Board of Supervisors
Photo by John Schreiber.

The Coalition of County Unions Wednesday filed suit seeking to remove a charter amendment from the November ballot that would require a minimum of 10% of Los Angeles County’s unrestricted general funds be set aside annually for housing, jail diversion, mental health and other social services, as well as alternatives to incarceration.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court claims the charter amendment violates the procedural requirements of the county’s Employee Relations Ordinance which requires 90 days advance notice of proposed charter amendments to the labor organizations with bargaining relationships with the county.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to place the measure on the November ballot. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, a co-author of the measure, described it as being about expanded access to safety net programs Supervisor Kathryn Barger, cast the lone no vote, saying it would unnecessarily restrict future boards and make it harder for the county to manage through economic downturns.

Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai has said 10% of the county’s unrestricted general funds would amount to roughly $360 million this fiscal year.

The amendment as drafted sets a 10% threshold for direct investment “to address the disproportionate impact of racial injustice” to be phased in by June 30, 2024. The ordinance would allow the board, by a four-fifths vote, to reduce the set-aside “in the event of a fiscal emergency that threatens the county’s ability to fund mandated programs.”

If passed by voters, the charter amendment would allocate funds to be spent in a number of broad categories, including youth development programs, job training for low-income communities, access to capital for minority-owned businesses, rent assistance and affordable housing, community-based health services and jail diversion programs.

It would prohibit such funds being used for or redistributed through law enforcement or correctional agencies, including the District Attorney’s Office, but would not prohibit its use to cover costs related to trial courts.

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