L.A. Councilman Lee says he disagrees with city’s plan to require proof of vaccination

L.A. City Councilman John Lee
Councilmember John Lee said he opposes a city ordinance that would require vaccine proof to enter certain L.A. businesses.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

After the Los Angeles City council voted in favor of an ordinance that would require proof of coronavirus vaccination to enter certain businesses as the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to spread, one council member who missed the vote is voicing his opposition.

The City Council voted Wednesday 13 to 0 to direct city attorneys to draft the law, though the details would have to be worked out, including where it would apply and how the rules would be enforced. As part of their vote, council members directed city staff to gather feedback from businesses on what types of spaces should require vaccine proof.

Once it is drafted, it would go back to the council for final approval.

But councilmember John Lee, who represents Council District 12 — including the communities of Chatsworth, Northridge, Porter Ranch and Granada Hills — has said he would not support the ordinance.


Lee was absent from Wednesday’s vote because he was exposed to COVID-19 and was exhibiting symptoms, though he tested negative for the virus. Councilmember Joe Buscaino was also absent.

It’s unclear when the ordinance would be up for a second vote.

Lee said this week in a Facebook post that the proposal would be ineffective in influencing people to get vaccinated and difficult to enforce.

“This proposal is arbitrary and will not lead to increased vaccinations of our residents,” he said. “This proposal lacks uniformity and consistency and will negatively impact certain businesses and erode public trust in our ability to combat the pandemic.”

The city ordinance follows similar mandates in other major cities seeing a jump in COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, San Francisco’s mayor announced that businesses in “high-contact indoor sectors” such as bars, restaurants, theaters and gyms would require vaccination proof from patrons. New York City has announced a similar rule.

Vaccine mandates are continuing to ramp up. California has ordered that healthcare workers must be fully vaccinated by the fall. On Friday, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced all teachers and staff would have to be vaccinated by October 15.

Lee has said he agrees that vaccines are the most effective tool against the virus. “But before we try to implement a policy solution, we need to make sure we are understanding the problem correctly and implementing data-based solutions,” he said in his Facebook post.