Apr 18, 2023

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Delivers Her First State of the City Address Transcript

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Delivers Her First State of the City Address Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsInside SafeLos Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Delivers Her First State of the City Address Transcript

Mayor Karen Bass announced a $250 million expansion of Inside Safe program during her first State of the City address. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Now at 6:00, a live look from inside City Hall tonight where Mayor Karen Bass is about to deliver her first State of the City Address. She is expected to discuss her administration’s progress during her first 100 days in office and her plans for the next year. As she is getting applause, let’s listen in.

Mayor Karen Bass (00:20):

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Thank you. Thank you, everyone. What a welcome. I appreciate that so very much. And thank you Chairwoman Hahn for those kind words. The closer you and I work together, the faster we can bring people inside. I am so honored that we have locked arms together for the people we serve because there’s no more finger pointing between the city and the county.

Speaker 2 (01:07):


Mayor Karen Bass (01:13):

Council President Krekorian, thank you as well for your kind words, for your leadership, and for welcoming us into your chambers. I am pleased to recognize a special guest here tonight with us, former mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. Stand up please. I also want to recognize again my friends from the supervisors, Supervisor Hilda Salise, Secretary of Labor, former, Supervisor Lindsey Horvant, members of the City Council, City Attorney Heidi Felstein Soto, City Controller Kenneth Mejia, and most importantly, the people of Los Angeles.

Tonight, it is my honor to fulfill my duty under the charter to report on the state of our city. I am 127 days into my administration, and I cannot declare that the state of our city is where it needs to be. But I am proud to report that together we have brought change to the city of Los Angeles. We have increased urgency at City Hall and we have a clarity of purpose and have focused our work on the people’s most pressing challenges.

After years of frustration, tonight we can see a clear path to a new Los Angeles where the state of our city will be stronger, healthier, happier, and safer. But the state of our city is really about the state of your neighborhood. It’s about the state of your household. It’s about the state of your mind. Do you look over your shoulder when walking after dark? Do you feel pride in your local park? Do you have peace of mind because you can actually pay the rent? When the answer is yes, then we can say the state of our city is strong. That’s the new LA that we’re building together.

We were reminded of how far we must go a few weeks ago when 30,000 public school custodians, bus drivers, classroom aids, and other school workers went on strike. Too many of them are struggling to get by despite their hard work. But I’m proud that I could work with Superintendent Alberto Cavallo and SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias. I know you’re here, Max. Please stand. You came together for a historic agreement on behalf of our students and the workers in our school, but to build a stronger, healthier, happier, and safer new LA, we must make life easier for every Angelino, especially those who are most vulnerable. On my first day as mayor, I bypassed City Hall and went directly to the Emergency Operations Center to place our city in a state of overdue emergency. I was joined by our city attorney, city controller, council president, President Protim, Council Member Ramen, heads of LASA and metro, and the chair of the County Board of Supervisors, Janice Hahn.

Today, other cities and the county itself have all declared a state of emergency. This new era of city and county cooperation is essential to our success, especially when it comes to Inside Safe, our new approach to moving people inside from encampments. Our new CEO of LASA, Dr. Valicia Adams Kellum, please stand. Dr. Adams Kellum created Inside Safe based on lessons learned when housing people during the pandemic. We have piloted our program in partnership with Council President Krekorian and council members Bloomingphil, Ramen, Yarslowski, Harris-Dawson, Park, Dalion, Soto Martinez, and Makasker.

Inside Safe starts with outreach from trained workers, many of whom are formally unhoused themselves. They offer motel rooms and other temporary housing and a pass to permanent housing with services. People can keep their property and stay with their partners and their pets. We are removing the barriers that have been in place for far too long. We have finally dispelled the myth that people do not want to come inside. They do. Today, more than 1,000 Angelinos are living inside and safe through this initiative.

Tomorrow I will release my first budget as mayor. Building on the success of Inside Safe, my budget includes a $250 million investment to scale Inside Safe citywide. Leaning into the new direction we’ve chartered for LA, my budget also includes an unprecedented $1.3 billion investment to accelerate our momentum on homelessness. Now, this is a record for the city of Los Angeles. This is a truly historic city budget commitment because much of the state and federal pandemic related money from the past couple of years is no longer available. As we scale our homelessness strategy, renting motel rooms, however, is just not a sustainable model. This is why my budget breaks new ground to fund the purchase of motels and hotels by the city.

