City of Los Angeles and SoCal Gas Reach Agreement on Extended Relocation Timeline

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PorterRanchOn Monday, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and the Southern California Gas Company reached an agreement to lengthen the relocation timeframe for residents returning to their homes following the capping of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak.

The previous 48-hour timeframe proposed by SoCal Gas was unreasonable and inhumane. This is not just about returning home, it is about a safe return home. Councilmember Mitchell Englander is asking the Department of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources to work with the Los Angeles County Department of Health to assure residents’ safety.

The new agreement is a multi-pronged approach, tailored to ease residents back into their homes:

  • Once SoCalGas has sealed the leak, it will notify the State of California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). With the assistance of independent experts, DOGGR will determine if the leak has, in fact, been plugged. Once DOGGR makes this determination, the agency will confirm in writing the well has been sealed and the leak stopped.
  • Once DOGGR has issued written confirmation the leak has been stopped, residents of Porter Ranch who have relocated to hotels will have up to 8 days/7 nights (rather than the 48 hours previously provided) to move back to their homes. For those residents who have relocated to housing with leases, SoCalGas will pay the rent and associated costs (e.g. utilities, rental; furniture, gardening service) through the agreed term of each lease.
  • For all residents relocated to apartments or single family homes, SoCalGas will reimburse moving expenses up to $500.00.
  • Relocated residents who have special circumstances, specifically disabilities or functional needs that may require additional arrangements, will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition, SoCalGas will meet and confer with the Los Angeles City Attorneys’ Office regarding other similar extraordinary individual circumstances brought to its attention by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office on a case by case basis. Resolution of any special circumstances for residents that cannot be resolved by SoCalGas within 48 hours shall be referred to the JAMS mediation process already in place. The residents claiming special circumstances will be allowed to remain in the premises to which the resident has been relocated at SoCalGas’ expense until the mediation process is completed at JAMS.
  • SoCalGas will reimburse reasonable mileage expenses through the rest of the school year for residents who re-enrolled their children in schools outside the Porter Ranch area.

Breaking: Aliso Canyon Gas Leak Temporarily Controlled

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A relief well has reached the Southern California Gas Co. well that has been leaking since October, forcing the evacuation of thousands.

Signaling that relief is in sight for thousands of residents in Porter Ranch, Southern California Gas Co. crews temporarily controlled the leak of natural gas today from the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility well that has been spewing gas since late October.

According to the utility, a relief well more than one mile deep intercepted the leaking well, and crews began pumping heavy fluids to control the flow of gas. Work will now begin to seal the well and permanently cap the leak.

“We have temporarily controlled the natural gas flow from the leaking well and begun the process of sealing the well and permanently stopping the leak,” said Jimmie Cho, SoCalGas senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity.

Gas Co. officials said that while the development is a “positive” step, cement will still need to be injected from the relief well — which is more than 8,600 feet — into the leaking well, a process expected to take several days. Once the gas company seals the leaking well with cement, the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources will have to confirm that the flow of gas has stopped. That process is expected to take several more days.

Once the state confirms that the leak has been halted, residents who have been relocated from their homes due to the leak will have eight days to move back to their homes. People living in temporary housing with extended leases will have until those leases run out to return home.

As of Wednesday, 4,645 households were living in temporary housing, at Gas Co. expense. According to the utility, 1,726 other households that had been relocated have already returned home. The utility has also installed 5,467 air scrubbers at Porter Ranch-area homes and performed “weatherization” work on 5,410 homes.

“We are so relieved that the Gas Co. was able (to) successfully control the flow of this leak and we look forward to it being certified safe for residents to move home,” said Paula Cracium, president of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council. “The community is exhausted after living with these effects for over a hundred days and excited to be back in their homes.”

The leak was discovered Oct. 23 and has had long-lasting repercussions, including multiple lawsuits and criminal charges filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The Gas Co. was charged with three counts of failing to report the release of hazardous materials from Oct. 23 to Oct. 26, and one count of discharging air contaminants, beginning Oct. 23 and continuing through today. The charges are all misdemeanors.

If convicted, the company could be fined up to $25,000 a day for each day it failed to notify the state Office of Emergency Services about the leak. It could be fined up to $1,000 per day for air pollution violations, prosecutors said.

Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health have said they do not believe the gas leak poses any risk of long-term health issues, but the agency plans to continue monitoring air quality in the area even though the flow of gas has been temporarily stopped.

