Endorsement: Kate Pynoos for Los Angeles City Council District 13
Los Angeles City Council Member Mitch O’Farrell has served two terms representing District 13, which includes Hollywood, Windsor Square, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Historic Filipinotown and Glassell Park — and we think that’s enough. The district needs new leadership and new energy to help solve the communities’ most pressing problems.
The district’s challenges are significant — a large homeless population, a lack of affordable housing, gentrification that terrifies residents, who have watched rents and home prices soar and beloved small businesses struggle to survive. O’Farrell has done an acceptable job during his nine years on the City Council. But voters shouldn’t have to settle for just acceptable. The city needs leaders with a sense of urgency, a clear mission and a creative approach to homelessness that doesn’t involve moving people from one sidewalk to another. Two energetic challengers — Kate Pynoos and Hugo Soto-Martinez — could bring a fresh perspective that the district needs now.
We recommend Kate Pynoos, a lawyer who calls herself a progressive with practical experience. As a legislative aide to Councilman Mike Bonin, she helped craft motions, dealt with council members and their staffs, and assisted on budget issues. She knows how the sausage is made. She also served three years on the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council.
On homelessness, unlike O’Farrell, she does not support the city’s anti-camping ordinance. While she would focus on creating more interim housing and shelter, she believes it’s crucial to have permanent housing to move people into. Pynoos has a detailed housing and tenant protection plan that includes reducing political influence over housing approvals, expanding existing affordable housing incentive programs and creating new ones, and preventing homelessness by increasing rental subsidies for people facing eviction or falling behind on their rent.
She would not increase the police budget or reduce it at this point. She believes in developing alternatives to having police deal with mental health crises.
Hugo Soto-Martinez has been an organizer in the hotel workers union, UNITE HERE Local 11, for 15 years. He has a strong and successful record at organizing workers and helping run political campaigns in Los Angeles and Arizona. He was involved in the campaigns to push city leaders to set a minimum wage for hotel workers and to raise the minimum wage citywide. He also served on a neighborhood council. But Pynoos’ experience working in City Hall and her grasp of the structural reforms needed to make the city work better give her the edge.
O’Farrell gets mixed reviews from neighborhood councils and homelessness advocates.Some developers of affordable housing said he helped them get through the permitting process faster. One Hollywood-based homeless services provider was critical of O’Farrell and his office, calling their approaches to homelessness “unhelpful and counterproductive.” Unexpected sidewalk cleanings left providers scrambling to help homeless people get their belongings together to avoid losing them to a cleaning crew. But complaints to his office didn’t lead anywhere.
To his credit O’Farrell has several bridge shelters in the district and more than 2,000 units of affordable housing in his district. But one of his biggest efforts at addressing homelessness was also his most controversial. Last year, he orchestrated the clearing of nearly 200 homeless people camped at Echo Park Lake, after outreach and temporary housing placements. In an effort to stave off the arrival of protesters, O’Farrell — and Mayor Eric Garcetti — kept the date and time that the park would be closed secret for weeks. When 24-hour closure notice signs were posted and a crew began building a fence around the park, protesters gathered, scores of police swarmed the site on two successive nights and protesters as well as a few reporters were detained. It was chaotic and dangerous, and it became the example of how not to remove homeless encampments.
Rounding out the field are two other candidates. Steve Johnson is a former flight navigator in the Air Force and a current sergeant in the L.A. Sheriff’s Department. Albert Corado, who believes in abolishing the police, became a community organizer after his sister, Melyda, a manager at a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake, was shot and killed in 2018 by police outside the store returning fire at a suspect as he ran into the store. Both of these candidates lack the experience of the others.
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