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Can LA City Council resolve its most vexing and troubling issues in 2023?

The Los Angeles City Council ended its last meeting of 2022 in stunning fashion, with an unforgettable display of chaos when embattled Councilmember Kevin de León returned to the Council Chamber amid cheers and jeers from his supporters and critics.

Whether that scenario will play out again on Tuesday, Jan. 10, when the council convenes its first meeting of 2023, will soon be known.

Beyond the de León saga, there are other issues weighing on Angelenos’ minds, from renter protections and homelessness to ongoing political scandals, and the public will be watching to see how council members respond to such pressing matters.

The council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on an item to end the city’s COVID-19 local state of emergency after Jan. 31. If the state of emergency is lifted, it would also mean the end of the city’s eviction moratorium, which has prohibited landlords from evicting tenants for unpaid rent during the pandemic.

Councilmember Nithya Raman has been championing new tenant protections to enact before the eviction moratorium is lifted, including adoption of universal “just-cause” rules that would require landlords to show specific reasons for evicting tenants in all rental units in L.A., not just units protected by rent control. She’s also proposed relocation assistance for renters who move out due to rent increases of more than 10%, as well as other tenant protections.

“I’m proud that during the pandemic L.A. has had some of the strongest tenant protections in the U.S. They had demonstrable impacts on evictions and homelessness,” Raman wrote in a recent Twitter post. “But as the moratorium ends, we must do more to keep people housed — or so much of that good work will be undone.”

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Tenant rights advocates plan to rally outside City Hall on Wednesday morning.

Angelenos are also keeping tabs on how council members are addressing what’s arguably the city’s biggest crisis, homelessness.

Newly elected Councilmember Traci Park, who unlike her predecessor Mike Bonin supports enforcement of the city’s anti-camping law, joined with Mayor Karen Bass last week to conduct outreach in Venice as part of the mayor’s Inside Safe initiative to get homeless people off the streets and into temporary housing.

Park’s election was criticized by those who oppose the city’s homeless encampment ban and protested at Park’s swearing-in ceremony last month. Still, Park, who now represents District 11, which includes Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Venice and West L.A., hasn’t shied from efforts to remove encampments – while stressing the need to provide homeless people with support services.

 

LA City Councilwoman Traci Park attends her first council meeting on Tuesday, December 13, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

“Putting people in rooms without the care they need doesn’t work,” Park said last week. “We need to ensure that they have adequate access to services they need including mental health, trauma, and substance use services for the unhoused.”

In other City Hall challenges, the council is starting the new year with a San Fernando Valley council seat still vacant. The special election in District 6 to replace former Council President Nury Martinez – who resigned under pressure in October for racist comments she made in the leaked audio – will take place April 4. A possible runoff election is set for June between the top two vote-getters if no candidate wins more than 50% in April.

Eleven people have submitted papers to run. As of Friday, the City Clerk’s Office had confirmed that at least five people qualified for the ballot after they gathered enough voter signatures and completed other necessary paperwork.

District 6 is a heavily working-class area that includes the Valley communities of Arleta, Lake Balboa, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sun Valley and Van Nuys.

Meanwhile, although the City Council can’t force de León to resign for his role in the racist leaked audio scandal, Council President Paul Krekorian has signaled his intention to keep applying pressure on the embattled council member to leave office.

Council President Paul Krekorian Photo: Screenshot of livecast.

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A list of new council committee assignments, which Krekorian proposed last week, shows de León remaining on just one committee – the Board of Referred Powers, which rarely meets.

In October, then-Acting Council President Mitch O’Farrell stripped de León of his title as chair of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, removed him from his other committee assignments, then reassigned him to the Board of Referred Powers to reduce his level of influence on the council.

De León has thus far resisted calls to step down. Some residents in District 14 – which represents Downtown L.A., Eastside communities like Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and El Sereno, and Northeast L.A – are attempting to recall de León and have until March 31 to gather more than 20,400 valid voters’ signatures to place a recall question on the ballot.

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