The state Office of Emergency Services announced this week that it will lay off 32 of 63 employees at its Pasadena disaster field office on July 11. And unless the state budgetary crisis eases, officials said they plan to close the office by the end of the year.
Spokesman Eric Lamoureux said that much of the work the office does in monitoring the continued expenditure of federal funds on Northridge earthquake repairs, mainly at several hospitals, would be transferred to the main office in Sacramento.
A state workers union, the California State Employees Assn., put out a statement condemning the cutback in staffing in Pasadena, suggesting Southern California was getting short shrift.
Perry Kenny, president of the union, said: "60% of the population of California is in the south. We need to have the help available there. Why would you relocate to Northern California?"
Luann Westley, a disaster program specialist at the office, said in an interview that the employees there have been led to understand there will be a second wave of layoffs later in the year and the office will be closed.
Lamoureux said only a minor amount of work is done by the Pasadena office now and it can easily be done in Sacramento. Kenny, however, said the amount of earthquake funds being monitored is $2.6 billion.
Lamoureux noted that the agency's main Southern California regional office in Los Alamitos will remain open even if the Pasadena office is shut down.
The Office of Emergency Services has about 450 employees statewide, and Lamoureux said as many as 100 may be laid off if the budget shortfalls persist.
In times of disaster, the office has added substantially to its staff, employing temporary workers. Recently, however, there have been comparatively few disasters in the state.