The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to effectively remove Sheriff Alex Villanueva as the head of the county’s emergency operations center, citing a need to centralize disaster operations after shortcomings in the response to the deadly Woolsey fire.
Villanueva called the move irresponsible, criticizing the timing during a global coronavirus pandemic as “a brazen attempt to consolidate power” with the board.
“It’s not gonna add more ventilators, it’s not gonna add more masks out there to first responders, it definitely does not improve functions,” he said at Tuesday’s virtual meeting. “When it comes to life and death matters, I don’t take it lightly.”
Supervisors said the proposed change is months in the making and stems from an audit that revealed the county was unprepared for the deadly Woolsey fire, which killed three people and burned nearly 97,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in 2018. Supervisor Kathryn Barger pointed to a November board motion that sought the change.