A man stands on the bench and shouts slogans during the Los Angeles City Council meeting on Dec. 13. A small group of protesters chanted throughout the meeting, calling for the resignation of Councilmember Kevin de León. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Rafu Staff Report

Amid chaos stoked by angry protestors during Tuesday’s Los Angeles City Council meeting, Councilmember Kevin de León’s motion to fund a study in Little Tokyo passed 8-3.

The vote, which allows the Little Tokyo Business Improvement District (BID) to take initial steps toward establishing a property-based community benefit district, surprised those who believed that a motion bearing de León’s name was doomed.

Currently, Little Tokyo’s safety ambassador and street cleanup programs are conducted under a process that assesses merchants. Over the past two years, however, economic pressures due to the pandemic and other factors forced the Little Tokyo BID to curtail services when as many as 25 percent of the stakeholders did not or could not pay their assessments.

De León’s motion, seconded by Councilmember Joe Buscaino, allows the Little Tokyo BID to transition to a property-based BID. The action allows $20,000 from the BID Trust Fund and $20,000 from the AB1290 Fund to be used for professional consultant services. An additional $20,000 will be provided through the LTBA Foundation. The Little Tokyo BID is managed by the Little Tokyo Business Association.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de León arrives in the chamber during the Los Angeles City Council meeting on Dec. 13. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Councilmembers Eunisses Hernandez and Hugo Soto-Martinez, newly elected to the council, voted against the motion. Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson also voted no.

The councilmembers unanimously approved, 13-0, a homelessness emergency resolution proposed by newly installed Mayor Karen Bass, giving the new mayor a potentially critical tool for addressing the city’s humanitarian crisis.

Midway through the session, de León entered the Council Chambers, causing the shouts from protestors to escalate. Council President Paul Krekorian called for a recess as shouting persisted, demanding de León’s resignation and arrest.

Opposition to the Council District 14 representative stems from an audiotape leaked Oct. 9 revealing racist remarks by former Councilmember Nury Martinez. Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and de León also participated in the meeting. Martinez resigned and Cedillo’s term has ended.

Tensions intensified over the weekend after de León tussled with a protestor during a holiday event.

As the mayor and the City Council do not have the power to fire a member of the council, de León’s opponents have launched a recall campaign.

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