Posted on 01/30/2024
ONE BIG THING: DEALING WITH LA’S $350+ MILLION BUDGET DEFICIT
The City of LA is facing a $350 million to $400 million budget shortfall for the next “Fiscal Year,” so City Council is starting to make some serious decisions about how to fill that gap. That inevitably means talking about which city services we’ll choose to prioritize and which ones we won’t.
Yesterday, City Council started looking at the vacancies in each city department to see how much money we have tied up with those job postings, so the city can use some of that funding to help balance the budget. This means that every job vacancy that isn’t deemed a “critical” city service would be cut immediately. But here are some positions that might not be deemed “critical”:
- Electricians to Fix Broken Streetlights
- City Planners to Approve Affordable Housing Permits
- Sidewalk Repair Personnel
- Workers to Paint New Crosswalks by Schools
What’s more troubling is that we’re going to give the LAPD money for 9,493 positions when we know that they aren’t going to be able to fill them. LAPD is currently at about 8,972 officers, meaning that we’re letting money for 521 police officer salaries sit there when we could be using that money to fund basic services to keep our city safe.
Why it Matters
The proposal that City Council looked at this week said that we should be prioritizing public safety, but the fact that more people died last year from traffic violence than from homicides is a public safety issue. Same with our affordable housing crisis, and the fact that it takes more than 6 months to repair a broken streetlight in this city.
We should be prioritizing public safety when we have to make difficult decisions about our budget, but that means investing in safer streets for pedestrians, making housing more affordable, and alleviating poverty – not by setting aside millions for vacant positions we know won’t be filled.
The budget deficit is pretty sizable, so these issues aren’t going away anytime soon. In the coming weeks, City Council will make important decisions about which job vacancies to cut and which ones to keep.
Starting in April, the council will also have to pass a budget for the next “Fiscal Year.” Be sure to stay tuned for more updates in the weeks ahead, and let us know what city services you want to see prioritized right now.
Three More Quick Hits
1. Preventing Evictions for Tenants Awaiting Rental Assistance
On February 1, pandemic-era back rent is due and thousands of Angelenos are at risk of eviction. The city set up a $30 million Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help, but over 75% of that money still hasn’t been distributed, leaving over 3,300 renters on the precipice of losing their homes even as help is on the way.
But under a motion passed by council this week, landlords will be prevented from evicting people who get approved for rental assistance before their claims are processed.
2. Preventing “Pandemic Pet” Evictions
After a new ordinance was passed this week, landlords are no longer allowed to evict tenants for pets that began living in their units before January 31, 2023. Tenants have one month to notify their landlord to be eligible for protection.
This new law will prevent families from being evicted and falling into homelessness, and it’ll also alleviate some of the burden on our overcrowded animal shelters.
3. Hollywood Blvd Virtual Town Hall on February 1
For years, Hollywood Blvd has been in the “high-injury network” of roads in our city, meaning that a disproportionate number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities happen on Hollywood Blvd.
Just this week, we learned that more Angelenos died from traffic violence in 2023 than from homicides. Now, we have a chance to build a better Hollywood where people can walk, bike, and drive without fear of being seriously hurt or killed. But to do that, we need to hear from the community.
Join us February 1, 2024 for a virtual town hall with LA’s Department of Transportation to hear about potential options and to make your voice heard!
RSVP at ladot.lacity.gov/hollywood