Cooling California: Los Angeles County Proposes Maximum Temperature for Rental Units

Cooling California: Los Angeles County Proposes Maximum Temperature for Rental Units
Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash

Setting the Stage: L.A. County Moves to Address Rental Unit Temperatures

In a groundbreaking move, Los Angeles County's Board of Supervisors has voted to initiate the development of an ordinance that would establish a maximum temperature for rental units. While current regulations protect renters from excessively cold conditions, there are no safeguards against stifling heat during scorching summers, a situation exacerbating the impacts of climate change in California.

Summer Heat Woes: Addressing a Critical Gap in Protections

As renters in frigid Los Angeles apartments benefit from a minimum temperature requirement of 70 degrees, the lack of regulations for high temperatures leaves vulnerable individuals sweltering in homes without air conditioning. Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the lone dissenting vote, as the board aims to rectify this gap, particularly crucial given the increasing frequency and severity of heat waves.

Expanding Jurisdictional Impact: A Policy Beyond Unincorporated L.A. County

Unlike many local motions, the proposed ordinance could extend its reach far beyond the approximately 1 million residents of unincorporated L.A. County. By integrating the policy into the health code, other jurisdictions in the county may readily adopt it. However, Long Beach and Pasadena, each with its public health department, stand as exceptions.

Phoenix and Beyond: Learning from Other Regions' Cooling Standards

While L.A. County ventures into uncharted territory, other jurisdictions have set precedents. Phoenix mandates landlords to maintain air-conditioned units below 82 degrees, and Clark County, Nev., limits temperatures to 85 degrees. Palm Springs requires air conditioning, capping temperatures at 80 degrees. Supervisor Lindsey Horvath emphasized the public health emergency posed by increasingly deadly heat waves.

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