LA city measure would require air conditioning in all rental units

The Los Angeles City Council, in a 13-0 vote, called Wednesday for a study on the feasibility of requiring cooling devices in all residential rental units, along with exploring potential programs to assist low- and middle-income tenants with costs related to air conditioning.

Councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez presented the motion, which instructed the city's Housing Department and Department of Building and Safety to report on potential code amendments to require cooling apparatus in all residential rental units.

In the motion, Hernandez cites a need for the city to maintain the "highest standard" possible of livability as the climate change continues to escalate.

"In recent years we have experienced summers of deadly heat over prolonged period and we must be prepared for those heat waves to both worsen and persist," the motion reads.

"At this point in the climate emergency, the ability to cool one's home cannot be considered a luxury and rather must be treated as a necessity."

As part of the motion, the Department of Water and Power will report on potential programs to offset increased energy bills due to the use of air conditioning and provide information on potential funding sources for such programs.

DWP will also provide an estimate of the potential implications on the city's electrical grid if every residential unit were equipped with a cooling system.

Prior to the vote, Councilman John Lee introduced an amendment to Hernandez's motion. Lee recommended instructing the Housing Department to report on the feasibility and potential cost impacts of including cooling apparatus on the list of items eligible for the city's RSO Capital Improvement Program.

Hernandez made amendments to her motion, too, clarifying the type of cooling apparatus, such as wall units, central air conditioning or other devices, the Housing Department should consider when conducting analysis of residential rental units.

The councilwoman also instructed the Housing Department to conduct two comprehensive case studies -- instead of the originally proposed one case study -- on an average size pre-1980 building, to estimate the costs associated with installing wall units and central air conditioning.