Three Los Angeles city councilmen called Tuesday for the creation of an Office of Racial Equity, which would be in charge of examining economic disparities among groups of Angelenos and advising the council.
Councilmen Herb Wesson, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Mitch O’Farrell introduced a motion proposing the office and the establishment of a Racial Equity Advisory Committee.
“The racial inequities that exist in Los Angeles are not accidental — they are the result of various historic, systemic and socioeconomic factors, including biased and discriminatory government decisions, policies and practices,” according to the motion.
The office would monitor data through a “racial equity impact tool” and create ideas for civic engagement. It would also examine government policies that could affect certain groups and develop a report on inequities throughout the city.
According to the motion, black Angelenos have the lowest average income in the city, at $32,225. American Indians face the highest percentage of mortgage applications declined, at a rate of 27.3%. According to the motion, 41% of the city’s black transgender people reported experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives, while Latino residents are most likely to be living near areas where exposure to toxic chemicals is the highest in the city.
“The city government can play a productive role in addressing racial barriers, and this has been evidenced in various policies already,” according to the motion.
City departments and offices are in the midst of adopting their own policies to address racial inequities, according to the motion, but there is no central oversight office to coordinate those efforts.
The proposal is scheduled to be discussed in the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee.
Wesson introduced a separate motion that proposes requiring all businesses with 100 or more employees, including city contractors headquartered outside of Los Angeles, to disclose their wages by race in order to “demonstrate that race-based wage gaps do not exist.”
If there are wage gaps between a company’s races, Wesson’s proposal would require them to close those gaps within two years or face daily fines until they do.
Wesson’s motion will be first heard in the City Council’s Economic Development Committee.