California’s “environmental governor” has been missing in action in the fight to stop the devastating damage being done to east and southeast Los Angeles residents by state regulator’s failures to stop years of toxic chemical dumping in those communities.
Those residents – most of them Latino and working class – are mad as hell, and rightfully so.
For more than a decade, this newspaper has been publishing stories on the dangerous polluting of these same neighborhoods – from unincorporated East Los Angeles to Boyle Heights, to Maywood, Commerce and cities nearby. The number of community meetings and protests we’ve covered over the years are too many to count. Yet, the illegal health and environmental damage for the most part went unabated.
The most recent revelations — if you can call three years recent — that the Exide Technologies battery recycling plant in Vernon was allowed to operate for decades on a temporary permit despite repeated violations of state toxic chemical emissions is inexcusable.
So is the lack of urgency and action not only by state regulators, but also by the state, national and local officials elected to serve, and to protect them.
If it weren’t for the people in the impacted neighborhoods unrelentingly beating the drum on the crisis in their community, Exide would likely still be in business today.
Sadly, it’s taken the catastrophe at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Porter Ranch to stir up awareness by state official to what east and southeast residents have known along: There’s a double standard in California when it comes to protecting people of color and limited means from environmental injustice.
On Tuesday, the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Assembly finally held a hearing on the Exide debacle and plans to clean up the toxic pollution it has left behind. The meeting was held in Sacramento, not where the problem is.
In more affluent Porter Ranch, officials brought the hearing down to the people. Gov. Brown personally went to Porter Ranch and declared a State of Emergency, but couldn’t be bothered to drive two-miles from where he was attending the opening of casino in Bell Gardens to peek in at the Exide damage.
Residents in the areas contaminated by Exide had expressed doubt about former Supervisor Gloria Molina’s assertion that the governor had not responded to her calls to him to discuss Exide. How could it possibly be true that the governor had refused to call back a supervisor from the largest county in the state? We now know it wasn’t just one supervisor, but two. Sup. Hilda Solis says she has received the same treatment.
Is it any wonder the people living in neighborhoods polluted by Exide are angry? We think not.
Gov. Brown owes these communities an apology for the lack of respect he has shown them. Tell us Jerry, what would it have taken to stand up and say to the community, ‘I’m on it and I’m making sure my administration is doing everything to ensure your safety?’
We have to wonder how the governor’s friend Cesar Chavez would have reacted to this very obvious slight. But let’s face it, Brown isn’t the only official whose been missing in action. Why aren’t the legislators who represent these communities banding together to pressure the governor and their fellow legislators to put up the money needed for the cleanup?
In the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer have both been very out spoken in their criticism of SoCalGas’ handling of Porter Ranch. Boyle Heights is in the city of angels, but you don’t hear them talking about bringing lawsuits or demanding that these constituents, whose children can’t even play in their own backyards, be relocated until their homes are decontaminated.
Yes Angelenos, it’s painfully clear: If you are poor, and a person of color, there is a double standard in the Golden State.
It’s time that changes and for the state to come up with the initial $70 million needed to get the clean up of residential properties moving.
A plan calling for the city to build housing for athletes competing in the 2024 Olympics in Lincoln Heights if Los Angeles wins its bid to host the Games has been scrapped in favor of a more “fiscally responsible, sustainable and deliverable,” Mayor Eric Garcetti announced.
Instead, the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid committee will propose housing Olympic athletes at UCLA’s residential facilities, while members of the media would be based on the USC campus, said Garcetti.
“We are fitting the plan for the Olympic Games to our city, not the other way around,” said Garcetti, who joined officials of LA24, the bid committee, at UCLA to make the announcement.
The Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid committee must submit a concept and strategy plan for the games to the International Olympic Committee by Feb. 17.
Garcetti said UCLA offers existing athletic facilities and accommodations, and is close to other training venues, while USC is near several sports venues, including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Staples Center, and is home to a major journalism school.
The selection of UCLA as the site of the Olympic Village is a shift away from an earlier, proposal — expected to cost more than $1 billion — to house athletes at a Union Pacific rail yard known as the “Piggyback Yard” in Lincoln Heights, near downtown Los Angeles.
Garcetti said that while the cost of the initial choice was considered, it was not the main reason a different venue was ultimately chosen.
“It’s the athletes’ experience that drove this decision,” he said.
Garcetti said LA24 looked at about 20 sites before choosing UCLA for the Olympic Village.
