Let’s Clean Up the Place

April 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

You don’t have to tell most Angelenos that the city of Los Angeles is getting dirtier and dirtier; they can see it every time they step outside.

The trash that litters street curbs and alleys is shameful, but it didn’t get there by itself.

Mayor Erick Garcetti has set aside $9.1 millions for the Clean Streets Initiative, and that’s a good start. But will it be enough? Not likely.

Especially since the Bureau of Sanitation has been given four years to install the 5,000 new trashcans called for in the clean streets plan.

That’s right, it will take four years for all the trashcans to be in place!

The city, with only 1,000 trash cans today, already lags far behind most other big cities in this area and taking four years will likely result in the city just keeping up with what is now a quickly worsening condition. EGP believes the mayor should speed up the trashcan roll out time frame.

It really frustrates us when we see city employees who daily pass by dumped couches, TVs and furniture, but the dumped items remain because city employs have not been specifically directed to report the dumped items either by phone or on their Ipads, which many employees now have.

Now, the Mayor’s initiative, modeled on a program started in Councilman Gil Cedillo’s first district, calls for the sanitation department to deploy a strike team to conduct targeted clean ups in areas of heavy dumping; it’s about time.

The initiative also calls for the city to develop a data-driven system to measure street cleanliness, or on the flip side, the dirtiest streets by the end of the year.

We hope city workers will get on board and take time to volunteer on strike teams in our neighborhoods.

That includes police officers who too often look away when someone litters, seeing it as a low-priority crime. The accumulation of trash created by these seemingly unimportant actions, have an expensive and detrimental impact on quality of life in neighborhoods already suffering from overcrowding, lack of open space and other dwindling resources. It’s been well documented that neglect and trash are too often precursors to crime in low-income areas.

The city should also prohibit residents from leaving their trashcans on the street after collection day.

Los Angeles residents also need to do their part, and we don’t mean by complaining. Take the time to call the city’s 311 number if you have a bulky item to be picked, or to report when items have been illegally dumped in your neighborhood. The city should step up outreach to explain the program to residents.

And in case you think you are off the hook because you don’t live in the city of Los Angeles, think again. Most cities have similar programs and residents should take full advantage of them and become active in keeping their neighborhoods clean. In unincorporated areas of the county, the number to call is 211.

So now, let’s all get together and clean up the place.

Garcetti’s Budget High on ‘Rebuilding’

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Mayor Eric Garcetti released an $8.5 billion budget proposal Monday that he called the healthiest in years, including more funding for tree-trimming, street-cleaning, sidewalk repairs and affordable housing.

The proposed 2015-16 budget also calls for purchasing 7,000 police body cameras and funding more in-car digital cameras for police officers, along with an additional $5.5 million for the city’s anti-gang program and $567,000 to expand a domestic abuse response program to all police stations.

The spending plan assumes revenues will be up 5.5 percent — including property tax, sales tax and hotel tax revenue — though Garcetti said he wants to take a “very disciplined approach” to the expected additional income.

“As we all know, we are digging ourselves out of a big hole caused by the Great Recession, so we are rebuilding our city’s finances in a way that is responsible and delivers long-term stability and balance in the city,” he said.

Garcetti said the budget proposal puts $435 million into reserves, reaches the city’s own goal of funding projects to improve or build city facilities and does not use one-time income on long-term uses.

The proposed budget also assumes that about 20,000 city workers will agree to no raises and paying a bigger percentage of their health-care costs, but talks with city employee unions have dragged on since their contracts expired last year, and some workers are threatening to go on strike.

Under Garcetti’s plan, the city would spend an added $4.1 million for cleaning streets and alleys, add 1,200 trash cans, put $1 million into maintaining more park restrooms and increase the tree-trimming budget by 50 percent.

This will also be the first year the city is required to budget $31 million toward sidewalk repairs, as part of a recent a $1.4 billion settlement of several lawsuits lodged by disabled residents and advocates.

The budget also calls for $10 million to be set aside in the city’s affordable housing trust fund that is used to create more homes for low-income residents.

The plan also calls for hiring additional code enforcement and animal control officers.

The City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee will hold a series of hearings on the budget proposal starting April 28.

City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the panel, said council members will go through the budget “with a fine tooth comb, hear from each city department about their needs and listen to the public’s input.

