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Garcetti Unveils 'Justice Budget' At State Of The City

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Mayor Eric Garcetti Monday night announced a number of initiatives aimed at recovery, racial equity and clean energy during his State of the City address broadcast from the Griffith Observatory.

Garcetti State of the City
Mayor Eric Garcetti gives his 2021 State of the City address from Griffith Observatory. (CBSLA)

"The state of our city is strong and bruised, bursting with joyous possibility while it cracks with sorrow," Garcetti said. "But if you ask me for one word that defines Los Angeles in 2021, I would tell you that we are becoming."

COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery:

On the recovery front, Garcetti announced he was proposing to set aside $75 million to provide additional testing, vaccine distribution and personal protective equipment for all Angelenos.

"Job 1 in the budget: end this pandemic," Garcetti said.

The mayor also announced his budget proposed additional funding for businesses to help in post-pandemic recovery in the form of a $25 million "comeback check" program that would provide $5,000 to 5,000 businesses and an additional $1.3 million specifically for street vendors to upgrade their equipment, clear bureaucratic hurdles and purchase modernized carts.

He also announced that he was asking the city council to adopt an ordinance that cuts the cost of fees and permits and make al fresco dining a permanent feature for L.A. restaurants.

Racial Equity And Justice:

Garcetti said his proposed budget included $1 billion to "untangle the inequities that have strangled our city and our nation for decades."

He also announced a proposed $12 million investment in a pilot program called L.A. Reforms for Equity and the Public Acknowledgement of Institutional Racism — L.A. REPAIR.

"The L.A. REPAIR pilot will give communities a direct say in grassroots investment to support job creation and provide organizational backing for community intervention, racial healing, justice and reconciliation," he said. "And we will also use that funding to partner with community and faith organizations to establish spaces that foster dialogue among youth and adults alike to name the things that have so starkly divided our fortunes and to hold our city to promises of a better future."

Poverty And Homelessness:

Garcetti also announced another $300 million in direct relief assistance for Angelenos struggling to pay their rent and utility bills would come this summer from the American Rescue Plan, bringing the total to more than $700 million.

"But the pandemic didn't start our housing crisis, and our success in eliminating so much rent won't end it," he said. "Loving Los Angeles means facing the bitter truth about our past that maps of our city were drawn to protect the wealth of white people and destroy the wealth of Black people and other people of color."

According to Garcetti, the acts of red-lining and exclusionary zoning resulted in a city where Black and Mexican families hold 1/90th the wealth of white families today, on average.

Garcetti said the pandemic finally allowed the city to react to the growing homelessness crisis — one that impacts Black and Latino Angelenos at a higher rate — with a "FEMA-like" aid response.

And with those new resources, Garcetti announced that his budget proposal called for nearly $1 billion in funding to fight the homelessness crisis.

"Ending homelessness is tough, tough work," he said. "It's not for the faint of heart, but our investments are building a movement and building our capacity to improve the lives of our own house neighbors."

The mayor also called on the federal government to declare a national right to housing and to fully fund Section 8 housing choice vouchers.

Garcetti also announced that the city would launch a $24 million pilot program that would provide $1,000 per month to 2,000 households for an entire year.

"These funds will grow to more than $30 million in direct help to begin to tear away at poverty in our city and to show this nation a way to fulfill Dr. King's call for a basic income once and for all," Garcetti said. "We're betting that one small, but steady investment for Angeleno households, will pay large dividends for health and stability across our city, and more importantly, light a fire across our nation."

Los Angeles Youth:

And Garcetti's budget did not leave out younger Angelenos, many of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic when it comes to their education and access to jobs.

"When I became mayor, we had opportunities for just 5,000 young Angelenos to earn their first paycheck and to expand their dreams," he said. "Since then, we've more than quadrupled that number. But this year, in this budget, I'm introducing an even stronger investment in our youth with a new year round Angeleno Corps."

The $5 million program will support 400 students who participate in a year of service to the city in areas such as support community-based health and environmental justice programs, tutoring, arts education, immigration or technology.

He also announced a program that would pay 1,000 Angelenos to help tutor their younger siblings.

And a Clean L.A. jobs plan that will employ hundreds of young and unhoused Angelenos to help cleanup the city over the summer and help them find a pathway to full-time employment.

And, for those who are here under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Garcetti announced a program that would pay for the DACA fees for 505 recipients who are both in the L.A. Community College District and commit to service in the city's COVID recovery.

Garcetti also said his budget would create a new Community Investment For Families Department, which would strengthen the city's ability to support families and children.

Police Reform:

The mayor said that police officers have been given responsibilities "that they never asked for" due to a collective failure to address poverty, health and racial injustice.

"The path of cultivating community health, mutual understanding and the co-ownership of public safety is before us," he said. "So let's walk it together and shed our fear of one another."

And while Garcetti said he did not support the abolish the police movement, he did support pulling some of the response efforts back from armed officers and handing it over to trained clinicians.

"This justice budget funds a new approach we're calling TURN — Therapeutic Unarmed Response for Neighborhoods — that includes a nation leading partnership with L.A. County starting next month to send clinicians instead of cops to respond to non-violent mental health emergencies through 911."

Garcetti said his proposed budget increases the city's funding for community building, violence intervention and arts funding to engage youth throughout the city.

Infrastructure Investment:

Garcetti also announced a number of proposed infrastructure investments, including for public transit, the airport, clean energy and increased access to WiFi.

"Infrastructure done right, it turns the wealth of a people into the backbone of our common good," he said. "And when it addresses the inequities of community under development, infrastructure investment empowers and protects our neighborhoods and our people."

The full State of the City address can be watched on Twitter.

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