EPISODE 67 – HUGO SOTO-MARTINEZ FOR CD-13

In our 67th episode, we chat with Hugo Soto-Martinez. Hugo recently announced his candidacy for the office of the 13th Council District at L.A. City Hall. In this interview, he describes his background as the son of two immigrants who worked as street vendors through South Central Los Angeles, his experience organizing with domestic and service workers as a part of Unite Here Local 11, policy goals he’s interested in for CD-13, and how folks can get involved with his campaign. Learn more about Hugo at his new campaign website.

J.T.

EPISODE 5 – THE CALIFORNIA READER FROM PATREON THIS WEEKEND

Are you subscribed yet? Episode 5, titled “Locked Out! California’s Affordable Housing Crisis,” is based on a May 2000 report of the same name by the California Budget Project. We discuss sharp changes in California’s housing construction from the 1970s through the 1990s, as well as how the 2008 recession continues to impact the Golden State’s abysmal building rate, demonstrated most recently by the fact that in 2019, during Governor Newsom’s first year in office, the state built the lowest amount of new housing units since 2009.

Also, see our “Newsom Card” for Governor Newsom’s promise on housing, provided by the Construction Industry Research Board (CIRB), in case you spot the governor campaigning to keep his job near you one of these days.

J.T.

Use these Maps To Show Your Neighbors the Rate of Homelessness in Your District Since 2011

In 2011, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) published a map and sheet showing homelessness rates per district in Los Angeles.

On LAHSA’s 2011 map, districts with the highest numbers of unhoused people were shaded dark-blue and included:

I. CD-9, where the historic Skid Row area was based before a change to the district map, or redistricting, in 2012. The district was overseen by Jan Perry when an estimated 5,800 people in the community were reported without shelter.

II. CD-14, where Boyle Heights was based. The district was overseen by Jose Huizar–who vacated his seat recently after being arrested on charges of bribery–when an estimated 2,200 people in the community were reported without shelter.

III. CD-13, where East Hollywood was based. The district was overseen by Eric Garcetti when an estimated 1,900 people in the community were reported without shelter.

IV. CD-8, where Leimert Park was based. The district was overseen by Bernard C. Parks when an estimated 1,600 people in the community were reported without shelter.

A list of homelessness in Los Angeles per district as of LAHSA’s count in 2011.

Nine years later, for the 2020 count, LAHSA did not publish a map showing district per homelessness, but that didn’t stop a band of looky-loos from publishing another one for the city on their behalf. The choropleth map below notes percent changes in homelessness per district in a bivariate color scheme from green to red to show proportion. Listed further below is a sheet ranking homelessness in order of highest to lowest per district based on LAHSA’s most recent count.

By 2020, a year after L.A. County reported $727 billion dollars in gross domestic product, fourteen of L.A.’s fifteen council districts, or 93% of the city, saw an increase of homelessness since 2011. As well, the districts with the highest numbers of unhoused residents actually included the same four districts from ten years earlier, though in a slightly rearranged order. These districts were:

I. CD-14, where Skid Row, along with much of downtown, was moved to after city redistricting in 2012. The district is now overseen by Kevin De Leon, and an estimated 7,600 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of more than 245% since 2011.

II. CD-9, where historic South Central is still based. The district is now overseen by Curren D. Price, in which an estimated 4,900 people were reported without shelter as of last year, a decrease of 15.5% since 2011.

III. CD-8, where Leimert Park is still based along with the Crenshaw Corridor. The district is now overseen by Marqueece Harris-Dawson, in which an estimated 4,400 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of 175% since 2011.

IV. CD-13, where East Hollywood is still based. The district is now overseen by Mitch O’Farrell, in which an estimated 3,900 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of 105% since 2011.

A list of homelessness in Los Angeles per district as of LAHSA’s count in 2020.

Also note that while our choropleth map shows that District 9 was the only district that didn’t see an increase of homelessness since 2011, the lack of an increase did not change the district’s status as the second of the four areas with the most pronounced homelessness in Los Angeles over the last ten years.

