SANTA MONICA — Setting a very upbeat tone, in a conference room with subdued lighting, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told news industry professionals Thursday that he is very optimistic about Los Angeles.
Not only is the city up for contention to host the 2024 Olympic Games, of which Garcetti assured the audience the event would turn a profit, but recent elections showed Angelenos are more than willing to invest in the future of the city.
Speaking with publishers and editors at the Loew’s hotel in Santa Monica Thursday, Garcetti told the industry to continue practicing their profession with a “dogged persistence…to learn the facts, tell the truth and give a voice to the voiceless.”
As for his optimism about Los Angeles, Garcetti pointed to the passage of five major initiatives in the past six months which address issues of transportation, parks and the homeless in the city and count.
He also noted residents’ activism in the past year, which, for instance, flooded the streets of Los Angeles with estimated three-quarters of a million people for the Women’s March in January.
“Local actions change national conversations,” Garcetti said.
But, he also noted that while there’s a silver lining to activism when people respond to issues, there’s a need to be proactive as well.
Citing the women’s march as one example, Garcetti called for sustained action which translates into sustained actions such as working with women in shelters or escaping domestic violence.
Asked, after his greeting to the news industry, if there are opportunities for Los Angeles to work together with the other two largest cities in the county – Long Beach and Santa Clarita – Garcetti replied affirmatively telling The Signal he meets with mayors from 88 incorporated cities in the county every three months.
Referring to the meeting held in Santa Clarita, which Garcetti attended, he said city mayors discussed how to handle regional issues such as the county’s growing homeless population, affordable housing and traffic at the October 2015 meeting.
There is definitely an opportunity to work jointly on keeping the local aerospace industry healthy, retaining film tax credits, and addressing transportation and economic development, he said.
“Everyone is meeting and discussing how to bring more economic development,” he told The Signal.
In a Q&A period after his speech, Garcetti was asked by Los Angeles Times reporter Phil Willon about rising crime trends.
Willon questioned Garcetti about being more transparent on crime citing he failed to hold a press conference on the latest statistics.
Although he did not hold a press conference the city did release the numbers year-end as they always do, Garcetti said.
Concerning crime stats, the Mayor admitted crime is up on a couple fronts in the areas of assault and thefts, for instance, but tied those rises in part to reforms in the criminal justice system in the state where prisoners are released earlier than ever.
Garcetti criticized the reforms that allow more offenders on the street, however, not because of the philosophy which sets them free, but because the savings that were supposed to come from the reforms are not being seen in local communities.
The money to provide job training, for instance, to a parolee isn’t available, he said.
Drug use is also driving crime. He said experts have advised that the damage drugs are doing to young brains is so significant, it will require a lifetime to care for or manage some of the cases.
It’s cheaper to get high than buy a drink, Garcetti said.
On the whole, though, Garcetti said Los Angeles last year was still the sixth or seventh safest year in 60 years of history for the city.
As for the city’s hope to host the Olympic Games, Garcetti said it looks like the International Olympic Committee will simultaneously award the 1924 and 1928 Olympics to Los Angeles and Paris when they make their decision.
Fewer cities are bidding for the world sporting event, and they’re very costly to host, he said. Los Angeles is in a different position with all the ready-built venues it has, and will have ready.
“We will make money like we did in ’84, somewhere in the $300-to-$500 million range,” Garcetti said.
He wants to see that profit go to funding universal access to sports to ensure every child can play sports and is not turned away because they or their family cannot afford to participate.