LA's Next Mayor: How Alex Gruenenfelder Would Tackle The Big Issues Facing The City
LAist sent all candidates actively campaigning for L.A. Mayor the following questionnaire. Their responses have been published in full, adjusted only to fit the formatting and style of the page.
We also highlighted 12 questions that we think give you a sense of where the candidates align with your own views on issues that are important to Angelenos. And we wrapped it all up in our interactive "matchmaking" quiz, Meet Your Mayor. Curious? Take the quiz!
About the Candidate
Alex Gruenenfelder is the youngest candidate on the ballot. He was recently appointed to the Echo Park Neighborhood Council.
Gruenenfelder graduated from UC San Diego in 2021 with a bachelor of arts degree in theater. He lists his profession on the ballot as "Social Justice Advocate."
Q: California is in a chronic drought. Which strategy most closely reflects what you think should be done at the city level to improve individual water conservation?
A: Individual water use is not the right intervention point.
Q: What should the next mayor prioritize to lower the costs of converting to more sustainable electric options for homeowners and businesses? (i.e. solar power, electric vehicles, etc.)
A: Getting to a 100% renewable grid should be encouraged via subsidies and tax breaks.
Q: As mayor, Eric Garcetti promised to get to 100% clean electricity for city operations by 2035 by electrifying city buildings, vehicles, and public transit. Will you continue working toward this goal? Why or why not?
A: I will commit to Mayor Garcetti's 100% clean electricity plan, and make sure that we hit this goal before 2035.
Q: Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles. Where do you see the biggest opportunity to lower those emissions?
A: Expanding green, safe, and reliable public transit is necessary to solve our city's transportation woes.
Q: What's the most important action the next mayor can take to help the city's most vulnerable residents deal with extreme heat?
A: We must create more public facilities to deal with extreme heat, add more shading to places like bus stops, and invest comprehensively in a green future for the long term.
Q: What should the next mayor’s top priority be for addressing the city’s poor air quality, especially for those communities most impacted by pollution?
A: Build a green future by investing in public transit, creating a 100% renewable grid, and ending oil and gas drilling within the city limits.
Q: Climate is also affecting fires in the city and its surroundings. How would you tackle this problem?
A: We need fact-based fire management, based on real data — and we need to invest long-term to stop the root causes of these fires.
Q: Los Angeles Municipal Code 41.18, better known as the “anti-camping law,” bans people who are unhoused from camping on public property close to locations such as schools, parks, libraries, and underpasses. Should 41.18 be kept as is, repealed, or amended?
A: The anti-camping law is unconstitutional as it stands, and should be replaced by one that guarantees people in encampments are given access to shelter or housing.
Editor's note: Anti-camping laws have been found unconstitutional in other cities, but not in Los Angeles.
Q: Should the city be clearing encampments where people experiencing homelessness have taken up temporary residence? Why or why not?
A: Encampments should be cleared only after the homeless have been given shelter or housing.
Q: I believe the primary cause of most homelessness in Los Angeles is…
A: A triage of problems: housing costs, addiction, and mental illness.
Q: The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) estimates that 25% of people who are unhoused have a severe mental illness. What is your opinion on the current state of mental health support for unhoused people?
A: The current state of mental health support in Los Angeles is extremely flawed. We must invest comprehensively in treatment for mental illness to guarantee that we can get mentally ill people off the streets and back on their feet.
Q: Do you agree with Angelenos who say that the large number of people living outside makes the streets less safe? Why or why not?
A: The homelessness crisis makes everyone less safe, including those on the streets. It is impossible to address public safety without addressing homelessness.
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Q: Should the next mayor commit to ensuring that people who are experiencing homelessness are at the table when decisions are made on the city’s homelessness policies?
A: People experiencing homelessness have a role to play in the development of homelessness and housing policy. The next mayor should have a platform informed by experts, community members, and the homeless — as my campaign does.
Q: Proposition HHH is a $1.2 billion bond measure approved by voters in 2016 which supports the development of 8,000-10,000 permanent supportive housing units within the city of Los Angeles over 10 years. Has its implementation been effective?
A: The implementation of Proposition HHH has been deeply flawed, failing to get us the housing necessary, and we must hold our city's leaders accountable for its failures.
