December 09, 2021

LAWT News Service


The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a plan from the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department (LA Civil Rights) to roll out the city’s first participatory budgeting pilot program. The Los Angeles Reforms for Equity and Public Acknowledgement of Institutional Racism, or LA REPAIR, will give nine communities impacted by high rates of poverty, COVID-19, pollution and other factors the decision-making power to allocate more than $8.5 million in city funds.

“When it comes to the issues that burden neighborhoods across our city — whether it’s the climate crisis, the pandemic, or economic inequality — nobody has better solutions than our own residents,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “LA REPAIR is about empowering our communities with the resources and autonomy they need to address the challenges of today and make their neighborhoods stronger and more resilient for generations to come, and I’m thankful to the City Council for taking this important step to make this program a reality.”

“From inequities in service delivery to infrastructure investment, as we move forward we must work to transform our City into one that achieves its core work while addressing the stark inequities that have long existed in Los Angeles,” said Council President Nury Martinez. “For too long, communities of color have had to fight extra hard for equitable allocation in budget funding and as we move forward, this work will be institutionalized as a part of our future budgeting process.

Last year, the Council led an historic city-wide series of listening sessions to directly hear from our residents on how city funds should be spent, because it’s crucial to have input from our communities on where they want to see money allocated in their neighborhoods.”

“Los Angeles has some of the lowest income and highest need neighborhoods in the country, living in the shadow of immense wealth and investment,” said Capri Maddox, Executive Director of LA Civil Rights. “These neighborhoods know what’s best for their communities, and deserve the power to shape their own futures. LA REPAIR will put these communities in the driver's seat and help us tackle structural inequality head on. We are so grateful to the Mayor for proposing this participatory budgeting program, and to the City Council for moving it forward today.”

First proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti in his proposed 2021-’22 city budget, LA REPAIR will begin soliciting ideas early next year, with community votes on final proposals as soon as May. The neighborhoods in the participatory budgeting pilot, known as REPAIR Zones, are Skid Row, Arleta-Pacoima, Boyle Heights, Mission Hills-Panorama City-North Hills, Westlake, West Adams, South Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles and Wilmington-Harbor Gateway. 

In its report on LA REPAIR, LA Civil Rights used poverty data, COVID-19 case rate data, as well as data reflecting the digital divide and a statewide mapping tool of pollution called CalEnviroScreen to determine the nine REPAIR zones.

All nine communities have at least 87% residents of color, and at least 16% live in poverty. Furthermore, these communities have an unemployment rate of at least 15%, and at least 30% of all renter households paid half or more of their income on rent.

“Los Angeles has no shortage of challenges, but also no shortage of community-based organizations and neighborhood leaders working tirelessly toward a better future,” said Councilmember Kevin de Leon. “I see this in my district from Skid Row to Boyle Heights. It’s time to give these communities the power to shape their own future. LA REPAIR from LA Civil Rights is a bold step toward equity for Los Angeles, giving underserved communities real power over real dollars, and I’m proud to move it forward.”

“Westlake in my district is the densest neighborhood in Los Angeles with several generations of families living in one-bedroom apartments, the highest percentage of immigrants, and the greatest numbers of people who have died or who have COVID-19 in CD 1,” stated Councilmember Gil Cedillo. “It’s inclusion in LA REPAIR's participatory budgeting pilot project will give my Westlake constituents the opportunity to give input on City expenditures in their neighborhood to make it more safe, clean, and secure and to improve the quality of life for their children, youth and families.”

“For far too long Black and Brown communities have been sidelined by a governmental system that has made them feel unseen,” said Councilmember Curren Price. “It is time to empower their collective voices and give them their seat at the table so that they can take the reins in determining what is needed in their communities today, tomorrow and in the future.”

“LA REPAIR is a historic step forward in our collective efforts to build a Los Angeles that’s more equitable and livable,” said City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, who represents parts of the Westlake neighborhood. "By inviting leaders from historically neglected neighborhoods to a seat at the table and prioritizing investments that are driven by community input, LA REPAIR will help us create stronger, more resilient neighborhoods as we emerge from the pandemic."

"To truly establish a more equitable, antiracist LA, we must ensure that low-income communities of color have the tools and resources to not just reimagine their communities, but actually participate in the decision-making process. LA REPAIR is poised to redefine civic engagement in the City of Los Angeles by educating, engaging and most importantly, empowering, historically underserved groups to decide on investment priorities to uplift their communities," said Karly Katona, Caretaker of the 10th Council District.

“Every neighborhood has unique needs and the LA REPAIR program will give a voice and power to our community members to choose how to best invest in solutions to historic inequities,” said Councilmember Joe Buscaino. “It is my hope that in the coming years we can expand this innovative program to more neighborhoods throughout the city.”

“This pilot project serves as an important tool to empower disenfranchised communities to have greater input on spending decisions for their neighborhoods. This process will be instrumental to uplifting voices that too often are overshadowed by the voices of more affluent areas,” said Councilmember Monica Rodriguez.

Participatory budgeting, which is in place in thousands of cities worldwide, including New York City, Oakland and Seattle, emphasizes public ownership of government resources, deepens democracy, improves trust in government and builds stronger communities impacted by systemic inequality, according to the report.

In the coming months, LA Civil Rights will onboard a Participatory Budgeting consultant to finalize program design and solicit program ideas from LA REPAIR Zones. Any resident of a REPAIR Zone can provide ideas for programs and vote on final proposals, including those residing in an L.A. City shelter or housing. Community members from each REPAIR Zone will form an advisory committee to oversee program implementation, and the $8.5 million will be geared toward community-driven ideas and community-based partners over City-led programs.

Category: News