For months, L.A. politicians have wrestled with how to spend tens of millions of dollars cut from the city’s Police Department budget after protests erupted over George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis last May.
A draft plan approved by the L.A. City Council in December would have devoted $88 million to youth and recreation programs, neighborhood beautification initiatives, job and business programs, nonprofit services and more.
But that proposal ran into opposition from the police chief and the police union, as well as Mayor Eric Garcetti. The mayor vetoed the plan, saying the reprogrammed money should focus more heavily on racial justice, income inequality and community safety programs.
Now, that veto is on the table Tuesday at the City Council. The council appears poised to override the mayor, while also putting forward a more detailed proposal that seems to hew closer to his vision for the money.
The plan backed by City Council President Nury Martinez and several council members now allocates $14 million slated for policing alternatives, including community intervention officers, according to a city report.
An additional $18 million would be allocated for homeless prevention and homeless services, including eviction defense services, jobs and outreach workers.
In a letter sent last week to the city’s top budget and legislative officials, Martinez said the council’s objective is to “invest these funds in a manner that uplifts the voices and needs of their residents.”
“The council should affirm its intention that these funds be used to address areas of most concern to our residents, including youth programming, city services, jobs and economic development, community and nonprofit investment, reimagining public safety, and homelessness,” Martinez wrote.
Under the plan to be voted on Tuesday, $6 million would go toward a universal basic income pilot program in Councilman Curren Price’s South L.A. and downtown district. Such programs, which typically provide a monthly stipend to a small pool of residents, have been launched in Stockton and Jackson, Miss.
An additional $7.75 million would go to a fund dedicated to paying for an “unarmed response” to homelessness and nonviolent calls, according to budget officials.
The proposal would send the greatest share of the $88 million to areas with the greatest need. Nearly $50 million would be distributed to three of the council’s 15 districts, all of which take in portions of South Los Angeles.
The council is asking budget analysts to prepare a report with a list of additional appropriations, totaling about $56 million, by Friday.
Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes Koreatown and parts of South Los Angeles, said in a statement that the council is set to approve the funds “to address areas of critical concern to the city of Los Angeles as expressed to us by our respective constituencies.”
Garcetti’s veto of the spending proposal angered some City Council members, who argued that they were responding to what communities asked for.