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Cities All Over L.A. County Consider A Minimum Wage Hike

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The end goal is $13.25 by 2017 (Photo by ArtWell via Shutterstock)
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With Mayor Eric Garcetti pushing to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles, other nearby cities in L.A. County are starting to contemplate if they should do the same. Critics of the minimum wage hike fear that businesses would flee the city limits to avoid paying higher wages. But some of the largest neighboring cities in county, including West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Pasadena are considering hikes as well, which might ease the feared flight of business, according to the Los Angeles Times. Locally, Garcetti has been encouraging the mayor of other cities in L.A. County to considering increasing their minimum wages.

In Los Angeles, Garcetti is shooting for a minimum wage of $13.25/hour. On Labor Day, he proposed getting to that number by increasing the minimum wage annually until 2017. So, $10.75 in 2015; $11.75 in 2016; and finally $13.25 in 2017. He hopes to have the first increase to $10.75 occur in January 2015, the L.A. Times reports. (For reference, the federal minimum wage is $7.25. California's minimum wage will increase to $10/hour in 2016, per a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.)

The WeHo City Council voted this Monday to start analyzing wages, WehoVille reports. WeHo's current minimum wage is $12.02 if the business has a contract with the city, $13.13 if the employer doesn't provide health insurance benefits worth $1.13 or more, so this new study will look at how a citywide minimum wage for all businesses.

The following day, Santa Monica's City Council decided to look into how the hike in L.A. will impact them and, if it goes through, if they should do the same. There was no debate at the meeting and no public speakers regarding the decision to begin analyzing potential impact, the Santa Monica Lookout reports.

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Councilmember Gleam Davis said that this was not a decision on the issue, but "simply asking staff to continue to monitor the situation in the city of Los Angeles, and if in fact something does happen in Los Angeles, to analyze what effect that might have on our Santa Monica economy, and put a discussion regarding that on our agenda at that time."

Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said in a statement that he will work with other cities on a "shared strategy for improving the lives of working families.'

Garcetti, like many other proponents of minimum wage hikes in other cities, believes that putting more in the pockets of the working class benefits us all. When someone starts making more, they're inclined to spend more, pumping funds back into the local economy. Additionally, the amount of people who require government services would ideally decrease.

Garcetti also suggested that there would be social benefits, with parents having more time to spend with their children. He told The Times:

"How can they sit down for homework with their kids, or get the skills to get higher wages, when they can't bridge the digital divide because they can't sit down to learn from their kids how computers work?"

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San Diego is attempting to raise their minimum wage to $11.50/hour by 2017, but it isn't the Mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, that's in favor. Faulconer vetoed a minimum wage hike, only to have the City Council override him in August, CNN reports. Faulconer said he was worried that a higher minimum wage might put a strain on small businesses. The San Diego Small Business Coalition is with him, and is attempting to block the hike with a referendum that would put the issue in the hands of voters instead. They have until September 17 to get 34,000 signatures, KUSI San Diego reports.

Of course, there is some evidence that even if the minimum wage was increased to $13.25/hour, it still wouldn't be enough to live in L.A. According to Curbed, L.A. has the most residents paying more than 30 percent of their income toward housing, with the average being 48 percent.