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Things We Learned From Mayor Garcetti's El Niño AMA On Reddit

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Mayor Eric Garcetti did an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") on Reddit today to answer questions about El Niño. From 11:15 a.m. until about noon today, Mayor Eric Garcetti took to Reddit to answer question regarding the storms and how the city is dealing with them. People expressed concern about cell phone use while driving in the rain, sandbags and, naturally, numerous issues that had absolutely nothing to do with El Niño. Here are some things we learned:

  • The City has a website in place to help you find resources related to El Nino.
  • You can report flooding by calling 3-1-1, 24 hours-a-day (after business hours, press the prompt to speak to a live person about flooding), or calling 1-800-773-2489.
  • Need sandbags? Find where to get them and how to properly sandbag your house here.
  • Need a rain barrel? Click here. Garcetti said that you can get free rain barrels to collect rain and use for irrigation later. The City will pay residents up to $100 per rain barrel (four barrels maximum). Later in 2016, Garcetti said the City will be rolling out programs to help get larger cisterns to "capture even more water and become less dependent on imported water." Garcetti said Australia has implemented similar strategies to counter their drought.
  • Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority announced that they were opening additional shelters for El Nino, but, as we reported earlier this week, the shelters' locations are not public. Those who wish to use them must call 2-1-1 or look online. One user felt that these requirements would exclude many homeless people from gaining access to the services. Garcetti responded by saying that the 6,000 available beds are only at about 50% capacity. These shelters are open 24 hours a day, and people are allowed to bring their pets. If you know or see someone who could benefit from access to shelter, you can call 2-1-1. The City also has outreach workers "going out and talking with people in affected areas and shuttles to help them to get shelters," Garcetti explained.
  • User 'Andhelostthem' was concerned about pot holes, wondering, "With El Niño about to hit us hard is there any task force or increase in efforts to fix the inevitable damaged roads that will result from it?"
    Potholes we actually have a really good program to quickly repair potholes (not to be confused with a street that needs complete repaving) within 48 hours (during the rain we can do it but may be a bit slower this week). Call 311 or use the MyLA311 app to report it and we get it done quickly. As to the long-term plan, we paved a record amount of lane miles last year (2,400), which was a big big priority for me, nearly 8% of the entire city. If we go to the ballot with an initiative to reduce traffic through road improvements and public transit construction later this year, I will be sure as a Metro Board member that a big portion of this money is set aside in the city of LA (if it passes) to increase that new record even more. And, yes, there is a El Niño task force that I have convened for months. As the Fire Chief told me yesterday, this is a new way of doing business ("Before this storm, we used to just wait for 9-1-1 calls and respond. Now we are doing proactive work to coordinate and prepare.")
  • If you're about to have some kind of emergency—like user 'Tousledpigtails' who is about to give birth—Garcetti said the City is working with Waze to alert users to road closures to ensure they can get to hospitals and other important locations in the event of flooding. The LAPD and LAFD are also fully staffed during the storms.
  • If you see sprinklers along the freeway that are inexplicably on, you should know they're run by the State. Garcetti says they'll look into it as "we all need to continue to conserve water, even during storms."
  • 'Leaningleft' asked, "With all the flooding occurring, what is the City doing to improve the catch basin and storm drain infrastructure?"
    We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in updating our storm infrastructure in the last few years. I authored Proposition O, a half-billion dollar bond that the voters passed (second-highest vote ever!) to clean our water and upgrade our storm drain system. For instance, all of the storm drain inserts that catch our trash before going into the system has reduced trash in the LA River by more than 90% over the last decade and kept that trash from the ocean. We cleaned 40,000 storm drains in preparation for the rains and 70 catch basins, all of which have been upgraded in recent years. We don't have the pipe infrastructure for huge amounts of recurring rain and to build that would be tens of billions of dollars. That said, we have almost eliminated sewer spills into the storm drains, cleaned up our water and projects like Echo Park Lake, Lake Machado, and others have helped us keep the water clean and our storm drain system working. The County is looking at an initiative in 2017 to continue the momentum that LA City has helped lead (since much of the stormwater system crosses city lines). BTW, I should call in runoffwater system, since (with the exception of this week and when it rains), most of the water in it is urban runoff from watering, etc. Finally, I have convened a water cabinet and issued a water executive directive to get us to reduce our dependence on imported water by 50% by 2024 and to get to 50% local water by 2035. At plan.lamayor.org you can read more.


  • If the alley behind your apartment is in rough shape, you can call your councilmember. Though it's the responsibility of the property owner, sometimes councilmembers have discretionary money to help out.
  • When asked what kind of umbrella he recommends, Garcetti suggests a "really small cute Batman one." Like his daughter:

  • This is not related to El Nino at all, but Garcetti prefers hip hop to house, and his favorite Moby song is "The Perfect Life." Here's a video of him break dancing.