LA County commits to community investment – to match J measure, which court stayed – Daily News
By ELIZABETH MARCELLINO, City News Service
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, August 10 to commit 10% of unrestricted county-generated revenue to community investment, reflecting the goals of Measure J, which was overturned by a legal challenge.
In July, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel ruled that Measure J was unconstitutional because it interfered with the council’s power under state law to set the county’s budget. This decision is under appeal.
However, the judge also concluded that there was nothing to prevent the council from moving forward on its own with the policies set out in the measure.
County Chief Executive Fesia Davenport recommended disbursing the $100 million previously earmarked for Measure J under a new council policy called the Care First and Community Investment Program.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva told the council he believed the policy was unconstitutional and threatened public safety.
“Changing its name doesn’t change the nature of it,” Villanueva said, mocking the county’s plans to create a new advisory committee as “a bureaucratic wake-up call orgy.”
Although the money for community investment may be funded through county revenue growth or through cuts in various departments, the sheriff talked about the money as if it was taken directly from his department’s budget.
While it’s true that no Measure J or CFCI money can go through law enforcement, supervisor Kathryn Barger denied that such spending amounted to “defunding” law enforcement.
“Diversion is something this council worked on long before the ‘law enforcement funding’ community,” Barger said. “At no time will I be supporting funding in lieu of this. I don’t think it’s one or the other.
The sheriff urged the council to instead spend more money on increasing homicide investigations, cracking down on illegal marijuana grow operations and tackling homelessness.
CFCI funds will be allocated to community programs dedicated to affordable housing, rental assistance and other forms of housing support, as well as youth development and job training, which some advocates say , will help increase public safety.
The money will also support a variety of programs – some run by the county – aimed at reducing the prison population, including community mental health and addiction treatment programs.
Barger asked that a vote on $42 million in funding tied to the closure of the Men’s Central Jail be separate from the board’s overall decision on the CFCI.
“Along with my colleagues, I agree that the central prison for men should be closed. But I am not convinced at this time that we have the capacity to create an outside diversion program to accommodate those who are ousted from the Central Men’s Jail,” she said.
In addition to the need for more mental health and addiction treatment beds, Barger said, “I also believe there are a number of needed beds in the county for violent offenders. Without these beds in place or identified, I am unable to support attribution.
The pledge to close the prison passed, 4-1.
A Measure J advisory committee had requested a total of $170 million in expenditures.
Davenport pointed out that the board had separately agreed to allocate an additional $314 million in one-time coronavirus relief funds to similar community-focused programs. Nearly half of that money will go to interim and permanent supportive housing, and $87.7 million will directly fund projects suggested by the advisory committee.
A total of 91% of the programs recommended by the committee will receive funding equivalent to 110% of the committee’s total request.
The CEO noted that many of the committee’s recommendations were accompanied by detailed information on service levels, scale, or the proportion of funding that would cover administrative costs versus service delivery costs. She said her team is working with the committee to refine various proposals and develop procedures for future years.
To address concerns raised by the advisory committee that the cumbersome contracting process and county insurance requirements would prevent money from flowing to community providers, the board also agreed to hire an administrator third parties to manage the funding.
The board-approved policy otherwise aligns with the other provisions of Measure J, including building up the full 10% reserved by June 30, 2024. It also gives the board the ability to reduce the reserve on a vote. to four-fifths. in the event of a future budget emergency.
In fact, a simple majority vote by the board could revise or repeal the policy, based on a legal opinion from the Mono County California attorney general cited in the CEO’s motion.
Evaluation of the program will not begin until the second year of the program, based on the CEO’s assessment that many start-up CBOs would not be able to generate useful audit data in the first year.