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Mayor Karen Bass tackles the homeless crisis, Olympics and deficit

Bass takes aim at homeless crisis, Olympics and budget deficit in State of the City address
Bass takes aim at homeless crisis, Olympics and budget deficit in State of the City address 03:49

In her second State of the City address, Mayor Karen Bass tried to strike a balance of optimism and realism while tackling many issues affecting Los Angeles. 

"We have a long way to go, Los Angeles," she said. "But let me say right here at the beginning, the state of our city is stronger today because we have made change and disrupted the status quo."

During her annual speech, Bass addressed the issues at the top of many Angelenos' minds: safety, the homeless crisis, the Olympics, and the city's budget deficit. While she will release the budget proposal in a few days, Bass made a point of protecting her goal of hiring officers at the LA Police Department and keeping public safety a priority. 

"Supporting our sworn personnel is deeply important to me," she said. "The status quo simply cannot protect Angelenos. We are acting to change it ... My budget for next year maintains our LAPD staffing goals."

Bass also indicated she'll keep supporting her "Inside Safe" program. She claimed it has saved lives, asking previously homeless residents and those who helped them to stand during the speech. 

Despite touting her success, she asked the public to make donations and help LA buy or lease buildings that can be used to move people off the streets, saying, "We will not hide people; we will house them."

"We are asking the most fortunate Angelenos to participate in this effort with personal, private sector and philanthropic funds, to help us acquire more properties, lower the cost of capital and speed up housing," Bass said. "This is the mission of our new capital campaign 'LA4LA.'"

The mayor talked about the impact beyond the human toll of leaving people on the streets. 

"The cost to shops and restaurants whose customers stay away out of fear," Bass said. "The cost when tourists don't come to visit. The cost when office and their employees leave downtown."

In Bass' first year, she negotiated a salary agreement for LAPD. Soon, the City Council will vote on raises for civilian city workers. However, Bass said that to free up money, the city would eliminate hundreds of vacant positions. 

"If we want to house people; if we want to keep our city safe; if we want to fix our streets, we must pay our workers fairly," she said. 

Finally, she assured me that the city would be ready for the World Cup in 2026 and the Olympics in 2028. However, she and the council members agreed that getting there would involve brutal choices. 

"Look at a deficit that could be $700 or $800 million — that is a large deficit," says Councilman Bob Blumenfield. I've dealt with big deficits before, both here at the city level and when I was the chair of the state budget committee. I know that we can handle it, but it does mean tough choices."

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