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LA Mayor Eric Garcetti talks about the future (his and the city's)




Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during the launch event for an anti-homelessness campaign on Fri., Mar. 9, 2018.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during the launch event for an anti-homelessness campaign on Fri., Mar. 9, 2018.
Kyle Stokes/KPCC

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In the State of the City address that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered on Monday he covered a lot of ground.

The mayor focused on his plans to address a homelessness crisis, but he also talked about local traffic  (he called it a "thief") as well as his displeasure with the federal government (although he never mentioned President Trump by name).

Garcetti talked with A Martinez the day after his speech to dive into more of the details.

Interview highlights

On his plans to keep neighborhoods from resisting temporary shelters throughout L.A. 

It is a carrot and a stick. They won't get the benefit, and that's part of the brilliance of this plan. It really will incentivize people.

But I've got to tell you, A, in my 16 years serving in city hall, now, I've never seen as little NIMBYism.

We have 44 neighborhoods councils across every neighborhood, practically, in L.A. who have homelessness liaisons who are working to get to "yes," and figuring out where – not if – would these homeless shelters be.

He plans to knock on doors to convince people 

I want Angelenos to know I want this in my own neighborhood where I live. I want to see these throughout the city, and that we've got allies throughout Los Angeles – the faith community in churches and synagogues. ...

I'm pleasantly surprised to see NIMBYism kind of dying off in L.A. It's not to say it doesn't exist, but we can easily answer people's sometimes legitimate fears by saying, "Look at us in practice."

Garcetti touted the creation of 10,000 affordable housing units in L.A. What's he say about a 2017 study that found more than a half-million are needed in the county right now?

A year ago during my State of the City address, I called on city council to pass what we call a linkage fee, so that when somebody's building a mall or somebody's building housing that is luxury housing, they need to pay money in for us to be able to build much more housing, especially if it's affordable to everyday Angelenos.

They passed it, and I expect to see in the budget $100 million that will leverage about $400 to $500 million total of new housing.

He says the housing crisis in L.A. could get worse if other cities don't build, too.

L.A. is really the only big city in California meeting its goals for market-rate housing, and hopefully with this linkage fee we'll do it for affordable housing.

But we're not an island. We need Glendale and Santa Clarita and Fresno and Oakland – everybody to meet those goals, too, together. Because we're apart of, certainly in Southern California, a housing market, and it's not policy that's going to bring rents down as much as supply. 

We need more supply.

On why the housing crisis hurts L.A.'s economy if it continues

I don't think companies will stay here, expand here, come here.

And I have the same worries for my daughter. I want her to be able to have a great state where there's decent education that is affordable in higher ed, and is a good place to live that they can afford. Or else we will see the Golden State be tarnished in the future.

The attitudes that will hurt the next generation 

The buck does stop with me, and I do take responsibility even if I don't have the formal tools, always, to change things.

But sometimes what we need is not necessarily a new law, but changing our own attitudes.

Are we allowing more housing to be built? Are we protecting what we have, which keeps the value of our house very high and going up every year, but that comes at a cost to our children?

We've got plenty of land here in Los Angeles to build, and I think sometimes we can be our own worst enemies.

How can he run the city, while taking trips to swing states like Iowa? 

A part of my job is being on the road. Sometimes that's political.

For six or seven years I've led local Democrats on our DNC, and I'm really concerned about the direction of our country.

It's not just Iowa, but maybe places that don't come to people's attentions that much that I squeeze some trips into every so often. ...

But my first job, and 95 percent of my work, is always L.A. I travel because maybe helping L.A. is changing this nation's leadership. ...

I do have my focus on that, whether it means supporting somebody great and building a lot of strength behind him or her, or even considering myself.

NOTE: Garcetti has largely deferred questions about his presidential aspirations. Iowa, ofc course, is traditional stumping grounds for anyone thinking about a White House run. One thing Garcetti did recently say in an interview with the Los Angeles Times he'd not make a run if another candidate emerged who aligned with his beliefs.

This interview has been edited for length clarity.