LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti described Los Angeles as a progressive city that is tackling homelessness and climate change, is creating thousands of jobs, raising the minimum wage and reducing crime during his State of the City address April 17 at City Hall..
Throughout his speech Garcetti compared Los Angeles favorably to Washington, D.C., saying that this thriving city and its people are the model of U.S. citizens.
“I want to say to anyone who wants to understand who Americans are: Don’t look to D.C. — come to L.A.,” Garcetti said to a City Hall room filled with politicians, union leaders and community advocates. “As D.C. perfects the art of division and subtraction, we embody the power of politics of addition and multiplication.”
Garcetti talked about the economic strategy that has added 156,000 jobs to the market in the last five years. He credited the job growth to the city’s support of “key industries that will grow the jobs of the future” and its investment in infrastructure, including transit lines paid for by the L.A. County Traffic Improvement Plan.
Measure M, as it is known, was a quarter-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2016 that is expected to generate $120 billion to construct and expand the city’s public transportation system, repair freeways and create 777,000 jobs over the next 40 years.
Additionally, the city has helped create thousands of green jobs in the last five years, Garcetti said, which is “more than the number of coal jobs that America has lost over the same period.”
He also talked about the city’s expansion of the Community Safety Partnership, which aims to transform areas riddled with violence like South L.A.
And with gun violence on the forefront of national discussions, Garcetti spoke of city efforts to subdue it, including a law that requires gun owners to lock their weapons up.
“The conversation on gun violence seems to have stalled out in Washington, where our national leaders are acting like teenagers or toddlers,” Garcetti said. “Wait, that’s not fair to teenagers or toddlers, especially when teenagers are providing the leadership that our elected leaders aren’t showing right now.”
The mayor also talked about the health of L.A. residents, stating that 40 percent are considered overweight and 23 percent struggle with obesity.
“We shouldn’t be an unhealthy city when we host the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. … L.A. must be a model of health and fitness,” he said.
Girls Play L.A. is one way the city has invested in children’s health and growth, which increased girls’ participation in the city’s fitness and recreation programs.
And with the Olympics approaching, the city will receive $160 million over the next 10 years “to expand access to low-cost sports programming across Los Angeles,” Garcetti announced.
But Garcetti’s optimism about the state of the city and its future was met with a “People’s State of the City” immediately after his speech, in which community groups called on the mayor to clean up and fix their streets.
“The real state of the union — here, look at the pictures — the real state of the union is that neighborhoods like mine in Watts, in South L.A., still don’t have vital city services,” said Timothy McDaniel, a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.
“The people are ready and waiting for strong, consistent and transparent leadership,” McDaniel said. “And if our elected leaders aren’t ready for the challenge, with all due respect, get out of the way and let the people lead.”