At their meeting last night, members of the Mid City West Community Council voted overwhelmingly to support Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez’s motion to cut $100-150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department budget and redirect the funds toward investments in disadvantaged communities and communities of color.
Several members of the public called into the Zoom-based meeting to express their support for the motion, including Zeke Richardson, who was interviewed by the Buzz last week about his arrest at the protest on May 30 at the intersection of Third Street and Fairfax Avenue.
Three other callers also expressed their concerns about the way police handled that protest, which had started out peacefully at Pan Pacific Park earlier in the day before becoming violent with looting and extensive property destruction in the Fairfax area. Only one caller urged the council not to support the measure, saying it was the police who protected the neighborhood from further damage. Video of police confronting protestors stunned council members who had attended the peaceful protest and were shocked to see how quickly it became violent.
Board member Arnali Ray called for police accountability during the protests, and said she supported the resolution and the investment of former police funds in social service programs like helping the homeless, relieving the police of that responsibility. Ray, who frequently works with police officers in her job, said one officer told her that 70 percent of the calls handled by police are related to homelessness.
As part of a far-reaching policy discussion, the council also voted to call for an investigation into the use of excessive force by police officers in Los Angeles – both at the May 30th protest and at protests across the city since that time.
In other business on Tuesday, the MCWCC also voted to express support for the City’s recent effort to convert pedestrian push-button traffic signals to automatic signals. The council approved a motion calling for LADOT to disable all pedestrian push buttons within Mid City West and make all walk signals automatic.
The MCWCC also voted to support the City’s L.A. Al Fresco program to allow local restaurants to expand their dining areas to parking lots and sidewalks, to accommodate new social distancing requirements.
The motion, as approved by the council, requested that:
“The city make more room in the public right of way and parking lots where appropriate to allow restaurants to seat more diners outside while maintaining social distancing, increasing their chances of survival. Furthermore, we demand immediate action to include street vendors as participants in any program that allows expanded outside dining.
Street vendors should be able to participate in any outside dining program under rules that supersede existing sidewalk vending restrictions (pre-COVID-19 and under COVID-19), allowing them to operate under the same conditions, and with the same no-fee permit structure, as proposed for brick-and-mortar establishments. In any other issues, street vendors should be treated as participants in any outside dining program with special considerations for their business model and general socioeconomic status.”
The Council also voted to urge the City Council to “consider requiring the Los Angeles Police Department to rework their policy regarding the action of clearing Homeless Encampments when an unlawful assembly is declared.”
As part of their budget discussion, the Council voted to provide additional funds to repair signs used to designate the “Slow Streets” in the neighborhood. MCWCC Board Member Michael Schneider reported that a recent survey of neighbors found that more than 90% of respondents approved of the concept and more than 80% would like the Slow Streets to be permanent. He also reported that a shared bike and scooter corral will soon be installed on Melrose Avenue, between Fuller and Poinsettia in front of Toasted and Roasted.
Finally, in other business, MCWCC elected a new executive board. The officers for next year will be:
Scott Epstein, Chair
Lauren Nichols, First Vice Chair
Amy Goldenberg, Second Vice Chair
Ivan Salas Oroño, Treasurer
Vilma Hurtado, Secretary
MCWCC also announced the allocation of Neighborhood Purpose Grants to Carthay Environmental STEM Magnet School for $1,868 and Greenway Arts Alliance $2,762. A grant to the First-In Fire Foundation for $370 will be returned by the Foundation, which is not yet ready to use the funds.
Visit Mid City West Community Council for more information.