The City Council voted to support increasing the number of emergency relief and refuge centers in Los Angeles Tuesday, instructing city departments to develop a plan and identify resources.

The plan would call for a “significant increase” in emergency relief and refuge centers, with at least one in each community plan area. Councilman Mike Bonin filed a motion requesting the plan in September 2020, citing the “woefully inadequate” half-dozen cooling centers in a city of over four million people.

The relief centers would be necessary for both refuge from extreme weather and poor air quality, according to Bonin’s motion.

“While use of the city’s cooling facilities may be low, the city should acknowledge that is likely due to poor outreach or access and not due to lack of need,” the motion states. “The city can and must do more to protect vulnerable populations from the health effects of extreme heat and wildfire smoke.”

The council instructed the Emergency Management Department, in coordination with various other agencies, to provide quarterly reports on the usage of public centers that provide emergency relief, such as cooling centers, libraries, senior centers and community centers.

It also called for the identification of resources and strategies to staff such facilities — which could include using the Disaster Service Worker Program, volunteers from the Red Cross or graduates of the Community Emergency Response Team Program — and an outreach plan to promote such facilities.

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