Endorsement: Hugo Soto-Martínez for Los Angeles City Council District 13

A man holding a bullhorn
City Council candidate Hugo Soto-Martinez at a campaign event on Feb. 12.
(Eric Kelly)

For nine years, Mitch O’Farrell has represented Los Angeles City Council District 13, where issues include a large homeless population living on the streets, a lack of affordable housing and gentrification bringing rising rents and growing pressure on small businesses. The district, which was slightly redrawn last year, includes Hollywood, Windsor Square, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Historic Filipinotown, Glassell Park and Atwater Village.

It’s time for someone with a fresh perspective and a stronger sense of urgency to tackle the problems of this district. We recommend Hugo Soto-Martínez for this council seat.

The son of street vendors who was born and raised in South L.A., Soto-Martínez is a leader with Unite Here Local 11, which represents workers in hotels, restaurants and sports arenas, among other places in Southern California and Arizona. He first saw the effect of collective power while he was working at a nonunion hotel downtown, a job he started at age 16 and continued while studying criminology and political science at UC Irvine.

He has spent his career working for people who don’t have a voice in City Hall except through their union leadership. He helped pass citywide policies including raising the minimum wage for hotel employees and workers citywide. He organized workers and helped with their grievances — even when that sometimes meant telling them they didn’t have a strong case — and negotiated contracts with management. At the Greek Theatre he organized bartenders, servers, cooks and dishwashers and other workers into the union and helped them negotiate a contract. These experiences honed his skills at forming coalitions and wading into tense situations to find common ground.


The L.A. Times’ editorial board endorsements for statewide ballot measures, elected offices in Los Angeles city and county, L.A. Unified School District board, L.A. county superior court, statewide offices, the state Legislature and U.S. House and Senate seats.

Sept. 8, 2022

There is no question he is a progressive. He was an elected leader of the L.A. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, although he stepped down to run for the council seat. He also served on the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council for a couple of years, though he lives in East Hollywood now and has organized in the district for his entire career.

He — rightly — sees that homelessness is a result of a lack of affordable housing and supports offering permanent housing for homeless people while providing services including mental health care and drug addiction treatment when necessary. He also supports converting motels and hotels into both interim and permanent housing. And he believes in robust street outreach to encampments and plans to talk to homeless people about what is working for them and what is not. He does not support the city’s anti-camping ordinance and won’t enforce it in his district if elected.

He says he will push for a higher percentage of affordable housing from developers than O’Farrell has and will work to preserve existing affordable housing as well.

Soto-Martínez has in the past indicated that he is a police abolitionist, but has more recently said that he would not try to eliminate the police force. He has said he would vote not to hire new officers to replace those who leave the force and would use the money on other services. While we support using funds for alternative services and mental health emergency calls, we believe that hiring new officers may well be necessary.

We strongly endorse Katy Young Yaroslavsky to fill the open seat vacated by Councilman Paul Koretz.

Sept. 22, 2022

Soto-Martínez says he will reach out to all sectors of the district. We expect him to listen to business leaders’ and residents’ concerns about homelessness and about crime. He’s already met with some Hollywood business and community leaders and supports a plan in Hollywood to direct nonviolent calls to mental health workers. He says he will do everything in his power as a city councilman to help Hollywood 2.0, a state-funded Hollywood-based pilot program of the L.A. County Department of Mental Health and the community organization Hollywood 4WRD, which will offer community-based mental health treatment for homeless people along with some housing.

O’Farrell, to his credit, has brought in more than 4,000 units of affordable housing (including units for homeless people) as well as bridge shelters and other temporary housing for homeless people. But one of his biggest efforts at addressing homelessness was also his most controversial. Last year, he orchestrated the clearing of nearly 200 homeless people camped at Echo Park Lake, after outreach and temporary housing placements. When 24-hour closure notice signs were posted and a crew began building a fence around the park, protesters gathered, scores of police swarmed the site on two successive nights and protesters as well as a few reporters were detained. It was chaotic and dangerous, and it became the example of how not to remove homeless encampments.

We think Soto-Martínez can do better. He is part of a new generation of leaders dedicated to building a city that serves all Angelenos. We believe he can reach out to the renters and the poorest as well as property owners and the wealthiest — and bring everyone to the table. That is something he knows how to do.


Soto-Martínez will bring a new, smart voice to a City Council that desperately needs new voices.