Karen Bass represents the 37th Congressional District (Mid City, Westwood, Exposition Park, Baldwin Hills). She was elected Speaker of the California Assembly in 2008, making her the first Black woman in U.S. history to lead a state legislative body. She founded the Community Coalition and the National Foster Youth Institute.
LAist sent a multiple-choice survey to every mayoral candidate on the ballot for the June 7 primary, starting in April. LAist sent out more than 30 questions to every mayoral candidate who was actively campaigning for the June 7 primary. Categorizing their responses was a challenge, and there was a lot of agreement and overlap among the candidates. We ultimately focused on 12 questions that we think help to distinguish their positions on key issues. You can review Bass’s positions below. And you can read her full, unedited responses to the questionnaire here.
L.A.’s “anti-camping law” (Municipal Code 41.18) bans people who are unhoused from camping on public property close to locations such as schools, parks, libraries, and underpasses. Should it be kept as is, repealed, or changed?
Keep it as is
Keep it, but expand support for those experiencing homelessness
Change the law, or change how it's implemented
I supported the intent of the anti-camping ordinance passed by the City Council and believe it is unacceptable for homeless encampments to exist near schools and child care centers. What I have a problem with is its district by district, encampment by encampment approach. We need coordinated, citywide leadership to solve this problem, and we need to ensure that housing and services are available for homeless individuals because what I will never accept is simply moving an encampment from one neighborhood to another. That’s not a solution – it’s just passing the buck.
I believe the primary cause of most homelessness in Los Angeles is…
A history of racial inequity in housing and wealth
It’s not that simple. It's a complex problem that includes issues like housing costs, addiction and mental illness, racial and social inequity, and a crumbling social safety net
This is a complex, multi-faceted problem that requires a multi-pronged, whole of government solution... Nearly 60% of individuals who enter homelessness for the first time cite economic hardship as the primary factor for losing their home. Nearly 50% of unsheltered individuals are either suffering from severe mental illness or substance abuse. 60% of the homeless population are formerly incarcerated individuals who confront barriers to housing and employment because of their backgrounds... Our communities of color are also disproportionately homeless... [And] 1 in 4 homeless youth in LA are former foster youth and 1 in 5 homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.
Do you agree with Angelenos who say that the large number of people living outside makes the streets less safe?
Yes, the homelessness crisis makes everyone less safe
Yes, but most significantly for the people living on the streets
Homelessness is unquestionably a threat to public safety – it’s unsafe for the housed and the unhoused. The fact of the matter is this: if the tens of thousands of people living in tent encampments lived in houses or apartments instead, all of Los Angeles would feel safer.
Who should build housing for the unhoused community: the city or private developers?
The city. The public/private partnership has resulted in our tax dollars being transferred to the private sector
Both. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach with support from public and private partners
We need to focus on temporary stabilization, not permanent housing
Both, because this problem requires an all-of-the-above approach, and that starts with ensuring the city makes it easier for developers to build… I will consolidate all planning, and building and safety functions in a single unit with only one job: fast-track all affordable housing through the development process.
I believe the biggest barrier to building more affordable housing is…
Red tape, funding challenges or bureaucratic hurdles
NIMBYism ("Not In My Back Yard")
Restrictive zoning, and having no requirement that new developments include affordable units
The growing number of private equity firms involved in the process has made securing financing for developers more difficult
As Mayor, I will cut through red tape, expedite approvals, waive development fees and work with the community to build more permanent and affordable housing.
Should the Los Angeles Police Department remain at its current size of 9,500 sworn officers, should it be downsized, or should it increase?
Increase to full authorized force (around 9,700)
Increase to 10,000 or more
Keep the same
The LAPD is down hundreds of officers from its authorized force of 9,700. As Mayor, I will return the LAPD to its full authorized force, and provide funding to the Personnel Department to aggressively recruit new officers who are invested in reform and accountability.
The current LAPD budget of $1.76 billion represents almost 16% of the overall city budget. Should LAPD funding stay the same, increase or decrease?
Stay the same
I will immediately increase co-response and alternative response teams, like the new CIRCLE initiative, that include mental health, homeless outreach and other specialists who can respond to people in distress, freeing officers to focus on crime. That’s how we maintain the current spending.
Is it possible to reduce crime in the city without increasing the LAPD budget?
Los Angeles cannot arrest its way out of crime. It’s not law enforcement’s role to focus on the root causes of crime and violence – community organizations and trained experts can and should be given the resources to do just that. Prevention is better than cure.
Media investigations have found that LAPD officers have disproportionately stopped Black drivers, and were much more likely to search Black and Latino drivers. Do you believe racial profiling is a problem?
I have spent my adult life working on police reform, and will continue to do so if elected mayor – by focusing on how to safeguard our communities, preventing the conditions that lead to arrests, and rehabilitating people.
District Attorney George Gascón came to office on a progressive agenda that includes fewer prosecutions for low-level crimes. What statement best reflects your opinion of his agenda?
Broadly aligns with my beliefs
I disagree with some of his agenda
I think he should be recalled from office
While I don’t agree with all of the District Attorney’s policies, I do not support the recall – even though his approach has failed to consider some critical elements of public safety. I fundamentally believe that we can have safety and justice at the same time.
California is in a chronic drought. Which of the following strategies most closely reflects what you think should be done at the city level to improve individual water conservation?
No response / no position
Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles. Where do you see the biggest opportunity to lower those emissions?
Convert all city transportation to electric or hydrogen
Expand public transit
Help Angelenos live closer to their work to reduce transportation within the city
Make our streets safer for pedestrians, expand our electric vehicle network, and electrify our bus fleet
As Mayor, I will transform our streets to become safer and more walkable – and will champion mobility options so that walking, biking, and transit are accessible to all communities… And I’ll expand our EV network, and work to electrify our bus fleet.
Credits & Support
- Brianna Lee
- Caitlin Biljan
- Austin Cross
- Maloy Moore
- Kyle Stokes
- Frank Stoltze
- Camila Thur De Koos
- Karen Wang
- Ethan Ward
- Ross Brenneman
- Brian Frank
- Oscar Garza
- Megan Garvey
- Paul Glickman
- Tony Marcano
- Rebecca Nieto
- Ariel Zirulnick
- Melissa DeMund
- Diana Chu
- Will Welch (The City: NYC)
- Nathaniel Beaver
- Jerome Harris
- James Evers
- Dan Carino
- Arantza Peña Popo
- Jon Cohn
- Tony Federico
- Kristen Payne
- Rebecca Stumme
This coverage was made possible through support by the Committee for Greater LA in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the Weingart Foundation.
Special thanks to The City, which originally conceived and developed this project for voters in New York.