LOS ANGELES - Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered his final State of the City address Thursday, which highlighted aspects of his upcoming 2022-23 fiscal year budget proposal.
During his speech, the mayor discussed the most pressing needs of the city and ways to address it in his budget. They include keeping the city safe and clean, increasing housing, housing the homeless and addressing the climate emergency.
"My goal is to hand over a city budget to our council that is stronger than ever. An infrastructure program unequaled in our nation and a pathway to house our people and save our planet with the urgency that this moment demands," Garcetti exclaimed.
Garcetti mentioned the creation of a $21 million Climate Equity Fund focused on "mitigation and resilience efforts in the low-income neighborhoods that bear a disproportionate amount of environmental harm."
The $21 million fund will be used to hire and train "underrepresented and displaced" workers to retrofit buildings to be more energy efficient, Garcetti said. It will also be used for air monitoring at oil drilling sites -- which the city is in the process of phasing out -- with the data made available to the public. The fund will also be used to distribute air purifiers to people who live in the most polluted areas and provide new insulation and cool roofs for people who live in low-income neighborhoods with the highest heat indexes.
The proposal will also include funding for a new program to facilitate housing development in Los Angeles, he said. Modeled after a program for accessory dwelling units, the program will aim to expedite single-family zoned lots transitioning into four-unit properties, a shift now permitted under a new state law. The new Low-Rise Design Lab program will begin with a $500,000 budget within the Planning Department to create pre-approved "over-the- counter" designs by local architects and engineers.
The mayor said the program would help the city accomplish its state-mandated goal of building nearly 457,000 new units by 2029, a major increase from the last eight years, when the city built just 150,000 units.
To address the city's homelessness crisis, Garcetti said his budget proposal will match this fiscal year's historic $1 billion investment.
Garcetti also said his budget will aim to make a cleaner city by building on the Clean L.A. Jobs program, which hired 100 young people who were formerly incarcerated or unhoused. The program will expand this year to include 800 new sanitation workers.
"These will be our neighbors, hired to care for our neighborhoods, so that a third-grader walking to school doesn't have to see a city filled with trash or an off-ramp cluttered with litter," Garcetti said.
The mayor said the budget will allow the city to reduce the amount of time it takes to address illegal dumping clean up requests from seven days to three days.
The City Council on Wednesday passed motions in preparation of budget talks to expand the Bureau of Sanitation's teams that address illegal dumping. According to the City Council motions, the expansion will cost about $15 million.
Garcetti noted during his remarks Thursday that public safety is on the forefront of Angelenos' mind, and he said his budget proposal would double the number of Crisis and Incident Response Through Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE) pilot program, which diverts non-emergency, 9-1-1 calls related to homelessness to mental health care experts and crisis workers. The program began in November and responded to more than 1,200 calls in Hollywood and Venice.
The mayor also said the new budget would build on the city's partnership with L.A. County to send mental health response teams to mental health-related 9-1-1 calls.
"Our budget funds these two vans and will add three more to South L.A. and the Valley, together giving us the capacity to respond to 9,000 calls by year's end to the trauma we see on our streets," he said.
The mayor did not reveal any information about how much the city would invest in its police department.
Under the city charter, the mayor must release his budget proposal by April 20, with the Los Angeles City Council making changes before adopting a version of the budget by June 1. The mayor is responsible for approving or vetoing any changes within five business days. The fiscal year 2022-23 begins on July 1.
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Garcetti has served as mayor for nearly nine years and spent 21 years at City Hall. A new mayor will be elected this year as Garcetti awaits his confirmation to become US Ambassador to India.
The mayor gave his State of the City speech from the under-construction Sixth Street Viaduct, which he called "this beautiful statement of possibility and purpose and connection in our city." The viaduct, which includes 20 arches in a "Ribbon of Light" design, is expected to be completed this summer.
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