Letters to the Editor: L.A. needs city charter reform. Nury Martinez and her colleagues show why.
“For the first time in the city’s history, the public has a voice regarding key Los Angeles issues.”
These words of urgency from my friend Nury Martinez tell me that change is underway at City Hall.
In February, I joined with a group of about 70 activists from around the county to take part in a public hearing to explore the need for a city charter. The people who were invited to testify at that hearing were concerned that the current mayor and the council were out of touch with their views on issues important to them, like affordability, public safety and cleanliness.
Many of the people who testified at that February hearing were from neighborhoods that are often ignored by the leadership at City Hall. They were concerned that the existing system of government was making a mockery of the people of Los Angeles.
I was pleased by this testimony because it showed how a majority of residents in our city are concerned that the existing system of governance could do more harm than good.
City Council and City Hall, in their current state, are not taking these concerns seriously.
The last two mayoral administrations put policies and programs to the test. But even with their best efforts, the city is doing little as far as ensuring that the needs of our citizens be met.
That was the case in 2011 when the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW) was forced to spend a record $1.68 billion on infrastructure projects. And it was the case when the city was forced to spend $1.8 billion on the completion of the Purple Line extension in 2014. And those figures do not include the city’s share of the billions it must spend on infrastructure projects through the end of the upcoming decade.
On the one hand, City Hall could not afford the Purple Line extension. The city had to enter into a 25-year deal with the state to fund the project and the extension. And as we all know, there is no money in California unless it is collected from an outside source.
It was the case when the city was forced to spend more than $10 billion on affordable housing projects. And it was the case when the city was forced to pay $50 million to developers in order