LOS ANGELES - The City Council voted today to seek ways to incentivize Los Angeles businesses to provide more telecommuting opportunities for their employees.
Introduced in May by Councilman David Ryu, the unanimously approved motion directs city staff to report back to the council on methods to encourage businesses to adopt remote work policies, allowing more people to work from home, reducing commuter traffic, carbon emissions and smog.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to adapt a remote work and telecommuting model,'' Ryu said. “This also happens to be the more climate-friendly model and it should be the future of work in Los Angeles. I'm proud to see the City Council take this step to tackle climate change, reduce traffic and build a healthier future by changing the way we commute.''
The motion instructs city departments and agencies to report on the health and economic costs related to unhealthy levels of smog, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, one of the most harmful forms of air pollution.
Ryu's motion also seeks a cost comparison on telecommuting versus traditional work settings, including the cost of renting office space, furniture and utilities, and financial and tax relief options to incentivize private industries to adopt flexible work schedules and increased telecommuting options.
Ryu said that after decades of progress, the air quality in Los Angeles has been worsening in recent years, disproportionally harming Black, Latino and Asian communities. In 2019, Los Angeles had 153 days of unhealthy levels of PM2.5 particulates, which have been linked to respiratory illnesses like asthma.
According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, air pollution-related illnesses cost Los Angeles roughly $22 billion a year, but the city saw significantly cleaner air at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and Safer at Home order.
A recent study from UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability found a 20% improvement in air quality in Southern California and statewide traffic reductions of 80% since the Safer at Home order took effect.