The Los Angeles City Council Budget and Finance Committee has finished revising Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year and will send it to the full Los Angeles City Council, which will begin its portion of the budget process on Wednesday.
During budget hearings that began on April 26, the committee heard from general managers, executive directors and senior staff members of all city departments regarding the proposed budget, how it would impact their services and the department’s previous budgets.
Dozens of people filled the Los Angeles City Council chambers Friday to weigh in on the budget. While many people attending the meeting called on the city to use the budget to fund safer pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, a few people advocated for a decrease to the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget, while activists with Community Coalition and InnerCity Struggle called for the city to allocate $300 million to fund programs aimed at aiding poor and working-class families.
Garcetti’s proposal included a nearly $150 million increase to the Los Angeles Police Department’s operating budget to $1.9 billion, an approximately 8.5% increase. The budget increase is in part aimed at hiring an additional 780 officers. However, on Friday Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso cast doubt on that happening.
“That number’s going to be a challenge … we are not making any recommendations to reduce that number, however, what we are recognizing is that more realistically speaking we believe that the department … (could hire) maybe somewhere between 600 and 650 additional recruits next year,” Tso told the Budget and Finance Committee.
“But we hope that they will hire and the funding will be set aside for them to hire to that level.”
Tso added that the last time the department hired that many officers was 2008. She recommended the funding for additional personnel be placed in the unappropriated balance instead of given directly to the LAPD, so it can be allocated if needed.
Tso said the most significant changes added to the budget from the council members’ requests were:
— funding for additional CARE/CARE+ teams, illegal dumping teams, commercial street sweeping and other cleanliness services;
— additional resources for the Los Angeles Fire Department;
— funding for the implementation of the Police Department’s After Action Plan; and
— adding 18 positions to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation for active transportation infrastructure project delivery and restores more 30 programmatic and service delivery positions. budget.
Several people at Friday’s meeting — including cyclists who had been hit by vehicles — pleaded with council members to increase the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s budget in an attempt to allow for safer pedestrian infrastructure.
Nora Hipolito, who spoke with her arm in a sling and said she had been hit by a vehicle while biking, said, “we need to make our streets safer … In the past year, we’ve had a 22% increase in deaths and one of those people was my friend.”
Vision Zero is an initiative begun by the city in 2015 to eliminate traffic deaths in Los Angeles by 2025. However, 289 people were killed in 2021 as of Dec. 25, an approximately 21% increase over the same period in 2020 and a 19% increase from 2019.
Nearly 1,500 people were severely injured last year, a 30% increase from 2020, according to a motion filed by Councilman Paul Koretz last month to have the city’s controller audit the Vision Zero program because of its poor performance.
Councilman Mike Bonin has also expressed concern about the city potentially reducing LADOT’s budget. On April 27, he wrote a letter to the committee’s chair Councilman Paul Krekorian saying the proposal reduces spending for Vision Zero from a high of $65.6 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year to $38.5 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
Tso’s revisions at the request of committee members includes an additional $1.316 million for LADOT’s budget for six months of funding for 18 positions for active transportation infrastructure project delivery for implementation of the Green New Deal, as well as funding for other programs.