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LA Mayor Karen Bass Hits The Ground Running During An Emergency

Karen Bass, wearing a light blue suit jacket and blue blouse, stands at a podium with the city seal of Los Angeles. She is smiling, making a clapping motion with both hands. Behind her is a floral arrangement with bursts of orange and large backdrop that consists in part of the letters "L-A" in purple.
Karen Bass speaks after being sworn in as the 43rd mayor of the City of Los Angeles at the Microsoft Theatre at L.A. Live on Dec. 11, 2022.
(Brian Feinzimer for LAist
/
for LAist)
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Can you believe Christmas is only FOUR days away? I still haven’t wrapped up all of the gifts for my loved ones. Seriously though, where did the time go? It seems like it was just yesterday when Karen Bass was sworn in as our new mayor and now she’s been in the seat for nine days already.

A Recap Of Karen Bass' First Nine Days

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During the election, my team promised that we wouldn’t stop paying attention to your concerns once the ballots were counted. Now, if you have a few minutes, we’d love to hear about what issues in L.A. feel most urgent to you.

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What do you feel Karen Bass should be prioritizing in her new role as mayor? What questions or advice do you have for her? Tell us here. With your help, LAist can set the agenda for an L.A. that you want to see.

Let me lay out a glaring fact: L.A.’s first Black woman mayor is inheriting huge crises like homelessness from Eric Garcetti.

This is what she’s done on that so far:

  • On her first day, she kept good on her promise and declared a state of emergency on homelessness
  • On Friday, she ordered city departments responsible for housing Angelenos in affordable units and shelters to fast track the process to developing housing. 
  • Yesterday, Bass launched the “Inside Safe” program, which would place unhoused people in hotels and motels. She has a goal to place over 17,000 people in housing in her first year. 

Gary Painter, the director of the Homelessness Policy Research Institute at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, said he thinks the Inside Safe plan is a good step, naming the city officials swift prior actions during the height of the pandemic in terms of housing as an example of what could be done to accommodate those who lack housing.
“It also showed that we could do something fairly quickly,” Painter said. “And so for her to pursue a similar plan makes a lot of sense.”

But there is something that he said Bass should keep in mind.

Painter said city officials should set clear expectations on how they will house people through programs and other initiatives like “Inside Safe.” Knowing how many people they could house, by what time and through which program should we expect people to be housed is major key to judging the effectiveness of these initiatives.

Also, while the city is able to house people, there’s a rotating door of people who are housed and people who lose housing at any point in time in the year. Painter noted there’s so many more people that experience homelessness at any point of the year.

“It’s easy to say that we are housing over 17,000 people because that's far less than our rate at which we actually house people in L.A. County that move through different kinds of housing,” Painter said. “If she’s suggesting that by January 2024, we should expect to see 18,000 fewer people experiencing homelessness in L.A. city than that is an ambitious goal. So, it’s not clear to me what she is claiming as her goal.”

Painter broke it down to me: Folks are falling into homelessness every year even though these programs are already housing thousands of unhoused Angelenos. The homelessness crisis is layered and numbers of folks being housed via these programs might not tell the full picture.

What’s needed for these plans to work is to set clear expectations, Painter suggested. There are different types of residents experiencing homelessness, and government programs should be how folks are being housed and the services they are receiving. “Then we can judge, kind of, the effectiveness of these programs,” he said.

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Now that we’ve caught you up on her first days in office, don’t forget to take our survey about what Bass should be prioritizing as mayor.

