Los Angeles City Attorney candidate Kevin James today filed his first fundraising disclosure statement reporting over $300,000 raised from individual donors, labor unions and business leaders.
Kevin said “I am honored to have the early support of so many individuals, labor unions who represent working families throughout Los Angeles, and business leaders who represent numerous job-creating industries in our region — all of whom care greatly about Los Angeles. Our supporters include champions for our environment, community leaders, advocates for our creative communities, leaders fighting homelessness, and businesses that help drive our local economy.”
Kevin added that “I am very excited for the fast start and momentum this builds for the campaign. My plan to insure that every city in the region must be involved in the solution to homelessness now has the solid foundation it needs to continue to grow throughout the election.”
To read more about Kevin’s policy priorities and ideas for the office, please visit www.kevinjamesforcityattorney.com.
We need a legal standard covering a city’s ability to manage homeless encampments. Such a standard would keep cities from pushing their unhoused across city lines and force them to work together.
By Kevin James, Special to CalMatters
Kevin James is an attorney, the former president of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works and a candidate for city attorney, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we are going to solve homelessness in California, every city must be part of the solution.
Homelessness happens everywhere, and unhoused people should be able to remain in their communities. We need every city involved in building housing, shelters, mental health services, addiction services and job placement services. Not just the larger cities.
That’s why Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) introduced Assembly Bill 816, which would require “every [city] to pull their own weight.” As introduced, each city was to submit proposals by 2023 on how to reduce homelessness by 90% by 2030. Objections arose, however, over pursuing legal action against local governments “should they fail to follow through on their commitments,” adding months or years to the timeline.
Thus, the bill was amended, but not to eliminate the nine-year timeline to act, which is what should have happened. Instead, the language requiring every city to pull its own weight is gone — and with it a golden opportunity for the Legislature to bring every city to the table to solve homelessness.
Local homeless policies will continue to be driven by the number of encampments residents see in their neighborhoods, and by legal settlements resulting in uneven and inconsistent enforcement of quality-of-life ordinances in the public right of way.
The more realistic road to homelessness solutions will be through the courts. And as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit demonstrated in Martin vs. City of Boise, it might take only one more court case to do it.
The Boise case ruled that a city cannot prohibit an unhoused person from sleeping on the sidewalk without offering reasonable shelter to that person.
But Boise only dealt with one element of the crisis — sleeping on the sidewalk. Boise expressly avoided encampments blocking the public right of way.
What Boise did on the issue of unhoused people sleeping on the sidewalk, Los Angeles should do on the issue of encampments obstructing public space. We need a Boise-like decision by a federal or state court that creates a legal standard covering a city’s ability to manage its public right of way.
Legal settlements are keeping us from getting that legal standard and a path to finding solutions for homelessness.
Every time Los Angeles or San Diego settles a homelessness/public right of way case, it avoids a court ruling on encampments that could force every city in Los Angeles County, or perhaps every city in the nine Western states, into the process of solving homelessness.
A new legal standard on encampments from a Boise-like court decision would establish uniformity and consistency on this issue so a city will not have a reason to push an unhoused person to a neighboring city.
When an unhoused person is moved from one city to another, so is the incentive to help them. Moving unhoused people from city to city, unfortunately, is the solution many cities use to deal with unsightly encampments on their own sidewalks.
With a new legal standard, the neighboring city would have the authority to manage its public right of way the same way the unhoused person’s city of origin does. Furthermore, an unhoused person will no longer have an incentive to move to a neighboring city, because the rules on encampments in both cities will be the same.
If one city is caught pushing its unhoused population to another city, that misconduct could expose the offending city to legal liabilities. And those legal liabilities are what will force California cities to the table to solve homelessness.
So when it comes to homelessness and public right of way lawsuits, residents of cities across California should tell their leaders: Stop the legal settlements. Seek a decision from the courts and set California cities on the road to solving homelessness — together.