LA24 chairman Casey Wasserman, who is an alumnus of the university, said “this is a historic moment for UCLA.”
Current Olympians already train at the UCLA athletic facilities, which have also produced Olympic gold medalists like Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Wasserman said.
“UCLA offers amazing world-class facilities such as a great track and field stadium which already conforms to Olympic standards,” he said.
Olympics-bound athletes already choose Southern California as a training base, said Janet Evans, an Olympic gold medalist in swimming and LA24’s director of athlete relations.
LA24’s bid is focused on ensuring that the “athlete’s voice has the first and last word in the 2024 Games,” Evans said.
Los Angeles is competing with Paris, Hamburg, Rome and Budapest to host the 2024 Olympics. If held in Los Angeles, the 2024 games would be the first summer Olympics to be held in the United States since the Atlanta games in 1996, and the third time the city would play host to the summer Games.
The typical single-family household in Los Angeles could see its monthly electricity bill go up a total of $12 over five years under proposed electricity rate hikes backed Tuesday by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners.
The panel, which oversees the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, voted to recommend that the City Council also back the rate hikes.
Board President Mel Levine said it would be “irresponsible” for elected officials not to approve hikes.
City officials have “no choice” but to increase electricity rates, since the majority of the rate hike revenue would go toward complying with state mandates to switch to renewable energy sources, he said.
The rest of the revenue would go toward fixing the city’s aging and broken electricity infrastructure, which would reduce and prevent blackouts, Levine said.
The electricity rate increases, which would be spread out over five years, already have the backing of
Mayor Eric Garcetti and Ratepayer Advocate Fred Pickel, who was appointed to watch over rate increases at the DWP on behalf of customers.
With Water and Power commissioners signing off on the rate hikes, the proposal will now be sent — along with proposed water rate hikes that were approved by the board last year — to the City Council and the mayor for consideration.
Garcetti said Monday the increases are “critical to modernizing our aging electricity grid and bringing our power system into the 21st century.”
“DWP needs to have the resources to be successful,” he said. “After five years of rate increases, the typical residential customer would see a $6 to $12 increase to their monthly bill. The price of inaction would be much higher than this.”
Garcetti said the rate hike proposal includes regular monitoring to determine if the extra revenue is being used to improve the DWP’s power system, and a formal review after two years.
“These reviews are critical as the utility industry is in a moment of transition and innovation,” Garcetti said.
He noted the DWP is expected to replace 70 percent of its power sources over the next 15 years “to meet state mandates, fight climate change and fund the energy efficiency programs that enable customers to lower their bills even as rates rise.”
Pickel, who leads the Office of Public Accountability tasked with monitoring the DWP, issued a report last week concluding the increase was “just and reasonable.”
Pickel also noted that the 21 percent average increase over the next five years — which averages 3.86 percent annually — is “less than what is needed” and the utility’s power system “will continue to be challenged to perform activities at planned levels.”
A typical single-family household that uses 500 kilowatt-hours per month — putting it in “zone 1” — could see a $12 monthly bill increase after five years, according to the OPA.\Monthly bills for such households would rise from the $76-$78 range to between $80 and $82 after one year, eventually going up to about $90 per month after five years, according to the report.
The rate hikes would mean that DWP power revenue would eventually grow to $4.22 billion in fiscal year 2019-20, up from $3.45 billion in fiscal year 2014-15, according to the OPA.
The OPA report also raised concerns that there would be inadequate staffing “for the growing levels of planned capital project expenditures, in part due to the anticipated personnel retirements and constraints on outsourcing.”
DWP officials said they were “pleased” with Pickel’s assessment of the planned rate hikes, which were proposed to pay for the replacement of aging infrastructure needed to keep electricity service reliable.
If ultimately adopted, the rate hikes would “allow us to continue the transformation of our power system to a clean energy future that protects the environment, while complying with regulatory mandates,” according to a statement issued by the utility.
[Update: 3:15 p.m: Addition of funding comments from Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon.]
Responding to an “electronic threat” emailed to multiple members of the school board and campuses, all Los Angeles Unified School District campuses were closed today and a massive effort began to search the roughly 900 schools in the district.
Officials in New York City said schools there received a similar threat, but officials did not believe it was credible, and campuses remained open.
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, said LAUSD’s decision to shutter all campuses was a “significant overreaction.”
Los Angeles officials, however, defended the decision, with Superintendent Ramon Cortines saying that “based on past circumstances, I could not take the chance” of allowing schools to reopen.
