On Wednesday, the Culver City Council will conduct a bit of a flash meeting, called at the last minute by Mayor Alex Vera and the new, more conservative council majority to do one single thing: Pass an “Anti-Camping” ordinance which criminalizes homelessness. They’ll say it doesn’t “criminalize” homelessness, that this will be the spark that gets the unhoused into services.
But as Culver City’s own State Assemblymember Isaac Bryan Tweeted on Tuesday, “Every dollar we spend criminalizing homelessness is a dollar we could’ve better spent on housing, care, and economic opportunity.” He’s right. Starting with law enforcement time and money – and likely overtime – being directed away from the increase in crime the council majority’s voters say is rampant to essentially shoo encampments into, very likely, just another Culver City neighborhood. Or – perhaps even worse – sending an encampment off to be dealt with by their counterparts on the Los Angeles City Council. This doesn’t strike me as very good peer government cooperation.
This maneuver has all the signs of being shady. Mayor Vera and his allies, Councilmembers Goran Eriksson and newly minted Dan O’Brien knew very well that their colleague, Vice Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin, would already be traveling to see family for the holidays. Why wouldn’t she? Council was done for the year. Said McMorrin in response to the maneuver, “I am appalled to see a special meeting placed on the agenda during a holiday break. It would be one thing if the meeting was to approve a safe camping/safe parking site, or to streamline approval for affordable housing in Culver City – something that would help our unhoused families, children, veterans, victims of domestic violence, and other community members before the holidays. But the solution that is at hand is to remove our most marginalized neighbors simply so they are out of sight, and criminalize those who have no other place to go.”
Councilmember McMorrin is pissed, and so are we. Already this council majority, in a petty stunt conducted during the new council installation meeting on December 12, waited for progressive Councilmember Alex Fisch and Mayor Daniel Lee to leave the dais, and O’Brien to be sworn-in, before asking the council to reconsider a $25 minimum wage for health care workers at Southern California Hospital that they had not only approved a week earlier but that they had also re-affirmed with a vote earlier that evening.
Mayor Vera – is this how we’re supposed to heal after a very divided and vicious election cycle? Are these first two moves of cruelty really the way you want your tenure to begin? We would caution you, sir, to rethink things a bit before all of the hard work of the last four years goes down the drain.
The only thing that solves homelessness is housing and services. We implore you and your council allies, Mr. Mayor, to spend your energy there.
To fight this action, we encourage all progressive, humanitarian persons in Culver City to do two things:
- Attend the “No Sweeps for Christmas Rally” and march. It begins at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at Culver City Studios, Gate 1 (9336 Washington Blvd.). There will be a number of speakers and then the group will march to city hall
- Attend the city council meeting at 5:30 p.m. and not only speak out against this measure – but also for the humane, effective solutions Vice Mayor McMorrin spoke of above – in public comment
We hope residents of nearby L.A. City Council District 11 also turn out in opposition to the proposed measure.
Who Knows What’s Next?
Equally scary to us is the question of what other progressive policy will they come for next? Will progressive Councilmembers Freddy Puza and Vice Mayor McMorrin be spending months on end fighting efforts to scuttle Reparations efforts? Will they battle constant, grinding attempts to sabotage the Housing Element as the council majority gives in to their NIMBY voters? What other policies will they go backward on?
We encourage the progressive organizations of Culver City to start mobilizing now and assume the worst about the tendencies of Vera, Eriksson, and O’Brien. Working together, you can send a message to this new council majority that you won’t go back; that you’re not willing to forgo the road to the more progressive, less 1950s Culver City we’ve suffered until recent years.