The findings of the Special Master regarding the City Attorney’s Office’s handling of the class action lawsuit on DWP billing overcharges are very troubling. The City Attorney’s Office, and individual attorneys named in the Report, have disputed the findings of the Special Master. And the State Bar has confirmed that it will conduct its own review of the Report. So the investigation has not yet concluded. DWP ratepayers and our city’s residents are entitled to the facts. At the same time, the attorneys named in the Report are entitled to due process and to equal treatment under the law. As City Attorney, I will insure that internal systems are in place that prohibit the ability, and eliminate any incentive, of our lawyers, including outside counsel, to create, promote, or participate in any legal strategy or settlement procedure that could violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or any law.
VENICE- According to the last official homeless count, the City of Los Angeles has over 60 percent of Los Angeles County’s unhoused population, but less than 40 percent of the County’s overall population. Local coverage focuses on stories about neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles including Echo Park Lake, the Venice Boardwalk, encampment fires throughout the City of Los Angeles, a proposed project in Chatsworth, tiny homes in North Hollywood, and Skid Row.
Where are the stories about growing encampments in other cities like Beverly Hills, Burbank, Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica, or West Hollywood? Where are the homeless housing facilities in those cities?
The answers demonstrate the results of uneven enforcement of quality of life ordinances throughout LA County. Such uneven enforcement interferes with solutions to homelessness, and accelerates the pain, sorrow, misery, and mayhem on Los Angeles streets.
The other 87 cities in LA County can enforce their quality of life ordinances that protect their public right of way. But because of legal settlements, the City of Los Angeles does not. The results are evident all over Los Angeles.
In a recent court case, Martin v. City of Boise, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a city cannot prohibit an unhoused person from sleeping on the sidewalk without first providing a reasonable offer of shelter to that person. Because Boise was decided by the Ninth Circuit, it applies to all cities in LA County, precluding uneven enforcement of its rule.
However, Boise does not stop a city from “barring the obstruction of public rights of way or the erection of certain structures.” So LA’s neighbors can prohibit a person from sleeping on the sidewalk with their possessions that obstruct the public right of way. The City of LA does not.
These different standards expose some ugly truths.
One is that cities need to be in crisis before they will build homeless housing, or provide mental health, addiction, and job placement services in their communities. Another is that the most powerful incentive for a city to act is the unsightly reality of encampments obstructing public space in their own communities.
The cities that have encampments have a reason to build homeless housing and services. The cities that don’t, don’t.
This does two things that hamper solutions we need. First, it pushes the unhoused into Los Angeles, where they can keep their possessions with them. Second, it pushes the incentive to solve the crisis away from our neighbors and into Los Angeles. When an unhoused person is pushed from one city to another, so is the incentive to help them.
Los Angeles cannot solve this crisis alone. All of LA County is needed.
President Biden’s infrastructure plan and Governor Newsom’s homelessness proposal will help Southern California achieve a regional solution. Those resources should be spent to help the other cities in LA County build homeless housing and services.
Otherwise, Los Angeles will have to rely on court decisions to bring LA County together — meaning LA should litigate its homelessness/public right of way cases through to a resolution that is binding on every city in LA County. That is what happened in Boise. The City of Boise did not settle the case. The case went all the way to the Ninth Circuit, and the Court’s decision applies to every city in the western United States. Uneven enforcement of the Boise rule is prohibited.
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter and the parties in the LA Alliance for Human Rights v. City and County of Los Angeles case have an opportunity to provide our region with a court ruling that binds every city in LA County — thereby leveling the playing field, just like the Ninth Circuit did in Boise.
That would finally open the door for a regional solution to homelessness.
Supports James’ Proactive Vision for Addressing the City’s Urgent Challenges
LOS ANGELES (June 2, 2021) — Today, the Central City Association Political Action Committee (CCA PAC) announced its endorsement of Kevin James for Los Angeles City Attorney. The CCA PAC believes that James has the necessary vision and experience to proactively address Los Angeles’ ongoing crises including homelessness, housing and economic recovery from the pandemic.
“The City Attorney’s role impacts nearly every aspect of Angelenos’ lives, from rising homelessness to regulations on businesses, housing affordability and government operations,” said Jessica Lall, President & CEO of Central City Association. “Kevin James is a champion for Downtown with deep expertise in city government and strong relationships across the civic, nonprofit, labor and business communities.”