School Police Chief Steve Zipperman said the campuses would remain closed until they are deemed to be safe.
The LAUSD closure applied to all campuses –more than 900 of them. The district, the nation’s second biggest, serves more than 700,000 students. Most other Southland schools outside the LAUSD remained open, although there were sporadic reports of some Catholic schools in the Los Angeles Archdiocese being closed because of their proximity to LAUSD campuses.
Diocese officials said that decision was being left to individual school principals.
LAUSD officials would not provide specifics of the threat, which was initially reported by police to have come via telephone, but was later revealed to have come in via email, possibly from Frankfurt, Germany. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said late this morning, however, that officials believe the email likely originated from somewhere much closer than Germany.
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, said he has reviewed the email, and said the author “claims to be an extremist Muslim who has teamed up with local jihadists.”
“We do not know whether these claims are true or a lie. We do not know whether this email is from a devout Muslim who supports jihadists or perhaps a non-Muslim with a different agenda,” he said. “The email makes relatively specific and wide-ranging threats to Los Angeles schools. We do not know whether some or all of the threats are truthful.”
Sherman said the email referenced bombs or possible nerve agents and suggested there were about 32 people involved in possibly planting the devices.
“The text of the email does not demonstrate that the author has studied Islam or has any particular understanding of Islam,” Sherman said.
Although no specifics of the threat have been released, Bratton told reporters in New York that the threat officials received there mentioned.
“Allah,” but the word wasn’t capitalized –providing a clue that the threat might be a hoax.
Beck said, however, the email contained very specific threats aimed at the LAUSD. He had strong words for anyone who might criticize Cortines for deciding to close the schools, saying the “safety of our children” is the highest of priorities.
“These are very high stakes,” Beck said.
Mayor Eric Garcetti also threw his support behind Cortines.
“The decision to close the schools is not mine to make, but it is mine to support as the mayor of Los Angeles,” Garcetti said.
He said decisions need to be made “in a matter of minutes” and it’s unfair to be critical of Cortines when the safety of children is at stake. The mayor also said the email threatened that weapons were already in place at campuses.
School officials told parents to keep their kids home and retrieve those already taken to school by meeting them at the campuses’ reunion gates.
Students will be supervised until they are picked up, officials said.
Board of Education President Steve Zimmer said the district was acting “out of an abundance of caution.” He urged parents to negotiate time off to be with kids and called on employers to show maximum flexibility.
Metro offered LAUSD students free rides on buses and rail lines.
Cortines said he ordered all campuses to be searched, which promised to require a colossal effort involving a multitude of agencies.
“I want every school searched, to make sure that it is safe for children and safe for staff to be there on Wednesday,” Cortines said.
Zipperman described said the threat was “electronic” and it “mentioned the safety of our schools.”
“As a result of that threat, the Los Angeles School Police Department, as well as the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI were notified, and right now, the threat is still being analyzed,” Zipperman said.
“In an abundance of caution, as Superintendent Cortines has indicated, we have chosen to close our schools today until we can be absolutely sure that our campuses are safe.”
Officials with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also taking part in the investigation. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was assisting in the effort to search schools.
Cortines said he ordered the closures because he was not going to take a chance given recent terror strikes in Paris and San Bernardino.
“I think its important to take this precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past, he said, speaking less than two weeks after a couple –a U.S. citizen of Pakistani background and his Pakistani wife—killed 14 people in San Bernardino in the deadliest terror strike on U.S soil since 9/11.”
The LAUSD closures came on a day when finals were scheduled at high schools, leading some students to speculate that a student fearing exams was involved, according to broadcast reports.
The bulk of other Southland school districts announced that classes were continuing as normal, although some, such as Pasadena, said they would have stepped-up security on campuses.
The two high schools run by the Los Angeles County Office of Education—the High School for the Arts on the Cal State Los Angeles campus and International Polytechnic High School on the Cal Poly Pomona campus—remained open. The LACOE did not receive a threat and determined that both locations were safe for students, according to LACOE spokeswoman Margo Minecki.
Minecki said another high school on the Cal State LA campus—Alliance Marc & Eva Stern Math and Science School — was closed because it is part of the LAUSD system.
We have not heard reports of any other closures” from the other 79 school districts in the county that the LACOE supports, Minecki said. However, she cautioned that those districts are independently run and would not necessarily reach out to the LACOE to report closures.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon assured the Senate will work to ensure LAUSD schools receive attendance funding despite district wide closure.