The city must also lead with the land that we own and control. As a result of my executive directive number three, city staff is right now working through 3,000 city owned properties to identify those that we will use for housing. Together with the city attorney, we are taking bold action to preserve and rehabilitate nearly 2,000 units of housing that the Skid Row Housing Trust said they could no longer manage.

Mayor Karen Bass (09:04):

So Madame City Attorney, thank you for your leadership and your partnership. With more than 4,000 unhoused people living in Skid Row, failure is just not an option. Just isn’t.

But the solution to homelessness is about more than housing. So we understand that there are many reasons why people fall into homelessness, but we know that the number one reason is economic. But we also know that many unhoused people suffer from substance abuse or mental illness. As a matter of fact, before the Skid Row properties were put into receivership, we saw three people die in the same building on the same day. The suspected cause was a fentanyl overdose. In the first quarter of this year, 22 people died on metro. That is more than the number of people that died on metro in the entire year of 2022.

Now, of course, we know that there’s a law enforcement component to the multiple problems on metro, but there must be real and sustained treatment available for substance abuse and mental illness for the unhoused. So my budget breaks new ground there as well, by using funds received from the opioid and tobacco settlements to pay for substance abuse treatment for beds for the unhoused. Now, we also must eliminate the bureaucratic obstacles that keep people unhoused, and a key obstacle is the coordinated entry system, that determines who is eligible for housing. The system has become dysfunctional, impractical, and inequitable, leaving Angelenos to suffer in tents. So the council and my office got to work. Thank you, Chairwoman Raman. Passed reforms, and we are on the way toward fixing this system.

So another factor is it’s just unacceptable that nearly 2000 housing vouchers are going unused. So my administration acted immediately to add emergency staff to the housing authority to accelerate the voucher process. But there’s a flip side too. Another barrier that keeps Angelenos in encampments is a lack of apartments that will accept housing vouchers. So I call on apartment owners, please accept vouchers. Start with just one unit, and let us earn your trust. You will see that this administration is doing things differently. Over the last 127 days, I have had the privilege of attending ribbon cuttings for hundreds of units of housing, because of past efforts by former Mayor Eric Garcetti and the support of city council and the voters, who passed Measure H and HHH. And my administration will build on this foundation by building more and building much faster. My executive directive number three accelerates and lowers the cost of building affordable and temporary housing in Los Angeles. That directive is now in effect, and it covers 360 projects, which is 8,000 units of desperately needed housing.

Soon after taking office, we identified 1000 units of housing with funding gaps, that might have resulted in the units never being built. But now, our fast track solutions program is filling those gaps, to make sure those units get built and get built faster and get built cheaper. So locking arms, we are breaking ground on how we partner with the state and federal government. Governor Newsom has announced that he is delivering 500 units of temporary housing to Los Angeles, and he is also partnering with us to develop care courts and a statewide ballot initiative, to create thousands of mental health treatment beds, finally. Governor Newsom has also sent our city and county over 200 million dollars. The Biden administration has, so far, sent the city and the county more than 200 million dollars to house Angelenos, and we have also been working closely with the administration to make sure that LA is one of the target cities for their strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. I told the administration, “If you want to meet your homelessness goals for the nation, you can do so right here, in Los Angeles. You can meet your goals.”

Now, my number one job as mayor is to keep Angelenos safe. But unfortunately, the reality is that LAPD is down hundreds of officers. This has been an ongoing trend in LA and in cities across the country, and so, I’m concerned that the department’s recent release of information will cause even more officers to leave. Our officers already face enough threats. They put their lives on the line every day. Just last month, three officers were shot while pursuing the same individual. Fortunately, each of them are recovering now. My budget proposal calls for urgent action to hire hundreds of officers next year, on the way to restoring the department to full strength.

The situation we currently face means that we could see the number of LAPD officers drop below 9,000, and we have not seen numbers that small since 2002. So we are launching an urgent recruitment campaign with incentives for new recruits. We will provide financial incentives to city employees who help us find new officers. We will support a program to bring recently retired officers back on the job, and of course, as committed, we will hire civilians at LAPD, so officers can move back onto the street. And we will hire 911 operators. This will reduce police and fire department response times and improve our ability to refer calls to alternative responses. In January, tragically, three Angelenos, who may have been experiencing a mental health crisis, lost their lives during encounters with law enforcement. In reappointing Chief Moore, Chief Moore, we agreed to a clear set of metrics that chart a new direction for the department, including reducing the number of officer-involved deaths, revamping the disciplinary system, and providing enhanced mental health training for every officer. I also made it clear that we must expand the capacity of the city’s mental health crisis teams, to operate citywide and to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By adding these resources and building more trust between communities and the department, we will better meet our priorities of reducing poverty crime, maintaining the downward trend in violent crime, and increasing homicide clearance rates. However, safety

