By Ray Richardson
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Karen Bass is ending her first year in office with several significant achievements and momentum to take on new challenges awaiting her in 2024.
Bass earned high praise from public officials and community leaders for following through on campaign commitments, specifically the homeless crisis and public safety issues.
According to year-end data released by the Mayor’s Office, more than 21,000 homeless residents were relocated off the streets to various housing facilities since she took office in December 2022. And more than 9,000 affordable housing units are under construction or have been completed since Bass was sworn in.
“She’s done an amazing job with her organization and leadership,” Inglewood Mayor James Butts said of Bass. “It’s not easy making the transition from being a legislator to an executive. She’s done it seamlessly.”
Bass shifted her political career after 13 years as a member of the House of Representatives, culminating her switch with a tense victory over Rick Caruso in the mayor’s race in November 2022.
The day after Bass was sworn in, she declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles to place immediate focus on the city’s alarming homeless problem, which was at the forefront of Bass’ campaign platform.
Rev. William Smart, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California, saw firsthand the impact of Bass’ efforts. For the past three years, Smart and other pastors served hot meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas to homeless people camped under a viaduct below the San Diego (405) Freeway near Venice Boulevard.
“Nobody was there this year,” Smart said. “We went on Thanksgiving and Christmas just to be sure. It was refreshing to see that. It shows that what Mayor Bass is doing is working. Her strategy is generating results. She’s doing a terrific job in curing systemic problems throughout the city.”
Bass has said on numerous occasions the work on the city’s homeless crisis is “far from over.” Though more than 9,000 affordable units are under construction, Bass indicated a critical need for more housing structures to be built.
“It’s terrible when we have to tell people they have to live in a tent until a building is available,” Bass said in an interview in early December with members of the Black media.
Public safety was another priority for Bass during her first year and will continue to be a major agenda item for her administration in 2024. She created the Mayor’s Office of Community Public Safety as part of a new approach to address crime in communities and on public transportation.
After announcing the development of the office in July, the Los Angeles Police Department reported receiving 1,048 applications in August for positions with the department. The number of applicants was the highest for a single month since September 2020.
Bass’ relationship with LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore could become one of her challenges in 2024. Bass supported Moore’s return for a second term, but a group of clergy and community leaders gathered on Dec. 22 to call for Moore’s resignation.
Moore is facing criticism after a report in the Los Angeles Times claimed Moore had ordered an investigation into Bass regarding her scholarship at USC. Moore denied the allegations, but the situation has put Bass in a tenable position between Moore and the African-American community.
In spite of ongoing tensions between Moore and the African-American community, Bass is moving forward with her plans in 2024 for the Office of Community Public Safety, which will report directly to her.
“There are no barriers for Bass,” Butts said. “She has the executive leadership capacity to do what needs to be done. She’s a quick learner.”
Bass also earned praise for her swift response to the threat of tropical storm Hilary in August and the fire that shut down the Santa Monica (10) Freeway for eight days in November near downtown Los Angeles.
No deaths or major injuries were reported because of the storm.
Resources were mobilized quickly enough to make repairs and reduce the closure time for the freeway. When the structural damage underneath the freeway was first assessed, there were fears the freeway would be closed for several weeks.
The nayor’s team also noted her accomplishments in the areas of business and economic development.
Earlier this month it was announced that Banc of California, the state’s leading business bank, would be relocating its headquarters here.
Thousands of businesses have opened over the past year in the city and Bass established a small business policy team and issued Executive Directive 4 to support small business creation, development and growth in Los Angeles by implementing practices like the provision of virtual and in-person counter services for businesses looking to open or expand.
“As promised by Mayor Bass, she continues to deeply support business and especially all of our local entrepreneurs in their attempt to solidify and improve their place in the Los Angeles’ business environment after the impact of the pandemic,” said Richard Ziman, co-founder and chairman of Rexford Industrial Realty.
The city also improved the way it delivered city services to residents during the mayor’s first year.
Under Bass, the city delivered 100,000 more services in 2023 than it did it 2022.
The city also added 2,500 new employees to address vacancies throughout the city’s work force.
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.