The council is under pressure to make reforms due to audio leaked last fall from a private meeting at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor offices that not only exposed the racist attitudes of powerful city leaders, but also their scheme to fix the redistricting process in their favor, and take power away from renters in LA, during a contentious moment in the last redistricting process in 2021. The audio leak led to the resignation of the council president at the time, Nury Martinez, while another participant in the conversation, City Councilmember Kevin de Leon, remains on the council. In the audio former Council President Martinez renounces the creation of a so-called “renters’ district,” saying, “Nithya is not going to get the perfect district — we’re not going to give her a renters district. That’s what she wants. I told her that’s not happening; you’re going to get the district that you’re going to get, you’re going to have to run, and probably in a district that more than half of them don’t know who you are. Go fucking do the work and see if you can get reelected.”
Catalyst California is one of a dozen groups that advocate for communities of color that came together as part of the OUR LA coalition, after the audio leak, that is pushing for reforms that would give BIPOC and low-income Angelenos a bigger political voice in Los Angeles.
Candice Cho, director of policy and counsel for AAPI Equity Alliance, says their group has been engaging with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community throughout Los Angeles on charter reform issues, and the number of Los Angeles city council members is a major one.
Having 15 council members for a population of 4 million makes the city “an outlier in the country when it comes to representation,” she said. “And as we’ve seen from things like the leaked conversation among the three city council members … these types of political structures result in a city that isn’t sufficiently inclusive, or equitable or representative of our communities.”