“My goal is to adopt a budget that reflects our city’s values and commitment to public safety and neighborhood services, and is also fiscally responsible,” he said.

Alcalde Eric Garcetti Presenta Presupuesto Enfocándose en Seguridad Pública

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

El alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti, presentó el lunes su proyecto de presupuesto donde refuerza la seguridad pública, garantiza la financiación para un mínimo de 10.000 agentes de la policía e impulsa iniciativas para prevenir y combatir las pandillas, entre otros puntos.

El proyecto de presupuesto para el próximo año fiscal, que se eleva a un total de $8.570 millones fue calificado por el mandatario como “el más sano en años”.

“Como todos sabemos, estamos saliendo de un gran hueco causado por la Gran Recesión, por lo que estamos reconstruyendo las finanzas de nuestra ciudad de una manera que es responsable y proporciona la estabilidad y el equilibrio a largo plazo”, destacó el lunes Garcetti en rueda de prensa.

La iniciativa fiscal propuesta para comenzar a aplicarse el 1 de julio, incluye $5,5 millones para expandir el programa de Desarrollo de la Juventud y Reducción de Pandillas, una iniciativa de larga trayectoria en la ciudad.

Además de respaldar el número de agentes de policía que han sido considerados como indispensable para garantizar la seguridad de las áreas patrulladas por el Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD), la propuesta de Garcetti incluye una partida para la compra de 7.000 cámaras personales portátiles para uso de los agentes.

En apoyo a otra medida de seguridad anunciada previamente junto con el jefe de LAPD, el comandante Charlie Beck, el presupuesto incluye $565.000 para extender un programa de respuesta al abuso doméstico a todas las estaciones de policía.

Los ingresos previstos calculan un aumento de 5,5 por ciento con relación al presupuesto actual, incluyendo impuestos a la propiedad, a las ventas y a las ganancias de los hoteles, principalmente.

Igualmente, Garcetti propuso contratar 180 bomberos más y reducir el tiempo de respuesta de las ambulancias comprando más vehículos para ese departamento.

Manteniendo su filosofía de restricción a los aumentos de salario, el mandatario recalcó que no piensa ofrecer incrementos a los cerca de 20.000 trabajadores civiles de la ciudad.

Algunos de estos trabajadores sindicalizados, han amenazado recientemente con declarar la huelga debido a la falta de avance en las negociaciones.

En otros aspectos, la ciudad gastará $4,1 millones adicionales a la partida actual para la limpieza de calles y callejones, agregará 1.500 cubos de basura, dispondrá $1 millón más para el mantenimiento de los baños en los parques públicos e incrementará el presupuesto de poda de árboles en un 50 por ciento.

Con una población calculada por el censo del 2013 en 3,88 millones de habitantes, de los cuales el 48,5 por ciento es hispano, Los Ángeles es la segunda ciudad más poblada del país, después de Nueva York.


Garcetti’s State of the City Focuses on the ‘Basics’

April 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Mayor Eric Garcetti said in his State of the City speech Tuesday that his “back to basics” approach has yielded results and announced a series of measures to tackle a recent rise in violent crime.

“City Hall is getting things done, neighborhoods are on the move, people are getting back to work,’’ Garcetti said at in the Valley Performance Arts Center at Cal State Northridge.

Garcetti said when he took office 21 months ago, “our city was still reeling from the Great Recession,” and the “city had stopped fixing sidewalks, trimming trees, hiring firefighters.”

But since then, new jobs in city have been added at “the fastest pace in more than a decade” and the city’s credit rating is up, he said.

“Los Angeles and your City Hall are roaring back, and the state of our city is strong,” Garcetti said.

Garcetti acknowledged that there is more work ahead with the city recently experiencing a rise in violent crime.

To tackle this crime increase, he said the city is “nearly doubling the ranks” of “elite” police officers in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Division, “so we can quickly saturate a neighborhood with additional officers when crime spikes.”

Garcetti said he will extend the city’s Summer Night Lights program – which keeps parks open later during summer as a way to steer youth away from gangs – so parks will also remain open late on Friday nights during the school year.

Garcetti also announced that the police department is expanding its Community Safety Partnership, a program that embeds police officers for five years at public housing developments, “where they will become part of the community they protect and serve.”