Q: Who should build housing for the unhoused community: the city or private developers? Why?
A: We can only build the massive amount of housing our city needs if both the city and private developers work to get the job done.
Q: LAUSD is the largest school district in the country in which residents directly elect their school board and the mayor doesn’t have direct control over that board. This means the mayor has little to no influence over education in the city of Los Angeles. Should anything about this arrangement change?
A: The mayor should have more input into education policy, but this is settled law and changes must come from voters.
Q: What role does the city play in addressing a lack of affordable child care, which is particularly acute in low-income areas?
A: The city must play an important role in providing affordable childcare, and the next mayor should invest in these services.
Equitable Economics and Housing
Q: I believe the biggest barrier to building more affordable housing is…
A: NIMBYism (the "Not In My Back Yard" mentality).
Q: Due to the city's emergency decree, rent increases are currently not allowed for tenants living in most apartments built before 1978. But before the pandemic, Los Angeles generally capped annual rent increases at 3% for apartments covered by local rent control. Should the city keep its existing rent control ordinance, eliminate it, or modify it?
A: The city's rent control ordinance needs modification, in order to protect renters and homeowners alike.
Q: Landlords also say they’ve been struggling amid rising costs, inflation over 7%, and pandemic-era restrictions such as temporary bans on rent increases and evictions. What, if anything, should the city do to help landlords?
A: Our city must be fair to landlords, but we need a mayor who is not funded by these special interests and will make it a priority to support renters.
Q: What statement best reflects your position on the minimum wage of $16.04 that goes into effect on July 1, 2022?
A: Our city's minimum wage should take into account inflation and cost-of-living.
Q: Mayor Garcetti piloted a universal basic income program. Do you support the idea of a universal basic income in Los Angeles? Why or why not?
A: I support the concept of a universal basic income program, but we must study the issue extensively and make sure its implementation is sound.
Q: Street safety advocates say at the current pace of improvement, it will take 200 years to fulfill Vision Zero, which was supposed to be accomplished by 2035. What’s the first step to getting Vision Zero back on track?
A: We must make commitment to Vision Zero a priority in all infrastructure improvements, make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, and invest greatly in public transit.
Q: Should the Los Angeles Police Department remain at its current size of 9,500 sworn officers, should it be downsized, or should it increase? Why?
A: I am satisfied with the current amount of LAPD officers, but we must demilitarize the police department and invest in other forms of crisis response.
Q: The current LAPD budget of $1.76 billion represents almost 16% of the overall city budget. Should LAPD funding stay the same, increase or decrease? Why?
A: We should reallocate a small amount of the LAPD's budget toward social services, mental healthcare and addiction treatment, and unarmed crisis response.
Q: Is it possible to reduce crime in the city without increasing the LAPD budget? If so, how?
A: The LAPD has a role to play in reducing crime, but investments in anti-poverty programs, treatment for addiction and mental illness, and unarmed crisis response will reduce crime more over time.
Q: A rising number of Angelenos say that Los Angeles no longer feels safe. As mayor, how would you address their fears?
A: We must invest in addressing the roots of crime and homelessness, both of which must be reduced if Angelenos are to be and feel safe in our city.
Q: Media investigations have found that LAPD officers have disproportionately stopped Black drivers, and were much more likely to search Black and Latino drivers. Do you believe racial profiling is a problem, and if so, what should be done to address it?
A: Racial profiling is a problem in Los Angeles, and we must crack down on and end LAPD use of racial profiling.
Q: Would you be willing to meet with groups that have been sharply critical of the police, such as Black Lives Matter and Reform LA Jails?
A: I have met with progressive police reform groups, and will continue to as Mayor of Los Angeles.
Q: District Attorney George Gascón came to office on a progressive agenda that includes fewer prosecutions for low-level crimes. What statement best reflects your opinion of his agenda?
A: Broadly aligns with my beliefs.
Q: Who should be sent when a call is made about a mental health crisis?
A: Trained social workers should be the first step.
Q: How would you want the police chief to address the frayed relationships between the LAPD and many of the communities it serves?
A: The police chief must be actively involved in the communities they serve, and it must be a priority for the next chief to bridge the gap between the community and the LAPD.