The City Budget
A PLATFORM FOR SYSTEMIC CHANGE
This is a unique moment in time – a moment of reckoning and recovery for Los Angeles. It is a chance to do things differently, so that all Angelenos have the quality of life they deserve. No longer do the ideas that David has fought for over the years seem unimaginable – they just make sense.
Reimagine Public Safety
The murder of George Floyd was a wake up call for many Angelenos – not only to reexamine police tactics, but to reimagine public safety in its entirety. The future of public safety must apply the right response, not necessarily an armed response, for each call. Los Angeles must go beyond the reforms attempted after ’92 and the Rampart Scandal, and begin a universal restructuring of the LAPD from the ground up. Specifically, it must examine its accountability, transparency, disciplinary processes, distribution of assets and permissible tactics.
To achieve these goals, there must be the creation of an independent commission made up of public safety experts and restorative justice experts that will seek to:
• Reallocate a percentage of public safety money into non-punitive, preventative and restorative programs that have a proven record of decreasing crime while maintaining our ability to prevent violent crime.
• Explore the creation of a City Department of Mental Health and Social Services or Department of Violence Prevention, so that the City will have the ability and oversight to hire social workers, gang reduction workers, mediators, mental health professionals to respond in lieu of armed police officers in non-life threatening situations. If that is not feasible, then the City should contract with existing agencies with expertise in providing mental health and social services. Also, there should be restructuring of the responsibility of County departments to better and more directly provide accountable services in mental health to the City. (Currently the LAPD is in the jurisdiction of the City of LA and Mental Health and Social Services is in the jurisdiction of County of LA).
The following reforms must be implemented immediately:
• Create an Office of Violence Prevention.
• Expand the effective “community-based policing” model, where Senior Lead Officers partner with neighborhood groups to identify and solve local problems.
• Require LAPD to exhaust all other means before using deadly force.
• Require LAPD officers to give a verbal warning before using deadly force in all circumstances.
• Require LAPD officers to report each time they point their firearm at
• Implement comprehensive training in de-escalation, anger management and conflict resolution, and universal, evidenced-based, cultural sensitivity curriculum for law enforcement.
• Implement a rigid disciplinary approach for police officers who do not activate their body cameras.
• Develop mobile crisis services, peer crisis services, and “warm lines” for people with behavioral or mental health issues.
• Utilize technology (speed traps, etc.) instead of armed police officers to enforce minor traffic violations to reduce unnecessary interactions and eliminate racial pretextual stops.
• Create a 3-digit number for non-emergency public safety calls.
• Work with the LAUSD School Board to re-evaluate the Los Angeles School Police Department to determine whether they can be replaced during school hours with additional counselors, psychiatrists and/or social workers.
• Replace armed police officers with unarmed peace officers to enforce minor offenses such as noise complaints, landlord/tenant disputes and loitering.
•Create a database of LAPD police officers fired for misconduct to prevent other agencies from hiring them; contribute the data to a national database when one is formed.
• Continue to reform the police review and disciplinary process
(Board of Rights) based on the ACLU report on the LAPD.
Reform the City Charter. Expand the City Council.
The City Charter must be reformed to reflect the Los Angeles of today. It must be more responsive to today's demographics and updated for the 21st Century.
● Expand the City Council to better represent the current population and bring the City in line with other big cities in the United States (e.g. New York City: 1 councilmember to every 165,000 residents; Chicago: 1 alderman to every 55,000 residents).
● Establish an independent redistricting process similar to the
State so that districts can be drawn by a citizen commission tasked with drawing district boundaries based solely on representation
● Reform the appointment process to City Commissions to better reflect the diversity of Los Angeles voices on city commissions by requiring that a certain percentage of commissioners have relevant experience to the commission they are being appointed to, and require an open and accessible public application process.
● Adopt a public financing system for city elections to ensure the public’s trust in government. With just one percent of the proposed LAPD budget we could have a fully publicly financed electoral system in Los Angeles.
• Reform the City Attorney's office to eliminate conflict of interest, so there is a City Attorney that prosecutes and a separate Counsel for City legal defense.
Reprioritize the Budget
Prioritize funding and prevent proposed cuts to programs and departments that protect the City's most vulnerable and provide housing, workforce development and welfare programming, small business support and social services to those who have been most heavily impacted by the crisis.
● The programs managed by the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID), which is projected to see a 9.37 percent cut, are a critical resource to the city's low-income, underserved, and under-resourced residents. The proposed
cuts and furloughs will reduce the Department’s ability to provide services to tenants, prevent poverty and homelessness, help victims of domestic violence, and to create affordable housing. Moreover, reducing this department’s ability to conduct enforcement and oversight will surely lead to an increase in unjust evictions, displacement, and homelessness.
● The services managed by our Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD), which is expected to see an 8.93 percent cut, are critical to the city’s COVID-19 disaster recovery efforts. Thousands of workers and small businesses have been impacted by the crisis and are now seeking assistance from a number of Department-run programs, including the Small Business Emergency Loan Program, the Rapid Response program, the Business Assistance Team, the LA: Rise Homelessness program, and the Hire: LA program.
● The Department of Aging (DOA), which is expected to see a 7.14 percent cut, has been responding with dedication and adaptability to the task of protecting nutrition services for the city’s older adults. For seniors staying at home, food insecurity and social isolation are dire health concerns. The Department saw a 44 percent increase in seniors participating in nutrition programs, which also increased from a regular five days per week to seven days per week, since the start of the pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis has presented a threat to the life and safety of older adults, and the proposed cuts and furloughs could be incredibly harmful.
Homelessness & Affordable Housing
As a housing activist for over twenty years, David believes that if we are going to solve our homelessness and affordable housing crisis, activists, stakeholders and elected leaders must work together on a community-wide response. David has a holistic approach to housing all Angelenos.
● Extend the eviction moratorium and support the federal government's efforts for rent and mortgage relief.
● Create a FEMA-like response to end homelessness, the greatest humanitarian crises our City has ever faced.
● Incentivize public-private partnerships to create "scattered-site" subsidized housing vouchers; buy motels/hotels and other distressed and abandoned properties and convert them to affordable housing; make it easier for building owners to convert entire or partial office buildings to housing.
● Build more temporary and permanent housing for those currently unhoused through public/private partnerships.
● Preserve affordable and moderate income housing by changing how the Ellis Act is enforced in Los Angeles, reforming the Renters' Tax Credit and lobbying Sacramento to kill the Costa Hawkins law; incentivize affordable and moderate income housing construction and increase the inclusionary housing requirements.
● Address the root causes of homelessness by providing more living wage jobs, affordable health care, mental health programs and other vital social services.
A More Sustainable Future
An enthusiastic supporter of L.A.'s Green New Deal, David's record of fighting climate change goes back to his elementary school days when words like recycling and global warming were not yet household words. His first job was as a LA Conservation Corp "Clean and Green Team." His exemplary environmental record has earned him the endorsements of LA's leading environmental groups – Sierra Club and LA League of Conservation Voters.
• Reduce the City's carbon foot print by expanding alternative modes of transportation such as transit, bike-share, and micro-mobility – and making it safer and more accessible to leave cars at home through increased bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly and Open Streets.
• Incentivize telecommuting for the LA workforce to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse emissions.
• Make the DWP's energy portfolio 100% renewable and improve storm and water capture.
• Protect and increase the Urban Canopy.
• Incentivize transit-oriented mixed-use affordable and middle-class housing.
• Work with the Fire Department to prevent wildfires to better protect our natural habitat and our air quality.