“Loss of funding should never be factor in keeping students safe,” he said in a tweet.
The LAUSD set up an information hotline for parents at (213) 241-2064.
The city of Los Angeles has set aside $12.4 million to help house the homeless and provide more temporary shelter during El Nino storms expected this winter, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Council members announced Wednesday.
The funding, proposed by Garcetti and approved Wednesday by the City Council, includes $10 million for “rapid re-housing” subsidies for nearly 1,000 transients to help them with rent or move-in costs.
The remaining funds will increase shelter beds this winter by more than 50 percent – to a total of 1,300. These beds will be targeted to those living in the Los Angeles River bed and the Tujunga and Arroyo Seco washes.
“We will not be intimidated by the scale of this problem, or listen to those who say it is intractable,” Garcetti said of the high number of homeless in the city.
“We must remain laser-focused on solving this crisis – both on the short-term fixes and long-term strategies that will keep our residents safe and off the streets,” he said.
Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who co-chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, said the $12.4 million is “just the beginning of the funds we hope to release to bring about real change to the people living on the streets here in Skid Row, South Los Angeles, the Westside and Valley.”
While more needs to be done, “we have to plug the hole and stop people from falling into homelessness, as well,” he said.
Harris-Dawson’s committee co-chair, Councilman Jose Huizar, also said the funds are a “down-payment on our $100 million commitment to fund a strategic plan” to counter homelessness in the city of Los Angeles.
City leaders have said that a “battle plan” for tackling homelessness will likely be released in early 2015, and include a partnership with the county of Los Angeles.
Mid-sized construction projects can get started faster thanks to a city program offering same-day reviews of plans for small homes, additions, office space remodels and similar projects, city officials announced Monday.
Engineers will be able to perform plan checks of medium-sized projects, which previously took 25 days to complete, on a walk-in basis. Each review takes up to three hours, and the city expects to do 4,000 of the mid-size project plan checks per year, officials said.
Projects that also qualify for same-day plan checking include those that use empty lots for parking spaces, or the seasonal sale of pumpkins, Christmas trees and other products.
The program began in May and has gradually expanded to Building and Safety offices in the downtown, Van Nuys and West Los Angeles areas. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the official start of the program Monday.
Building and Safety spokesman David Lara said two engineers were pulled from existing staff to work solely on the same-day counter program, which is called Expanded Counter Plan Check Program, or ECPC.
Once plans are approved and sites are prepped for construction, inspections can be scheduled within 48 hours, Lara said. If the projects clear inspections, construction can begin, he said.
Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti Friday defended the city’s policy restricting the release of video from police officer body cameras, saying they want to preserve evidence needed to ensure criminal convictions, and prevent sometimes-embarrassing footage from being publicly aired.
The city began providing body cameras to officers this week in the LAPD’s Mission station. A total of 860 cameras will be distributed to officers in three stations over the next month.
Last Thursday, however, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking the federal agency to deny the city’s request for funding for more cameras, claiming the policy restricting the release of footage hinders the mission of creating transparency.
“By withholding video from the public, requiring officers to review video before making statements in use-of-force and misconduct investigations and failing to include protections against the use of body-worn cameras as general surveillance tools, LAPD’s policy provides no transparency and threatens to taint the integrity of investigations and undermine the public trust,” ACLU staff attorney Peter Bibring wrote.
Garcetti said he respects the ACLU’s position, but he does not support the blanket release of video from the cameras. He said one of the cameras caught footage this week of a domestic-violence case that included an altercation involving the suspect and victim.
“That is not something that should be shared publicly,” Garcetti said.
“We should not have a policy that says automatically that goes out to the public.”
The mayor said he also does not want the public release of footage to taint a criminal investigation, possibly endangering the chances of a conviction in court.
“When we have a bad apple in this department who does something that goes over the line that violates people’s rights and breaks the law, I don’t want anything to taint that (evidence) that should result in a conviction,” he said. “Vice versa, if we have somebody who is doing something criminal against one of our police officers or to another innocent person in this city, I want to make sure that an early release of video doesn’t taint their conviction. This is about ultimate accountability, which is our criminal justice system.”
Beck stressed that the body camera footage will be made fully available to the Office of the Inspector General, which reviews officers’ actions in use-of-force cases, and the city Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD. It will also be provided to the District Attorney’s and City Attorney’s offices on request, he said.
