March 02, 2017
By Brandon I. Brooks Managing Editor
and Kimberlee Buck Contributing Writer
As we approach the March 7th elections, the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper sat down with one of the leading voices for both Black Los Angeles and Los Angeles Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson to discuss the legalization of marijuana, Proposition HHH, Measure H, Measure S, and his plans to tackle the issue of homelessness throughout his administration.
“We are whole-heartedly in favor of Measure H, you might remember, I authored Proposition HHH on the Los Angeles City ballot where we got 76 percent of the vote to build housing for homeless people,” said Harris-Dawson. “Homelessness is such a rough issue that Angelenos and people around the area, are willing to reach into their pockets and pay a little bit extra to see if we can take care of the problem. Measure H is an addendum or the other leg on the stool of Measure HHH, it will provide services especially in Los Angeles at permanent supportive housing sites for people who need mental health services or social work services or other kinds of services if they are disabled or if they need medical services, we can get those on site where the housing is built.”
“In addition, there will be some resources for smaller cities that maybe can’t do a Proposition HHH to be able to build housing,” said Harris-Dawson. “All of the homeless people that are in Compton don’t have to go to Inglewood, or to Gardena or to Los Angeles. The city of Compton will actually be able to work together with the County and be able to build housing there, and in Inglewood, Cerritos and wherever else. So we need to make sure everyone gets out and casts their vote for Measure H.”
Recently, Councilmember Harris-Dawson and other South Los Angeles community leaders gathered on the site of 150 units of affordable senior housing along the Metro-Crenshaw line taking their stand against Measure S.
“Measure S is very much connected to homelessness, said Harris-Dawson.” “I think this is one of the things we are doing to make the homelessness problem far worse in Los Angeles. What Measure S does is put a cap on virtually all developments that you might see in the city of Los Angeles for the foreseeable future. For instance, we just passed Proposition HHH, most of the sites we would build on, Measure S would knock out. We would lose almost 800 units for homeless people this is not to mention in my community, grocery stores, coffee shops, good places for young people to go, all the things we need in a community. The activity in those would be put on lock, all because a few people in Hollywood or other parts of the city have taken the position that they got their piece of the pie so they don’t want anybody else to get anything because they might have to share the roads, or they might have to share the air space or they might have to share the scenic views. We think Measure S stands for selfish.”
Harris-Dawson compares Measure S to hitting a fly on the table with a sledgehammer.
“Two things are going to happen. One, I am definitely going to destroy the table and two I am not likely to hit the fly,” said Harris-Dawson. “I think Measure S is not likely to solve the problems that people want. Measure S is not going to make traffic go away and Measure S isn’t going to make it so there won’t be developments that you don’t like in your neighborhoods.”
According to Councilmember Harris-Dawson, Measure S will destroy the relationship or system that has been built for years, where planners make decisions and neighborhood make decisions about how they want their neighborhood to look going forward.
Currently America has been under the Trump Administration for more than 40 days and although the November presidential election is over, Councilmember Harris-Dawson encourages voters that there is no reason to hold back in their fight.
“Many people have said over the years, well if I was back in the civil rights movement or if I was back in slavery or if I was back in this era, I would have done x, I would have y. Well now we get to see what you would have done because it is here,” said Harris-Dawson. “I think Donald Trump represents what America looks like on drugs essentially completely incompetent, extremist, arrogant and dictatorial, doing everything he can to set up a dictatorship here in the United States is something I frankly don’t think the American people will tolerate, and doing it in both unethical and what appears to be unlawful way. In Los Angeles, we set up an office of immigrant affairs, we kind of said to the Trump Administration don’t come for us or our neighbors whether they have papers or not, we don’t need you, we don’t get down like that and we are going to do everything we can to prevent you from doing that.”
Councilmember Harris-Dawson goes on to say he will continue to fight and he encourages everyday people to fight as well.
During the November 2016 election, marijuana was legalized, this year, the topic will be revisited on the March 7th ballot giving the city the tools to regulate the legalized drug.
“The people who benefit from the legalization of marijuana ought to look at least something like the people who paid the price when it wasn’t legal,” said Harris-Dawson. “Our people have experience in it, we paid the price for it, we know the market for it, you can’t argue that anyone is more qualified.”
“In Los Angeles, we are trying to create an opportunity to do two things, said Harris-Dawson. “One to make sure that we have a regulatory system that makes sense so that we can’t have one part of the city that has all of these businesses and other parts of the city that don’t. We want to make sure that they are spread out, managed well with great opening and closing times, good security. We also want to pay attention to the county because the county will be responsible for the public health risks. So the labeling has to be right and the marketing has to be right.”
Safety is a big issue in South L.A. To help manage the issues, the city encourages residents to get to know their neighbors, participate in community coalition programs, gang intervention programs to help keep the streets of L.A. safe.
“The more everyday people are doing everyday things, the less violence and criminal activity you have,” said Harris-Dawson.
Moving forward, residents under district 8 can expect Councilmember Harris-Dawson to focus on the Crenshaw line, tackling unemployment and safety.
“The Crenshaw line is going to reshape our community for generations to come and a year after all of us are long gone,” said Harris-Dawson. “There is no job generator like we will do in the public sector, I want to make sure our people are at the front of the line for the jobs that we know are coming. We also want to continue holding a high standard around public safety. We cannot live with this situation, ‘well we only had a few murders.’ We have to continue to press around gun violence, smart policing, and smart community involvement.”