[Take the survey]

After you take the survey, help us hear from more Angelenos by spreading the word. Here are some suggestions for how to do that:

  • Post it on your social media accounts
  • Share it in Facebook groups, Nextdoor forums, L.A. Reddit groups, and any other social platforms where you talk about and get local info 
  • Post it in your company Slack 
  • Send it over a listserv 

If you have suggestions for other people or groups we should share the survey with, email us at engagement@scpr.org. We can distribute print versions of the survey as well.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

More News

(After you stop hitting snooze)

  • L.A. County will extend COVID-19 eviction protectionsby one month. This comes amid a time when people are impacted by COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and seasonal flu this winter. 
  • L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a votefor the Probation Department to work on phasing out pepper spray in juvenile halls for the second time in nearly four years. My colleague Emily Elena Dugdale has been reporting on this case. Learn about how after the supervisors voted to ban pepper spray the first time, the situation grew more severe. 
  • L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to supportMayor Karen Bass’ new homelessness programs for the city, even as other cities in L.A. County face  homelessness issues as well. 
  • Do you know how much money it would take for California to solve homelessness for good? The new California Homeless Housing Needs Assessment report has an answer: if the state could budget about $8 billion a year over the next 12 years towards building new homes and creating services, among other things, homelessness would be solved. 
  • My colleague John Horn wrote about how Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers used misogynistic and bullying tactics towards the women who testified against Weinstein. John said those tactics make it difficult for sexual assault survivors to speak out in the first place. 
  • Starting today, flavored tobacco products like vape pens, cartridges and menthol cigarettes are banned from stores and vending machines in California. People who were for the ban say it’s all to stop kids from nicotine addiction. 
  • Student attendance for optional catch-up days over winter break did not meet Los Angeles Unified School District officials’ expectations. Officials want to get students back on track after the height of the pandemic, but there are some issues that remain at the forefront. 
  • Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to deny a contractwith a community choice energy provider called O.C. Power Authority after worries over management. The cancellation of the contract could be costly. 
  • In Northern California, an earthquake killed at least two people, caused building destruction and left tens of thousands without electricity. 
  • A $24 billion budget deficit could be on the way for our state even if the U.S. did avoid a recession. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the legislature could face challenges ensuring a safety net if there will be a recession. 
  • The U.S.  Supreme Court just made an extension at the last minute for border restrictions. It’s a win for Republican attorneys general who were for the restrictions, but a loss for those who advocate for immigrants. 
  • The FTC says some Fortnite game players were tricked into making unwanted charges. Epic Games will refund $245 million to some Fortnite users.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration said it confiscated more than 379 million potentially fatal doses of fentanyl. The opioid continues to lead fatal overdoses across the country.
  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

Wait... One More Thing

Let's Go To The Supermarkets...That Don't Exist Anymore

Three people with light-tone skin lean over a counter in a black and white image
January 29, 1959: "Market workers dust off equipment and check price lists at Ralphs Market in North Hollywood as 28-day food market dispute ends with tentative agreement on new five-year contract between Retail Clerks Union and owners of 1,000 supermarkets. Stores will open tomorrow. From left are Robert Hagstrom, manager; Ralph Edwards, butcher and Mrs. R. H. Hagstrom, clerk."
(Valley Times Collection
/
Los Angeles Public Library Collection)

Alrighty, everyone! It's my favorite time of the week again… and I need to go to the store. No, seriously. I’m about to head to Trader Joe’s in about 5 minutes. Oh? You want to go shopping with me? I have a better idea. Hop in my yellow DeLorean lowrider coupe so we can take a trip down memory lane… to some supermarkets of yesteryear. 

Before all of these big corporations took over supermarket chains, L.A. was filled with cute, local grocery stores. Some of these places had really humble beginnings like Crawford’s and The Boys (both involve selling fruit).

Let’s go all the way back in time to the 1920s to Alexanders. It was one of the first supermarkets in Southern Cali. We’ll notice the store by its famous big, lowercase “A” in the building. Next, we’ll stop by Alpha Beta which conveniently keeps their items stocked in alphabetical order. It’s the early 20th century. Who knew that we would already be checking out our own groceries at this time?

Check out Jim Thurman’s story for more supermarkets that we need to visit before we go back to the present day. Also, once we do go back into the tail end of 2022, I challenge you to ask your older Angeleno relatives about these places!

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