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Garcetti Focuses On Homelessness And Affordable Housing In State Of The City Address

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Secure in his recent reelection, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered his annual State of the City address Thursday. The mayor focused this year’s policy points on homelessness, rebuilding the city’s infrastructure, job growth, and affordable housing.

“This morning, I’m proud to announce that the budget I am presenting to City Council dedicates more than $176 million to house the unsheltered, connect them with services, and keep our communities safe and clean. We are not here to address homelessness…or manage homelessness …or reduce homelessness…we are here to end homelessness once and for all,” Garcetti said during his State of the City address.

Garcetti then noted the city's goal of building 100,000 new housing units is halfway met. He also discussed a motion put forward by the City Council earlier this year to create an Affordable Housing Linkage Fee.

The fee would be levied on new construction, and would be earmarked by the city for use in constructing new affordable housing units.

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"The linkage fee I have proposed will raise $100 million a year, and leverage up to $300 million additional dollars every year for affordable housing. Combined with HHH, this will allow us to more than double affordable housing production," Garcetti said.

But not all agree with Garcetti’s affordable housing proposal.

“It's already far too expensive to build housing in Los Angeles, which is why there is such limited supply and why vacancy rates are at crisis-level lows,” Mott Smith, a developer, said, notes the Los Angeles Times. “We should be doing everything we can to make housing less expensive, not more expensive, to build.”

Garcetti also rolled out a plan to equip the city with an earthquake early-warning system by 2018.

"Two years ago, we passed the most sweeping seismic retrofit legislation in all of America...Our retrofits are well under way—and when the big one hits, they will save the lives and homes of a half-million people,” the mayor began. ”This year, we are going to build on that work. By the end of 2018, we will deploy an earthquake early-warning system to every corner of this city—in schools, at businesses, even on your smartphone. It will give you a head start when an earthquake is coming—precious seconds that save lives."

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The Times also notes that Garcetti is facing a $224 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year.

According to KPCC, City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the city’s budget and finance committee, raised concern over L.A.’s budgetary woes and the potential of cuts to various city programs.

"I was certainly hoping that we would be in a time now where we could start looking forward to adding services and rebuilding a number of things that now I feel like we need to take a much more cautious approach about."

"We're in uncharted territory," Krekorian later added. "...So there would inevitably be dramatic cuts to the sorts of things that people think a government should provide just to keep people alive."

However, in a press release emailed to LAist, Krekorian responded directly to the proposals laid out in Mayor Garcetti's speech.

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“I’m encouraged by the Mayor’s budget proposal and appreciate that he’s supporting the City Council’s work by continuing to fund critical sidewalk and street repair, backing more housing for the homeless, improving the way Los Angeles serves the business community and increasing our investment in public safety. ...But it is absolutely incumbent on the city as a whole to tackle [rising costs] head on and find ways to reduce our liabilities on an ongoing basis. If we don’t, these costs threaten our ability to provide the level of services Angelenos deserve.”

[The article has been updated to clarify and contextualize Coucilman Krekorian's comments]