“The next City Attorney will be crucial to ensuring that Downtown and our city fully recover from the pandemic into a stronger Los Angeles,” said Stephanie Graves, CEO of Lee Andrews Group and CCA Board Chair. “James has proven that he can successfully deliver initiatives and will be ready to serve Angelenos on his first day as City Attorney.”
“Kevin James’ proactive leadership would be an asset for Los Angeles,” said Edgar Khalatian, Partner at Mayer Brown LLP and Co-Chair of CCA PAC. “James will take a fresh approach to leading the City Attorney’s Office by increasing transparency and accountability to the public and ensuring our City has legal advice that puts Angelenos’ best interests first.”
“Kevin James will be a City Attorney that takes responsibility and provides a clear, consistent and pragmatic legal framework to support solutions to homelessness,” said Senator (ret) Kevin Murray, President & CEO of Weingart Association and CCA Boardmember. “We look forward to partnering with James to help address the City’s most pressing challenges.”
The Central City Association (CCA) PAC supports candidates and ballot initiatives that align with its mission of enhancing Downtown LA’s vibrancy and increasing opportunity in the region through advocacy, influence and engagement. Since its founding in 1924, CCA has produced meaningful results for its members, Downtown and the greater Los Angeles area. It represents the interests of over 300 large employers, small businesses, nonprofit service providers and trade associations. For more information, please visit www.ccala.org.
Ad paid for by the Central City Association of Los Angeles PAC. 626 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 850, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org.
Southern California is home to our nation’s largest Armenian diaspora community.
Armenian Americans participate in every aspect of the rich diversity of Los Angeles.
I applaud President Biden’s official public recognition of the 1915 massacre of more than 1 million Armenians as genocide. The President of the United States has joined the official recognition by the United States Congress of the Armenian genocide.
This historic declaration by the President of the United States, supported throughout Los Angeles, comes after generations of advocacy and activism by the Armenian American community led right here in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office can fight the wrongs of injustice. As City Attorney, I will always join the Armenian American community and community leaders throughout the region in our collective fight for justice, fairness, respect, and dignity.
VENICE – It’s been said there needs to be a paradigm shift in the City’s thinking to change the growing homeless crisis. That shift could come with Kevin James, a candidate in the race to be the top lawyer in Los Angeles. For starters, James says he won’t settle homeless-related lawsuits and plans to hold neighboring communities like Santa Monica and Culver City accountable for sharing the burden of the [homeless] crises.
James is looking to succeed termed-out City Attorney Mike Feuer. He is one of four candidates vying for the job. During his visit to Venice on Thursday, James talked about the growing homeless crisis, rising crime and what felt like solution-based ideas.
As Venice residents know, the community is currently fighting two crises: a global pandemic and a local homeless crisis. James said he knew this, but “seeing it was different.”
Accompanied by residents and business owners, James spent more than three hours walking through different parts of Venice. The group started at Windward Circle, walked down the Boardwalk to Rose Avenue, toured 3rd Avenue and visited the Bridge Home SEC Zone before making their way back up Main Street.
During his stroll on the boardwalk, James took note of handball courts now used as homeless storage, countless tents –and the evident deteriorating conditions of a once vibrant California destination. James also noted ADA violations, fire code safety and sanitation issues, and at one point, stopped to show the group that the edges of sidewalks were smoothed out so that wheelchairs could easily navigate them. He noted that he worked on that project with the L.A. Department of Public Works.”Why did we do all this [ADA violation remediation] work if wheelchairs can’t use them [the sidewalks]?”
James also commented on the stark contrast between the Venice and Santa Monica boardwalks. Although James did not directly criticize Feuer, he repeatedly pointed out what he would do differently, including not settling homeless-related lawsuits and holding neighboring communities accountable for sharing the burden of the crises.
James said: “At a time when every neighborhood is affected by the affordable housing and homelessness crises, when the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic have severely hurt the health and livelihood of countless Angelenos, when the City budget is burdened by the pandemic and by multi-million dollar settlements and when City Hall must restore the public’s trust, we need our City Attorney to be a problem-solver who will take strong action on behalf of the people of Los Angeles.”