“I know that this is of great interest, especially to people that make their living selling video – this is very, very interesting stuff,” Beck said. “… But remember, we interact with people on their worst day. We interact with people in situations that none of you, if they were your family member, would want made generally public. We have a position of trust with people that call us to respond to their houses to deal with situations that nobody else will deal with, and we want to maintain that level of trust.”
Beck said he does not want a victim of crime to avoid calling police out of fear that video footage of them will be posted online.
“That’s not fair,” he said. “That is not what you expect and that is not what your loved ones expect when you call the police department.”
Garcetti noted that the Police Commission plans to review the body camera policy in six months.
Mayor Eric Garcetti was in Switzerland Wednesday to present Los Angeles to the International Olympic Committee as a candidate to host the 2024 Olympics.
Garcetti is part of a delegation that also includes LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman, U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst, and its CEO, Scott Blackmun.
The U.S. Olympic Committee selected Los Angeles Tuesday as the nation’s candidate to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, about an hour after the City Council voted 15-0 to back the bid.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Los Angeles as our U.S. bid city of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Blackmun said at a news conference at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica.
“LA has the proven experience in hosting the Games and knows how to deliver world-class events for athletes and an extraordinary experience for fans. Coupled with the city’s culture of creativity and innovation, we are confident LA can deliver an outstanding Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024.”
Boston was the USOC’s initial choice as the U.S. candidate but backed out over concerns about financial liability.
The IOC will choose the site of the 2024 Olympics in 2017. Other potential bidders include Paris; Rome; Nairobi, Kenya; Casablanca, Morocco; Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa; Doha, Qatar; Melbourne, Australia; Hamburg, Germany; and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Los Angeles – the site of the 1932 and 1984 games – is looking to join London as the only cities to host the Summer Olympics three times. The Summer Olympics were last held in the United States in 1996, when Atlanta was the site.
Garcetti in recent weeks has pointed to Los Angeles’ existing sports venues and other amenities, some of which are already being upgraded, as reasons his city would be a good choice.
Blackmun seized on that idea Tuesday, saying the IOC “is looking to partner with cities to create a new hosting model, a model that sheds excessive spending, using existing venues and builds as little as necessary.”
L.A. City Council members agreed to back the bid Tuesday only after city attorneys assured them the city will not be making any immediate financial commitments.
Chief Administrative Analyst Sharon Tso said the city will still have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed budget of the Games, and any plans for venues or use of city facilities.
“I think it was a fabulous vote,’’ Garcetti said at City Hall shortly after the council decision. “We all know the next two years are about fleshing out the details, but this is in our DNA. We know how to do Olympics, we know how to do them well, we know how to do them economically …”
The “joinder” agreement approved by the City Council Tuesday was requested by the USOC, which has a Sept. 15 deadline to submit a proposed U.S. bid city to the IOC.
LA24 officials estimate the cost for hosting the 2024 Olympics in Los Angeles would be $4.1 billion, or $4.6 billion when a roughly $400 million contingency fund and insurance are included.
They project revenue from the Games will bring in $4.8 billion, resulting in a profit of $161 million going to LA24.
The budget anticipates the IOC will contribute $1.5 billion, or 31 percent of the revenue, with domestic sponsorships and ticket revenue making up the other two-thirds.
The bid packet also included details about how the Olympics might be operated. The Olympic Village would be next to the Los Angeles River in Lincoln Heights – in a Union Pacific rail yard known as the “Piggyback Yard” – and calls for track-and-field and the opening and closing ceremonies to be held at a renovated Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The bid also designates venue clusters in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley, coastal areas like Santa Monica, the area around UCLA and the South Bay.
LA24 officials and Garcetti said the bid proposal and the budget figures are only a “first draft” and will continue to be refined over the next two years.
Sentado en un escritorio en medio de una calle en Boyle Heights, el alcalde Eric Garcetti, firmó el lunes una directriz ejecutiva dirigida a reducir las muertes de tránsito a cero para el año 2025 en la ciudad.
La directriz pide alcanzar la meta del proyecto apodado “Visión Cero”, con la creación de calles más seguras, hacer cumplir las leyes de tránsito y educar al público.
La acción de la alcaldía establece un comité conformado por la alcaldía, los departamentos de policía y bomberos, obras públicas y personal del condado de salud pública que se centrará en áreas con mayor necesidad de actualización de seguridad. Los funcionarios deben entregar un reporte para el primero de diciembre con sugerencias para disminuir las fatalidades de trafico en un 20% para el 2017.
