Mayor Eric Garcetti concluded his first day in office Monday by meeting for three hours with constituents in the hopes of setting a tone for an open-door style during his administration.
Garcetti moved from one sparsely furnished office to another like a doctor meeting with patients, talking with about a dozen constituents and checking the pulse on a variety of issues that included a contentious mixed-use development in Boyle Heights, homelessness and potholes.
In one room, Garcetti listened as representatives of the Midnight Mission, a homeless services provider and shelter, said city officials should work with Los Angeles County officials more on the disproportionate number of homeless people in the city’s downtown area.
In another room, he provided a “Street Paving 101” lesson to 39-year-old Mario Bonilla of Panorama City who complained of a severe pothole in his street.
Garcetti explained the way in which the city prioritizes repairs, saying more expensive, severe potholes don’t get as much attention as milder damage that can still be salvaged. Garcetti added there is a proposal by Councilman Joe Buscaino to issue a $3 billion bond to pay for citywide street paving projects.
Garcetti then met with members of Comite de la Esperanza, a group looking to preserve Wyvernwood, a large apartment community in Boyle Heights with thousands of residents.
Garcetti told them they have a strong ally in Councilman Jose Huizar, who on Tuesday was appointed to lead the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee.
He described various options they have for negotiating with the developer, Fifteen Group, which is proposing to demolish the apartments to build new ones, as well as construct retail and office space.
An aide said the people who met with Garcetti submitted requests and were picked randomly.
Garcetti told reporters who crowded into the mayor’s quarters Monday and observed some of the meetings, that he plans to hold these “office hours” once a month, having conducted them every two weeks as a councilman for the 13th District.
“I want people to know I’ll be accessible,” Garcetti said. “You don’t have to be a campaign donor. You don’t have to be a member of an association. We’re all equal in this city.”
In other business this week, the mayor’s office on Wednesday announced that former Councilwoman Jan Perry will oversee the creation of the city’s new Economic Development Department, the mayor’s office.
Garcetti appointed Perry as the interim general manager of the department, which is being created to fill a void left by the state-mandated dissolution of the Community Redevelopment Agency.
No recommendation was made as to who will permanently lead the new office, but Perry is being charged with getting it “up and running” and firing on “eight cylinders,” said mayoral spokesman Yusef Robb.
Garcetti said Perry’s work “revitalizing downtown and South Los Angeles” are examples of the “kind of leadership and expertise” he wants to make the department “into a true economic engine” for Los Angeles.
Perry said she shares Garcetti’s “passion for revitalizing neighborhoods and improving the quality of life” for Los Angeles residents.
After a failed bid for mayor, Perry endorsed Garcetti over Wendy Greuel in their run-off battle.