Los Angeles, CA

Garcetti departs L.A. with tons of unfinished work, is he leaving the city worse than he found it?

Josue Torres
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Mayor Eric Garcetti.AP

There is so much unfinished work for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and now he’s leaving the city for a new post as Biden’s ambassador to India.

Despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on shelters and low-income housing, homeless encampments have spread across the city. Despite billions of dollars spent on new train construction, transit usage has been falling for years.

While city officials are seeking to restructure the Los Angeles Police Department’s responsibilities, moving away from armed responses to specific calls, they are simultaneously dealing with an increase in murders and gun violence.

The person who replaces Garcetti as mayor will have to face these problems and decide whether to accept the outgoing mayor’s present program or forge a new path.

Given popular discontent with homelessness, crime, and public transportation in the city right now, analysts predict that many candidates running for mayor in June 2022 will pledge for new reforms.

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President Biden announced on Friday that he has appointed Garcetti to the post of US Ambassador to India, which needs Senate approval. It’s unclear how much more Garcetti might have done in the next 18 months when his tenure is set to finish.

Allies of Garcetti argue his major projects: extending the county’s transportation system, moving away from fossil fuels, and constructing permanent homes for homeless Angelenos, were always going to take years to complete, well beyond his two terms in office.

They also claim that major components of his program have already been accomplished, such as rises to the minimum wage in Los Angeles and the recent renegotiation of municipal employee contracts, which resulted in substantial cost savings.

Whether Garcetti’s work is considered completed or incomplete, a new mayor may take a drastically different path, changing his department heads, selecting a new crop of volunteer city commissioners, and pursuing alternative methods for tackling the city’s most pressing issues.

Garcetti’s successor may also have a different perspective on the function of municipal government.

Despite his repeated statements about returning Municipal Hall to basics, Garcetti pushed city agencies beyond of their comfort zones during the COVID-19 crisis, giving them tasks that were not part of their primary goals.

According to the mayor, the city’s new budget includes $35 million to prevent Angelenos from becoming homeless and much more for a citywide guaranteed-income pilot program that would help families on the verge of poverty.

Those investments were made feasible in significant part by a federal government windfall of pandemic assistance, which expires next year.

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Photo by Michael Muthee.Unsplash

The next mayor will have to determine whether to continue such initiatives and, if so, how to fund them without the federal funds.

The White House revealed that Garcetti is President Biden’s choice for ambassador to India.

If approved by the Senate, Garcetti would be the first mayor of Los Angeles in more than a century to resign before the conclusion of his tenure.

He was supposed to leave office in December 2022, when he would have completed a second term that had been prolonged by 18 months due to a change in the city’s election timetable.

The White House highlighted Garcetti’s broad duties and Los Angeles’ worldwide significance in announcing the decision, emphasizing the mayor’s supervision of the largest container-ship port in the Western Hemisphere and one of the world’s busiest airports.

Garcetti has also networked with peers across the world, notably in India, to advocate for tougher climate change legislation.

Garcetti’s nomination shows that the White House supports him despite the high-profile issues that have plagued the mayor’s office in the past year.

What are your thoughts on the Mayor’s work? Do you believe he accomplished good things for the city?

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