Here’s What You Missed Last Week at LA City Council
City Council criminalizes bicycling and supports healthcare and hotel workers. Meanwhile, Councilmember Paul Koretz opposes a $2.5 million settlement for a protestor shot by LAPD.
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).
Policing: Koretz Opposes $2.5 Million Settlement for Protestor Shot in Head by LAPD
On June 22,several City Council members skipped the meeting to attend the funeral of a police officer who was beaten to death by other police officers.
Despite the opposition of hundreds of public commenters and several neighborhood councils, on June 21, City Council approved a measure criminalizing multiple activities associated with biking in Los Angeles.
The motion will amend the city’s municipal code “to prohibit the assembly, disassembly, sale, offer of sale, distribution, offer of distribution, or storage of bicycles and bicycle parts on public property.” In their letter of opposition, the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council noted that – without defining the term – the motion would make “storage” of bicycles illegal. Such vague language, opponents argue, will only worsen racial profiling and targeting of those perceived to be unhoused.
Many public commenters said we should encourage biking and maintaining bikes rather than criminalizing them, and that the motion is “cruel,” “outrageous,” “absolutely terrible,” “punitive and pointless,” and “one step closer to becoming a police state.” SORO People’s Committee said, “In order to buy into this motion, one would have to believe that any unhoused person who owns a bike must have stolen it.”
Activists organized a free bike clinic outside City Hall that day, which they also called a “public skill-share, mutual aid event, and protest.”
On June 24, Councilmember Paul Koretz interrupted meeting proceedings to retroactively vote no on a $1.25 million settlement to CJ Montano. The settlement was approved with only Councilmembers Koretz, Joe Buscaino, and John Lee voting no. At a June 2020 protest, Montano held a sign saying, “We can’t be silent when police are violent,” and police shot him in the head. His brain bled so badly he was in the ICU for days and is still recovering.
“I just want everyone to see how oppressive the police force is as a whole in the United States,” Montano said to the LA Times, regarding the incident, “and what they are doing to people who literally, as you can see in the video, are backing up with their hands up.”
Housing: City Council Debates “Pandemic-Era” Tenant Protections
Several Venice residents voiced opposition to construction of 140 units of permanent supportive housing. Many mentioned that the building would be in a flood zone. However, much of Venice is, very likely including at least some of the commenters’ homes. Councilmember Mike Bonin spoke in support of the motion to proceed on the project, which passed, and said the cost to the city is just $45,000 a unit despite claims that it’s over a million dollars a unit.
For months, City Council has been discussing whether and how to lift tenant protections resulting from the COVID-19 state of emergency. Last week, City Council voted to request a report on amending what City Council President Nury Martinez called “pandemic-era” tenant protections. This includes safeguards against evictions as well as addressing the enormous wait list of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Many renters approved for financial relief have waited so long for its delivery that they’re being driven from their homes by impatient landlords.
Tenant protections in Los Angeles are an incredibly confusing and often-changing patchwork of city, county, state, and emergency rules. Most but not all tenants in Los Angeles are protected by the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (LARSO) which, pre-pandemic, restricted rent increases to 3-8% depending on inflation. Since the start of the pandemic, and for a year after the state of emergency is lifted, landlords cannot raise rent on LARSO properties.
Bonin said we should protect and expand tenant protections, and remove the floor of 3% rent increases. If the increases are tied to inflation, he said, why should rent increase at all when consumer prices stay the same or even decrease?
Among the many public commenters asking for strengthened and permanent protections, a rising senior in high school said it’s difficult to focus on her education while so stressed about the possibility of losing her home.
Labor: City Council Adopts Two Ordinances Protecting Workers
Street vendor permits are set to increase to $541 on July 1, and several street vendors spoke out against this cost burden.
City Council voted to immediately adopt – as opposed to send to the ballot in November – two ordinances protecting workers. Over 100,000 Angelenos signed petitions for each of the items.
Healthcare workers, including categories like janitorial and food service workers, won a minimum wage of $25 per hour. The law will only apply to workers in private corporations. SEIU 721 represents public healthcare workers and recently won a 17.5% wage increase for their workers after a five-day strike.
Kaiser Permanente launched a fake grassroots campaign, using the phrase “no unequal pay” to mask opposition to paying their workers more.
After a long campaign, hotel housekeepers with UNITE HERE Local 11 passed a law with three main components: mandatory “panic buttons” to combat sexual assault in hotel rooms, reduced workloads, and elimination of mandatory overtime.