effective, AHF mounted a 2013 ballot measure campaign to create a separate City of Los Angeles public health department; however, L.A. City officials successfully sued to block the measure from even going before voters
Now, in response to L.A. County’s uneven response to COVID-19, several Southland cities—Beverly Hills, Lancaster, West Covina and Whittier—are exploring creating their own public health departments
LOS ANGELES (December 7, 2020) Growing talk by several Southland cities about forming their own public health departments in response to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s uneven, poorly communicated and one-size-fits-all response to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic reminded officials from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) of its ambitious 2013 ballot measure campaign to allow voters to weigh in on creating a separate City of Los Angeles public health department. However, that effort was stopped in its tracks when L.A. city officials successfully sued to halt the effort from going before voters.
Now, over the past few weeks, leaders in Beverly Hills, Lancaster, West Covina and Whittier have talked about splitting off from the jurisdiction of L.A. County’s Public Health Department to form their own departments. Last week, Lancaster’s City Council even voted unanimously to form its own health agency.
Currently, 85 of 88 cities in L.A. County fall under the jurisdiction of the County’s Public Health Department, including the City of Los Angeles. Pasadena, Long Beach and Vernon are the only cities in the county with their own public health agencies. The City of L.A. last had its own independent public health department in 1964 and thereafter has contracted with L.A. County for its public health services.
“AHF spearheaded the 2013 ballot initiative as part of an ongoing campaign to improve the delivery of public health services and STD prevention services throughout Los Angeles,” said Michael Weinstein, AHF president. “AHF watched as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health stumbled or fell short on managing critical public health issues including tuberculosis, syphilis, meningitis, STDs, HIV/AIDS and now, COVID-19.”
Size and Serving the Public Health: Los Angeles County vs. the City of Los Angeles
As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Los Angeles County had a population of 9,818,605—making the County alone more populous than 42individual U.S. states. That same census showed 3,792,621 residents in the City of Los Angeles, roughly 38% of the entire County population.