Los Angeles - Today, with her dedication to rendering the highest quality legal services and helping to make Los Angeles a city where justice prevails for all, City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto commemorates her first year in elected office. From building a public law agency for the 21st century to championing initiatives that improve quality of life for Los Angeles residents, Feldstein Soto’s first year saw notable accomplishments across key areas.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS ACROSS KEY AREAS
- PUBLIC SAFETY: As the chief prosecutor of criminal misdemeanors occurring within city limits, City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto is committed to protecting public safety. This work extends beyond the courtroom and into LA neighborhoods, relying on collaborations with law enforcement, local leaders, community organizations and the general public.
Her efforts to ensure public safety include:
- Addressing sex trafficking on South Figueroa Street: City Attorney Feldstein Soto, together with the LAPD, is helping to lead a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force aimed at combating human trafficking on South Figueroa Street. This work is aimed at assisting trafficking victims, shutting down the hotbeds of illegal activity, arresting the predators, and disrupting the johns without further victimizing sex workers or trafficked individuals. The City Attorney is proud to be partnering with Mayor Karen Bass, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), particularly the 77th Street Station, as well as with the US Attorney’s Office under the leadership of United States Attorney Martin Estrada and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in carrying this work forward into 2024.
- Blocking ghost gun sales throughout CA: As a result of a civil action settled by the City Attorney’s Office, Nevada-based Polymer80 – the nation’s largest ghost gun manufacturer – is prohibited from selling ghost gun kits anywhere in California without registration or serial numbers and without background checks, as required by state law.
- Curbing copper wire theft: In partnership with Council colleagues, the LAPD and the Bureau of Street Lighting (BSL), City Attorney Feldstein Soto launched a new initiative to eliminate the market for copper wire, the theft of which results in darker, less safe neighborhoods and millions spent annually in repair costs. The City Attorney sent letters to nearly 700 recyclers throughout Los Angeles, warning them that they are required to comply with the State of California’s stringent laws regulating copper sales and that the Los Angeles Police Department is authorized to inspect their records.
- Enforcing the law against illegal business activities:
- “Party houses” negatively impact the quality of life in neighborhoods and threaten public safety, with clogged roads and restricted access for emergency response. City Attorney Feldstein Soto filed a lawsuit against The Nightfall Group which has a very large inventory of luxury homes for rent, alleging glaring violations of city ordinances meant to protect neighborhoods.
- Cannabis Storefront: In 2023, the City Attorney successfully shuttered a commercial cannabis storefront that had been operating illegally since 2018. This action taken by the City Attorney helps level the playing field for legitimate business owners who operate by the rules, and is one of several successful cases where the owners and lessees of several properties with illegal cannabis sales have been held accountable due to action taken by City Attorney Feldstein Soto.
- Securing Funding to Improve Safety in LA: Under the leadership of City Attorney Feldstein Soto, the Office secured a nearly $1 million Impaired Driving Prosecution Grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (“OTS”) to support the Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Unit (“DUID”) which aims to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.
- In addition to the efforts listed above, her Office has dedicated internal resources to combating hate crimes, retail theft, and other crimes that affect the lives of Angelinos across our city.
- HOMELESSNESS: With an unparalleled partnership between the city and the county to address homelessness, City Attorney Feldstein Soto joined Mayor Bass on her first day in office when the mayor declared a state of emergency. The City Attorney’s Office provided the legal framework and structure for this approach and for the Mayor’s Inside Safe program.
- Together with Mayor Karen Bass and with the judges of the Superior Court under the leadership of Presiding Judge Samantha Jessup and Assistant Presiding Judge Sergio Tapia, City Attorney Feldstein Soto established the first ever Community Outreach Court in Los Angeles as an extension of the Office’s Homeless Engagement and Response Team. The Community Outreach Court is held outdoors on the third Thursday of each month at The ReFresh Spot in Skid Row and, in its first 3 months, has helped over 90 unhoused individuals, with record clearance, warrants, and housing assistance.
- City Attorney Feldstein Soto successfully defended Measure ULA, the Los Angeles Program to Prevent Homelessness and Fund Affordable Housing, which was affirmed in LA Superior Court following a lawsuit seeking to invalidate it brought by property owners and anti-tax groups.
- The City Attorney’s Office successfully preserved the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which is critical to keeping Angelenos in their homes.
- The City Attorney filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the Grants Pass, Oregon case in an effort to obtain greater clarity and options on how cities can address the needs of those living in homeless encampments.
- As a result of the Office’s work on national settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors, the City Attorney’s Office has helped secure millions in funding for in-patient substance abuse treatment for Angelenos experiencing homelessness.
- Under the City Attorney’s leadership, the Office provided advice to Mayor Bass and her staff on various executive directives aiming to reduce and eliminate regulatory barriers to affordable housing.
- As the City’s COVID-19 renters protections were expiring, the Office drafted a series of permanent renters protections, including the just-cause eviction ordinance and two novel laws regarding economic displacement and requiring a threshold for nonpayment of rent for evictions. The Office defeated a motion for preliminary injunction in a lawsuit challenging the two new protections.
- The Office led the City's comprehensive efforts to petition the court to establish a receivership to oversee buildings owned by Skid Row Housing Trust and ward off a looming humanitarian crisis. This led to the preservation of more than 2,000 low-income rental units that were on the verge of being lost due to financial insolvency.
