LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer and the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) have reached a new agreement to ease the process for residents to return to their homes once the gas leak has been stopped.
“After finding their lives upended for months, Porter Ranch residents deserve a reasonable amount of time to move back into their homes--following independent assurance the leak truly has been stopped," said Feuer. "This agreement will help residents resume their daily routines on schedules that work best for them."
"The previous 48-hour timeframe proposed by SoCal Gas was unreasonable and inhumane," said Councilmember Mitchell Englander. "This is not just about returning home, it is about a safe return home. I am asking the Department of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources to work with the Los Angeles County Department of Health to assure residents’ safety. I want to thank City Attorney Mike Feuer and his staff for their tireless work to negotiate a more compassionate plan for the safe return of relocated residents once the well is capped and verified."
”We recognize that the leak has disrupted the Porter Ranch community,” said Gillian Wright, SoCalGas vice president of customer services. “We are pleased to offer more flexibility to support a smoother transition back home.”
The new agreement is a multi-pronged approach, tailored to ease residents back into their homes:
• Once SoCalGas has sealed the leak, it will notify the State of California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). With the assistance of independent experts, DOGGR will determine if the leak has, in fact, been plugged. Once DOGGR makes this determination, the agency will confirm in writing the well has been sealed and the leak stopped.
• Once DOGGR has issued written confirmation the leak has been stopped, residents of Porter Ranch who have relocated to hotels will have up to 8 days/7 nights (rather than the 48 hours previously provided) to move back to their homes. For those residents who have relocated to housing with leases, SoCalGas will pay the rent and associated costs (e.g. utilities, rental; furniture, gardening service) through the agreed term of each lease.
• For all residents relocated to apartments or single family homes, SoCalGas will reimburse moving expenses up to $500.00.
• Relocated residents who have special circumstances, specifically disabilities or functional needs that may require additional arrangements, will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition, SoCalGas will meet and confer with the Los Angeles City Attorneys’ Office regarding other similar extraordinary individual circumstances brought to its attention by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office on a case by case basis. Resolution of any special circumstances for residents that cannot be resolved by SoCalGas within 48 hours shall be referred to the JAMS mediation process already in place. The resident claiming special circumstances will be allowed to remain in the premises to which the resident has been relocated at SoCalGas’ expense until the mediation process is completed at JAMS.
• SoCalGas will reimburse reasonable mileage expenses through the rest of the school year for residents who reenrolled their children in schools outside the Porter Ranch area.