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LAist Interview: Eric Garcetti on Prop H, R & More

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As the Los Angeles city councilman who represents Hollywood, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Koreatown and many other neighborhoods, Eric Garcetti is quite popular. He's green, he's American, and he's not afraid to stand his ground. He's also very passionate about some issues coming to us this Tuesday.

1. In one sentence, what is Prop H?

Prop H, a billion-dollar bond issue, would be the single biggest weapon against our housing crisis, helping us get homeless people off the streets and helping working and middle-income families buy their first homes at a time when fewer can afford to live here.

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2. Why is Prop H so important to you?

One of the first victories I had as a councilmember was working with the mayor, the council and advocates to establish our $100 million affordable housing trust fund. Since we put the nation's largest such fund together, we've had success after success in individual projects. The city has proven over and over that we can fund and administer housing programs successfully; now we need the chance to do it on a scale where we can actually solve the homeless crisis and the housing crunch.

There's a more personal reason, too. I've had too many people come to my office and ask for help fighting an eviction or finding another place to live. I've fought hard for fair enforcement of housing laws, but that's only one part of the battle. I've walked Skid Row with Jan Perry (who represents most of downtown) too many times to believe we can solve homelessness with just the resources we have now and our good will. That's what I mean when I say we've proven we can do these programs, now let us do it so we can make a difference.

3. Opponents say it is Welfare for the Rich, you say...

You know, I'm more interested in the supporters than the opponents. Prop H has the biggest coalition ever assembled for a city bond issue. United Way, Para Los Ninos, Habitat for Humanity--these are groups who have never endorsed a ballot measure before, and they have joined with churches, advocates, builders, service worker and building trades unions and elected officials to say Yes on H.

The real opponent here is the requirement of two-thirds electoral support. A high bar has been set for us. With the community support we see behind this issue, we're going to get over that bar.

4. What do you think of the passion in the anti Prop R movement?

I always admire passion. In this case, I just disagree with it. Prop R is a comprehensive set of good-government reforms. The ethics reforms are badly needed to prevent another episode of what we saw with airport/harbor contracts and the Bonaventure Hotel. The term limits reform is also badly needed. The question is simple: should you have the chance to elect your representative to a third term? I think any elected official comes into office needing up to two years to learn the ropes. I think the "sweet spot" for length of service in any one position is between ten and fifteen years. Right now, it's eight and you're out. In my case, I think the constituents of CD13 should have the opportunity to keep me (or anyone else they choose) around for the most productive years.

5. Do you find electronic voting booths scary?

I'm kind of into gadgets, so I've always enjoyed touchscreen voting. And it's good to know that the ones we use in Los Angeles County do have paper backup trails. New technologies must be monitored well. They should never be used just for their own sake, but only to improve our democracy.

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6. What is the Eric Garcetti Voting Guide for next week?

Yes on H and Yes on R! And don't forget Yes on J, which will allow us to move forward with our plans for a new fire station in Hollywood.

At the state level, please vote yes on 1C, the state housing bond that will supplement the projects we do locally with Prop H. I'm also working to defeat 85, the anti-choice initiative that voters already rejected two years ago, and 90, which would allow endless lawsuits over land-use and environmental regulations. I'm helping to pass 86, 87 and 89 which are for health, alternative energy, and full public financing, in that order.

Of all the candidates on the ballot, I most want to call attention to my old friend John Chiang. John is a great, compassionate, hard-working guy who should be our next controller. Tax filing companies have recently poured millions of dollars into his opponent's campaign to stop John from making tax-filing easier for low to middle-income families. Don't let them.

Photo by Dave Bullock, aka eecue.