Today, the Los Angeles City Council approved the Budget and Finance Committee’s recommendations for changes to the 2021-22 city budget that will restore services, programming, and investment in the Department of Recreation and Parks to levels not seen in more than a decade. Investments in this year’s budget will help disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The budget allocates $75 million in deferred capital projects at Recreation and Parks facilities, the majority benefitting disadvantaged communities. The money will fund up to 75 projects citywide, including dozens of playgrounds, sports fields and recreation centers, security and HVAC improvements, and new restrooms.
The allocation to the Department of Recreation and Parks also includes the restoration of 140 positions deleted during the pandemic-induced budget crisis and added 40 more to jumpstart our recovery. The majority of these positions will be through the Targeted Local Hire program. These public servants will allow RAP to offer 15,000 swim lessons this summer, and restore programs through the LA2028 Youth Sports initiative, which provides free sports programming at 80 qualified recreation centers in disadvantaged communities.
“Our parks should be the vibrant center of communities across the City,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. “Yet in recent years they have suffered from reductions in services and overall neglect. This latest allocation will enable Rec and Parks to provide a level of service to Angelenos not seen since before the Great Recession of 2009-2010.”
The funding will allow the Department of Recreation and Parks to begin restoring aquatic programming, including swim lessons, team sports, and recreational swim. During the upcoming fiscal year the Department expects to serve over 1.2 million Angelenos.
The funds will also enable Recreation and Parks to re-open eight early childcare centers, which will serve an estimated 400 youths in disadvantaged communities.
Restored staffing will ensure Recreation and Parks can adequately coordinate cleanup efforts related to provision of homeless services in the City’s recreational facilities.
Nearly $1 billion to fight homelessness
This budget allocates nearly $1 billion to spend on homelessness, a record for the City of Los Angeles. The allocation includes $362 million in Permanent Supportive Housing (HHH) with construction and development of 89 projects representing 5,600 permanent homes for the unhoused. This is in addition to $140m in Homeless Services funds to stabilize unhoused Angelinos by purchasing and converting hotels and motels (Project Homekey), maintaining outreach programs, and supporting homeless services providers.
The budget provides funding for at least 1,500 hotel and motel rooms to temporarily assist persons experiencing homelessness through Project Roomkey.
Nearly $100 million is made available through Homelessness Assistance and Supportive Services, used to increase the supply of affordable housing, homeless prevention and eviction defense, and homeless outreach programs.
The budget provides funding for a total of 26 CARE and CARE+ teams that will provide consistent outreach to individuals experiencing homelessness by Homeless Engagement Teams, and consistent sanitation services to combat illegal dumping and maintain the health and safety of our streets. Additionally, the budget provides for 13 mobile hygiene units citywide to provide access to mobile showers and restrooms.
The Budget includes funding for the nation’s largest Guaranteed Basic Income pilot, spearheaded by Budget and Finance Committee and City Councilmember Curren Price, which will provide direct support to single mothers in disadvantaged neighborhoods to provide for their families and avoid homelessness under the strain of the economic burden placed on families because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Protecting frontline communities from oil and gas extraction
Krekorian noted that the budget also expands the Council’s effort to eliminate oil wells from communities over the next two decades. At the end of 2020, the Councilmember led landmark action in the Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee instructing the City Attorney to immediately halt any new development or expansion of existing oil infrastructure across Los Angeles. The legislation would also start a process leading to the eventual shutdown of the 5,100 active or idle oil and gas wells across the City.
The budget provides funding for an amortization study, which would likely allow the City to pursue a faster shutdown of existing oil and gas facilities; an Oil Well Unit within the Los Angeles Fire Department, with five new staff to ensure more robust and frequent inspections of oil wells and ensure verification of bonding and insurance requirements to ensure oil companies are held liable for clean-up costs; and a team to develop and launch a pilot version of the Oil and Gas Well Site Facility Compliance Program as part of the Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration.
“We are putting in place the tools to end new drilling and protect communities immediately,” said Krekorian. “If done right, we can protect the City from financial risk from a lawsuit, ensure that oil companies pay for clean-up costs, and achieve an historic outcome that will protect the environment and prepare our economy for a fossil-free future.”
Expanding LA’s urban canopy and combating climate change
The budget provides staffing and funding to plant more than 2,000 new street trees per year, focused on disadvantaged communities. This commitment also alleviates the urban heat island effect and improves the City’s response to the Climate Emergency. New crews at the Bureau of Street Services Urban Forestry Division will allow more than 38,000 trees to be cared for and trimmed annually and expedite the removal of dead trees. This is in addition to dozens of new gardeners and maintenance crews that will care for trees located in the City’s parks and add new ones.
