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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 7, 11, and 12.

city council recap featured image collage
Art by Sandra Markarian for Knock LA

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 per week to spend on City Council meetings (including regularly absent city councilmembers).

LA City Council Meeting 1/7/22

Since this was the first meeting of the year, there was a pretty light agenda. Councilmembers upheld the state of emergency that had been called to curb the most recent Omicron surge. (The last time they voted to implement a state of emergency, Buscaino said he wouldn’t vote for another one — and he stuck to his word despite the massive surge of COVID cases in LA.) 

City Council also passed an item to allow councilmembers to meet virtually and cancel Friday meetings — which was unsurprising, as canceling meetings is something Nury Martinez has a history of doing. In her speech at the beginning of the meeting, Martinez stated, ​“This is no longer unprecedented times, but the new normal.” Watching all levels of our government admit they’ve given up on eradicating COVID when scientists have been screaming the answers throughout the pandemic is simultaneously frustrating and motivating. Motivating because it further demonstrates that politicians will not solve our problems, so the people will have to. Frustrating because — quite frankly — we shouldn’t have to. 

Items 3 to 8 and item 10 were all about spending money. City Council discussed infrastructure improvements, contracting StreetsLA for outreach around the Normandie Beautiful Streetscape Project, and funding requests for two street banners: one banner encouraging participation in local government, and another banner to advertise the upcoming Super Bowl.  

The items regarding banners were the most discussed during public comment. One caller (ostensibly sarcastically) said it was good to use street signs to promote the local government as it would distract people from the rather dismal conditions of LA’s streets. A few commenters expressed disdain for the Super Bowl–related banners, saying the billionaires who run the Super Bowl should pay for advertising — not the city.  

There were a few items that seemed pretty reasonable. One was to put a gate on a stairway in CD 9 and another was for “transportation-related safety projects in Council District 7.”

LA City Council Meeting 1/11/22

This meeting started the first “full week” of council meetings according to Martinez, which is odd considering the fact that they’re canceling Friday meetings for the foreseeable future, but oh well. The thread for this meeting incorrectly stated that an item established a Business Improvement District (BID) in Little Tokyo. The item actually accepted a financial report from the BID. There may have been a renewal process, but the language is unclear.

One item accepted money from FEMA to reimburse the city for sending some workers to help with recovery efforts in Kentucky after the tornadoes. It’s great that we were able to help people recover from this disaster! And it’s great that the city is being reimbursed for it! What is curious, though, is that the city wouldn’t accept even more money from FEMA to help keep our unhoused neighbors safe during a pandemic

There were three items regarding how police handled the George Floyd uprisings in 2020 (can you believe that was over a year and a half ago?). Two of the items were accepting reports and another item was about approving more training for crowd control measures. As we know from witnessing those protests, training won’t resolve the horrible ways that cops act when exercising their power…

Another item asked for the city attorney to draft an ordinance to raise the price of some permits that police issue. The cops don’t need any more money, and some of the licenses will surely make life harder for working people. This flew under the radar at this meeting, but if it comes up in the future, I’m sure this is something people will be interested in.

Much of public comment was related to COVID-19 precautions and vaccine mandates, with one self-declared libertarian expressing fear of the “tyranny” currently happening in Australia. Rob Quan from Unrig LA did manage to call in and express concerns over Martinez canceling meetings and criticize her ongoing silence about the recent LAPD killing of Valentina Orellana Peralta.  

LA City Council Meeting 1/12/22

There were six items on the agenda that designated areas for 41.18 enforcement. Several callers urged the council to vote against these items and even pause 41.18 altogether. In the discussion regarding the topic, Kevin de León stated, “Be mindful about one thing. My team, as well as other folks, have been successful in spite of some of the individuals, who have actually called in, who were offering cash bribes for [unhoused people] to actually stay. Stay on the sidewalks and in the tents, or actually doing everything to persuade them to continue to live in the tents…” Many people — including a journalist from Knock LA — tried to reach out to de León and his office to see where he got that information. There has been no response.

One item on the agenda discussed granting a pipeline franchise to Southern California Gas Company. Pipelines leak and create other environmental issues in the areas they travel through. This item passed, as almost all items do, but it had no votes from Bonin and Raman, as you might expect. Surprisingly, Koretz also voted no. While he has traditionally been fairly outspoken about environmental issues, it is unusual that he would break ranks like this.

There was an item accepting a report about the loss of affordable housing and overabundance of student housing around USC. In my own experience, there is a lot of housing around USC that is specified as being for students and is still pretty expensive. I cannot imagine what the situation is like now that USC has only grown and taken deeper roots in the community.

There was an item accepting a donation from the Los Angeles Police Foundation to fund domestic violence training for police. They certainly need it, considering 40% of families of police report experiencing domestic violence. However, there is little to no evidence that training cops helps them be better at their jobs.