The City Council voted on Wednesday to have a report conducted on ways to reclassify air conditioning in Los Angeles as a service requiring "urgent repairs," allow tenants to install window air conditioners in their units, and identify funding to assist property owners with installation costs.
The motion emphasized a need to incentivize owners of multi-family buildings for vulnerable residents to install air conditioning, as Los Angeles experiences an extended heatwave while Safer at Home orders are still in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're facing a series of unprecedented heat waves at a time when access to indoor air-conditioned space is severely limited," said Councilman David Ryu, who introduced the motion in June. "This is an equity issue. Too often, it's seniors, communities of color, and low-income residents who lack air conditioning and face severe health outcomes as temperatures continue to rise.
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"As we face a warming city, our solutions must be centered around the communities that are most often left behind."
The motion instructs the Department of Water and Power to prepare a report on the feasibility of allowing tenants in apartments without air conditioning to install window air conditioners or use mobile air conditioning units in their homes, as long as no damage or structural changes to the property occur.
According to Ryu's office, a recent study by the World Meteorological Organization showed that in cities across the United States, historically low-income neighborhoods are several degrees warmer than other neighborhoods.
In Los Angeles, there is a more than 7-degree difference between high-income neighborhoods and lower-income neighborhoods with residents who are predominantly people of color, according to Ryu's office.