Letters to the Editor: L.A. needs city charter reform. Nury Martinez and her colleagues show why.
Please take time to read the June and July issue of L.A. Observed, the newsletter of the Santa Monica/Los Angeles Urban Justice and Planning Organization.
Over the next year, you’ll be seeing several articles dealing with city charter reform. I’m particularly impressed by the first article, which by Mark Katz, a member of the L.A. City Council, presents a very persuasive argument for reforming the city charter, and also points out the most common problems.
The charter of Los Angeles is a product of the City Council which passed the document in 1959.
The original charter has been amended numerous times since then.
One of the last updates dealt with creating new positions in the city bureaucracy.
Unfortunately, when we try to reform the City Charter (the most recent attempt was in 2012), the most commonly used method of attack is the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” argument.
Let me give you an example:
I believe the city should be able to make its own laws regarding the minimum number of people allowed in commercial buildings.
For example, I am a homeowner. In my opinion, I should be able to prohibit my neighbor from having more than two dogs in his own personal backyard.
Now, my neighbor’s dogs are very cute, very gentle and very cute-looking, but they are dogs. If they had been allowed to run loose in my backyard, they would have bitten me.
I’m all about dog ownership, but I do not want to be run over by dogs.
If the city had passed a law saying that if you have more than two dogs in your backyard, you are breaking the law, then we could have seen the proliferation of dog attacks on unsuspecting people.
A dog attack is something we all have to deal with, but it’s a problem that we can all share, but the city can only solve by limiting the number of dogs.
If the City Council had passed that kind of a law limiting the number of dogs (or anything else), and my neighbor had not gone away because of it, it could open the door for an angry neighbor to claim that the person who limits other people’s rights is stealing from them.