Here’s What You Missed This Week at LA City Council
A recap of Los Angeles City Council meetings on November 9, 10, and 12, 2021.
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).
LA City Council Meeting 11/9/21
Callers during public comment were mainly interested in the items that had to do with redistricting. In particular, people expressed opinions on LAUSD redistricting, with the Valley district being drawn in a way that split some parts of the Valley off and including some beach communities that callers said they had nothing in common with. The council passed the motion without change.
A motion regarding the City Council district map, however, faced a variety of amendments. Many public commenters were concerned about how Reseda would be affected. Primarily, the callers wanted Reseda to be contained to one district, but if it was to be split, they did not want it split along Reseda Blvd, which has had several traffic incidents. Most of the amendments passed, largely having to do with specific borders of the district, with the only “No” vote cast by Councilmember Monica Rodriguez (CD 7).
Additionally, five transportation motions regarding the Slow and Play Streets Programs, bus lane enforcement, and funding for sustainable transportation all passed without comment from the public. These seemed generally positive, but we still have the worst public transportation infrastructure of any major city in America, so who knows?
Another item had to do with entering into an agreement with Southern California Gas Company about pipeline maintenance (boooooo!). This was called for a separate vote by Councilmember Paul Koretz (CD 5). On that vote, Koretz and Councilmember Nithya Raman (CD4) voted against it, with Councilmember Mike Bonin (CD 11) correcting his vote to “No” after the fact. All other councilmembers voted in favor. This item being voted down probably would not have prevented the use of the pipeline, but the councilmembers who voted against it were able to put on a display of their commitment to fighting climate change.
Two motions were about supporting legislative action at the state level. The first was in favor of decarbonizing the shipping industry. With the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, we have a lot of ships bringing products to our shores, and this would be a major step in the fight against climate change. The second was to support allocating proper resources for helping Afghan refugees (who, to be clear, have been displaced by American imperialism) to resettle in California. There were some callers who said that we shouldn’t be spending money housing people when we can’t house the poor people on our own streets. This argument is, of course, spurious given that we do in fact have the resources to house everyone, but they are currently misallocated (for instance, LA currently spends around $1.8 billion annually on the LAPD so the department can do important work like “spend $10 million on unused BMWs” and “blow up entire South LA neighborhoods with fireworks”).
As almost always happens, all motions were passed.
LA City Council Meeting 11/10/21
The first item on the agenda named several organizations that Ground Game LA (Knock LA’s parent organization) has worked with in various capacities in the past, including Service Employees International Union–United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW), Physicians for Social Responsibility–Los Angeles, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), and Sunrise Movement LA. They submitted an objection to a proposed expansion of LAX. As this was an appeal and not a motion, it did not come to a vote.
The council also appointed a new Commissioner to the Board of Tourism, Ms. Germonique Ulmer, who passed with all “Ayes.” A report about creating a solar power capture and storage facility in the city passed with all “Ayes” as well.
Two items had to do with issues with extreme heat. One was about improving the preparedness of the city for extreme heat events. The other suggested creating a “chief heat officer” for the city. Both items passed with all “Ayes.” Some of the callers for public comment had a few things to say about how the city has handled heat in the past, but the motions were generally supported.
There was also a motion to continue the state of emergency declared for the COVID pandemic for another 30 days. There was some pushback in public comment from people claiming that landlords are suffering under the tenant protections that have been instituted, which is (objectively) very funny. The only pushback it received from council was Councilmember Joey “Buckets” Buscaino (CD 15) declaring that this would be the last time he voted for it. It passed with all “Ayes.”
LA City Council Meeting 11/12/21
The Friday City Council meeting primarily focused on 41.18, the municipal code banning people from a number of public acts like sitting or sleeping on the sidewalk, ostensibly to engender public safety. In reality, the ordinance criminalizes homelessness. On Friday, the council voted to start “enforcement against sitting, lying, sleeping, or storing, using, maintaining, or placing personal property” for 36 specific encampments across the city. If unhoused people at said 36 encampment sites refuse temporary housing, they can be cited, fined, and incarcerated for doing so.
The council barely had quorum, with Councilmembers Busciano, Mitch O’Farrell (CD 13), John Lee (CD 12), and Paul Krekorian (CD 2) all absent. Only Councilmembers Bonin and Raman voted against the revised code. Most public commenters were adamantly against the ordinance. Harvey, an unhoused Angeleno living in Chinatown, called in and put the solution succinctly: “I’m still a taxpayer, it doesn’t matter if I am homeless or not. We don’t want shelters. We want housing.”