SF City Council to Study Creating a Local Minimum Wage Law

The City of San Fernando council will look into the feasibility of enacting its own minimum wage law within the city limits, starting in the fiscal year 2020.

There are currently three different minimum wage scales: the federal minimum wage is listed at $7.25 an hour, and the state minimum wage is $12 an hour (for employers with 26 or more employees) but is expected to rise to $15 an hour by 2022.

The city of Los Angeles’ current minimum wage requirement is $13.25 an hour (for employers with 26 or more employees), but is scheduled to increase to $14.25 an hour in July, and $15 an hour by July of 2020. Employers with 25 or fewer employees would pay $15 per hour by 2021.

During its March 4 meeting, the council listened to a presentation from Assistant City Attorney Richard Padilla, who told the council members “there doesn’t appear to be an obvious legal impediment to a general law city like San Fernando” to keep it from adopting a local minimum wage ordinance.

“There are a handful of general law cities like San Fernando that do have some variation of a minimum wage law, the closest one to us being the city of Malibu,” Padilla said.

The attorney warned the council it needed to consider “for a reasonable amount of time” how quickly it would want to phase in such an ordinance — though “it might be practical to have a minimum wage that was at least no less than LA’s minimum wage law since you are within that geographic area” — and what would be exemptions to the local law.

“The thinking is that small businesses may not have the financial wherewithal to pay the larger wage,” Padilla said. “However, on the flip side, some of these small businesses are the very type of businesses that employ people who could benefit most from the [higher] minimum wage law. These are people who are perhaps not making enough to have a living wage.”

He also advised the council to first connect with the local business community “before anything overly ambitious is put into place.”

A motion to form an ad hoc committee consisting of Vice Mayor Sylvia Ballin and Councilmember Hector Pacheco to study the matter further was passed unanimously by the council.

— Mike Terry