From atop Griffith Park, Mayor Eric Garcetti outlined the major points of his proposed budget in his annual State of the City address. Don’t worry, we’re not about to dive into balance sheets—but we will outline how, if passed by the L.A. City Council, Garcetti thinks the city could tackle issues like climate change and inequality.
For starters, Garcetti’s first priority was kind of an obvious one: ending the pandemic, and providing more vaccines, testing and PPE. But beyond that big one, here’s a rundown of what else he proposed.
A test of guaranteed basic income.
“When you give money to people who are poor, it creates better outcomes,” Garcetti said. So he’s proposing that L.A. participate in a guaranteed basic income pilot that would provide $1,000 to 2,000 households for a full year, with no strings attached. “We’re betting that one small but steady investment for Angeleno households will pay large dividends for health and stability across our city and light a fire across our nation,” he said.
A mostly carbon-free power grid, and soon.
Garcetti said that DWP has moved up its clean energy commitments by six years and will power the city using sources that are 80% renewable and 97% carbon-free by 2030. In addition, he called for a ban on styrofoam and single-use food ware, an increase in recycled water, a program to transition trucks at the ports toward zero-emissions vehicles, plus a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling.
After the number-one-priority pandemic, Garcetti considered this the biggest objective in his speech, with more than a billion dollars allocated to beautifying streets, arts grants, youth employment, domestic violence intervention and financial counseling, among other things. He also announced Reforms for Equity and Public Acknowledgement of Institutional Racism, or L.A. REPAIR, a wide-reaching but remarkably vague initiative that at least has the appearance of giving grassroots organizations a seat at the table.
But on the policing front, Garcetti wouldn’t go as far as some of his progressive detractors would like him to. “If you want to abolish the police, you’re talking to the wrong mayor,” he said. However, he did announce a strategy that he’s dubbed TURN: Therapeutic Unarmed Response for Neighborhoods; the plan would send clinicians to non-violent emergencies instead of cops, and his budget also provides funds for responses to non-violent crises among people experiencing homelessness and for youth gang intervention.
Garcetti also announced a year-round youth service outfit dubbed the Angeleno Corps, which will pay 400 students to dedicate their time to community organizations and services. In addition, the Clean L.A. Jobs plan will pay both young people and unhoused residents to help clean up the city in the hopes of finding a path to a full-time gig. And for those Dreamers who work in Covid recovery, Garcetti says the city will pay their DACA fees.
A billion dollars to end homelessness.
In 2015, the city declared a state of emergency on homelessness and committed $100 million to shelters and rental subsidies. But Garcetti’s latest proposal dwarfs that: Nearly $1 billion, including a focus on new housing as well as a call on the federal government to declare housing a right.
Alfresco all the time.
To help restaurants bounce back, Garcetti is asking the council to pass an ordinance that would cut the time it takes for a restaurant to secure an alcohol permit by 90%, and to reduce that cost by 70%. He’s also asking to defer $8,000 of expiring fees for three years and to suspend valet and off-site parking requirements. In their place: more alfresco dining, with $2 million in grants for restaurants in low-income neighborhoods to install parklets for dining.
Memorializing L.A.’s most painful moments.
The mayor made two major proposals regarding some of the most damaging times in L.A.’s history: Covid-19 memorials (“to maintain those that are permanent and to archive those that are temporary”) as well as one to recognize the victims of the Chinese massacre of 1871, in which a mob lynched 19 Angelenos of Chinese origin across from what’s now Union Station.
A baby step toward municipal broadband.
It’s not quite a Spectrum competitor, but the city will place Wi-Fi access points in 300 underserved neighborhoods to provide dependable (fingers crossed) internet access. “Consider that a down payment on true municipal broadband in Los Angeles,” Garcetti said, though there were no concrete plans mentioned for a larger city-run service.
Small business support.
The L.A. Optimized plan would help a thousand small businesses spruce up their online presence, and it’ll send $5,000 each to 5,000 businesses. Garcetti even gave a nod to street vendors, with $1.3 million set aside to clear bureaucratic hurdles and purchase modernized carts.
More housing assistance.
The city has already spent over $400 million on rent assistance—most recently with a still-open application to cover 80% of past-due rent—and Garcetti expects to spend another $300 million over the summer to send aid to even more Angelenos.
Free Metro rides.
Garcetti, who chairs the Metro board, offered a few more details about the transit agency’s push for free service: Starting this fall, students will ride for free, and by next January that’ll extend to low-income residents, as well. In addition, the pandemic cuts to bus service will be restored in September, a year ahead of schedule.
A pair of new LAX terminals.
According to Garcetti’s math, we can add two more terminals to LAX (Concourse 0 and Terminal 9) to boost travel without making local traffic worse thanks to the under-construction people mover. Here’s hoping that math checks out.