Guest Column

Katrina Foley

Fifth District

Supervisor, County of Orange

April Update – Women’s History Month, Sober Living Homes, Climate Action Plan and more!

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Courtesy of Katrina Foley

In March, we celebrated Women’s History Month by recognizing trailblazing women in our legal profession building a more just, equitable Orange County for all.

Congratulations to our Newport Beach awardee: Mary-Christine (M.C.) Sungaila Appellate Lawyer of the Year! Visit our website to learn about her work and her incredible fellow honorees.

At my first quarterly Roundtable on the Status of Women and Girls in Orange County, consensus among local women leaders declared mental health and wellness as top priority for all ages. I agree. Our next discussion in June focuses on mental health initiatives, services and how to close the gaps for women and girls to live healthier stable lives.

My office continues progress on our Fifth District priorities: public safety, reducing homelessness and the addressing affordable housing crisis, climate action, taxpayer oversight and supporting small businesses.

Public Safety:

In December, I initiated an E-Bike ordinance at the County of Orange, following a study in coordination with OC Public Works and OCTA. The ordinance will be heard at the OC Traffic Committee this month. Provisions include grouping restrictions, strict sidewalk speed limits, helmets for minors, requirements for yielding to pedestrians and equestrians and for an audible alarm when overtaking, consequences for driving without a license when required, and more.

During the County of Orange’s annual two-day advocacy trip in Sacramento, my Chief of Staff and I strongly advocated for my county-sponsored legislation Senate Bill 1334 carried by California State Senator Josh Newman. SB 1334 will close critical regulatory loopholes in recovery residences to better safeguard vulnerable individuals at risk for abuse and exploitation by profiteering businesses, while better serving the communities in which recovery residences are located. Watch the first Senate Health Committee hearing on April 24 at 1:30 p.m. live or watch the recording here.

As Mayor of Costa Mesa, I led the development and implementation of a comprehensive Sober Living Home Action Plan and model ordinance in order to close policy gaps and combat bad actors across Orange County. Following Costa Mesa, the County of Orange adopted a similar ordinance. Even with reasonable rules to ensure a quality safe system of care, the number of facilities in Orange County remains the second highest just slightly fewer than in Los Angeles County with three times the population.

SB 1334 reflects my decade of dedication to improving care and treatment for residents challenged with substance use disorders, rooting out exploitive practices, and addressing the over-concentration of sober living homes in our communities.

Reducing Homelessness:

So far, we voted to build 2,653 permanent supportive housing units toward our additional 2,396 units goal. As the Orange County Housing Finance Trust Chair, I’ve helped secure more than $12M in federal and state funds to help build more housing. Stay tuned for our Point in Time count numbers released later this month.

Climate Action:

As we celebrate Earth Month, Orange County is turning over a new leaf on combatting climate change.

Last month, Orange County leapt forward historically on reducing carbon emissions by finalizing our first ever Priority Climate Action Plan, a tool outlining our vision for building projects that address the climate crisis. This plan was developed, in part, by Deputy CEO Lilly Simmering, OC Waste & Recycling Director Tom Koutroulis and our county’s newly hired Environmental Sustainability Officer Tara Tisopulos, with help from me and my Climate Resiliency Task Force. We are mobilizing subject matter experts from UCI, the Building Industry Association and Labor, climate change activists, and policy staff from state and federal offices. We must catch up to combat climate change and plan for a resilient future.

If you visit our beaches or live along the coast, you understand the consequences of our eroding coastlines. In protection of our coastal habitats, communities and coastal economy, the county finalized our first South Orange County Regional Coastal Resiliency Strategic Plan. This plan outlines our vision for creating a regional collaborative on coastal resiliency in south Orange County, to develop a coordinated, proactive and regional response to coastal erosion.

Taxpayer Oversight:

Due to the volume of local businesses seeking help from our office to obtain necessary health permits, we noticed lengthy waiting periods for county inspections and visits to restaurants causing costly delays for business owners. I began working with my Chief of Staff Nick Anas, county staff, and local restaurateurs and chamber representatives to identify solutions to cut the red tape and streamline health permitting for small businesses and restaurants. I’m hosting a round table for restaurant owners and our county team in May. Email my office to attend.

I look forward to spring sunshine and flowers.

Keep up with our latest updates by signing up for my weekly newsletter: https://d5.ocgov.com.


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