by Cynthia Lee
The City of Los Angeles is facing its most difficult fiscal challenge in 80 years, said Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti. Crippled by a $450 million deficit this fiscal year and facing a $500 million deficit next year, the city faces the prospect of eliminating 4,000 positions — the equivalent to one in every three civilian employees.
In an April 15 talk before an overflow audience in a School of Public Affairs classroom, Garcetti laid out some of the most pernicious problems that are undermining L.A.’s efforts to recover from the Great Recession and highlighted some strategies to address them.
“Right now, I feel that Los Angeles is having a crisis of confidence,” said Garcetti, whose talk was sponsored by the school and by the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations. “We don’t know who we are anymore. This used to be a place where we never questioned that we could do anything.” In fact, many Angelenos believe traffic congestion, dirty air and still-high housing costs are intractable problems that the city can’t solve.
An attitude of negativism also prevails, he said. While many people are eager to say “no” to an idea or a proposed building project, Garcetti said, “we have lost our way to saying ‘yes,’ to saying what we stand for and learning how to compromise to move things forward.”
Garcetti, who attended Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School
as well as law school here, is serving his third term as a councilmember representing the 13th Council District, which includes Hollywood, Atwater Village, the Wilshire Center, Silver Lake and Echo Park. A former Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, he has been elected and reelected president of the city council three times.
To regain its economic footing, he said, the city needs to do two things: Los Angeles needs to become a more welcoming place for businesses and a friendlier place for workers. Currently, the city sustains a “barbell” economy, where the 300 wealthiest individuals have the combined wealth of the 3 million poorest.
“We are gutting out that middle class, partially because of housing prices, partially because of our education system and partially because we are encouraging businesses that do have those middle-class jobs to locate someplace else,” he said.
In order to start a new business in L.A., for example, entrepreneurs must navigate their way through a tangle of government red tape. It’s a bureaucracy that is “not user-friendly, not inviting and not customer-focused,” he said.
Read the full article at UCLA Today.