Cooling the Way: LA Explores Mandatory Air Conditioning in Rental Units

Los Angeles City Council unanimously supports a study on requiring air conditioning in all rental units, prioritizing residents' comfort in the face of climate change.

As the scorching sun bears down on Los Angeles, the City Council has taken a decisive step to ensure the comfort and well-being of its residents. In a resounding 13-0 vote, the council has backed a comprehensive study to evaluate the feasibility of mandating air conditioning in all residential rental units, highlighting the city’s commitment to livability amidst the escalating challenges of climate change.

The motion, spearheaded by Councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez, calls for an examination of potential code amendments by the city’s Housing Department and Department of Building and Safety. The aim is to require cooling devices in all rental units, offering respite to tenants and addressing the dire need for relief as temperatures soar to record highs.

“Summers of deadly heat over prolonged periods have become all too familiar. We must brace ourselves for even more severe and enduring heatwaves,” expressed Hernandez in her motion. “In this critical moment of the climate emergency, cooling one’s home cannot be deemed a luxury; it must be deemed a necessity.”

The study will also encompass exploring programs that assist low- and middle-income tenants in managing the financial burden associated with air conditioning. To this end, the Department of Water and Power will investigate potential initiatives to offset the increased energy costs resulting from the use of cooling systems. Moreover, they will identify potential funding sources for these programs. Additionally, the Department of Water and Power will evaluate the potential impact on the city’s electrical grid should every residential unit be equipped with air conditioning.

Councilman John Lee proposed an amendment to Hernandez’s motion, suggesting the inclusion of cooling apparatus in the city’s RSO Capital Improvement Program. This amendment seeks to examine the feasibility and potential cost implications of providing financial support for air conditioning installations.

Taking heed of the evolving discussions, Hernandez further refined her motion. She provided specific guidance to the Housing Department, specifying the types of cooling devices, such as wall units, central air conditioning, or alternative solutions, to be considered during the analysis of residential rental units. Additionally, she expanded the scope of the study, calling for two comprehensive case studies instead of one, focusing on average-sized pre-1980 buildings. These case studies will provide estimations of the costs involved in installing wall units and central air conditioning.

The unanimous support from the Los Angeles City Council underscores the city’s unwavering commitment to its residents’ well-being and comfort. By proactively addressing the need for air conditioning in all rental units, Los Angeles acknowledges the reality of climate change and takes a significant stride towards creating a livable environment for its diverse population. As the study progresses, it is hoped that practical solutions will emerge, ensuring that every Angeleno can find solace from the blistering heat within the sanctuary of their homes.