Gov. Jerry Brown meets with Porter Ranch residents and tours site of gas leak

Gov. Jerry Brown met with a handful of Porter Ranch residents  and toured the site of a leaking natural gas well whose fumes forced many families from their homes.

Brown expressed concern about the health of people in Porter Ranch and demonstrated that he has been working on the problem, contrary to the complaints of some residents who say he has not been actively involved, said two of the four people who attended the meeting Monday.

“I felt he was engaged and definitely there to find out what was happening in the community,” said Paula Cracium, president of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council.

Cracium said she and others at the meeting urged Brown to be more visible on the issue and to help with a major concern that will last long after the leak is plugged--declining property values.

Real estate experts say property values have taken a hit since the leak started Oct. 23 in a Southern California Gas Co. well in nearby Aliso Canyon. Residents told Brown they want any fines assessed against the gas company reinvested in Porter Ranch’s residential and commercial areas.

The governor's office did not provide details on the nature of the conversation with residents. 

In a related development, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors called for creation of a new regulatory structure to oversee gas storage facilities.

Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to send a letter to the governor and legislative leaders calling on them to "adopt immediate reforms to update [the state's] antiquated regulatory processes and modernize inspection technology and establish an independent panel of experts to oversee the inspection and repair of remaining wells across the region and communities with similar facilities." 

Before meeting with the residents, the governor spent an hour at the site of the damaged well and at the nearby relief well being drilled to stop the leak.

Porter Ranch residents have complained for weeks about what they saw as Brown's invisibility on the issue as they moved out of their homes and fought off headaches and nausea associated with the fumes. 

Pat Pope, who hosted the hour-long meeting with Brown at his home, said the residents "knew that the governor’s office was working on this, and especially the Office of Emergency Services, but the governor and his staff seemed to be invisible to the rest of the world.”

The governor sent a letter last month to the chief executive of SoCal Gas and described the utility's cleanup efforts as "insufficient."

Company officials believe the leak will not be repaired until February or March. Cracium said residents are growing increasingly concerned about what happens next.

"For us, we believe everyone is working really hard to fix this leak, but we really do need to know that the day after [it's fixed], we are safe," Cracium said.

Twitter: @TheCityMaven

Times staff writer Abby Sewell contributed to this report.

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