The expansion includes creating a team of 40 officers who will take this “relationship-based” approach to policing.

Garcetti added that he will make a budget proposal next week to increase funding for the city’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development program by $5.5 million.

Garcetti also announced that the city will allow ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft to join taxi companies in being able to pick up passengers at airports beginning this summer.

Garcetti also said the city will now also provide data to Waze, a smartphone app that gives crowd-sourced traffic directions. The app will now be able to show areas where the city have closed streets for repairs and even film shoots.

In a speech that touched on numerous initiatives and ongoing issues in the city, Garcetti avoided discussing ongoing labor talks with city employees – thousands of whom recently voted to authorize a strike as contract talks stall.

A small group of protesters from one of the city employee unions marched in a circle outside the Valley Performing Arts Center, banging on buckets like drums and carrying signs with a picture of the mayor, saying “Garcetti, Fix LA Now.”

Garcetti said last year that in order to eliminate future budget deficits, the city needs to hold the line on city employee wages and get workers to agree to contribute a higher percentage of their health care costs.

City employee unions have so far resisted such concessions.

Garcetti used the speech as an opportunity to remind the public about the continuing drought and his plan to prepare the city’s infrastructure and buildings for the next big earthquake.

“We’ll get through this drought because we are a resilient city … a city that prepares for disasters, instead of being caught off guard,” Garcetti said.

The drought, now in its fourth year, has become a pressing issue across the state, with Gov. Jerry Brown calling for a 25 percent reduction in water use, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California expected to restrict water deliveries to its members agencies by 15 percent — only the third time in 25 years it has enacted such limits.

Garcetti, who noted that Cal State Northridge where he is delivering his speech was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, said the college bounced back quickly, re-opening a month after the temblor.

Garcetti said a major earthquake “will happen” and is “overdue,” so he and the City Council are moving forward immediately with an “aggressive earthquake plan.”

The plan calls for strengthening the city’s water delivery system, improving the local communications network and requiring that buildings prone to collapsing during earthquakes be retrofitted.

Garcetti also used the speech to tout several major proposals he has put forth in recent months.

Garcetti urged the City Council “to pass a responsible, carefully crafted plan to raise the minimum wage – now.”

The City Council will debate his proposal – announced on Labor Day – to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 per hour by 2017. Some city leaders want to go further and boost the wage to $15.25 by 2019.

Study Faults DWP ‘Customer Service’

March 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power ranks poorly in customer service when compared to comparable utilities, and spends less in that area, according to study findings released Tuesday by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office.

The study, conducted by PA Consulting, compared the operations and costs of the department against those of other utilities and concluded the DWP should increase spending on customer-focused programs.

Garcetti said the study highlighted the DWP’s customer service struggle, “reinforcing our work to hire 190 customer service representatives since April 2014 to drive call hold times down to under five minutes.”

“Under our new leadership at the DWP, we are changing the culture to focus more on customer service, because that’s what our customers deserve,” he said.

The study gave favorable rankings for the utility’s spending levels and reliability.

“I am very pleased with the initial results of this study, which will help us find and achieve real cost savings and greater efficiencies within LADWP’s operations,” said General Manager Marcie Edwards, who was hired about five months after the department rolled out a revamped billing system and started experiencing major problems.

The study has two more phases. The next phase will focus more closely on customer service, power distribution, energy loss and expenses that go uncollected. The third phase will look at ways to improve the DWP’s operations, such as cutting back on energy loss and uncollected expenses.

The study was released a week after a state audit found that the troubled 2013 rollout of DWP’s billing system could wind up costing ratepayers more than $200 million.

The system launch resulted in some customers receiving wildly inflated bills and others receiving no bills at all.

The state audit found that as of November, the utility was still trying to collect more than $681 million from customers for past-due bills. DWP officials said only about $245 million of that amount is attributable to the new billing system.

Councilman Felipe Fuentes introduced a motion Tuesday requesting that the state auditor and the DWP ratepayer advocate give reports to the City Council about the billing system’s problems.

He also asked the DWP to report on how soon the state auditor’s recommendations could be adopted.

“It is my expectation that the information revealed by the state audit and the ratepayer advocate’s analysis will continue to improve the management of the utility and restore the trust expected by our residents and ratepayers,” Fuentes said.

