The LA City scandal has caused deep wounds across communities and exposed inequities in how city government operates. While the political and civic leaders involved in the scandal must be held accountable, intercommunity healing and a more equitable future will require more than just resignations. A new vision of city governance is needed, and that vision needs to be rooted in and shaped by the perspectives of BIPOC and low-income Angelenos. In collaboration with residents, OUR LA will work to realize this vision and advance a community-based reform agenda.
OUR LA is a multiracial, multi-generational, multi-issue, and intersectional coalition of community-based organizations and racial justice advocates committed to community voice, multiracial solidarity, power-building, racial equity, structural reform, and transparency.
OUR LA includes the following steering committee members:
OUR LA's goal is to engage community residents and educate policymakers and the public about the structural reforms needed to realize a more racially equitable Los Angeles.
What is OUR LA?
What Is Structural Reform & Why Does It Matter?
While fighting for changes that address specific issues, such as homelessness, housing, transportation, city services, etc., are urgent and important, tackling each on its own is not enough. We need to change the rules of the game – the very structures, systems, and processes – within our city government that bring about, perpetuate, and exacerbate racial and economic disparities, corruption, and underrepresentation of low-income and BIPOC communities. To achieve this goal, a multi-racial, structural reform agenda for city government must be rooted in communities most impacted by these racist systems and processes found within city government.
2023 Objectives and Activities
- Identify reform priorities through community convenings & disseminating community surveys across the city.
- Develop a community reform agenda based on the feedback gathered at convenings and surveys.
- Engage in the city’s reform proposal process.
- Prepare for a possible 2024 ballot campaign.
The “Representation in LA City Survey (March 2023)” survey asked Angelenos their attitudes on how well the LA City Council currently represents them and their opinions on two potential reform measures in Los Angeles—an Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) and expanding the number of city council members. Additionally, the survey asked for their opinions on what LA City Council could change to represent their identities, interests, and needs more effectively. Learn what Angelenos had to say in our survey report.
2023 Community Convenings
OUR LA organized two rounds of community convenings in the spring and summer across the City of LA to engage and gather feedback from BIPOC and low-income Angelenos on the formation of an LA City and LAUSD independent redistricting commission (IRC) and LA City Council expansion, bringing together a total of over 600 residents.
In March, one online convening and four in-person convenings were held in Central LA, the Eastside, San Fernando Valley, and South LA bringing over 244 residents together to provide guidance on what to prioritize and include in OUR LA’s draft recommendations. Participants provided feedback on barriers to participation and measures to ensure we create IRCs that are representative of LA's diversity and that implement a redistricting process that is inclusive and equitable. Additionally, participants provided their feedback on the pros and cons in keeping the current size of the city council versus expanding it's size by either adding more single-member districts and/or multi-member districts. Feedback gathered at the spring convenings provided the direction for OUR LA’s draft recommendations. Below are some of the key themes that came out from the spring convenings.
- Design an independent redistricting commission and process that centers communities most disenfranchised and disempowered to participate in our democracy to ensure we get the right people on the commission that reflect LA’s richness in diversity AND the right process for meaningful community engagement.
- Create an independent redistricting commission recruitment process that clearly and loudly says to all Angelenos – YOU BELONG on the commission – no matter the language you speak, your immigration or citizenship status, your education, criminal record, or income level.
- Innovate how to educate and engage the community about applying to the IRC and participating in the line drawing process that is effective and empowering for all Angelenos.
- Partner with and resource a robust infrastructure of trusted messengers in the community to magnify outreach and community engagement throughout the redistricting process.
- Council expansion
- Overwhelming support to expand the city council. Keeping the status quo is unacceptable.
- Expansion by single-member districts or multi-member districts have both pros and cons that need further exploration to determine which will enable greater level and depth of representation. Significant interest in pursuing multi-member districts was found.
- Council expansion alone is not the answer. Other reforms are needed to address corruption and enable greater opportunity for more robust and diverse representation on the city council.
From August 10 through September 9, OUR LA held an online convening and seven in-person convenings across the city bringing a total of 300+ residents to review and provide feedback to our draft recommendations and strategic questions, as well as elevate ideas for additional reform opportunities. Convenings included:
- Two in Central LA
- Two in the Eastside
- Two in South LA
- One in San Fernando Valley
At these convenings, participants elevated critical feedback to refine our draft recommendations to better align with community priorities and vision. Below are some of the key themes that were elevated across convenings:
- Strong support to increase city council by 23 to 31 council members and to ensure the process is done in a manner that centers impacted communities and minimizes harm to any one community.
- Overwhelming support to implement city council expansion immediately, no later than 2026.
- Ensure qualified and community values-driven applicants are selected to the commission without putting low-income, BIPOC, and immigrant communities at a disadvantage compared to others by education, profession, language, etc.
- Overwhelming support for leadership & peer engagement roles with formal voting power for youth commissioners on the LAUSD IRC.
- Sufficient compensation and resources must be provided to commissioners to eliminate barriers and to set them up for success.
- Geographic diversity is critical for the selection of commissioners using a geographical unit that generates the most equitable representation of Angelenos across the City/LAUSD.
- Capacity-building and in-depth training is fundamental for all commissioners, including the parents/caregivers of youth commissioners to understand their role, responsibilities, functions, legal requirements, processes, and impacts.
- Fully resourced community-led outreach efforts are essential to support volunteers, to organize community events/workshops, door knocking, and engaging and educating communities, especially hard to reach communities.
Summer Convening Recap Images
View photos from our in-person convenings across LA County
In-Person Spring Convenings
OUR LA integrated a racial and economic equity lens in the development of policy recommendations for LA City Council expansion and LA City and LAUSD independent redistricting commissions (IRC) by centering the experiences, needs, and priorities of low-income BIPOC Angelenos. Two policy workgroups were established, one focused on city council expansion recommendations, and the second focused on IRC recommendations. Both workgroups developed initial draft recommendations based on resident feedback gathered in March 2023 through:
- 1,760 community surveys
- Spring convenings
The workgroup analyzed the findings and themes from the survey and the convenings, conducted additional research, and integrated OUR LA’s values and goals into the drafting of initial policy recommendations. These were presented to community residents during the summer convenings.
Based on participant feedback from the summer convenings, the IRC workgroup refined our recommendations for the LA City/LAUSD IRCs to reflect key themes and priorities elevated across these convenings. Below is Part I of the finalized IRC recommendations, showcasing new recommendations and updates to the initial recommendations. Part II, forthcoming, will elevate new and updated recommendations specific to the LAUSD IRC.
Stay tuned for our finalized recommendations regarding LA City Council expansion!