A recap of Los Angeles City Council meetings on February 22 and 23.
LA City Council Meeting 2/22/22
Tuesday’s meeting primarily focused on appointing Herb Wesson to fill the CD 10 seat, and things got muddy, to say the least. At the beginning of the meeting, CD 11 Councilmember Mike Bonin added an amendment to the item (25) appointing Wesson, stating that the vote should be delayed until the council had a report back from the city attorney’s office about eligibility requirements and the possibility of a special election. This item was dealt with last, and was preceded by a lengthy closed session, so the final results were not a part of Knock LA’s original tweet thread. After the closed session, CD 3 Councilmember Bob Blumenfield added an amendment stating that the report back should happen in seven days. However, after Bonin’s motion passed with an 8–6 vote, there was some confusion about whether or not it would delay the vote on the appointment.
Despite Bonin clearly saying that the appointment would be delayed at the beginning of the meeting — although, to be fair, it was over three hours before this point — it was determined that the councilmembers did not understand this when voting. There was then another vote about delaying the appointment, which failed 7–7. At this point, the appointment was finally voted on, and it passed with all yeses.
While he did not appear at the meeting, Wesson was officially on the council for the Wednesday meeting. However, on Thursday a judge issued a restraining order barring Wesson from serving on the council because he had already served the legally allowed three terms. How this will all turn out is anyone’s guess, but for the time being, CD 10 residents are still without representation in the council.
Another item on the agenda that sparked discussion during public comment was Item 6. The motion asked for a report back from the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) — with the assistance of the city administrative officer (CAO), the chief legislative analyst (CLA), and the city attorney — about the tenant anti-harassment bill that CD 4 Councilmember Nithya Raman put through recently. The callers who spoke on this item say that they have seen no enforcement, and that lawyers who should be taking these cases aren’t — because the language says “should”’ instead of “may.” A few callers also mentioned that the subsidies for the lawyers aren’t enough financial compensation.
There was some tentatively good legislation on the agenda this week. Item 9 asked for a report about increasing Narcan training and access for city employees, particularly those that interface with unhoused people, and Item 7 asked for a report on using tax increment funding to help protect affordable housing.
LA City Council Meeting 2/23/22
Wednesday’s meeting was much shorter than Tuesday’s. One of the most debated topics — by both members of the public and of the council — was people living in RVs. Item 13 brought this issue to the forefront. The item requested a report “relative to violent and property crimes originating from or occurring within corridors populated with recreational vehicles” from LAPD and LAFD.
CD 15 Councilmember Joe Buscaino spoke about this motion. He voted for it, but he felt that this was unnecessary. He felt that it would be better to use a motion he has allowing the city to move RVs, a motion that has yet to go through committee. Buscaino said that he already knows that there is crime happening where RVs have moved and didn’t seem to realize a report might give him — and the rest of the council — new information.
Two items also focused on housing. Item 9 asked for a report on the resources needed to expand the First-Time Homebuyer program. Item 8 asked for a report on helping community land trusts and low-income residents build and upgrade accessory dwelling units (ADUs). ADUs are basically an extra living space on the same plot of land as another residence, and SB9 allows these units to be built in places they weren’t before. If it is implemented correctly, this program could help create more housing and possibly give some people another stream of income. While the commodification of housing is of course bad, focusing on CLTs and people with low incomes could help create more equity in our society.
Item 15 asked for a report on maintaining levels of sworn officers as LA City’s vaccination requirement goes into effect. One might assume this would include cops, but the item only asks the fire department for a report. While there is definitely vaccine resistance and questionable political beliefs floating around some of LA’s firefighters and EMTs, at least their work limits harm as opposed to causing it.