James says that if he’s voted in, the two things he will consider when homeless-related suits are brought against the City are to make sure that neighboring cities are brought to the table and that they agree to be bound by any actions taken by the City of Los Angeles.
He says that by fighting instead of settling these cases, neighboring cities are held accountable, which must happen if Los Angeles is going to work its way out of its homelessness crisis.
James says that his approach to homeless-related lawsuits will give neighboring cities the same incentive Los Angeles has to build more affordable housing and shelters with services. “It will also prevent the shuffling of the unhoused population into L.A. from their communities.”
James also talked about public safety, police reform and criminal justice reform on Thursday. He has stated on his campaign website that he wants to work to bring LAPD officers closer to the communities they serve and promote public safety partnerships. He also said that he values giving families more opportunities to interact with LAPD officers in a non-enforcement environment, calling for “building relationships and trust that enhance police-community relations.”
James also talked about the City and County’s Therapeutic Transportation pilot program, which enables unarmed mental health experts in vans to respond to certain mental health emergency calls.
James the Candidate
James has more than 20 years of legal experience as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and litigator. He has also served for seven years as President of the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works. In that role, he has marshaled five city departments to respond to homelessness, build electric-vehicle infrastructure, protect water quality, implement the historic raise in L.A.’s minimum wage and provide critical city services without interruption throughout the pandemic.
Since last summer, James has also served as Chief of Legislative Affairs, charged with working on police reform, COVID response funding, labor issues and homelessness during the pandemic.
During his seven-year tenure on the Board of Public Works, he was involved in the deployment of new technologies at each of the departments under its purview to improve the delivery of essential city services, including street repairs, street lighting, enforcing the City’s minimum wage laws, conducting the City’s first tree inventory, awarding Green Business Certifications and modernizing the City’s Public Way Reservation System.
The City Attorneys primary elections are June 2022. Whoever the candidate, a lot is on the line for Venice and the entire Council District.
One year into the pandemic, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community continues to be targeted in violent hate crimes coming from racist sentiments related to COVID-19. And recent crime reports confirm the alarming news that these hate crimes against the AAPI community are on the rise.
While leaders throughout Southern California are speaking out against this hate targeting the AAPI community and taking action within their own districts and legislative bodies, the only way to fully stop these crimes is for everyone to step up and call out racism and xenophobia whenever we see it occur. Although every act of hate in the form of verbal abuse or threats may not itself be a direct act of violence, such acts create the foundation upon which acts of violence are based. Therefore, all forms of hate based on racism should be reported.
As City Attorney, I would ensure that all branches and units within the Criminal Division of the office immediately prioritize all complaints of such conduct for investigation and potential prosecution. As I shared on Day 1 of my campaign for City Attorney, our office will create a Civil and Human Rights and Equity Unit within the City Attorney’s Office to work in line with the City’s Civil and Human Rights and Equity Department — this will ensure the continued prioritization of ending hate crimes and attacks against AAPIs and all vulnerable communities in the City.
Paid for by Kevin James for City Attorney 2022 – FPPC ID 1435508
249 E. Ocean Blvd. #670, Long Beach, CA 90802.Additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org.
Los Angeles needs regional partners to solve homelessness.
In Southern California, homelessness and affordable housing are regional problems, but the Southern California region treats them like Los Angeles problems.
Even with all of the work that has been done and the progress that has been made, record numbers of unhoused people are dying every day on Los Angeles streets. Dangerous unhealthy conditions exist all over the city. So something significant has to change.
Los Angeles homelessness experts generally agree on four key facts: first, homelessness happens in every city in the region and people experiencing homelessness should be able to remain in the community they are from; second, homelessness and the scarcity of affordable housing are interconnected; third, the solution to homelessness is affordable housing, and shelters (of varying types) with services (including addiction services, mental health services, and job placement services); and fourth, we need much more of both in the City of Los Angeles and the region.
