LA Mayor Eric Garcetti talks DWP, rideshare companies, earthquake safety
In his inaugural speech, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti outlined his plans for a back-to-basics approach to a number of key issues for the city of Los Angeles and her citizens.
Increasing jobs, improving city services and smart policing, developing the tech sector, bringing pension costs under control, making city government leaner and more efficient, and bringing film production back to L.A. are high on his agenda.
Now past his first 100 days in office, Garcetti looks forward at the upcoming issues facing City Hall. He sat down with KPCC veteran political reporter Frank Stoltze to discuss what's ahead and where he stands on many of these pressing issues.
Here are some of the highlights of his discussion.
Low voter turnout:
That's a nationwide trend. And it's driven as much top down as bottom up. We had twice the turnout or more than twice the turnout as San Antonio's in the last election. We went through about 20 different cities right afterwards, because a lot of people were saying this, and I said let's look at why L.A. is so bad with voter turnout, and we're not. It's a trend across this nation in municipal elections.
Los Angeles buildings and earthquake safety:
There's no question that they're dangerous. No city has retrofitted these in California. We probably need some state help. If it was easy to do, it would have been done. It's not just broken promises. It's the expense of these and the impact of once you make a list of may or may not be right, what it does to those building owners and how we can make sure we're not decreasing the value of their property. Now life, to me, trumps property value.
Reform the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power:
There's a whole host of things that have happened behind closed doors and in the dark. So part of this is opening up the process and letting people know what we do find out.
A fair contract at DWP—which was something we got in the first 45 days of my administration, first time in 20 years there won't be raises, there will be three continuous years of zero percent, a new tier for pension to make them more sustainable—those things are all as critical important as the work rules themselves.
I also want to see where the money in the nonprofit Join Training Institute is going.
The mayor's leverage on the DWP:
I have the people of Los Angeles. I was elected, and the DWP was not an insignificant issue in the election. … I will be strong to my values, I will continue to reform the Department of Water and Power. I feel that I have the people behind me, and that's the most important and strongest thing you can have.
Setting tables outside on sidewalks and talking to people:
I love this part of the job. If you insulate yourself at city hall all day long, you're never going to be in contact with the 99.9 percent of Angelenos you never will see at a community meeting, that will never be at city council, that will never write you a letter.
#ProjectCitizen: How did you get into public service?
I think the moment, in the widest sense, that I knew I wanted to be a public servant was probably the summer that I spent human rights work in Burma. Two summers, actually. Had met a lot of students who were my same age, who had risen up for democracy, won an election only to be thrown out by a government that literally shot their classmates along side them as well as kids, monks, unarmed women. And they fled to the jungle where I spent two of the most formative summers of my life, and I realized that I had to be kind of engaged in the world of the world, involved in things. It propelled me, probably, to join the Navy later on. And just to have some sort of sense of not being powerless in this world, and trying to help a lot of people not being powerless.
How long should the city take to fix a pothole?
Part of the reason I want to bring technology and 21st Century management to this city is because we can't even track which potholes we have and how quickly they're done in a public way. I want this to be as clear as possible. It's the reason we're asking department heads to develop apps that show the health of the street, that can map the calls you have…if we can get to that place with our 311 system, I think some of these issues won't bubble because we'll have clear and transparent information.
Ride-share companies that provide alternatives to taxis:
Probably [veto the city council's appeal to limit ride-share companies in Los Angeles]. I think whenever we have disruption, you can pretend to fight it but that's not the best way forward. The better way is to figure out how do we begin to incorporate new and disruptive technologies into the city as it is.
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