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Your 2016 Granada Hills North Neighborhood Newsletter is Now Available

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This year, we filled 8 pages to create the most informative newsletter we’ve ever created.

Some of the topics addressed include:

  • Robocalls
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Neighborhood Council Elections
  • A New Project at the Sunshine Canyon Landfill
  • Illegal Sign Posting
  • Neighborhood Watch News
  • and Aliso Canyon Gas Spill Updates

Click here to download the 2016 Newsletter, or just read it below.

Read more »

Plans for the 9th Annual Valley Disaster Preparedness Fair Are Already Underway

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The Valley Disaster Preparedness Team, in conjunction with the Southern California Preparedness Foundation, is already planning the next Valley Disaster Preparedness Fair, which will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at Fire Station 87 in Granada Hills.

As you know, preparing the community for disasters is key to our survival when an earthquake or other disaster becomes reality. Last year, EmpowerLA, Neighborhood Councils, and other supporters came together to host the 8th Annual Valley Disaster Preparedness Fair. The Fair educated and informed attendees in an enjoyable manner and 1,000 families left with free Emergency Preparedness Starter Kits containing basic items and educational material to jumpstart their preparedness efforts. Attendees enjoyed a free lunch as well. If you missed the Fair, this video will give you a good idea of what it’s all about.

In this year’s Fair we’ll bring back the favorite events and demonstrations, including the Red Cross Shakey-Quakey Schoolhouse and Children’s Safety Puppet Show, sidewalk CPR instruction, safety demonstrations from DWP and the Gas Company, the Speakers Series, and we’ll add new features as well.

We sincerely appreciate the support and participation of the Neighborhood Councils and EmpowerLA in helping all our stakeholders get prepared for disasters.

The 9th Annual Valley Disaster Preparedness Fair will take place on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at Fire Station 87 in Granada Hills. Online registration begins July 1. A Save The Date flyer can be downloaded here. For more details, visit www.ValleyDisasterFair.com or contact Bill Hopkins, Valley Disaster Preparedness Team Chair at Bill.Hopkins@SoCalPrep.us.

HopSkipDrive Provides Free Services for Families and Children During the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak

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HopSkipDrive is here to help our residents and families affected by the Aliso Canyon gas leak. If your home has been relocated and the SoCal Gas reimbursement program does not cover your rides to or from school, HopSkipDrive will reimburse the cost of those rides.

HopSkipDrive is a safe, reliable, convenient alternativeride service for kids age 7+ designed to help you get your children where they need to go safely and reliably. All HopSkipDrive CareDrivers have at least five years of care-giving experience, go through a 15-point certification process, including fingerprinting, and can even walk your child in or sign them out, as needed.

  1. Set up an account and purchase ride credits at HopSkipDrive.com. Contact SoCalGas to determine your eligibility to be reimbursed by SoCalGas. If SoCal Gas informs you that it will not cover your HopSkipDrive rides, please see the FAQ Sheet for information about how to get reimbursed by HopSkipDrive.
  2. Set up your rides at least 8 hours in advance. Once your ride is matched to a CareDriver, you will receive a picture and profile you can show to your child.
  3. Your HopSkipDrive CareDriver will get your child there safely and reliably. You will receive notifications when your child is picked up and dropped off, you can track the ride in progress through the app, and they monitor every ride in real time, as well.

For more information, email porterfamilies@hopskipdrive.com.

Councilmember Englander Demands California Public Utilities Commission Investigate Spike in Gas Bills

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This week, Councilmember Englander submitted a resolution to the Los Angeles City Council calling for the California Public Utilities Commission to investigate the unusual rate increases experienced by SoCal Gas customers this month across Los Angeles County.

Affected constituents have reported receiving SoCal Gas bills 4 to 6 times higher than their usual rate for this time of year. There is concern among constituents that the unusually large increases in the billed amount are either improperly linked to the ongoing natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility or due to a flaw in new “Advanced Meters” which electronically transmit gas usage data to SoCal Gas.

This bill spiking comes at a time when SoCal Gas is experiencing a major disaster at its Aliso Canyon facility. Councilmember Englander does not believe that these two incidents are not related. It appears that the entire Los Angeles basin is now feeling the effects of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak.

If you would like to file a complaint with the CPUC you can call the complaint line at 800-649-7570 or email consumer-affairs@cpuc.ca.gov. There is also an online complaint form available at https://appsssl.cpuc.ca.gov/cpucapplication/.

Click below to view the FOX 11 story…
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Click below to view the KCAL 9 story…
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