Residents of Porter Ranch who relocated during the massive natural gas leak can stay in their temporary housing until March 18 on Southern California Gas Company’s tab. That's the ruling of an appellate court judge, who Wednesday upheld last week's decision by a lower court.
Residents initially were supposed to return home last Thursday, eight days after the leak was plugged — but a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge granted a temporary restraining order sought by attorneys for L.A. County, extending the grace period to 30 days.
The L.A. County lawyers argued that some of those who have already returned home to Porter Ranch are reporting health issues, so the gas company should be forced to continue paying to house them elsewhere while officials conduct additional air monitoring to confirm there is no health threat.
SoCal Gas argued that the eight-day timeframe was sufficient because it was based on data showing that the air in and around Porter Ranch "has returned to the typical air-quality conditions that existed prior to the leak."
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, SoCal Gas says it's "disappointed" with the California Second Appellate Court's decision "because it conflicts with independent scientific analysis and creates further uncertainty for the community."
The gas company says it will abide by the judges' orders to provide relocation assistance and support to Porter Ranch residents.