The budget also provides $30 million for the expansion of solar energy generation, energy storage, and an additional $3 million to expand EV charging stations at city facilities.
The budget funds the study and administers a wildlife corridor, protecting critical habitat and tree canopy for the City’s precious wildlife. Additionally, it provides funding for the Department of City Planning to work on an environmental justice element and develop its own Climate Action Plan.
Unprecedented expansion of the Targeted Local Hire program
The Council’s budget makes significant investments toward the Targeted Local Hire (TLH) Program. This program helps underserved and underemployed populations (ex. formerly and presently homeless, formerly incarcerated, foster youth, veterans, transgender) find alternative pathways to careers of dignity and purpose as Civil Servants in the City.
The budget allocates $30 million towards hiring as many as 750 TLH positions in various departments. This investment demonstrates the Council’s commitment toward equitable recovery, especially for those individuals who may have otherwise continued to face formidable barriers to successful employment.
Helping small businesses recover from the pandemic
The budget provides an additional $50 million to aid restaurants, as well as businesses in disadvantaged communities, continuing the financial support that proved to be a lifeline during the pandemic. An additional $10 million has been allocated to child care specifically for businesses, enabling parents to return to work as Los Angeles emerges from the effects of the pandemic.
The Council’s budget adds $10 million to a program to serve meals provided by restaurants in disadvantaged communities to low-income seniors. During the pandemic, the city served as a lifeline to seniors and struggling restaurants by providing home-delivered meals from local businesses. Additionally, Congregate Meals for Seniors has received additional funding as the critical social lifeline that group meals provides for seniors becomes possible with widespread COVID-19 vaccination.
Arts, culture, and creativity are essential components of the City’s vibrant past, present and future, as well as vital to accelerating regional economic recovery. This budget increases funding to the Department of Cultural Affairs for community arts programming at art centers and theaters, including solo and group art exhibitions, outreach programs for underserved populations, and numerous events during the year that celebrate the cultural diversity of our communities.
In addition, an allocation of $1 million to the Youth and Creative Workers Mural Program will ensure restoration of treasured murals citywide.
The budget provides $750,000 to the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer for continuing the technology enhancements on the City’s procurement platform (LA Businesses Assistance Virtual Network), which significantly improves outreach to local, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses, as well as businesses in underserved communities.
Improvements to the Business Assistance Virtual Network will open up the supply chain of major public infrastructure projects and sporting events to the City’s small business community. A modern solicitation platform will provide tremendous benefit to the LA Region through an easy-to-use interface that promises a greater capacity for complex workflows, City accountability to these businesses, and robust cybersecurity for all who utilize the platform.
The citywide Al Fresco Dining program has proven to be overwhelmingly successful in supporting restaurants and small businesses during COVID-19 emergency health orders. This budget allocates $1.92 million in grant opportunities to help restaurants recover by setting up permanent parklets for outdoor dining under the Al Fresco Dining program.
The budget allocates $25 million to the Economic Workforce Development Department (EWDD) specifically for Business Assistance Programs in Disadvantaged Communities, of which $5 million will be designated to implement the Job and Economic Development Incentive (JEDI) Zones and Good Food Zones Programs.
The budget allocates $3 million for the Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise (LA RISE), which provides job development activities for homeless individuals and for participants at A Bridge Home sites. These activities include subsidized employment for individuals with a history of homelessness, supportive case management designed to help prepare participants for continued employment, and training in both hard and soft skills.
The Council also set aside $10 million for Broadband Services in Disadvantaged Communities. The pandemic made clear the massive digital divide that exists between neighborhoods in the City. This committed funding toward broadband services is a major step to closing that gap.
Safe and clean roads
The budget expands funding for StreetsLA to pave and provide funding for more than 1,700 lane miles in the next year. Repaving almost 5 lane miles every single day creates jobs in the communities hardest hit by the pandemic -- mostly staff will be hired through the Targeted Local Hire program. The budget provides millions of dollars of funding to repair medians and bike lanes.
Restored staffing will allow StreetsLA to expand street cleaning to more streets throughout the city, and to do a comprehensive street sweeping optimization study, with further recommendations of how to improve the services.
Maintaining fiscal responsibility / the reserve
The budget maintains a reserve of 8.65% of anticipated General Fund revenues, the highest reserve in the City’s history in dollars, and the strongest reserve in over a decade relative to the size of the General Fund. In the eight annual budgets that Councilmember Krekorian approved as Chair of the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, building back the City’s reserves was a critical objective and absolutely vital in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 Fiscal Years, allowing the city to avoid catastrophic layoffs and cuts to city services during the COVID-19 crisis when they were needed the most. By rebuilding the reserves to historic highs, the City will be prepared for future emergencies.