Lancaster City Council on Thursday unanimously backed a vote of no confidence in Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County public health director, while also beginning the process of creating its own public health department.

Councilmembers approved the actions in response to L.A. County’s stay-at-home orders announced Nov. 27, which members said are too restrictive and too broad. One such restriction, city leaders said, disproportionately affects restaurants with the closure of outdoor dining.
Mayor Rex Parris and other councilmembers argued that there isn’t evidence to back up this particular restriction.


“In my opinion, she failed. She’s continuing to make the same mistakes she made very early in the epidemic. Now they want to put more people out of business, more people losing their homes and being forced into homelessness,” Parris said during the meeting. “We’re dealing with people in government who just did something without any research to support it.”


Added Jason Caudle, Lancaster city manager:  “If you compare what the state has done as it relates to regulating COVID and then the additional changes the County has made, they seem to be minor changes at best and are not based on science. They seem to have an unbalanced impact on restaurants specifically.”

Moving forward, Lancaster will begin a process of gathering documentation and resources necessary to start its own public health department. Essentially the City Council approved a study to determine whether the option is viable and how they could go about establishing the new department.


There have been discussions with neighboring cities Santa Clarita and Palmdale regarding a regional partnership for public health, Lancaster said in a press release on Friday.


“Does anybody doubt the necessity of us breaking away with our own public health?” posited Parris during the meeting, adding that L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger supports the city in creating its own health department.


“The reason we want a localized public health department goes beyond COVID-19. There’s a plethora of programs that, if we had local control of, we could target funds to the areas that need it. All three cities are seeing this has enormous potential,” Parris said in the Friday press release.