Sick of it? You’re not alone. As of today, voters in Los Angeles have less than 397 days to pick eight new City Council Members, a new Mayor, City Attorney, and City Controller. But with over thirteen months to go, these races have already seen up to $2.5 million in campaign donations, more than a few of which ring peculiar.

Special thanks to Mehmet Berker, L.A.’s local cartographer, for this report’s map.

J.T

The California Reader, a New Podcast with J.T.

A new podcast on Patreon by J.T. The L.A. Storyteller

This Saturday at 10:00 AM PST, visit patreon.com/jimbotimes and sign up to support the show and hear our analysis of the Golden State’s unique social and political depth through the ages.

Tell some friends it’s your favorite Latinx millennial podcaster’s look at Cali’s unique connection to Black and immigrant communities since its foundations, which it’s still grappling with today. Choose a monthly giving level and enjoy. It’s gonna be lit!

J.T.

EPISODE 35 – ALBERT CORADO FOR COUNCIL DISTRICT 13

In our 35th episode, at bonus speed for the long holiday week, we touch base with Albert Corado, of Atwater Village, who just recently declared his candidacy for the 13th council district seat (CD-13) up for election in 2022. Albert explains to us how the unthinkable tragedy of his sister’s loss at the hands of LAPD has led him to run for office, how he believes every police officer should be held accountable for wrongdoing against communities, and why he is firmly of the mind that the next council member for CD-13 should be a person of color. A can’t-miss session for listeners, especially those most attentive to issues of civil unrest over this extraordinary year. And follow Albert’s campaign on social media at @ALforLA2022.

J.T.

EPISODE 34 – GODFREY SANTOS PLATA, AD 53

In our thirty-fourth episode, we connect with Godfrey Santos Plata, a queer, Filipino-American renter from Koreatown and first-time candidate for public office who just capped off one of the best races to watch in Los Angeles this election season. Jeffrey talks with us about he and his family’s migration to the United States when he was four years old, the structure and power wielded by the California legislature in L.A. politics, what inspired him to run for office to represent his community, and the power of storytelling when inviting non-white communities to the political arena. A truly galvanizing session for listeners, especially those rooting for the workers of Los Angeles.

J.T.

Support the Coalition for Fair Remapping in Los Angeles this 2020

With all the talk of elections and ‘fair’ counting this week, can anyone really stomach any more politics? Yet eventually it’s never too early to talk about the future for J.T. The L.A. Storyteller. It’s what’s right around the corner. Consider then that the 469 square miles which make up the city of Los Angeles will actually be ‘redistricted’ or redrawn soon. In other words, new maps and designations for vicinities are coming.

Wait. Does this mean that your neighborhood, like the new letter names in place of L.A.’s formerly ‘colored’ Metro rail-lines, is going to be totally remade, completely taking away what you’ve come to know as your specific part of L.A.? Or does this mean that the neighbors you’ve spent all this time getting to know will no longer be counted as your fellow stakeholders at your favorite Neighborhood Council meetings? Probably not, though given that today the L.A. City Council is better known for building luxury lofts and downtown hotels rather than affordable housing and shelter for its unhoused, one can never be too sure.

But in order to complement the decennial census’s updated figures for population counts, the various boundaries for L.A.’s neighborhoods need to be redrawn within the next couple of years. At least, that’s what City Council’s heralded Los Angeles City Charter says:

“Every ten years, the Council shall by ordinance redraw district lines to be used for all elections of Council members, including their recall, and for filling any vacancy in the office of member of the Council, after the effective date of the redistricting ordinance. Districts so formed shall each contain, as nearly as practicable, equal portions of the total population of the City as shown by the Federal Census immediately preceding the formation of districts.”

Yet by the time the last redistricting for L.A. was completed in 2012, when the redistricting commission signed approximately 250,000 residents into each of the 15 L.A. City Council members’ districts, the commission was widely blasted as a parody of accountability and fairness. For one, commission appointees, many of whom were former employees or people with close ties to L.A. City Hall, were handpicked by L.A. City Council members themselves.

