Porter Ranch gas leak: The end in sight?

- City leaders urged Southern California Gas Co. today to extend the deadline for families to return to their homes once the Aliso Canyon gas leak is fixed, saying the agreed-upon 48 hours leaves the thousands of residents who have relocated little time to arrange and make the move.

City Attorney's Office and Southern California Gas Co. officials said they are re-negotiating a relocation agreement in which the utility covers each household's relocation and living costs for up to 48 hours after the leak has been stopped.

Councilman Mitch Englander said the agreement was reached before anyone knew the scale of the leak's effects, which has now led to more than 4,000 households and two schools relocating from the Porter Ranch area.

Englander said families could be asked to move back home as soon as next week, with Gas Co. expected to make an attempt to stop the leak on Monday. If the utility is successful, the 48-hour clock would start for the thousands of families to move back, he said.

Englander said residents in Porter Ranch and other communities need additional time to assess the safety of residue left on their homes and furniture from the leak.

Some residents also say they have leases that may obligate them to stay in their temporary residences for much longer than the allotted 48 hours, while others are concerned about whether there are enough moving services to go around and whether they could arrange the move in the middle of a work week, he said.

Englander, saying Gas Co. officials initially resisted the request to lengthen the deadline, urged the utility to be "a little more compassionate'' to families "affected by this leak, and have been forced out of their homes during the holidays.''

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