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LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- A group that wants the city of Los Angeles to form its own public health department submitted a petition today with 69,640 signatures in a bid to qualify a ballot measure asking voters if such a department should be formed.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health handles health services for 85 cities, including Los Angeles. Proponents of the ballot initiative said the county is too stretched to adequately respond to public health risks.
Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, one of the sponsors of the initiative, said Los Angeles needs a health department that is "nimble and efficient enough to respond in the event of a virus outbreak or epidemic."
He said he is "heartened" to see almost 70,000 signatures were collected. The measure needs 45,252 valid signatures to be placed on the ballot.
Proponents said voters could expect to see the measure on the June 3, 2014 statewide election ballot.
The proposed ordinance calls for fees now being paid to the county to be used to create a new city health department.
The other proponents named on the initiative are Gerard Kenslea, Mark Roy McGrath, Dennis Griffin and Marijane Jackson.
The city used to have its own public health department, but closed it in 1964.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation was behind an ordinance approved by the City Council last year to require condoms be used in adult films shot in the city.
The ordinance started as a ballot drive before council members went ahead and made it a law.
Voters later approved a similar law for adult films made throughout Los Angeles County.