Hugo Soto-Martinez was sworn-in to his first term on the Los Angeles City Council in December to represent Council District 13 – which includes, for purposes of Westside Voice’s coverage area – a portion of Hollywood as well as Larchmont Village. In the November, 2022 election, he defeated two-term Councilmember and acting Council President Mitch O’Farrell, who was first elected in 2013 and served nine years due to the realignment of city elections with General Elections. Former Mayor Eric Garcetti held the seat from 2001-2013.

Once inaugurated, Soto-Martinez wasted no time, introducing a motion on street safety. Said the councilmember, “Immediately after taking office, we got to work to make our streets safer for our kids by introducing a critical transit motion that will allow us to identify the most dangerous streets in the district and implement safety improvements within 18 months.” Why is this a priority? The councilmember continued, “We are leading on transit from day one because cars are the leading cause of death among children in L.A., and one person in L.A. dies from traffic violence every 30 hours. With some of the deadliest intersections in the entire city in our neighborhoods, we will make our streets safer, especially near schools, through protected bike lanes, better crosswalks, and slower car speeds in residential areas.”

He also quickly made his voice heard on tenant protections, joining several progressive councilmembers in calling for an extension of the COVID-era Eviction Moratorium that’s soon set to expire. He explains, “We only have until January 31, when the eviction moratorium is set to expire, to implement permanent tenant protections. We can absolutely get that done, and we need to get it done to keep 12,000 Angelenos from losing their homes.”

So what are he and fellow councilmembers Eunisses Hernandez, Nithya Raman, and Katy Young Yaroslavsky asking for? “We are fighting for common-sense renter protections to keep folks from becoming homeless. These aren’t radical demands, just simple recommendations made by the City’s own housing department (LAHD).” Specifically, the coalition wants universal just-cause eviction protection so people can’t get kicked out of their homes for no reason, a rental debt threshold so people don’t get evicted for being a day late or a dollar short on rent, and relocation assistance for unreasonable rent hikes to keep tenants from falling into homelessness.

A third council district priority for Soto-Martinez is a personal one. “Growing up, my parents were street vendors, so I’m emotionally connected to this issue because I’ve experienced the very real challenges that vendors face just to feed their families. The City should be providing stability to these beloved workers who provide incredible cultural enrichment to Los Angeles.” So what is ailing street vendors? Says the councilmember, “We should not implement steep fines and burdensome permitting requirements, which lead many vendors into uncertainty and debt.”

To meet these ends, Soto-Martinez hopes to help the city implement Senate Bill 972 (SB 972), signed into law last year by Governor Gavin Newsom. The bill aims to do four key things, namely:

  • Decriminalize street vendors and street vending in California cities
  • Streamline the permitting process across the board
  • Simplify equipment requirements
  • Increase access to kitchen spaces for street vendors

The councilmember will also Chair the city council committee on Civil Rights, Equity, Immigration, Aging, and Disability, as well as serve on four additional committees:

  • Economic and Community Development (Vice Chair)
  • Personnel, Audits, and Hiring
  • Public Safety
  • Trade, Travel, and Tourism

Westside Voice will continue to keep up with Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez throughout his tenure on the council.

Photo courtesy of the Councilmember’s Office

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