- ELIMINATING CORRUPTION: City Attorney Feldstein Soto has prioritized eliminating the avenues for corruption in city government. The Office is reviewing the overall manner in which the city conducts business, working with the Procurement Office, the Ethics Commission and other agencies to ensure the transparency and integrity that Los Angeles residents deserve.
- From day one, City Attorney Feldstein Soto insisted that the City follow its charter-mandated competitive bidding process, and eliminate the previously common practice of awarding no bid, sole source, favored-provider contracts.
- The City Attorney’s Office is drafting its own ordinances, is no longer accepting ordinances drafted by third parties and is requiring contract signatories to affirm in writing that they have no personal or pecuniary interest in the agreement.
- The City Attorney has worked closely with the City Office of Procurement to streamline the procurement and contracting process, including significantly reducing the length of the RFP template (from 25 pages to five pages), which will attract more vendors, remove unwieldy and boilerplate provisions, and allow companies to focus on the services being sought. The City Attorney is collaborating with the Chief Administrative Officer and the Office of Procurement to implement this new template city-wide.
- A PUBLIC LAW OFFICE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: Feldstein Soto has led a reorganization of her Office to ensure that it adheres to its mission and functions fairly, responsively, and transparently. Within the last 12 months, the City Attorney has:
- Created a new Real Estate Branch to centralize all real estate related legal work, including housing, building and safety, land use and development, and city-owned or occupied real property, focusing on consistency and streamlining the legal process for applicants, compliance with state law, enforcement of regulatory and affordability covenants, and dedicating resources to new areas, like permit violations, tenant protections, illegal protected tree removal, and oil drilling activities.
- Created a new Public Rights Branch to investigate and pursue unfair or fraudulent business practices, and to focus on consumer protection, environmental justice and nuisance abatement.
- Restructured the Criminal Branch to ensure prosecutorial independence, better handle regulatory matters, improve ethics, and enhance the number of lawyers available to try criminal cases in courtrooms across the County.
- DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION:
- Understanding the importance of having diverse communities and perspectives at the table, City Attorney Feldstein Soto has built a leadership team that looks like the City of Los Angeles.
- She created a permanent Equity and Inclusion Division within the Municipal Law Branch to work on DEI issues within the office and the City as a whole.
- WAGE THEFT:
- City Attorney Feldstein Soto, with Councilmembers Hugo Soto-Martínez and Tim McOsker, announced new legislation that would protect workers from wage theft, which costs Angelenos an estimated $1.4 billion each year.
- In 2023, the City Attorney’s Office investigated and brought actions against employers in the home health, restaurant, and hotel industries to stop common practices that result in wage theft.
- COMMUNITY RELATIONS AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT: Through outreach, communication, and public events, City Attorney Feldstein Soto has created unprecedented opportunities for Los Angeles residents to access key services and play an active role in matters impacting LA communities. To that end, she has:
- Created the new Community Law Corps (CLC) to engage with community members on quality of life concerns. Since the CLC’s launch in September, the CLC has received over 600 requests for assistance which the City Attorney’s team has responded to either directly or by forwarding or referring the complaint to the appropriate unit or entity.
- Enhanced the Neighborhood Justice Program, a neighborhood-focused restorative justice program addressing the root causes of criminal behavior, reducing recidivism, enhancing community relationships, and promoting public safety and quality of life. Since the City Attorney has taken office, this program has grown and been able to increase resolutions with a larger number of individuals agreeing to participate in the program and a correspondingly larger number who have successfully completed the program.
- Bolstered the office’s Dispute Resolution Program, which is a free, confidential and voluntary program that is a successful alternative to the traditional justice system. Since City Attorney Feldstein Soto assumed office, the Office has resolved 143 matters through mediation for individuals and businesses involved in a variety of disputes, and have trained nearly 120 mediators.
- Ensured that diverse communities across the city of Los Angeles receive information about programs and services that impact their lives and communities. Under the City Attorney’s leadership, the Office has distributed over 35,000 brochures in 6 different languages and nearly 40,000 handouts with information on Good Neighbor Laws, Community Law Corps, Domestic Violence, the Neighborhood Justice Program, and Dispute Resolution.
- Maintained a robust Internship Program, with 125 interns from high school, to college to graduate schools, who are working with and learning from legal experts; and
- Enhanced the following Service-Oriented Programs:
- Victims Assistance Program (VAP): Throughout the current year, the VAP, with the support of LAPD, has provided support to 11,085 individuals who have fallen victim to crimes in the City of Los Angeles. The assistance encompasses various services such as emergency aid, resource and referral information, crisis intervention, court support, and an array of additional services
- Children’s Exposed to Violence (CEV) Program: The first of its kind in the nation, the CEV program is a trauma-informed unit that supports children from the time a violent crime is committed and is dedicated to reducing the impacts violence causes on children directly or indirectly.
As Los Angeles City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto reflects on her accomplishments during her first year in office, she looks forward to continuing to lead her dynamic team, innovate, and partner with other leaders and agencies to improve the quality of life for everyone who works or lives in and those who visit the City of Los Angeles.
The City Attorney and her Office wish a very happy holiday season to all - whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Día de Reyes, Kwanzaa, New Year’s or nothing at all - from our office to yours, we wish you the peace, hope, goodwill, and joy of this season.