'We Can't Leave Anybody Behind': Mayor Eric Garcetti On The Future Of Los Angeles

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a town hall on the Affordable Care Act National Day of Action on Feb. 22, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a town hall on the Affordable Care Act National Day of Action on Feb. 22, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Recently re-elected Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (@ericgarcetti@MayorOfLA) joins Here & Now's Meghna Chakrabarti to discuss the future of the city, and its status as a "sanctuary city."

Interview Highlights

On the impact of the Trump administration potentially freezing federal funding to "sanctuary cities"

"We have about $500 million of our tax dollars that we send to Washington that come back to us. We're a donor city — we give more to the nation than we receive back from our own income taxes and other federal taxes. That said, we feel on extremely strong Constitutional ground that any attempt to do so would violate the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court decided that a couple years ago, against the Obama administration, when they were trying to force states and localities to expand Medicaid, and the Supreme Court said you can't put a kind of fiscal gun to the head of states and localities to do one policy, by threatening to take away money from a different area. So I am encouraging the administration instead to get to the hard work of actually fixing the immigration system, and do what Ronald Reagan did in the '80s, and have a comprehensive immigration reform package, instead of playing these silly games."

On Los Angeles County voters passing a tax increase to pay for homeless services

"It was an extraordinary vote. Out here in California you need a two-thirds vote to pass new taxes, but building on an earlier initiative in November, the City of LA passed about $1.2 billion to be able to house our homeless with 10,000 new units of housing to get people off the streets. The county now has passed this other measure that'll give us $350 million a year for the next decade to help give the services to those people in housing. We know it works out here in Los Angeles, you can't put somebody in an apartment who's lived on the street without the mental health services, job training, substance abuse counseling that he or she may need. But similarly, treating people on the street is no solution — they need housing. But we finally got these two measures passed that'll allow us to really solve this problem once and for all."

"We can't leave anybody behind, and I always say we can't average out our prosperity. If we did in Los Angeles, everybody could say they were well-off."

Mayor Eric Garcetti

On concerns about gentrification amid the city's development boom

"I agree that we always have to balance the growth — which is good, which helps us bring down housing prices over time, because you have more units, we have a lot of jobs that want to come to Los Angeles, and not enough houses, or housing units, for people. And we need to build about 100,000 units more, and we're half of the way there. But voters soundly rejected an idea of putting a moratorium on that. I hope this year to pass something called a linkage fee that will require developers, when they're building luxury condominiums and apartments, to put money aside to subsidize housing for the rest of us as well, that would build tens of thousands of units of affordable housing, which Los Angeles needs, and combined with the measures that we've mentioned before on homelessness, we could literally be building more units of affordable housing per capita than any city in America."

On what average rent looks like in Los Angeles

"In an area like Hollywood, a studio would start at about $1,100 a month. It's very difficult to get anything under $1,000, unless it's been subsidized, and that quickly goes up — one-, two-bedroom apartments can be in the $2,000, $3,000 range. We have cities with higher rents, like San Francisco and New York, but we have one of the biggest if not the biggest gaps between average wages and average rent in America. And so I'm focused like a laser on doing two things: raising wages by raising our minimum wage, which I led the fight to do, and finding more of those $50- to $100-an-hour jobs in infrastructure and key industries like technology. And then second, bringing rents down by building more subsidized housing as well as more market-rate housing, because we need it both at the top and the bottom to just have more units, it's a simple supply-and-demand problem we have right now with not enough units for the number of people who still are excited about coming, or staying in Los Angeles."

On the biggest challenge the city faces

"I think poverty is the biggest challenge for Los Angeles, and for many of our cities that have come back from the recession. We can't leave anybody behind, and I always say we can't average out our prosperity. If we did in Los Angeles, everybody could say they were well-off. But even though we've cut unemployment less than half of what it was before — about 5 percent now — in certain neighborhoods, it's still double digits. There's too many ZIP codes that are the determinant of success. And so I'm really focused in bringing together those pieces.

"We have two Promise Zones, which are the federal programs that begin to attack poverty, not just by looking at housing, or just looking at education, or just looking at parks and health, or just looking at our safety, but really pulling all those pieces together... A child drops out of school, and then [isn't] able to graduate from college or get a good job, for a host of reasons. It might not just be the quality of her education, it might be the violence in her home, it might be the violence in her community, it might be the obesity in her family. And for us to really be a prosperous city and country, we've gotta make sure that we're taking care of everybody. And so poverty really continues to be my driving motivation and force as we see this amazing moment in LA, to ensure that it's for everybody, and not just most of us."

This article was originally published on March 20, 2017.

This segment aired on March 20, 2017.



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