Los Angeles was pushed to the national spot last year, arrests protesters by protesting homeless camps from the park.
Now, politicians pushing to vacate those camps are on the ballot. And of the five LA City Council members seeking re-election on Tuesday, he is the second most likely to face a run-off contest this fall.
City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 61, faces a quarter of the challenges of expanding the ideological spectrum – three of them preaching to his left and a fourth running to his right. All four have made the race a referendum on O’Farrell’s record, condemning his handling of homelessness not only in Echo Park but also in Hollywood and other parts of the district.
O’Farrell’s right-hand man is Steve Johnson, a sergeant in the Sheriff’s Department who wants to add 1,500 officers to the Los Angeles Police Department. Johnson criticized O’Farrell for cutting police personnel and increasing the cost of projects built using the proposed HHH, $ 1.2-billion homeless housing bond.
Running to the left of O’Farrell are community activists Albert Corado, political allies Kate Pynoos and Hugo Soto-Martinez, a labor organizer with the Hotel Workers Union. The trio attacked O’Farrell while clearing Echo Park Lake.
O’Farrell has described the eco-park operation as a success, bringing a restored park and public access to it. He said the camps, often left alone during the Kovid-19 epidemic, were plagued by violence, drug abuse and dangerous conditions.
“We have returned the crown jewel of the park system to everyone in the community, whether living or not, to enjoy,” O’Farrell said at an event in April. “Parks are for that.”
Soto-Martinez proposed a very different assessment, calling the operation a “failure by all metrics”. He condemned the widespread response by police officers to the arrest of journalists and the launch of pro-government protests. He also pointed to the UCLA report which found that only a small proportion of the park’s homeless residents had received permanent housing.
“I am amazed that council members continue to defend their tainted legacy,” said Soto-Martinez, organizer of the United Hear Local 11, which has spent nearly $ 300,000 on its behalf.
Soto-Martinez, Pynoos and Corado have pledged to repeal the city’s anti-camping law, which would allow council members to designate sidewalks around special libraries, schools and parks as off-limits to camps.
All three have argued for less police officers, with at least one candidate seeking complete abolition of the LAPD. All three spoke last week when O’Farrell backed a new measure to bar camps within 500 feet of each school and day-care center.
Pinos, who spent two years advising Councilman Mike Bonin on homelessness, called the work of cleaning Eco Park Lake “one of the park’s”.The darkest hour“Apart from tents outside the school, she said, it would push homeless youth to further margins without providing new resources.
“If Mitch really wanted to help LA’s most vulnerable youth, he was focused on making it easier, if not more difficult, to regain personal stability,” Pinos, a Hollywood resident, told supporters in an email.
Running for his third and final term, O’Farrell said his office is working to bring an array of housing options for street dwellers. The district now has two “small house” villages – one in Westlake, the other in Echo Park – and the third is running.
This year, O’Farrell signed plans to acquire two four-story apartment buildings in his district to serve the homeless Angelinos. A similar development is planned north of the lake, he said.
When Echo Park Lake was cleared, many people were evacuated to hotel rooms and other locations. Of the 183 initially identified as shelters, 77 were still in some temporary housing last month, an official with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said Friday.
The other 12 are in permanent housing, the official said.
O’Farrell, who lives in Glassell Park, said outreach activists will continue to offer accommodation as more facilities open. “Our mission is to bring everyone together under one roof,” he said.
Still, O’Farrell’s criticism is not limited to the homeless.
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Soto-Martinez, who has been running in the United States with great support from the Democratic Socialist Party’s LA chapter, said the current situation in the district is too low for affordable housing for working families. Residents of East Hollywood hit out at the subject in a video criticizing O’Farrell’s acceptance of the 26-story apartment tower on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard.
The 200-unit project was the subject of legal challenges from critics who said it would replace the cultural and historical property – the closed amoeba music store – and offer very few units of affordable housing.
Soto-Martinez said in the video, “I’m out of the amoeba records, which, thanks to my opponent, is starting to crumble and turn into more ugly, luxurious home lands,” Soto-Martinez said in the video.
Soto-Martinez, 39, criticized O’Farrell for hiring only 10 of the 200 units for low-income renters. He also highlighted the fact that the project’s development staff donated $ 15,000 to O’Farrell over seven years.
O’Farrell called the Sunset Tower a good project, with no displacement, as there was no housing on site. He said his office was working with Amoeba owners to find a new location nearby. And he argued that denying the tower could pose a legal challenge under state housing law.
The developer also offered $ 2.5 million to pay for more affordable housing in Hollywood, O’Farrell said.
In recent weeks, Soto-Martinez has enlisted the support of Councilwoman Nithya Raman and School Board member Jackie Goldberg, who once represented the district. He and Pynoos are both supported by Bonin.
Pinos, 34, is seeking support from the California Women’s List, the National Women’s Political Caucus and former U.S. Representative Katie Hill. And she’s billed herself as a “practical progressive” who helped more than 80 homeless people in Venice find permanent housing.
O’Farrell highlighted his own housing record last week by announcing that 15,000 homes in his district have been approved, funded or completed since he took office in 2013. Of that, a total of 4,000 – or 29% – will be restricted. He said that rent can be taken.
Real Estate Interests – California Apartment Assn. And the construction trade unions – following O’Farrell – are spending more than $ 1.1 million on independent campaigns to promote him and attack Soto-Martinez.
The ads described Soto-Martinez as a police abolitionist in the Democratic Socialist of America questionnaire and targeted a video where he called on police officers patrolling the area’s bus and rail systems to replace unarmed “transit ambassadors.”
“Remove the officers who secure our public transit at night? No, Hugo,” says an attack ad.
There is Soto-Martinez Shot back Putting the spotlight on O’Farrell’s allies, he warned his supporters that the “big house land” was trying to intimidate voters. “Show that they can’t buy this election,” he said.
At the same time, Soto-Martinez has tried to reassure voters that being an abolitionist does not mean getting rid of the entire police force.
Those kinds of comments haunt Corado, whose sister Melida Corado was shot dead by police in 2018 in a gunfight with a suspect at the Silver Lake Supermarket.
Corrado, 33, said the abolition – which he supports – was about ending law enforcement agencies and replacing them with programs to address poverty, lack of affordable housing and food insecurity.
“The definition of abolition in this context is to get rid of the police department,” he said. “You can’t redefine a word just because you want to incorporate it into your political message.”
Corado, who lives in the historic Filipinotown, is backed by Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles. He is closely associated with the People’s City Council, a group of activists who have protested outside the homes of O’Farrell and other elected officials.
Corrado said the group was formed after the council voted against the ban in April 2020.
“We were a bunch of random activists who were so angry at him for voting like this that we started protesting outside his house,” he said. “Because of that, the people’s city council also exists.”
O’Farrell voted to suspend eviction in case of inability to pay rent due to Covid-19, which will not end soon until July 2023. But he said he stuck to the extended ban after receiving warnings from city lawyers, saying it was against state law. Those lawyers said more comprehensive action could put the city at risk of 1 billion in damage.
“We protected those affected by the epidemic, and we did it right,” he said.