Endorsement: Reelect Nithya Raman to the Los Angeles City Council

Nithya Raman
L.A. Councilmember Nithya Raman announces at City Hall on Feb. 9, 2022, a plan requiring new residential and commercial construction to have zero-emissions by 2030.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Nithya Raman was a relative newcomer to Los Angeles city politics when she was elected to the City Council as a progressive in November 2020 — unseating a council incumbent for the first time in 17 years. But she came in with an ambitious plan to help homeless people, and those at risk of losing their homes, by offering more housing and services, protecting tenants from rising rents and eviction and transferring duties such as traffic enforcement and nonviolent mental health crises from police to unarmed responders.

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Raman, who holds a master’s degree in urban planning, accomplished much of that and more in her first term representing District 4, which sprawls from Reseda eastward across the San Fernando Valley to the Hollywood Hills, Silver Lake and Los Feliz. We strongly recommend voters give her a second term so she can continue this important work.

As a councilmember, she helped lead the passage of a landmark expansion of tenant protections last year that, among other things, prevent landlords from evicting tenants in any rental property except for specific reasons. She has been a consistent and outspoken advocate for government transparency and ethics reform, including pushing her colleagues to adopt independent redistricting and expand the City Council.


She also led the effort to close a stretch of Griffith Park Drive to vehicles to reduce speeding and cut-through traffic and make the park safer for people to walk, bike and ride horses.

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She has been resourceful at obtaining city and state funds as well as using her own council discretionary funds to help house hundreds of homeless people in her district. For example, her staff scoured the district until they found a hotel owner willing to participate in Project Roomkey — the pandemic-era project subsidized by the federal government that placed vulnerable homeless people in empty hotel rooms. After Roomkey ended (and residents got permanent housing), Raman advocated for turning the hotel into a long-term interim housing site which now has about 140 homeless residents.

Raman estimates her efforts alone — separate from city programs — have moved about 500 people into interim housing and mostly eliminated the encampments below freeway overpasses, along the L.A. River, and at Highland and Franklin avenues among other places. And she’s done it without using Municipal Code 41.18, the anti-camping ordinance that lets police shoo homeless people from one sidewalk to another.

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She has filled gaps in L.A. County’s delivery of mental health services by pushing for an expansion of city-financed street medicine teams and securing city funding to deploy in her district a multidisciplinary team that includes a mental health professional to treat homeless people. Raman also got the city to expand its unarmed crisis response teams to Sherman Oaks and Los Feliz to handle calls regarding homeless individuals or others in a mental health or physical crisis.

Of course, she has not eradicated homelessness in her district. No council member has done that. And that won’t happen until the city finds a way to produce more interim and permanent housing faster and across the entire city.

But she is making impressive strides in that direction. Raman supported efforts to streamline the permitting process for 100% affordable housing projects long before Bass unveiled a fast-tracking plan, Executive Directive 1, in late 2022. Currently Raman chairs the council’s Housing and Homelessness Committee.


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She is not afraid to make difficult decisions that are in the best interests of the city and her district even if some of her constituents disagree. Her support of a 200-unit building project on Ethel Avenue in Sherman Oaks is a case in point. The project was deemed eligible for fast-tracking before the mayor changed the rules of ED 1 to prohibit such development in single-family neighborhoods. When the city tried to stop this and other housing developments that had already been found eligible, Raman stepped in, invoking the wrath of some residents in the area. Raman says she is fine with the new ED1 rules. But she was right to stand up for a housing project that was legal at the time the developers applied. And state housing officials agreed.

“I’m not trying to destroy single-family zones,” said Raman. “But once we create land-use laws, we should follow them.“ She’s right; sticking to planning rules is essential to get more affordable housing built.

She has two opponents in this race. Ethan Weaver is a deputy city attorney who wants also to get homeless people off the streets and build more affordable housing. He has promised voters he will listen to them and get involved in their land-use issues. Raman is already doing that. The other candidate is Levon “Lev” Baronian, a member of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council and a software engineer.

Neither candidate has Raman’s insight into the issues facing the district and the city, or the experience addressing them. No one elected to this office will be in a position to please all constituents all of time. Raman has to make decisions that are in the best interests of the entire city, not just the loudest voices in her district. She has been smart and courageous, and voters should give her another term.