The Los Angeles City Council agreed today to create a health commission to study the establishment of a public health department instead of putting the question to voters.
The 15-person commission would study the health needs of the city, make recommendations annually, monitor Los Angeles County Department of Public Health policies and study the creation of a city department that would deliver public health services.
The panel would operate "indefinitely," though the City Council could amend the ordinance for creating commission, according to a representative of the City Attorney's Office. City officials have yet to estimate the cost of creating the panel.
The City Council could have set a special election to let voters decide whether to establish a health commission or put the measure on the November ballot. A special election was projected to cost taxpayers $5.5 million, while putting the ballot on the Nov. 4 ballot would have cost about $4.4 million, city officials said.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is behind the drive to get the city to set up a public health department. It gathered enough voter signatures on a petition to qualify the issue for a ballot, but the city and the county sued to have the issue removed from the ballot, leading the council to compromise by agreeing to start a commission to study the creation of a city public health department.
Los Angeles had a public health department until 1964, when its duties were transferred to the county.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation was behind a 2012 effort in which city voters approved a measure to require condoms use in X-rated videos.