Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti laid out a sprawling plan to reboot Los Angeles as the city begins to emerge from a pandemic and to combat systemic inequities during his annual State of the City address on Monday night.
Speaking from the Griffith Observatory, the mayor laid out a forthcoming budget that will devote millions to health, efforts to combat poverty and homelessness and changes to public safety and equity, among other initiatives. The address was virtual this year due to the pandemic and available to view on the mayor’s social channels as well as on Channel 35. “It’s past time to imagine that just and resilient city. It’s time to build it,” Garcetti said while announcing the contents of his eighth city budget as mayor, which will take effect July 1 and which he also said was the largest and “most progressive” he’s ever presented.
Some of the major investments that Garcetti announced in the speech were already reported on Monday ahead of the arrival of his new city budget on Tuesday: The budget will include a proposed $24 million guaranteed basic income program that will offer 2,000 L.A. families $1,000 a month for a year, with no restrictions on how the money is to be spent, as the Los Angeles Times reported earlier in the day. The mayor also unveiled a nearly $1 billion spending proposal to fight homelessness in the city, as the Times also reported in a separate story on Monday.
In his address on Monday the mayor divided his budget up into two categories: “Job one,” he said, was to end the pandemic, and the spending plan will devote $75 million to offering vaccines, testing and PPE. “Jobs 2 and 3 and 4,” he said, belonged to his “justice budget,” which includes $151 million to efforts intended to boost racial justice and economic progress.
For small businesses, Garcetti announced he had approved $25 million to write 5,000 businesses $5,000 “comeback checks” and was attempting to remove some of the red tape businesses could face when reopening or re-expanding post-pandemic. When it comes to renters and homeowners, he said the city would devote $300 million of its American Rescue Plan funds to helping individuals pay rent and mortgages. As for the arts, Garcetti said that his upcoming budget commits to a 30 percent boost in funding for the Department of Cultural Affairs and will suggest $1 million in funding for a mural program for creative workers and L.A. youth that will be led by artist Judy Baca.
On Monday Garcetti additionally said his upcoming budget proposes to fund an initiative called TURN (Therapeutic Unarmed Response for Neighborhoods) that will send clinicians to respond around the clock to 911 calls that involve nonviolent mental-health emergencies, among other responsibilities. He additionally announced the budget of his Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development would increase by one third to $33 million.
When it comes to racial equity, the mayor announced a $12 million investment in a program called Reforms for Equity and the Public Acknowledgment of Institutional Racism (L.A. REPAIR) that would involve local communities in investment efforts and budget discussions. Garcetti additionally said that he is looking for collaborators to eventually work towards a slavery reparations pilot program for Black Angelenos. In October, state Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that creates a task force for exploring reparations.
Overall, he said, “The state of our city is strong and bruised, bursting with joyous possibility while it cracks with sorrow.” If he had to use one word to describe Los Angeles in 2021, Garcetti said, that word would be “becoming.”
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported on Monday that more than six million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been received throughout the county, including over four million first doses and over two million second doses. Monday’s daily test positivity rate was 0.9%, and there are 470 positive COVID cases currently hospitalized.