For another, those representatives themselves were just pawns, either oblivious or obsequious to backdoor deals to the redistricting process overseen by council members. This was captured no better than by various stories of Herb Wesson–the now termed-out former representative of Council District 10–basically admitting to directing that his district be drawn in favor of Black votership on the south side at the expense of Asian-American voters in central Los Angeles, all the while forgetting to mention that such Black votership was meant to favor him and his political prospects, personally.

Wesson’s debacle led to a lawsuit against him from his own constituents in Koreatown, Lee v. City Of Los Angeles (15-55478), which argued that Wesson basically disenfranchised Asian-American voters there in order to fulfill his own narrow political interests. After eight years, the case is still in court, awaiting a ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But the lawsuit made one thing clear: L.A.’s redistricting has been little more than a way for various council members to consolidate power over the city, much to the chagrin of its less powerful communities. Even the normally conservative L.A. Times editorial board has called L.A.’s redistricting over the last few decades a ‘sham’ process, and cited the need for a total makeover:

“If Los Angeles had a truly independent citizen redistricting commission, like the ones that serve San Diego, Long Beach and Sacramento, City Hall insiders and political operatives would likely be disqualified from serving on it.”

“L.A.’s last redistricting was a sham. Do better this time”, L.A. Times, 2020

Also fearing a repeat of 2012, earlier this year more than thirty different civic groups, nonprofit organizations, and other activists in Los Angeles sent a letter to the current group of L.A. City Council members calling for a transparent and inclusive redistricting process this next go-round. Their letter notes concerns regarding the recent appointment of commissioners with previous ties to L.A. City Council–as it was the case back in 2012–as well as a rushed appointment process. It also points out that there are no specifications regarding how appointees may be removed if conflict of interest makes their removal necessary, as well as concerns about an accessible process for the public in all forms, including in terms of language access for the multitude of languages spoken by the city’s immigrant communities.

Such issues would be important in a “normal” year, but given that in just the last six months one former L.A. City Council member, Mitchell Englander, has plead guilty to corruption charges while another, Jose Huizar, has been arrested for using his office to satisfy Chinese real estate moguls, it’s anything but a normal year, which is not lost on the coalition members:

“With trust in LA City Hall waning, we cannot afford a repeat of previous redistricting efforts which not only divided communities and resulted in litigation, but further entrenched fierce divisions within City Council.”

RE: A More Independent Redistricting Process for LA, Coalition Letter from 30+ organizations

Still, even with such public calls for transparency, considering that this is the same city hall which responded to a summer of vehement outcries to “de-fund the police” by merely rescinding a scheduled raise for L.A.’s police force this next fiscal year–which, for the record, was initially a raise unilaterally agreed to by the mayor’s office to begin with and not an item that was voted on by the full council–is it better to be cynical that City Hall will budge on a more accountable redistricting process for its millions of constituents this next decade? It just may be.

But what’s also true is that with support from various progressive coalitions in L.A–including some signed on to the redistricting letter to the council–Nithya Raman, a first time candidate for public office, has just successfully unseated incumbent David Ryu. It’s also true that Black Lives Matter-L.A., after a years-long effort to expose eight-year incumbent District Attorney Jackie Lacey for failing to press charges against a single LAPD officer after more than 600 shooting deaths, has just ousted her. In other words, it’s safe to say that calls and coalitions for a more accountable Los Angeles are only growing louder every year; and in the next two years alone, if City Hall’s council members continue pretending not to see or hear some of these most vocal constituents, then they should expect only further rude awakenings, all of which will be in order. After all, as The Los Angeles City Charter states:

“Every City office and department, and every City official and employee, is expected to perform their functions with diligence and dedication on behalf of the people of the City of Los Angeles. In the delivery of City services and in the performance of its tasks, the government shall endeavor to perform at the highest levels of achievement, including efficiency, accessibility, accountability, quality, use of technologically advanced methods, and responsiveness to public concerns within budgetary limitations. (emphasis mine)”

In the 13th district, to get in touch with Mitch O’Farrell’s office for any concerns regarding his handpicked commissioner for the redrawing of the district, you can find the contact info for his Chief of Staff, Jean Min, HERE.

J.T.