To date, this agreed-upon solution has alluded everyone and until this crisis is treated as the regional crisis that it is, the solution will continue to be out of reach.
As Los Angeles City Attorney, how would I bring significant change in the City’s legal strategy that would put these solutions within reach?
The answer is that I will level the playing field for all cities in the region by reinstating accountability and incentive on the part of our neighbors to build homeless shelters with services and affordable housing.
I will do this by changing our City’s approach to lawsuits brought against the City of Los Angeles.
Since 2003, the City of Los Angeles has been sued several times on issues related to homelessness. Many of those cases were settled out of court by the City. These legal actions and settlements have impacted the City’s ability to respond to homelessness. Today the courts are deciding every aspect of the homelessness crisis — from where people can camp on the street, when they can camp on the street, how much personal property they can have with them on the street, and where shelters and affordable housing can be built. So the selection of the next City Attorney is critical in shaping the direction of the City’s legal policies and priorities on solving homelessness.
While the City’s settlement of prior lawsuits was the best decision at the time based on the information it had, we now know that neighboring cities have not been willing to meet the same obligations the City of Los Angeles has agreed to. Many of our neighboring cities have proven their willingness to look the other way, and in large measure, leave this tragedy for the City of Los Angeles to solve essentially on its own. (I use “essentially” because I am not ignoring the County’s hard work on this crisis, the good work of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, or the passage of Measure H by the County’s voters). Indeed, at least one city in the region (and likely others) is (are) paying to rent space in homeless shelters in the City of Los Angeles to move their own unhoused population. Therefore, the City of Los Angeles should now approach these legal cases, and our neighboring cities, differently.
As City Attorney, here’s one of the ways I would do it. First, if the City of Los Angeles is the only municipal defendant in any homelessness-related lawsuit, then the case will be vigorously defended and settlement out of court will not be recommended by our office. At this point, knowing what we know now, when the City of Los Angeles settles legal cases brought against it, able to bind only itself to the demands of the other side, the City of LA removes any incentive on the part of our neighbors to build homeless shelters with services or affordable housing, while creating every incentive for the unhoused population to move into Los Angeles and for our neighboring cities to assist them in doing so (directly or indirectly). People experiencing homelessness are camped primarily on our streets, not their streets. And as long as the unhoused population is sleeping on Los Angeles streets, other cities in the region have little incentive to build shelters or affordable housing.
I am not recommending movement of LA’s own unhoused population out of LA. Rather, I am advocating for the creation of long-overdue policies and incentives in other cities that respond appropriately to the needs of their own unhoused residents so that people can remain in the community they are from. And I am willing to implement a legal strategy in the City of Los Angeles that will force the resolution of this crisis back into the responsibility of every city in the region — where it belongs and where it should have been all along.
Therefore, if I am City Attorney, in order for the City of Los Angeles to consider settling a case brought against us, two important things will need to occur first: (1) many of our neighboring cities will need to be at the table, and (2) those neighboring cities must agree to be bound by anything the City of Los Angeles is being asked to agree to. This is only fair.
By fighting these cases going forward instead of settling them, whether the City wins the case or is faced with a different result, we will be holding all of our neighbors in the region accountable. Because if the City wins the case, it wins it. But if the City of Los Angeles receives an alternative decision, every other city in the region will be bound by that decision rendered in the State or Federal Court.
This new approach to homelessness-related lawsuits brought against the City of Los Angeles will result in three important outcomes. First, it will give our neighbors the same incentive we have to build shelters with services and more affordable housing, thereby finally providing the solutions that everyone agrees are needed. It will also prevent the shuffling of the unhoused population into our City from their own communities of origin where they would prefer to stay. Second, once our neighboring cities realize the results of the litigation will impact them in the same way it impacts the City of Los Angeles, it will give our neighboring cities an incentive to join the lawsuits that to date have targeted the City of Los Angeles. And third, with more housing and shelter solutions throughout the region, all cities will be able to restore the public right-of-way to its intended and safe use.
