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Mayor Eric Garcetti Describes State Of Los Angeles As 'Strong'

NORTHRIDGE ( — From services to Los Angeles' infrastructure to jobs, Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the progress that's been made and described the state of the city as "strong."

"Today, I am proud to report to you that our back-to-basics agenda is delivering results. Los Angeles and your City Hall are roaring back. And the state of our city is strong," said Garcetti, while delivering his second State of the City address Tuesday afternoon from Cal State Northridge.

"Together, we've balanced our budgets. Our credit rating is up. Our business taxes are down. And more people are choosing to live, choosing to work, choosing to visit and choosing to study in L.A. than ever before in our history," he said.

Garcetti addressed issues across the board, including the rate of violent crime, which he said is the lowest in the city since 1949.

Still, Garcetti acknowledged that the rate is beginning to rise again – something he says he plans to address head-on.

"And as long as I'm your mayor, I won't duck bad news. I'm going to own it, and I'm going to attack it.

"Here's how: We saw violent crime increase last year. So, we're first going to double the ranks of LAPD's elite Metropolitan Division so that we can quickly saturate additional officers when crime spikes.

"Second, because domestic violence increased in our city last year as well, we're also doubling the number of our domestic abuse-response teams so that there is one finally in every LAPD division.

"And today, I'm proud to announce that they will be on the streets by July 1st, a full six months ahead of schedule," he said.

As a result, the LAPD's Metropolitan Division, which includes the department's SWAT and K-9 units among others, is expected to add about 200 officers.

On other fronts, the mayor made a plea for a plan to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles, stating that L.A. County has more high-tech jobs than any other county in California.

That was applauded by local union president David Huerta, who said the city should also attack the problem of wage theft.

"It's not just about how high the minimum wage rises, but also to make sure that there's mechanisms in the city of L.A. to enforce that employers are actually paying for every hour worked to these workers," said Huerta, the president of the SEIU West.

Rosa Russell, a member of the Board of Human Relations Commissioner, also gave the mayor high marks for his address but would have liked to have heard more about relations between the LAPD and minority communities.

"He tapped on the police issue but we still need to do a little bit more in that," she said. "A lot of the people come to us and talk about their concerns about the police department."

Garcetti also noted that the rail to Los Angeles International Airport is well on its way to being finished soon.

He also said, by this summer, Uber and Lyft will be able to pick up passengers at LAX, where previously they had only been allowed to drop off passengers.

He also said millions of dollars will begin to flow into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, much of it financed by a new tax agreement with an online neighborhood lodging service.

"I'm announcing today that my budget includes an additional $10 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund," he said. "Half of this money is being generated because, for the first time, we're going to collect taxes from Airbnb."

Finally, Garcetti also warned that his proposed plans to retrofit earthquake-vulnerable buildings and utilities in L.A. may have a high price, but is a top priority for his administration before the big one hits.

"I hope this earthquake will not happen while I am your mayor and God willing in any of our lifetimes. But it will happen. It's overdue," he said.

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