LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took aim at earthquakes, drought and increased police protection in his annual State of the City speech.
Garcetti continued to push his so-called "Back to Basics" program in the speech, which is usually the precursor to the mayor delivering a budget to the City Council.
In addition to highlighting efforts to prepare for the big earthquake — for which, he said, the city is overdue — and the city's efforts to deal with the state's four-year drought, he also noted a push to get federal funding to support build-out of the city's light rail system.
"I've been aggressive, travelling frequently to Washington to bring home our fair share of federal funds for transit. The result so far? Nearly $3 billion and counting," Garcetti said in Tuesday's speech. "This funding is accelerating subway construction under Wilshire Boulevard. As a result, we'll be able to ride underground from Downtown to Century City a year earlier."
Garcetti also cited construction underway on the new Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Downtown Rail Connector, the Gold Line Extension, and the Expo line extension, which will connect the east side to the ocean.
The city finally got the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Los Angeles International Airport to agree on a plan earlier this year to connect the airport to the growing light rail network.
"When I took that oath, I told you that I would get us back to the basics," Garcetti said. "I said that it was time for City Hall to improve core city services, to rebuild our city's infrastructure and to help businesses create more middle-class jobs. And today, we are leaving the recession in the rearview mirror — and building a Los Angeles that works."
Among the city's achievements, according to Garcetti, are 70,000 new jobs — the fastest employment creation pace in more than a decade --balanced budgets, an improved credit rating, lowered business taxes, and that more people are choosing to live, work, visit, and study in L.A. than ever before.
"Today, I am proud to report to you that our back to basics agenda is delivering results," he said. "Los Angeles and your City Hall are roaring back, and the state of our city is strong."
The city also has reduced overall crime at the end of last year to its lowest level per capita since 1949, though the city's violent crime numbers were up.
He rolled out a plan to tackle crime that included nearly doubling the ranks of LAPD's elite Metropolitan Division, "so we can quickly saturate a neighborhood with additional officers when crime spikes."
His budget, which will go to the City Council next week, will include $5.5 million more dollars for the city's Gang Reduction and Youth Development program, he said.
"In the aftermath of Ferguson, Staten Island, and now, North Charleston, relationship-based policing has put us on track to be the biggest city in America to put body cameras on every officer on the street," Garcetti said, referring to a series of incidents around the country in which police killed unarmed black men. "Today, I am announcing the creation of a new division at LAPD that centers on relationship-based policing — the Community Policing Division — 40 officers whose sole mission will be to build even greater trust and partnerships in our communities."