He added that residents and the City Council “are eager to get this matter resolved, once and for all, so we can finally focus our efforts on modernizing and maintaining our aging infrastructure to make room for a growing, robust Los Angeles.”

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced earlier this month that his office filed a lawsuit against the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which the city hired to implement the DWP billing system.

Feuer alleges the company misrepresented its level of experience handling such a system, costing the city “millions” of dollars. But Daniel J. Thomasch, an attorney for PwC, called the lawsuit “meritless,” contending it was a “transparent attempt by the DWP to shift blame away” from the utility.

Garcetti Inicia Recaudación Para su Reelección como Alcalde en 2017

March 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

El Alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti, ha comenzado a recaudar fondos en su carrera hacia la reelección en este cargo, según informó el miércoles la página web que anuncia la campaña.

La oficina de comunicación del alcalde aseguró el miércoles a Efe que el funcionario “sólo presentó los documentos” para iniciar dicha recaudación.

Sin embargo, no se ha producido aún un anuncio oficial al respecto más allá del titular “Eric Garcetti para Alcalde 2017” que aparece en la página de campaña.

La Comisión de Ética de Los Ángeles recibió este lunes los documentos necesarios para que el demócrata comience a recibir fondos y donaciones, según informaron medios locales.
El alcalde, que todavía no ha cumplido dos años en este puesto, fue elegido en mayo de 2013 gracias al apoyo del 54% del electorado, derrotando en una feroz lucha a Wendy Greuel, exadministradora financiera de la ciudad que aspiraba a convertirse en la primera mujer alcalde de Los Ángeles.

Durante las primarias en 2013, Garcetti, nieto de mexicanos, logró el respaldo del 48% de los votantes latinos y el 40% del voto judío, un apoyo que fue determinante para su elección como alcalde.

De cara a las elecciones de 2017, el voto hispano sería también decisivo para este demócrata que sustituyó en 2013 a Antonio Villaraigosa, el primer alcalde latino de la ciudad.

A los 42 años, Garcetti se convirtió en el alcalde más joven de la historia moderna de Los Ángeles y en el primer judío en ostentar este cargo.

El nombre de Garcetti surgió como un posible candidato para suceder a la senadora Bárbara Boxer, demócrata por California, quien anunció hace poco que no buscaría la reelección en 2016. Pero el alcalde rápidamente calló los rumores, diciendo que le encanta ser alcalde y esta “comprometido con el trabajo aquí”.

Él también ha sido mencionado como un posible candidato a gobernador para reemplazar a Jerry Brown, pero Garcetti no ha dado ninguna indicación de que esté considerando tal oferta.

Garcetti Files Paperwork for Re-election

March 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Having shunned a chance to run for U.S. Senate, Mayor Eric Garcetti has quietly filed paperwork to seek re-election in 2017.

Garcetti filed re-election paperwork on Monday with the city Ethics Commission, according to the panel’s website. The filing allows him to begin fundraising for the campaign.

Garcetti’s name surfaced as a possible candidate to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who announced earlier that she would not seek re-election in 2016. But the mayor quickly shot down the rumors, saying he loves being mayor and is “committed to the work here.”

He has also been mentioned as a likely candidate for governor to replace Jerry Brown, but Garcetti has not given any indication that he is considering such a bid.

The Los Angeles Times also noted that Garcetti had launched a “bare-bones” campaign website at www.ericgarcetti.com. The site contains a biography of Garcetti and a link to make donations.

L.A.’s History Available on Single Website

February 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Information about Los Angeles’ historic, cultural and architectural landmarks are now available on a single website thanks to a collaboration between the city and the Getty Conservation Institute, city officials announced Tuesday.

Mayor Eric Garcetti joined Getty executives to unveil www.HistoricPlacesLA.org, which features an interactive map to the city’s architecturally and historically significant districts, bridges, parks, gardens, streets and buildings.

“This system unlocks Los Angeles’ rich cultural history and puts it in the palm of anyone’s hand,” Garcetti said. “HistoricPlacesLA will enrich and enlighten visitors and Angelenos alike and will encourage people to truly explore our streets and be conscious of the history around us.”

Officials said the site was set up as a resource for policymakers, property owners, developers, visitors, students, history and architecture fans and other stakeholders.

