Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered his latest State of the City speech at City Hall this morning.
As expected, his plans to deal with a crisis in homelessness played a big role in the address. But he also covered a range of other topics. KPCC reporters followed the speech and have some thoughts and fact checks of the mayor's remarks.
KPCC's Emily Guerin was at City Hall to listen to the speech. Her tweet reflects the mayor's emphasis for the day. The basics of his latest plan go like this:
- Garcetti will ask the city council to appropriate about $20 million — $1.3 million for each of L.A.'s 15 council districts to construct a temporary shelter.
- If, and only if, the council district builds a shelter, it also receives more assistance from LAPD to move people living on the streets into the new shelter. Additional crews from L.A. Sanitation will help clean the area.
- Before the shelter opens, L.A. Homeless Services Authority and L.A. County Department of Mental Health would try to get as many people in the neighborhood into services and housing as possible.
Rina Palta, who has written a lot about homelessness in the region, has more on the details of that plan. Her takeaway? The mayor is banking on the promise of cleaner streets and sidewalks free of homeless encampments being enough to override L.A.'s history of NIMBYism.
Garcetti's repeatedly drew a contrast between Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Los Angeles, he said, is a "strong" and "decent" city. Meanwhile, he depicted D.C. as a place where politicians persecute immigrants, put corporations before the needs of the most vulnerable Americans, and decimate the environment in favor of corporate profit.
I want to say to anyone who wants to understand who Americans are: Don't look to D.C. — come here to L.A.
He also attempted to make a case that while Congress was frozen on issues like gun control, or moving backwards on climate change by pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, L.A. was moving forward.
"In Los Angeles, we do what Washington can’t seem to get done," he said.
The Los Angeles College Promise initiative, which waives a year of community college tuition for L.A. Unified graduates, has been very popular. It followed similar waiver programs across California and the country.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, who covers higher education, reported last year that school officials were seeing much higher than expected applications at several of L.A.’s nine community college campuses. In particular, officials saw higher full-time enrollment. Full time students, officials say, earn their degrees at a higher rate, and quicker than students attending part time.
But as he notes above, one year free is not the same as free college. The addition of a second free year would help many students. However, most students take more than two years to earn their community college degrees.
David Wagner, who covers the economy, called L.A’.s Office of Finance to see how accurate that was. The mayor’s number was almost dead on, but it left out another key detail. The office of finance told David that 220,003 new businesses have registered with the city since July 2013.
However, during the same period about 114,000 businesses in the city of Los Angeles went defunct.
Still, it is true that the overall number of registered businesses in the city has increased during Garcetti’s time in office. The total number of registered businesses in the city was just under 400,000 when he took office. Today, it’s just over 500,000. ,000
Garcetti touted a recent drop in the crime rate and an LAPD that has “built a deeper trust between officers and the communities they serve.”
The violent crime rate is down 3.8 percent and property crime rate is down 6.6 percent so far this year, compared to 2017.
But Frank Stoltze, who covers public safety, points out that he did not mention that robberies continue to rise. Data collected on the LAPD website shows the robbery rate is up 1.4 percent compared with the same time last year and up 3.6 percent compared with the same time in 2016.
The mayor also said the LAPD is engaged in more community policing under his leadership. The department added Harvard Park in South LA to the LAPD’s much-praised Community Safety Partnership program. He did not mention it was privately funded with $750,000 from the Ballmer Group.
At the same time, the LAPD has doubled the number of officers in the Metropolitan Division, whose officers drive unmarked cars looking for criminals. They’ve been credited with an increase in the number of guns taken off the streets but also criticized as cops who do little community policing.
The mayor pointed out the LAPD’s accomplishment of becoming the largest police force in the country to outfit its officers with body cameras. He also noted its new policy that will have the department releasing video from shootings and other major uses of force within 45 days of the incident.
The mayor also gave a nod to outgoing LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, thanking him for “more than 40 years of extraordinary service.” As Beck stood, the audience gave him an extended ovation.
Sharon McNary, who covers infrastructure, points out that the fact that roads were repaved doesn't necessarily mean that some of the worst streets have been fixed.
Bottom line: repairing the worst streets is a lot more money than trying to keep roads in better condition out of disrepair. For example, roads with a D grade cost about $500,000 per lane mile to resurface, and reconstruction of the F roads costs $1 million or more per lane mile.