A.M. Brief: L.A. May Convert Convention Center to Homeless Shelter

November 12, 2020 by Brian Champlin
LA Convention Center
Inside the LA Convention Center. Photo by Brian Champlin

For today’s brief: City Council looks at the Convention Center as a possible temporary shelter, new reporting underscores racial disparities in weed crime, and a hat tip to the late Alex Trebek for his generous donation to the city. Also, a longwinded diatribe about progressive politics in L.A. Here is your news.

Morning News Rundown

In a move that underscores the gravity of both the homelessness crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, several Los Angeles City Councilmembers have asked the city to study the feasibility of converting the L.A. Convention. Center into a shelter for the unhoused. [L.A. Times]


A new report from L.A. Taco details the racial disparity in cannabis-related offenses, according to data dating back to 2010. So far in 2020, Blacks and Latinos have accounted for more than three-quarters of all arrests for cannabis offenses while making up roughly 60% of the city’s population. [L.A. Taco]

This week’s sad news about the passing of Alex Trebek gives us a chance to not only reflect on his career but also his generosity. In 1998, the late game show host donated 62 acres of land west of Runyon Canyon to the City of L.A. The parkland and network of trails, called Trebek Open Space, are free and open to the public. [LA Mag]

A group of parents in the Burbank Unified School District want to ban five books, including Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. [L.A. Times]

A Progressive Moment in Los Angeles

If you follow local politics closely (and honestly, not enough people do), then you understand that last week’s election was historic. The passage of Measure J and the defeat of incumbents for District Attorney and the District 4 City Council seat marked an inflection point for progressive grassroots advocacy in city politics. Nithya Raman, who beat out David Ryu for the District 4 seat, is due some particular acclaim.

As LA Podcast co-host Hayes Davenport wrote yesterday, Raman’s status as a “totally unbought elected official” might be a first in Los Angeles history. And even if you don’t subscribe to that moniker, her win is still an undeniable middle finger to the status quo and to the oodles of developer money that flowed into Ryu’s campaign coffers over the past years.

If Raman is able to live up to even a whiff of the progressive promise of her candidacy, then I’m going to mark it as a success. Moreover, the way she ran her campaign –– through small donations, furiously active grassroots engagement, and appeals to younger voters –– should be a model for progressive candidacies across the county. More Stacey Abrams. Less DNC.

As LAist points out, Raman’s win was really years in the making, born of the enthusiasm of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 run, buoyed by a coalition of activist groups and causes, and primed by a host of progressive candidates who ran in local races over the past years. In short, it was not an overnight success, but a slow moving train. But now that the train has arrived, I’m curious to see how everything will play out. And, maybe for the first time in awhile, I’m pretty optimistic about the future here.

As an aside, I heartily endorse making LA Podcast part of your listening regimen. Maybe you’ll find local politics are far more interesting and vital than you previously believed. Worked for me!