News flash! Every week, following the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl picks five items you might find interesting, important, and/or fun. It’s your way to get a quick rundown of several highlights of the meeting in no more than 5 minutes! Looking for more? Click here to get the entire agenda.
Criminal Justice Reform
This week, the Board passed three separate motions to continue our transformational shift to a “care first, jails last” justice system.
I’m very happy that we approved my motion, co-authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis, to begins the real county-wide work on a bail reform plan in keeping with a recent state Supreme Court ruling declaring it unconstitutional to detain a person before they are tried simply because they cannot afford a set bail. When people are kept in custody simply because they are too poor to post bail, their lives are devastatingly destabilized. They can lose their job and means of income. This exacerbates their risk of becoming homeless. They may not be able to find care for their children left at home, who may then enter foster care. Yet none of this destruction makes us safer, according to evidence from other jurisdictions that have implemented bail reform and actually experienced a drop in crime. We have every reason to believe that bail reform will reduce our jail population, reduce recidivism, improve court appearance rates, and help stabilize communities that are often destabilized due to bail-related job loss and homelessness. You can read more on the motion here!
We also passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis directing our CEO to establish the “Care First, Jails Last” capital fund. The funds are gathered from other, scattered pools of funding, and set aside for a few specific purposes, including the demolition of Men’s Central Jail, building out a comprehensive system of care in our communities supporting the County’s Alternatives to Incarceration initiatives, and making necessary modifications and renovations of current jail facilities, with no expansion.
Finally, we passed Supervisors Solis and Mitchell’s motion to formalize LA County’s support for SB 731 (Durazo), which will reduce barriers to reentry for formerly incarcerated people by automatically sealing certain conviction and arrest records. Criminal records can greatly hamper the ability of individuals to get jobs and housing after serving their time, and this bill would help make their reentry more successful. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, people who must register as sex offenders are not eligible to have their records sealed.
Rebuilding Los Angeles County
In response to President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan, (which people think of, familiarly, as the Infrastructure proposal) the Board passed a motion authored by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis that asks for the Department of Public Works and other relevant departments to formulate a strategy should those dollars become available.
The American Jobs plan includes $621B for transportation and resilience, $115B to modernize roads and bridges, $20B for state and local Vision Zero plans, $174B for electric vehicles, $100B for a renewed electric grid, $100B for high-speed broadband, $111B for clean drinking water infrastructure, $20B for equity and environmental justice, and more. The motion we passed will ensure that, if funding becomes available, we will have a list of shovel-ready projects to revive and improve LA County’s infrastructure. I have also asked the CEO to broaden the scope of departments are jobs in the caring industries and other service and care taking jobs will also be part of the plan.
Returning Bruce’s Beach to its Rightful Owners
LA County took an important step this week, passing motions by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Holly Mitchell that will restore ownership of “Bruce’s Beach” to the Bruce Family descendants.
In 1912, Charles and Willa Bruce purchased two lots along the strand in Manhattan Beach and turned them into a Seaside Resort for Black beachgoers, referred to as “Bruce’s Beach.” Six other black families purchased lots surrounding the property. In 1924, other residents successfully petitioned the Manhattan Beach Council to condemn Bruce’s Beach and the surrounding land through eminent domain, effectively seizing the land from the Bruces and denying their descendants the generational wealth that would have resulted from their continued rightful ownership of the property. The motions passed by our Board seek to right this historical wrong by requesting CEO and County Counsel to put together a timeline and iron out the details of a transfer, and to put County support behind a State Bill that would remove restrictions that might prevent this transfer of ownership.
Sadly, the story of the Bruce Family is but a microcosm of the Jim Crow Era, and steps to rectify these injustices are rare. Hopefully, this will serve as an example of how to walk the walk and take concrete steps to correct the historic dispossession of our communities of color.
Zero Emission Infrastructure Plan
On the week of Earth Day, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Janice Hahn to have the County develop a Zero Emission Infrastructure Plan for a regional EV charging infrastructure.
There are currently fewer than 20,000 public and shared-private chargers in LA County. The Our County Sustainability Plan sets an ambitious goal of installing 60,000 new zero-emission vehicle charging stations by 2025 and 70,000 by 2035. This motion gets the ball rolling on that plan by identifying strategic placements for chargers, creating workforce training opportunities, and putting the County in an excellent position to receive State and Federal funding to support these efforts.
Establishing the LA County Economic and Workforce Development Department
We are facing an unprecedented economic crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and LA County needs to reimagine our role in creating pathways to promising careers, attracting job-creating industries, and supporting small businesses. This week, we passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis establishing the Los Angeles County Economic and Workforce Development Department.
Currently, economic and workforce development efforts are spread out over several departments. While they have done an extraordinary job of coordinating, bringing many of those services (and functions) into one department is the next logical step. Creating the new department will allow us to deliver quality workforce and economic development services under a clear and unified vision and mission: to develop and expand economic opportunities for our residents and businesses.