Funcionarios de la ciudad dicen que más de 200 personas al año mueren en colisiones de tráfico y cerca del 44% de todas las muertes y lesiones graves implican a peatones y ciclistas.
Cada año hay cerca de 30.000 colisiones en Los Ángeles, y cerca del 65% de las muertes de peatones y lesiones graves tienen lugar en un 6% de calles de la ciudad, dijeron las autoridades.
Garcetti dijo que está “determinado” a que el número de 200 fatalidades al año “disminuya a cero”.
“Tenemos que pensar en grande y trabajar duro cuando se trate de mantener a la gente segura”, dijo Garcetti. “Con más gente que nunca antes caminando y andando en bicicleta, debemos utilizar todas las herramientas disponibles para salvar vidas”.
La gerente general del Departamento de Transporte Seleta Reynolds, funcionarios de ingeniería de la ciudad y otros se unieron a Garcetti para la firma de la directriz ejecutiva.
“Los errores suceden, pero los riesgos son demasiado altos”, dijo Reynolds. “Debemos transformar nuestra ciudad para que nuestros jóvenes y adultos mayores no estén arriesgando sus vidas sólo para moverse por la ciudad”.
El objetivo de “Visión Cero” fue detallado originalmente en el reporte de “Grandes Calles para Los Ángeles” publicado el otoño pasado.
La iniciativa “Visión Cero” tiene sus orígenes en un esfuerzo que comenzó en Suecia, en 1997. También se ha adoptado en Boston, Seattle, Portland, San José y San Diego.
Attorneys said Wednesday they may take legal action if Los Angeles city leaders fail to rescind a recently adopted ordinance that makes it easier and faster for the city to dismantle homeless encampments and confiscate transients’ belongings.
Attorneys for the Los Angeles Community Action Network – a Skid Row-based organization that advocates for low-income and homeless people – sent a 17-page letter on Tuesday to city officials detailing their concerns about the ordinance, which they say is “unconstitutional” and contains the “same legal defects” of an earlier law that was struck down in court.
The measure shortened the noticing period from 72 hours to 24 hours before belongings on sidewalks and other public areas can be confiscated and imposes criminal penalties for non-compliance.
“We urge you to withdraw the ordinance and avoid subjecting the city to ongoing legal liability,” attorneys from Munger, Tolles & Olson and Public Counsel wrote.
The letter was sent to Councilmen Jose Huizar and Maqueence Harris-Dawn, co-chairs of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, which was meeting Wednesday to discuss proposed amendments to the ordinance.
Rob Wilcox, spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer, said the office is “currently analyzing the letter.”
The ordinance was adopted by the City Council earlier this year and went into effect in July without Mayor Eric Garcetti’s signature.
LACAN activists urged Garcetti to veto the ordinance, but the mayor responded that he had assurances from the City Council that it would amend the measure. He also said he instructed city officials to suspend enforcement of the law until the amendments are in place.
The activists maintain that Garcetti has limited authority to put enforcement on hold, and LACAN’s attorneys said Wednesday the proposed amendments now being considered will not sufficiently improve the ordinance.
The ordinance “is unconstitutional and the proposed amendments do nothing to change that fact,” LACAN’s attorneys wrote. “The City Council should reconsider and rescind its passage of the ordinance as soon as possible and consider means to address the problem that are humane as well as constitutional.”
The attorneys contend the law will lead to the “unreasonable” seizure of personal belongings, and a “proposed amendment removing specific reference in the definition of ‘Personal Property’ to ‘personal items such as luggage, backpacks, clothing, documents and medication, and household items’ will have absolutely no legal effect.”
“Such items will still constitute ‘tangible property’ and personal property as that term is understood in our laws,” the attorneys wrote, adding that the ordinance would also allow “the confiscation of medication and critical documents.”
“By seizing those possessions, the city affirmatively places homeless people in danger and exposes itself to danger-creation liability,” according to the attorneys, who also maintain that provisions for notifying people before items are confiscated are “constitutionally deficient.”
The ordinance would make failing to comply with the ordinance “even when compliance is impossible” a criminal act, the attorneys say, and would also lead to “severe consequences for immigrants, in particular for those otherwise eligible to seek deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA); family members of citizens and permanent residents seeking adjustment of status; and applicants for naturalization.”