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

A recap of Los Angeles City Council meetings on January 25 and 26.

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Art by Sandra Markarian for Knock LA

LA City Council Meeting 1/25/22

Mitch O’Farrell chaired this meeting with no word as to why Nury Martinez was absent, although this is the first meeting she has missed in quite a while. Besides Martinez, De León, Harris-Dawson, Lee, and Price were all absent from roll call, although the latter four showed up before the first vote, with Price arriving right after roll call. (If he hadn’t, City Council would not have had a quorum, meaning the meeting would not have gone forward.)

One item gave more money to cops for overtime “to address street racing,” even though the police budget is wildly inflated and the cops regularly abuse their overtime already. This item was not the subject of many interesting public comments, with one person asking whether the Fast and Furious franchise is to blame for an uptick in street racing. 

Another item offered $50,000 for information about the killer of Brianna Kupfer. Obviously, this murder is a tragedy, but the media has been disproportionately reporting on Kupfer’s death and inappropriately magnifying the unhoused status of the suspect. (As Knock LA reported earlier this month, this story is a labor issue that underscores the risk retail workers face daily due to the demands of late-stage capitalism.) There have also been several recent murders of BIPOC that have not drawn anywhere near the same amount of press coverage, such as the murder of Tioni Theus earlier this month (although, it seems the story is finally getting a bit more media traction).

One item that received several positive mentions during public comment was an item that pushed forward the creation of the Youth Development Department. One caller expressed concern, citing the county version. However, many callers who worked on the task force to do outreach and create the plan called in to say that — through their work — a wide swath of youth voices, especially from underrepresented communities, were considered. As the cautious caller said, it seems like a good program, but it will be important to make sure that the department is doing the right stuff in an equitable way.

Another item that received several comments in favor was a pilot program to provide public toilets, which is especially important for unhoused people. The motion — which was originally introduced in September of 2021 — tasked StreetsLA with ensuring no loss of public toilet access throughout the transition to the Sidewalk and Transit Amenities Program. Several callers stressed the need for publicly accessible toilets that are open for 24 hours. Many of the callers referenced Skid Row and asked for the program to be extended citywide. Another caller made the point that the program should include other amenities such as naloxone, as well as staff on site who can help reverse overdoses.

LA City Council Meeting 1/26/22

De León, Harris-Dawson, and Price were all initially absent from this week’s meeting, although De León did eventually show up. Things started off with a quick vote on housekeeping matters like contract extensions and project expenditure plans, so nothing too controversial right off the bat. 

There were a few items related to 41.18 enforcement, notably item 27, which asked for consideration of a Cedillo-Krekorian motion. The motion specified 12 locations in Council District 1 for “enforcement against sitting, lying, sleeping, or storing, using, maintaining, or placing personal property.” 41.18 is an ongoing source of controversy with enforcement being legally dicey, at best, and outright unconstitutional, at worst. Item 27 was continued to February 27, so we’ll be sure to give you an update then. 

As per usual, several callers chimed in with complaints about vaccine mandates. That being said, Item 24 got the most attention during public comment this week — which brings us to some tentative good news. 

This item dealt with neighborhood drilling and recommended actions that would begin phasing out the practice, including preventing new oil drilling projects while conducting an amortization study to determine the length of the phase-out period for existing operations. Several callers spoke in favor, citing the documented health risks of urban drilling as a point of concern. One caller — a member of the STAND-L.A. coalition — drew attention to how communities of color have historically suffered the worst consequences from poor environmental policy. The motion passed unanimously