Garcetti Issues Rare Veto, Rejecting City Council's Plan For Spending Money Cut From LAPD Budget

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks at a Los Angeles County Health Department press conference on the novel coronavirus on March 4, 2020 in Los Angeles. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

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Mayor Garcetti issued a rare last-minute veto Monday evening, rejecting a city council spending plan to distribute $88.8 million to a range of projects in all 15 council districts.

In an accompanying letter, Garcetti said "far too many of the proposed expenditures do not meet the demands of the moment or the call of history."

He said the council should go back to the drawing board and prioritize investing in solutions for:

  • racial justice and income inequality
  • jobs for city workers from vulnerable communities facing furloughs and layoffs
  • alternatives to policing like a pilot program featuring mental health specialists responding to non-violent 9-1-1 calls.

Angelenos want safer communities, Garcetti said on this newsroom's public affairs show AirTalk on 89.3 KPCC, adding "we need that to be a combination of good and accountable policing...and peacemakers who are civilians."

The funding is part of the $150 million the council voted to slice from the LAPD's fiscal year 2020-21 budget during a summer of social justice protests and divert to communities of color.

WHERE THINGS STAND

Some of the money has already been spoken for: $10 million is dedicated to a summer youth program for kids in disadvantaged communities, and $50 million went toward the city's budget shortfall, including staving off city worker furloughs.

For the rest, city analysts used census tract poverty data to issue money proportionally to areas of the city with the greatest need — Council District 9, located in downtown and South L.A. was slated to get the largest chunk, over $21 million. Very little would go to CD 11, which includes wealthier neighborhoods like Brentwood and Pacific Palisades. (See a breakdown on Page 5 of this report. Proposed projects are listed beginning on Page 6.)

The list of earmarks from the council fall mostly in the category of infrastructure work: park improvements, sidewalk repair, adding speed bumps and alley resurfacing.

A smaller proportion of the requests focus on programs that advocates for reimagining public safety have pushed for: eviction defense, after school programs and support for at-risk youth, targeted local hire, and help for prisoners on early release to re-enter the workforce.

WHAT THE CITY COUNCIL SAYS

"We listened to our Black and Brown communities as they asked for more resources - the same resources they see in affluent communities and are easy to take for granted unless you've had to push a stroller through dirt in the dark, unless you live in a garage and your kids rely on parks as their only play space," Council President Nury Martinez said in a statement when the plan was approved earlier this month. "We all need to look at our City through their eyes."

But the mayor disagreed — arguing in his veto letter, "this plan in too many places elevates what should be routine over what could be revolutionary."

Garcetti issued the veto on the final day he had to act on the motion, according to the City Clerk's office.

"I believe it's a good start but we can and we must do better," he said.