Garcetti delivers final State of the City address

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Days before he delivers his budget proposal for the next fiscal year to the City Council, Mayor Eric Garcetti used his final State of the City address April 14 to outline some of the programs and investments Angelenos can expect, including programs aimed at public safety and homelessness.

Speaking from the soon-to-be-complete Sixth Street Viaduct, the mayor said his budget proposal will include new and expanded programs aimed at making a cleaner and safer city, as well as housing people living on the street and helping people who are most impacted by climate change and pollution.

The new fiscal year begins July 1.

“My goal is to hand over a city budget next week that is stronger than ever, an infrastructure program unequaled in America, and a pathway to house our people and save our planet with the urgency that this moment demands,” the mayor said.

The city charter requires the mayor to submit his budget proposal to the council by April 20. The council will be able to make changes before sending its version back to the mayor by June 1. The budget for the current fiscal year, which includes federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, was more than $11 billion.

Exact details of the budget Garcetti will propose were not immediately available, but he spoke about some of the highlights during his speech, including the creation of a $21 million Climate Equity Fund focused on “mitigation and resilience efforts in the low-income neighborhoods that bear a disproportionate amount of environmental harm.”

The $21 million fund will be used to hire and train “underrepresented and displaced” workers to retrofit buildings to be more energy efficient, Garcetti said. It will also be used for air monitoring at oil drilling sites — which the city is in the process of phasing out — with the data made available to the public.

The fund also will be used to distribute air purifiers to people who live in the most polluted areas and provide new insulation and cool roofs for people who live in low-income neighborhoods with the highest heat indexes.

The proposal also will include funding for a new program to facilitate housing development in Los Angeles, he said. Modeled after a program for accessory dwelling units, the program will aim to expedite single-family zoned lots transitioning into four-unit properties, a shift now permitted under a new state law. The new Low-Rise Design Lab program will begin with a $500,000 budget within the Planning Department to create pre-approved “over-the-counter” designs by local architects and engineers.

The mayor said the program would help the city accomplish its state-mandated goal of building nearly 457,000 new units by 2029, a major increase from the last eight years, when the city built just 150,000 units.

To address the city’s homelessness crisis, Garcetti said his budget proposal will match this fiscal year’s historic $1 billion investment.

Garcetti also said his budget will aim to make a cleaner city by building on the Clean L.A. Jobs program, which hired 100 young people who were formerly incarcerated or unhoused. The program will expand this year to include 800 new sanitation workers.

“These will be our neighbors, hired to care for our neighborhoods, so that a third-grader walking to school doesn’t have to see a city filled with trash or an off-ramp cluttered with litter,” Garcetti said.

The mayor said the budget will allow the city to reduce the amount of time it takes to address illegal dumping clean up requests from seven days to three days.

The City Council April 13 passed motions in preparation of budget talks to expand the Bureau of Sanitation’s teams that address illegal dumping. According to the City Council motions, the expansion will cost about $15 million.

Garcetti noted during his remarks that public safety is on the forefront of Angelenos’ mind, and he said his budget proposal would double the number of Crisis and Incident Response Through Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE) pilot program, which diverts non-emergency, 911 calls related to homelessness to mental health care experts and crisis workers. The program began in November and responded to more than 1,200 calls in Hollywood and Venice.

The mayor also said the new budget would build on the city’s partnership with L.A. County to send mental health response teams to mental health-related 911 calls.

“Our budget funds these two vans and will add three more to South L.A. and the Valley, together giving us the capacity to respond to 9,000 calls by year’s end to the trauma we see on our streets,” he said.

The mayor did not reveal any information about how much the city would invest in its police department. Garcetti, who may leave office early pending his Senate confirmation for an ambassadorship nomination, is scheduled to end his term in December, halfway through the next fiscal year.

He ended his State of the City speech with advice to his successor.

“Get to energy independence,” he said. “Recycle 100% of our water. Finish those 15 transit lines. Complete those 12,000 supportive housing units and do 12,000 more in half the time. Throw the best Olympic Games this world has ever seen and leave behind a legacy of opportunity.

“Keep bringing crime and poverty down and graduation rates and numbers of homes up. Just don’t forget to balance that budget, to build that reserve and to watch your bond rating, Answer those calls promptly, push your general managers to do more and hire the sorts of leaders who push our city to reach beyond its grasp,” Garcetti added.

 

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