Mayoral Candidate Eric Garcetti Answers Resident Questions


www.ericgarcetti.com

 

In your view what is the primary reason for Los Angeles’ current financial crisis? What do you think could have been done differently?  Is there anything that can be done that is currently not being done?

We need innovative solutions to make city government more efficient and I have led the way in cutting red tape and harnessing technology to save time and money for the people of Los Angeles. For example, I deployed the city's first constituent services smart phone app, so people can snap a picture of a graffiti tag to be painted out or a pothole to be filled and report it instantly for city response – no waiting on hold or expensive call center to maintain. I also partnered with a tech company to make city paperwork available for free online, reducing the need for outdated and expensive in-person processes.

Overall, we must realize that it's jobs and economic activity that generate the revenues that put parks in our neighborhoods, books in our libraries and equipment on our fire trucks. The current focus at City Hall on cuts and taxes – what to cut and how much to tax people – is wrong. The focus must be on growing on our economy, to help Angelenos support their families and to help the City provide critical public services. That will be my focus as Mayor. The number one job for the next Mayor must be jobs.

Los Angeles needs a strategy based on growing our strengths – manufacturing, tourism, trade, entertainment, and healthcare. We also need a strategy that reaches farther, and prepares L.A. for the 21st Century with a focus on technology, green technology, clean energy and entrepreneurship.

We must teach the languages our kids need to compete -- not just foreign languages, but computer programming languages too. We must create one-stop job training and placement centers at L.A. community colleges – like I've already done at Los Angeles City College. We must establish a new office to partner with L.A.-area colleges and universities so L.A. benefits like the Silicon Valley does from nearby universities such as Stanford and U.C. Berkeley. And we must establish a new dedicated team to bring overseas investments (EB5) to L.A.

 

City Council and the way it is run is often perceived as dysfunctional by residents interacting with it.  Councilmembers ignore public comments.  There is little debate or discussion over motions which are unanimously, or close to, it approved, sometimes without any awareness of the background or issues involved with the motion.  What are some of the problems you perceive with the way the council is run and what, if anything will you be able to do to change it once in office?

The Mayor is independent from the City Council and has no role in how it is run. Having been elected by my peers as City Council President four times, I will bring to the Mayor's Office, however, a proven ability to develop policy and get it passed, and with direct authority over city departments, as Mayor I will have the ability to ensure those policies are carried out.

Government must be transparent and responsive to the people we serve. Since I've taken office, I've never stopped walking door-to-door in my district, to proactively reach out to people face-to-face rather than simply wait for people to come to government. Since I've taken office, I've held regular open office hours, where anyone can sit down with me for any reason. I've been proud to have developed and taught neighborhood leadership courses that have helped more than 1,000 Angelenos learn how to navigate City Hall “like the pros” and make sure their voices are heard.

I've also created programs that allowed the community to direct funding and choose projects. I'm proud that my Council office is recognized for its responsiveness to our constituents.

How would you help marginalized communities with persistent quality of life issues like graffiti abatement, illegal vending, commercial vehicles parking on residential streets and larger issues like crime, violent crime and gang activity? What is your vision for community development?  Which neighborhoods do you feel need immediate assistance?

I have successfully tackled these same problems in my district. There is a long way to go, but the progress we've made in neighborhoods like Hollywood and Echo Park is remarkable. I'm proud that Hollywood today, despite the tough economy, is attracting more investment than in four decades. And Echo Park was recently named one of “America's Great Places” by the American Planning Association.

First, we must hold city departments accountable. As Mayor, I will have the direct authority to do that. I wrote the law that fines banks $1,000 a day when they foreclose homes and neglect them, attracting crime, litter and blight. But after more than a year, city inspectors had yet to issue a single violation. We drove them to finally act, but we shouldn't have to. As Mayor, I will have the power to set the priorities for our departments and make sure they are carried out – and quality of life in our neighborhoods is always my top priority.

