The minimum wage and homelessness likely will continue to be among the major issues affecting Los Angeles in the year ahead.
While most of the action around minimum wage happened in 2015, the effects of the measure adopted by the city to raise the wage to $15 per hour by 2020 will start to be felt in the upcoming year.
Employers of 26 or more workers in the city of Los Angeles will be required to raise their minimum wage to $10.50 per hour from the $10 state minimum wage by July 1, becoming the first group that will need to make adjustments.
In unincorporated county areas, employers will follow a similar track for raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2020.
The city and county’s wage hikes is set to take place amid a larger conversation about raising the minimum wage throughout the state and the country.
At least two ballot measures calling for the statewide minimum wage to be increased to $15 per hour are being proposed for the November ballot, and a national push for raising the minimum wage is also underway.
City leaders in the upcoming year will likely be under pressure from various groups to enforce the higher wages, with some worry that employers will try to skirt the new law.
Meanwhile, leaders in the business community have expressed concern about the negative effects of raising the minimum wage and are expected to watch closely as city leaders entertain the idea of phasing out the city’s gross receipts tax and other business friendly measures. Any move to change the tax or eliminate it would not be taken lightly, as it would affect a significant source of revenue for the city.
After making promises in 2015 to tackle the growing issue of homelessness in Los Angeles, city and county leaders are being expected to deliver on a “battle plan” to help house those who are forced to live on the streets or in temporary shelters.
A policy adviser on homelessness issues in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office recently said city and county officials are hoping to release a joint plan in February.
Garcetti and some members of the City Council this summer also announced a commitment to spend $100 million from city coffers to assist the homeless, but the details of where the money would come from and what it would be used for have yet to be worked out.
The end of upcoming year is also Garcetti’s target for equipping all Los Angeles Police Department patrol officers with body cameras to record interactions with the public, as a way to build trust for law enforcement, as well as to deter misconduct by officers.
A $57.6 million spending plan that includes the purchase of 6,140 camera and 4,400 stun guns from Taser over five years was approved by the Police Commission, but still needs City Council approval.
The contract was ready to be voted on by the council in December, but some members said they were surprised by added costs for about 122 employees — mostly sworn — who would be hired to operate the body camera program.
Council President Herb Wesson delayed a scheduled vote on the deal to allow members time to study the contract, which is expected to return to council in early 2016.
Department of Water and Power officials will be pressing forward in the coming year with recommended rate increases water and power service, which they say are needed to upgrade an aging water pipeline system and to meet energy conservation goals.
The agency’s board backed the proposed water rate increases, which would average about 4.76 percent, or $3 per month, each year, for the next five years for the typical, single-family household. The water rate hikes will now go to the City Council for a vote.
DWP board has not yet voted on the proposed power rates.
Free, citywide wireless internet service, or at least more talk of it, also will likely surface in the upcoming year.
The deadline has closed for communication companies, internet service providers and others to submit proposals detailing how they would go about working with the city to provide free citywide Wi-Fi service under a program dubbed CityLinkLA.
AT&T is among the companies that submitted proposals. City officials are still reviewing the CityLinkLA plans and have not provided a deadline for when selections will be made.