Mayor Karen Bass (18:00):

… is not just about policing and it’s time we embrace that at City Hall. That is why my budget funds the new Mayor’s Office of Community Safety. This office will build capacity for community intervention workers, social workers, clinical psychologists, and other experts to respond when law enforcement is not required. And this office will organize the community services that break the cycle of violence and crime. This approach saves lives and it saves money. The Office of Community Safety will launch a citywide effort to engage with Angelinos at community meetings, through surveys, and with scientific polling to create a citywide strategy to make Los Angeles safer. Whether through youth programming, activating our parks, street lighting, cleaning an alleyway, we know that safety goes far beyond lights and sirens. It’s time we draw on the wisdom within our neighborhoods to craft our strategy for Angelinos to both be safe and to feel safe as we build our new LA.

So I want to thank you, Council Member Hernandez for your dialogue with me on community safety and unarmed alternative response. I look forward to working with you as we develop the Office of Community Safety. But our efforts will only work if Angelinos participate. Whether in person or online, I call on Angelinos to please make your voice heard, call on you to participate.

Now, we may have had a rainy year so far, but the last few years we have seen record wildfires in LA, so we must be prepared for fire season. My budget funds the hiring of hundreds of firefighters to maintain the department’s strength. The fire department reports that emergency medical responses actually account for 81% of department’s responses. Chief, please stand. First woman fire chief. My budget breaks new ground by allowing us to hire and immediately deploy qualified paramedics to answer medical calls. I think it was probably a surprise to hear that over 80% of the calls the fire departments gets are actually medical. So currently, paramedics must complete the fire academy before taking a seat in an ambulance. My plan still requires all paramedics to become firefighters, but if you’re already a qualified paramedic, we will immediately put you to work and then you can complete your firefighting training because we need more paramedics responding to 911 calls right now.

We know what we have to do to build a new LA, though, some of my former colleagues in Washington are in denial, right, Janice? This winter storms are the latest evidence in a case long settled here in Los Angeles. Climate change is real. Climate change is here, and climate change is a threat to all of us. We must continue to aggressively confront and adapt to climate change and to make sure that our city is resilient. And while we cannot rely on record storms to solve our long-term drought, the city’s prior investments have allowed us to capture 28 billion gallons of storm water. And I’m committed to doing more, so this precious rainwater doesn’t just run off into the ocean.

For example, we recently approved a contract to design and build a new advanced water purification facility in Van Nuys. As one of the largest water projects in the country, this facility will help the San Fernando Basin creating a new and sustainable water supply for more than 200,000 Angelinos. Councilwoman, [inaudible 00:22:41]. And let me reiterate my administration’s firm commitment to our city’s zero emission goals. I am also committed to increasing ridership at Metro to take cars and their emissions off our roads.

In addition to addressing Metro’s safety, sanitation, and social service needs, I am committed to building out our system. Stephanie Wiggins, executive director. So working with my new partner on Metro, Council Member Katy Yaroslavsky, and with the Council’s transportation chair Heather Hutt, we want Angelinos and the world to experience a new LA where transit is a real option every day and for everyone. The recent storms also showed us how climate impacts our daily lives in so many ways. City workers were called to address 6,500 fallen trees and branches, 1700 flooded drains, and more than 17,000 potholes. Councilwoman Rodriguez, thank you for inviting me and we join together in her district to highlight the condition of our streets and our commitment to improving them.

The city can act faster when Angelinos let us know where the problems in their neighborhoods are along the their commutes. So here’s a plug, for potholes, graffiti, or that couch on the curb, please call 311 or download the 311 app. Yes, I am asking Angelinos to put us to work. And I know the Council’s Public Works Chair, John Lee is ready to respond as well. You can call him directly. I am really serious about the physical condition of our city because a city that is clean and in good repair is safer, prosperous, and provides Angelinos with a better life.