On day one of my administration, I will require every department head to reapply for his or her job. I will not settle for the status quo. I will make sure I have a team that's committed to neighborhoods like I am. To hold department managers accountable, my administration will issue new, performance-based metrics that are focused on results.

In addition to my experience writing quality of life policies, I have practical, on-the-ground experience, too. Our UNTAG program is an innovative graffiti census and resident "block captain" program that has helped cut graffiti in my district by almost 80 percent. It was recognized as a finalist for the National League of Cities' Award for Municipal Excellence.

At the moment, response from city agencies to calls from the public regarding illegal alterations to historic properties are mostly ignored; by the time anyone responds (if at all) it is usually too late to have any effect. Most of these agencies have little understanding of regulations regarding historic preservation, so that their responses are ineffective. What will you do to strengthen Historic Preservation in the city?

As Mayor, I will have direct authority over city departments. I will set priorities that protect neighborhoods and our history and will hold managers accountable. I'm proud of my track record representing some of Los Angeles' oldest neighborhoods. I'm proud to have stood up to protect the Palladium from the wrecking ball and to make sure lesser-known historic sites in L.A. are recognized and preserved.

I believe we can use technology to better catalogue, track and share with Angelenos our rich history and incredible historic buildings.

The Bike community is growing and a viable answer to the growing traffic problems. Do you have awareness of and desire to improve conditions for the Bike community?

I'm a passionate and long-time advocate of bicycling. I spearheaded the installation of lockers and showers at City Hall to encourage city employees to lead by example and bike to work. I installed the city's first sharrows in my district. And I played a key role in making CicLAvia a reality.

We must approach traffic with a comprehensive approach. I have experience with bus and rail transit; bringing car sharing to my district; bringing hail-cabs to my district; authoring the city's first valet ordinance to deal with curbside congestion; and deploying an app to help people find parking, based on research showing up to 30 percent of congestion can be caused by people circling for an open spot.

The poverty issue was a question that several residents were concerned about. Especially children living in poverty in Los Angeles.  What are your thoughts on this and do you have an action plan to address it?

We must end poverty. Overall, we must grow our economy, and we must make sure Angelenos are prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow. This means teaching the right skills in our schools to get our kids started on the right track and partnering with our community colleges, like I have in my district, to create training programs that lead directly to employers hiring even in this tough economy.

We must also get smart about the services we provide. We must provide the wraparound, comprehensive services to move people out of poverty, instead of just providing a temporary respite. This includes food and shelter, but also social services, healthcare, skills training, and more.

My plan is to grow our economy and create jobs, make sure Angelenos are prepared for those jobs, and to use the revenues generated by that economic growth to invest in innovative initiatives that turn people's lives around.

The streets of Los Angeles have become a serious problem for drivers.  We understand that fixing sidewalks and streets has been compromised by the budget but what new thinking can you bring to the solution?

Recently, the Bureau of Street Services reported to the City Council that they would take up to three years and at least $10 million to study the condition of our sidewalks. Not start repairs – just to study the problem. We can do better, and I authored a motion directing the bureau to go back to the drawing board. In my district, we conduct a basic graffiti census in a single day. We must harness technology and crowd-sourcing techniques to act quickly and efficiently. I've done it, and will do even more as Mayor.

What is your vision of the future of mass transit in Los Angeles and what are you able to do to bring that vision about?

We must have a robust system that strong rail and bus components. The system must reliable and predictable and must be integrated to facilitate transfers. I have experience in working on initiatives like 30-10 and Measure R. The key is to leverage and maximize funding. As Mayor, I will have influence at Metro, influence as the Mayor of the second-largest city in America, and I will bring to City Hall a close relationship with Members of Congress and the White House.

What is your position on Steve Zimmer's resolution to stop the creation of new charter schools?

I disagreed with it.

Currently there is no plan for the Wilshire Corridor subway to stop at Crenshaw which is a direct line south to the heart of the African American business district. Is there anything you would be able/willing to do to address this?

I've spoken out and formally written to Metro about this. As Mayor, I will continue fighting for a Leimert Park stop.