The website includes information collected through SurveyLA, a partnership between the city and Getty to identify significant sites around the city, and will be continually updated.

Garcetti Sees Progress in Labor Negotiations

February 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Even as city workers rallied at job sites around the city to protest what they call cuts to municipal services, Mayor Eric Garcetti insisted Tuesday there has been recent progress in labor negotiations with employee unions.

“I feel we’ve made great progress last week at the table. There’s been real progress on substantive issues, and we’re going to continue there,” Garcetti told City News Service.

Garcetti and other city leaders have said they are seeking no raises, increased employee contributions to health-care costs and other concessions from the coalition of city employee unions, whose labor agreements expired in July.

“And I hope that’s communicated to members,” Garcetti said, referring to the progress he said the city is making wit the union, adding that the city “will manage in a fiscally responsible way and through any job actions.”

“We’re going to make sure that the workplace rules are enforced. People expect that city employees will do their jobs,” he said. “I have great faith in our city employees to do that.”

He would not say whether the city has made any headway on union concessions, but said “for the first time in weeks” there has been “real progress.”

“We still have a long ways to go, but … it’s not at a standstill, which it was for a long time. There’s actual movement now,” he said.

He added that the city is still not “out of the woods,” and even if “the economy is coming back, we still have more expenses than we have revenues, so we have to think creatively about how to save money.”

Garcetti’s comments came as Fix L.A., a group affiliated with the unions, is organizing protests with workers at more than 60 job sites.

Picketers, some waving giant Band-aids or wearing outfits festooned with trash at the City Sanitation Yard and the Dockweiler Beach Youth Center, alleged that the city has failed to adequately maintain city sanitation trucks, which could break down and become a public safety threat. They also contended that bad Wall Street deals have leached money from city coffers that could have been used to clean up storm drains.

“We have a strong message that we want the city to not pay the bank, to put that money back into the community, the residents of Los Angeles, and we hope the mayor will work with us on that,” wastewater sanitation worker Simboa Right told City News Service.

Protesters also picketed at the Los Angeles Zoo, Los Angeles International Airport, Department of Transportation building and Public Works offices to express their dissatisfaction with city leaders.

Eric Garcetti Defiende su Primer Año como Alcalde en Los Ángeles

July 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Al cumplir un año como alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti defiende sus avances en la creación de empleos y disminución de la criminalidad, mientras la ciudadanía le pide proyectos mayores que impulsen el área metropolitana.

El alcalde ha destacado su iniciativa de “volver a lo básico” y ha promovido su logro en el aumento de los permisos para obras de construcción que han crecido de $1.100 millones en octubre de 2013 a $3.500 millones en abril pasado.

Asimismo, el gobierno argumenta la mejora en la creación de empleo, que según la Proyección Anderson de la Universidad de California Los Ángeles (UCLA) ha disminuido de 10,9% cuando Garcetti comenzó su mandato a 8,6% al final de mayo pasado.

Según la administración, los delitos violentos y contra la propiedad han disminuido el 6,9% en el primer semestre del año en comparación con el mismo periodo de 2013.

Para Michael Woo, decano del Colegio de Diseño Ambiental de la Universidad Estatal de California Pomona, el lema de Garcetti ha servido para mejorar la eficiencia de la alcaldía y comenzar a devolver la confianza de los residentes en su líder, en una ciudad donde menos del 25% participó en la elección del alcalde.

Sin embargo Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., decano de la Escuela Asuntos Públicos Luskin de UCLA, denominó como “algo menor” la insistencia del alcalde en su trabajo administrativo, al participar recientemente en un foro de la universidad.

Así, centrada únicamente en proyectos que los críticos califican de menores como el parcheo de huecos en las calles o la recuperación del río de Los Ángeles, la gestión de Garcetti aparece pálida en megaproyectos.

El anuncio realizado el jueves de la aprobación de un proyecto para crear un tren ligero que una varios puntos importantes de la ciudad con el aeropuerto de Los Ángeles, quizá pueda ser el comienzo de la etapa de crecimiento que le piden al alcalde.

Garcetti clasificó el proyecto, discutido desde hace cerca de 40 años, como “un paso crucial para construir el aeropuerto de clase mundial y el sistema de transporte de clase mundial que nuestra ciudad, de clase mundial, se merece”.

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