What's Missing From the Mayor's Agenda?


What’s Missing From the Mayor’s Agenda?

On April 10, Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered his first State of the City address at the California Science Center, which focused on defining his “back to basics” agenda in Los Angeles. This is a talking point he’s used since before taking office last year—a phrase that suggests a strong interest in promoting local economic justice and restoring public services, but hasn’t really explained how he intends to bring about some of the large-scale changes the city needs most right now. While the mayor presented a long list of initiatives his administration plans to take on during this term, in his budget proposal published on April 14, he left out some of the specifics that would have helped garner more excitement from social justice groups and other activists who aim to work with him and his office in the upcoming years.

The cornerstone of Mayor Garcetti’s proposal is four-fold: He plans to create a well-run government, economic prosperity, better quality of life, and increase public safety. It’s hard to argue with these goals, as well as other improvements he promised at the State of the City such as “livable neighborhoods,” and “empowering the workforce.” But what’s missing is the blueprint that would help the city reach those goals, such as a plan for increased public revenue, affordable housing, developing career pathways for more Los Angeles residents, and programs that would assist families such as after school care, and expanded bus routes. Garcetti also omitted key issues such as homelessness, and instead described new development plans that would infringe on existing low-income housing—a model of gentrification that has, and would again, undermine the efforts of homeless residents of LA who have worked hard to defend their civil rights and create safe housing for those most in need.

More generally, these kinds of omissions could convince us that our government is not prioritizing the needs of the average working Angeleno.

Furthermore, Garcetti proposed scaling back the city’s business tax over the next three years without a clear plan to recoup these funds, let alone raise the additional funds needed to develop new train lines, retrofit buildings to ensure earthquake safety and rebuild our economy. And while it sends the message he intends—one we’re not categorically opposed to—that new businesses are welcome here, he also sends a less desirable one as well: that the opportunity doesn’t require investing in the people who live here. This is a message we don’t want the City to lead by example.

“New business owners shouldn’t need a lobbyist” in order to set up shop here, Garcetti said at the State of the City. This may be true, but they should be required to create good jobs, hire from within our communities, and provide training programs that help balance out the hiring process. These are essential pieces to improving the economic prosperity and quality of life for all Los Angeles residents––and we all have a stake and a fair share in developing the desired outcome.