We had some 10 year olds going door to door selling baked goods to raise funds for simple school supplies. People want to send their kids to public schools but are discouraged by the deplorable conditions.  This has to change. What is your vision for this change?

First, we have to grow our economy and make sure our schools have the funding they need to do right by our kids.

Second, we have to check politics at the schoolhouse door. The focus can't be management vs. labor, public vs. charter. The focus must be on our kids.

Third, the city must partner with our schools to achieve common goals and solve practical problems. For example, I'm proud to have pioneered groundbreaking agreements with LAUSD to share the cost of building new fields and then open them to the neighborhood after school hours. It saves money for us both and serves both our kids and the larger community.

Small business owners are feeling squeezed for money by any means necessary as the City tries to increase its income. Things like installation of parking meters in newly developing business districts, with fees for using the meters raised 400% in the last few years discourages curious drive by shoppers or they receive fines for displaying wares in front of the store which is the only way to catch the eye of drive by customers.  What plan do you have to work with small business owners to create an atmosphere of city support for their efforts.

I'm proud my district is home to Los Angeles' most dynamic and thriving small business districts. Sunset Magazine calls Silver Lake one of our ''hottest shopping destinations'' because of its thriving small independent businesses. Details Magazine picked Atwater Village as one of its six top emerging neighborhoods and the L.A. Times wrote that the neighborhood is ''no longer on the verge of success – it's already thriving.” And Echo Park was recently named by the American Planning Association as one of the nation's 10 ''Great Places.''

I have direct experience with what small businesses need to succeed. For example, in terms of parking, a critical component to the turnaround in Atwater Village and the preservation of its “main street” storefronts was a new policy I wrote regarding meter parking. I recently partnered with a tech company to provide to businesses online all the city, county, state and federal paperwork they need to open in L.A. Previously, businesses either had to hire a lobbyist or try and navigate well over a dozen agencies themselves.

Beyond cutting red tape for businesses through innovative solutions, I am right now spearheading the charge to eliminate the city's gross receipts tax. This tax on businesses puts L.A. at a competitive disadvantage – it is the highest  in the county and taxes businesses even when they lose money. The Daily News says approving my legislation to eliminate the tax is “the biggest step” L.A. can take to boost our economy.

Downtown has become very difficult to navigate for the uninitiated. What are your thoughts on this?

First, we must make transit predictable, reliable and integrated. Second, I'm proud to have helped the city hire our first Pedestrian Coordinator. We must explore way finding and other methods to help people get from point A to point B on foot.

LAUSD is the 2nd largest school district in the US but they don’t report to the Mayor unlike other major cities. Do you see this as a benefit or detriment?  What are the consequences of this?

As Mayor, I want the focus to be on our kids, not on who has the power. I want to partner with our schools like I have a councilmember – to build fields, bring technology to the classroom, ensure an after school program for every school and to make kids safer on the way to and from school. I also want to work with our schools to make sure our kids are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. For example, I will partner with our schools to make sure our kids are taught the languages they need to succeed – not just a foreign language, but a computer programming language. I will bring city and private resources to support this.

Does a politician have any obligations toward the public regarding their private life?

I believe in integrity in all you do.

What criteria will you be using to appoint all the commissioners?

I will seek people with incredible talent, new ideas, integrity, and a commitment to public service from all walks of life to help L.A.’s commissions operate more efficiently and effectively.

Given the city's own plan to add most of its new housing on commercial corridors, how do you plan to acknowledge the concerns and protect the character of the affected residents.

As a fourth-generation Angeleno, I understand the unique character and history of each neighborhood. In my district, I've approached each neighborhood in ways that build on their strengths, not in ways that seek to transform them away from their core character. You can see it first hand, from the hot-spots on Hollywood Boulevard to the small, independent businesses in Echo Park, Silver Lake and Atwater Village. These neighborhoods are all thriving, but in their own unique ways.

No one knows more about a neighborhood than the people who live there. That's how I've operated my office, with the outreach like walking door-to-door I discussed above, and that's how will approach our neighborhoods as Mayor.

 

 

 

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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