Kevin de León represents the 14th City Council District (Boyle Heights, Northeast L.A., downtown). He served in the Assembly from 2006-2010 and the State Senate from 2010-2018 (elected President Pro Tem in 2014). He is a former labor organizer for the state and national teachers unions.
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 De León’s positions below. And you can read his 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 Should it be kept as is, repealed, or changed?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
It is not progressive, nor humane, to leave Angelenos to live and die on the streets of our city. That’s why I’ve moved quickly to create enough shelter to house 80% of the homeless in Northeast Los Angeles. The 41.18 Municipal Code only works as-is if there are adequate housing opportunities available, which is why I’ve introduced my 25x25 plan – unanimously supported by the L.A. City Council – to build 25,000 units of housing in the next 3 years.
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
The factors that led Angelenos to experience homelessness are as varied as the people themselves, though there are some leading causes. 1) A severe lack of housing stock, specifically affordable housing. 2) A crumbling social safety net, with housing voucher values in the basement and no real mental health or substance abuse services. 3) A city that works for the very wealthy, while leaving the poor to fend for themselves, often unable to pay rent as costs rise. Still others find themselves financially destitute and on the streets due to medical bills or personal trauma.
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 a humanitarian crisis, a public health crisis, and a public safety crisis all-in-one. Leaving tens of thousands of people to live outdoors on our streets and sidewalks is exceptionally dangerous – especially for our unhoused neighbors. In particular women, protected by nothing but a flimsy tent-zipper, are exposed to all manner of violence and sexual assault. Alternatively, we’ve seen janitors and other workers at Union Station attacked by unhoused individuals living with severe mental illnesses.
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
The City should be working with all builders to reach our goal of providing enough temporary and permanent housing opportunities to bring our unhoused neighbors indoors. This crisis demands an all-hands-on-deck approach; and with more people falling into homelessness every single day, we need to bring public and private partners together on projects that will bring us closer to our housing goals.
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
A lack of leadership with the courage and vision to mandate the inclusion of affordable units in new developments. Additionally, restrictive downzoning under prior city governments has reduced the available space to build affordable housing. As Mayor, I'll reverse both of these trends.
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
We can make sure our streets, sidewalks, and homes are secure by reaching the LAPD’s currently budgeted size of 9,706 officers. Los Angeles does not need to increase the size of its police force by tens of thousands of officers, as other candidates have proposed, costing taxpayers billions of dollars at a time families are already struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
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
Funding for the LAPD should stay the same.
Is it possible to reduce crime in the city without increasing the LAPD budget?
There is no direct correlation between lower crime and higher numbers of officers, as noted by a number of studies. What is more important is how we use our officers. Our LAPD Reserves, for example, are an underutilized resource. Rather than having them direct traffic at the Staples Center, I want to position them in hot spots around the City as an increased deterrent for crime.
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?
It's time we had a real conversation about culture change in the LAPD – which starts with training practices in the Academy. As Mayor, I’ll work with the LAPD Chief to make sure every officer is trained to treat all Angelenos with dignity and respect.
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 George Gascón and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, the recall process is a gross waste of taxpayer dollars, and should be reserved only for those accused of high crimes; not abused by the very wealthy to serve their own interests.
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?
Increase DWP rates
Encourage voluntary conservation, but be willing to enforce rationing
Individual water use is not the right intervention point
Promote conservation, but also secure our local water supply by modernizing our infrastructure, recycling water, capturing rain and stormwater, and using native or drought-tolerant plants
First, we must be willing to enforce rationing so that the pain of a drought is not all on the backs of our poorest residents. We also need to encourage voluntary conservation, and make it easier for Angelenos to conserve.
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
One of the first things we can do is to convert all city transportation — Metro buses, light rail, etc. — to electric. Though some city CNG (“Clean” Natural Gas) are touted as lower emissions, there is no truly “clean” natural gas. To eliminate tailpipe emissions, we need to completely electrify our transit system.
Credits & Support
- Brianna Lee
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- Paul Glickman
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- 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.