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Here’s What You Missed Last Week at LA City Council

Tenants score a major victory but City Council doubles down on 41.18 restrictions yet again. 

Every week, Knock LA provides live coverage of Los Angeles City Council meetings from our Twitter account. While you can follow along live, we’ve also put together this breakdown of what’s happening at the highest levels of power in our city for those who don’t have 12 hours a week to spend on City Council meetings (including regularly absent city councilmembers).

city council recap featured image collage
A collage of LA city councilmembers, art by Sandra Markarian for Knock LA

The biggest news out of City Council: HIllside Villa Tenants Association finally convinced City Council to purchase their apartment building in order to protect the majority immigrant and elderly tenants from displacement. Full story here.

Policing: Criminalizing Street Vendors and the Unhoused

On May 24, City Council continued its attempt to end homelessness by simply making it illegal by voting to enforce the controversial 41.18 ordinance in Wilmington’s Town Square Park.

That same day, the city passed a motion calling for a report on expectations for the city’s community policing program.

In a recent mayoral debate, progressive candidate Gina Viola said the disgrace of the city’s community policing program inspired her to run for office. She said that after cops killed Charlie Africa, a Cameroonian man living in Skid Row, the city paid Africa’s family a $2 million settlement and put one of the murderous cops on the city’s community policing partnerships. 

On May 25, public commenters said that a motion was a thinly veiled attack on working-class street vendors. The motion prepares to amend a city ordinance to prohibit “any activity that otherwise requires a permit and creates a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Several commenters said that rather than jump to criminalization measures, the city should work with mobility advocates – none of whom seem to have been consulted for the motion.

Environmental Reforms 

Amid extensive discussions of climate change and drought, the city voted to increase funding for decarbonization and electrification of public buildings, as well as increased use of electric vehicles. 

They also passed a motion restricting water use: LA residents may now only water their lawns twice a week. Speaking on the motion, CD 2 Councilmember Paul Krekorian said at 24% capacity, Lake Powell is now so low that the hydroelectric power supply is in danger of being shut off; we’re facing a choice of either water or power.

State of Emergency, Systemic Racism & Language Accessibility 

Again, City Council voted to continue the state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with CD 12 Councilmember John Lee and CD 15 Councilmember Joe Buscaino casting “no” votes. Buscaino has repeatedly expressed impatience to end protections for vulnerable populations. He recently led a successful effort to repeal the requirement for grocery stores to offer a special morning hour for elderly and/or disabled people to safely shop.

On May 24, the city passed a motion calling for a report on the disproportionate violence against Black women and girls, with recommendations for achieving equity and justice.

Nationwide, police kill Black women at around twice the rate they kill other women.

Finally, CD 4 Councilmember Nithya Raman introduced a motion to expand interpretation for city meetings. City council committee meanings – where the bulk of city policy discussions occur – are currently not translated into any language, unless participants request translation 72 hours in advance. Even if they do that, the city will only translate public comments, and not the full content of the meeting. 

Raman’s motion, which passed on Friday, implores the city to provide, at the very least, Spanish interpretation as default for all committee meetings, and instructs the city clerk and relevant departments to report back on recommendations for expanding live interpretation.

Over half  of Angelenos speak a non-English language at home.

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