city attorney Mike Feuer

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said he will seek a court order Wednesday in an effort to speed up the relocation of families affected by an ongoing natural gas leak at a storage facility near Porter Ranch.

City attorneys are also requesting that Southern California Gas Co., which operates the gas storage facility, appoint one or more “special masters” to oversee the relocation process and make temporary housing available within 48 hours for any resident requesting relocation.

Feuer also wants to request that Gas Co. employees be deposed as early as Jan. 7 to address questions about the leak’s causes, efforts to stop the leak, the date they think it could be fixed, the contents of the gas and other issues.

Feuer’s chief deputy attorney, James P. Clark, said “it’s time Porter Ranch residents had direct and complete answers about all facets of this leak, including what caused it, how to stop it, and what will be done to assure it never happens again.”

Clark added that residents “should also receive better, quicker and completely adequate relocation assistance.”

Residents have complained of nausea, nosebleeds, dizziness and headaches related to the leak, which was discovered by the Gas Co. on Oct. 23. So far, thousands of residents have voluntarily left the area and two schools have been closed.

Gillian Wright, vice president of customer service for the Gas Co., said the company is aware of Feuer’s plans to request a temporary restraining order, but will only respond to the request through filings with the court.

Wright said the utility is working with 17 relocation agencies and adding other resources.

“We are committed to best efforts to accommodate all residents in neighboring communities who need relocation, including people with disabilities and access and functional needs,” as well as those who need pet-friendly options,” she said.

“While we are working to accommodate people’s needs and are providing free, temporary housing accommodations, many people are pursuing their own options,” including Airbnb rentals and hotels, with the choice up to “each resident and their family,” she said.

—City News Service

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