By acting alone in settling these cases that create new rules that apply only to the City of Los Angeles, we are letting our neighbors off the hook. At least if we go to court, the decision in court will apply to all of the cities in the region. That, at a minimum, levels the field. And a level field is critical to achieving the undisputed solution of more shelters with services and affordable housing. After all, affordable housing and a cleaner city go hand-in-hand.
Finally, in the September 2020 report entitled “No Going Back: Policies for an Equitable and Inclusive Los Angeles” co-authored by the USCDornsife Equity Research Institute, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and Committee for Greater LA, under the sub-heading “Create housing for all and end unsheltered homelessness,” the report says “Change will require that the scale of the response reflect the scale of the crisis, that we tackle the legacies and realities of structural racism, and that the region as a whole take action and hold these structures accountable.” Helping “the region as a whole take action” because “the scale of the response [must] reflect the scale of the crisis” is my goal with this new legal strategy.
NEWS ADVISORY For Immediate Release January 6, 2021
Contact: Bill Carrick 323 469 1592 email@example.com
After more than 7 years in City Hall as President of the Board of Public Works, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Film and Television Production, and Chief of Legislative Affairs, long-time attorney Kevin James has entered the race for Los Angeles City Attorney. The election is in 2022.
As President of the Board of Public Works, Kevin marshaled five city departments to respond to homelessness, build electric vehicle infrastructure, protect water quality, implement the historic raise of L.A.’s minimum wage, and provide critical city services uninterrupted throughout the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. For the second half of 2020, Mayor Eric Garcetti asked Kevin to join the Mayor’s Office as the Chief of Legislative Affairs to work on police reform, COVID response funding, labor issues, and homelessness during the pandemic.
Recognizing Kevin’s leadership during his tenure as President of the Board of Public Works, Mayor Garcetti and the City Council expanded the Board of Public Works’ portfolio to include the new Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety, the new City Forest Officer, the new Climate Emergency Mobilization Department, and the new Office of Film and Television Production — whose work supporting entertainment jobs in L.A. was led personally by Kevin.
Kevin also served as the City’s liaison to the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission in connection with the City’s bids for sporting events including the NBA All-Star Game, the Super Bowl, the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, and the U.S. Open Golf Championship.
Upon announcing his candidacy, Kevin said: “Like so many Angelenos, I came to LA in search of a community that would accept me as I am and where I could contribute to its success. Los Angeles is that special place. Only months ago Los Angeles was the envy of the world. And then the pandemic struck. The problems we face today are serious, but they can be solved. I will bring a new, innovative approach to the complex legal issues our City faces. I hope to earn your support along the way.”
Among those offering statements of support for Kevin’s work on behalf of the City of Los Angeles are Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sergio Rascon with LiUNA Local 300 and Thom Davis of IATSE Local 80.
“Kevin’s drive and love for people has made him a remarkably effective public servant and problem-solver — and it’s been a pleasure to work with him these past seven years. We’ve seen up close how infrastructure and services can make a powerful difference in Angelenos’ lives. I’ll miss his steady hand and joyful approach, and I am not at all surprised that he is looking at new ways to serve.” Mayor Eric Garcetti
“I’ve worked with Kevin since 2013. He has always demonstrated a clear understanding of our issues, and is a proven supporter of working men and women. Our members have appreciated Kevin’s open-door policy and his focus on fairness and job creation.” Sergio Rascon, Business Manager, Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 300.
“Local 80 is proud to support Kevin James in his race for Los Angeles City Attorney. We have worked closely with Kevin since 2013 in his role as President of the Board of Public Works and, most importantly, as Mayor Garcetti’s liaison to the entertainment industry. Kevin has been a tireless crusader for the entertainment industry. He played an important role in securing the California Film and Television Tax Credit program in 2014 and in maintaining it in the years since. Throughout that time he never lost sight of the rights of the workers in the entertainment industry and has been a vocal and strong champion.” Thom Davis, Business Manager, IATSE Local 80.
As City Attorney, Kevin’s priorities will include: LA’s Covid 19 response; homelessness and affordable housing; police and criminal justice reform; public safety; racial and gender equality; climate change; economic opportunity and job creation.
More information about Kevin’s campaign is available at www.kevinjamesforcityattorney.com