Councilman: Audit City's Occupy Costs

One councilmember wants a look into how much the two-month occupation of City Hall cost taxpayers

Now that the Occupy L.A. encampment has been cleared from City Hall Park, councilman Mitchell Englander wants a full audit of what the city spent on the 60-day protest.

Englander was absent during a city council vote that endorsed Occupy L.A. 12-0 but told NBC LA he would have voted against the resolution had he been there.

"First amendment rights go so far," he said. "The idea of camping out and breaking the law and creating those types of conditions goes way beyond the first amendment."

Taxpayers have a right to know how much of their money was spent on city resources funneled into the site – including police, fire, parks and recreation, and sanitation services, he said.

Englander said the cost will likely be "well beyond" $1 million, comparing the nearly two-month encampment to one-day, taxpayer-subsidized events like the Laker’s parade which cost $1.3 million and Michael Jackson’s funeral which cost more than $3 million.

"Sixty days with all those resources, it went on too long," said Englander, who commended LAPD Chief Charlie Beck for the police action but said it could have been done sooner.

This audit request comes before Monday’s city budget review, which Englander described as bleak.

But by comparison to other formerly occupied cities, Los Angeles may have fared the best, according to Beck.

Beck said Los Angeles would have paid a price for the movement no matter what city officials did, but what mattered are the kind of costs incurred.

Upfront costs, which Beck said his department racked up, are more favorable to those of litigation costs many other cities will have to pay to settle lawsuits resulting from police brutality.

"Every city paid a price for this movement, and if you look at the numbers tallied up in other cities, they are going to be far greater than what Los Angeles paid," Beck said. "So, just to complain that we had to pay on this, I don’t think that’s valid."

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