As a result of there are solely two candidates working for Los Angeles Metropolis Council District 12, the race will probably be determined within the March 5 primary. Both voters will give incumbent John Lee one other time period, or they are going to change him with challenger Serena Oberstein, a nonprofit government and former president of the L.A. Metropolis Ethics Fee.
For voters it’s a selection between clinging to outdated concepts in regards to the northwest San Fernando Valley or embracing a contemporary, sustainable, vibrant imaginative and prescient for the long run. We hope they select the latter and vote for Oberstein.
Lee represents the established order. He’s the product of a sample of twelfth District conservative council members anointing their prime deputy as successor. Lee received the seat in a particular election in 2019 when his former boss (and now convicted felon) Mitch Englander quit abruptly to become a lobbyist.
We thought Lee was the mistaken decide for council then, and his efficiency since has not modified our opinion. His insurance policies appear tailor-made to a narrow constituency — anti-growth residents, enterprise teams and police and fireplace unions — that’s typically immune to the form of obligatory modifications sweeping California and Los Angeles.
Time and again, he has acted in methods which can be counter to a wholesome, sustainable and affluent metropolis. For instance: He helped scuttle a Metro plan to construct a bus fast transit lane alongside Nordhoff Avenue, one of many fundamental arteries to Cal State Northridge. A lot of these tasks typically face localized opposition however are necessary to build a public transit system that folks will truly use.
Nor has he been an efficient chief on homelessness. Lee says that when he took over in 2019, there have been no interim shelter beds for homeless individuals in his district, which extends throughout West Hills, Chatsworth, Porter Ranch, Northridge and Granada Hills. Now there are greater than 200 beds with extra to return.
That’s not sufficient to serve the district and it pales compared with what different council members are doing of their communities. Moreover, there could be quite a bit much less homeless housing if Lee had been profitable in his try to pull Proposition HHH funding (which he voted for two years earlier) for the primary everlasting supportive housing venture in his district — the final district within the metropolis to approve such a housing venture. He argued that the 54-unit constructing was not the best use for the previous used-car lot on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, a state freeway, close to Devonshire Avenue.
Homeless advocates say his workplace isn’t responsive and overuses encampment sweeps. And though his district has the fewest unhoused individuals within the metropolis, it had the highest number of arrests — by a large margin — for violations of town’s anti-camping regulation. Early final 12 months he voted against some tenant protections supposed to assist renters keep away from eviction, and maybe homelessness, and later against a compromise that lowered allowable lease enhance from as a lot as 9% to a extra cheap 6% when the lease freeze lifted Feb. 1.
And eventually, he doesn’t help council enlargement and curbing land-use energy, two Metropolis Corridor reforms that good-government consultants have urged to assist curb public corruption, which has introduced down a number of metropolis officers lately. That features Englander, who was given a 14-month jail sentence after he was caught taking envelopes of money from a businessman, together with on a visit to Las Vegas. It’s nonetheless unclear what Lee’s position was in that case, although his id as “city staffer B” within the federal indictment was revealed in October by town Ethics Fee, which accused Lee of a variety of moral violations together with aiding and abetting his boss in misusing his metropolis place. Lee disputes any wrongdoing and is suing the commission over the allegations. The case received’t be heard till after the March election.
We predict Oberstein could be a significantly better consultant for the district and a extra considerate member of town’s management. She labored for former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and served 4 years on the Ethics Fee, together with as president, and helped shepherd by important reforms to metropolis’s matching funds marketing campaign finance program. She has deep ties to the district the place she grew up and is now elevating her household. We additionally like that she would convey to the council a broader worldview from her work as government director for Jewish World Watch, a nonprofit devoted to serving to survivors of genocide and mass atrocities around the globe.
Oberstein could be among the many extra reasonable members on the council. For instance, she doesn’t help shrinking the police drive and says public security needs to be a precedence within the metropolis. She doesn’t consider in criminalizing individuals for being homeless, and can push for outreach over sweeps. However she additionally says she’s prepared to make use of 41.18, town’s anti-camping regulation, although solely as a final resort. Whereas she would take heed to the group issues about improvement, she would nonetheless push for extra reasonably priced and denser housing building in acceptable locations comparable to alongside transit corridors and close to the Metrolink stations in Chatsworth and Northridge.
Her strategy is refreshingly forward-looking and can assist to information District 12 into a greater future.