Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth said Monday he is considering asking city staff to look into the formation of a public health department in Santa Clarita, citing a city need to “create greater autonomy for the future.”
Smyth said he planned to discuss Sept. 8 with City Council members how the city could look into the process of creating its own citywide health department, a la Long Beach and Pasadena.
“I think it’s worth researching what creating our own health department would entail,” Smyth said.
“What we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic is communities like Santa Clarita and others that have maintained a consistency of cases, a consistency of capacity availability, and yet we continue to be put under the same order as the rest of the county,” Smyth said, “when the data shows that Santa Clarita and others are in a different place than the county.”
Smyth said he understands the department might not be created in time to deal with the current situation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was a reminder of not only why Santa Clarita was created in the first place — for more local control independent from Los Angeles County — but also how being under such a broad umbrella was creating unfair challenges for countless groups.
“By creating our own health department, Santa Clarita would have a greater say around not only salons, restaurants and places of worship, all of which are impacted by a countywide order that may not apply to Santa Clarita based on our own numbers,” Smyth said. “I understand that this would take time and may not apply to our current situation, but it’s a reminder that Santa Clarita should investigate more ways to create greater autonomy for the future.”