My office is currently working to improve how the city addresses graffiti and we are also working with Caltrans so that our freeways and underpasses will be covered with murals instead of graffiti. Can you imagine that? Former Mayor Villaraigosa like that one. So I have another pitch as well. There are thousands of vacancies for city jobs right now. Filling them will help us build housing, fix streets, and answer emergency calls faster. So if you wonder why it takes a while to get your pothole fixed, we need city workers, and city streets, they have 300 vacancies, so I’m also asking Angelinos to come work with me. We are working with the personnel department and our friends in Labor representing city workers to expedite hiring and we will make this happen. So I want to thank our city workers of all departments for the work that they do every day for the people of this city. We have recently seen two DWP workers injured on the job and hospitalized, and sadly and tragically, one individual with life-altering injuries. So many others have gone above and beyond and I know everyone here recognizes-

Speaker 1 (26:49):

You’re watching LA Mayor Karen Bass’s State of the City Address. We will continue to stream her speech on CBS News Los Angeles. The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell

Speaker 1 (27:00):

Donald is coming up next, right here on Channel 2. We hope to see you back here tonight at 11:00.

Mayor Karen Bass (27:18):

Under my administration, Los Angeles is open for business. To the business community, I want you to know that we are committed to creating, recruiting, and growing LA’s businesses. A new, more affordable LA, one that provides peace of mind, is dependent on the jobs that businesses create. As mayor, I know that LA doesn’t just feel the impact of our entertainment industry when we watch a comedy. Here in LA, the greatest impact isn’t emotional, it’s economic. That’s why I am a steadfast supporter for Hollywood and for expanded and improved tax credits.

Now, I know that the studios and the unions have started their negotiations, and I encourage both sides to come to an agreement that recognizes that our city relies on the industry as a bedrock of our middle class, and we need more middle class jobs here in LA. I’m also laser focused on settling the labor dispute at our port so that ships don’t divert to other cities and take good union jobs with them.

I know that Councilmember McOsker and our port director, Jean, please stand, are with me on this too. The Port of Los Angeles has been the number one port in the Western Hemisphere for 23 straight years. And with the port generating one in 15 jobs in Los Angeles, I am going to make sure that we keep it that way. One of the pandemic’s few bright spots was how the city expanded outdoor dining. The Pandemic Al Fresco program shows us a better way for city hall to work with businesses. Building a new LA means building on what has always made LA great, like our weather and our flavors from all over the world. So I directed the city department to create a permanent al fresco program that builds on what made the emergency program great, a program that is simple and easy for restaurants, to help them and our communities thrive. I’m proud to partner on the city council on this.

It is an example of bringing more common sense to City Hall. If it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it. And if it’s working, then double down. Well, we do know what’s not working well, and that is how we care for the animals in our shelters. Right now, we are conducting a national search to make sure we have a leader at Animal Services who will make our city a national model for animal welfare. You got that? The goal is to increase the spay, neuter, and adoption rates. The goal is to save animals lives. In our budget, we are adding staff to work with animals and to work with our invaluable volunteers, without whom our shelters simply could not function.

So we must all lock arms together, Los Angeles. If we are going to bring people indoors from encampments, we need Angelinos to welcome new housing in their communities. I ask apartment owners again to accept vouchers. Consider taking one or two tenants. We will work with you, we will not abandon you or abandon your tenant. I ask Angelinos to participate with the new Office of Community Safety. Please attend our community meetings, respond to our surveys and polling, so that you are empowered to help decide what your neighborhood needs. From putting together a welcome kit for a newly-housed Angelo to helping us determine where new housing should be built. We can all pitch in to build the new LA that every Angelino deserves.

I said when I took office that being elected mayor was the honor of a lifetime, but serving as your mayor is the true honor. I’ve been speaking with Angelinos in tents and then speaking with them as they move indoors through Inside Safe, and they haven’t given up. They show us that anything is still possible here in LA. I’ve gone out to meet with sanitation workers and street service workers before their shifts, and they have a true passion for getting our city to serve Angelinos better. I participated in opening day for the LA Football Club and for the Dodgers, and it reminds me that our city will welcome the US Open this spring, the World Cup in 2026, the Olympics in 2028. The biggest stars, the leading business people, and the world’s best and brightest all want to come to LA. People from all over the world seeking a better life come to LA.

And make no mistake, people from all over the country come to LA in search of the American dream too. I want all of them to experience a new LA, but more important, I want Angelinos to experience a new LA, one that is stronger, healthier, happier, and safer, one that is affordable. This is the new Los Angeles that we will build together. This is the new LA. Thank you Los Angeles. Thank you for the [inaudible 00:33:55]. Thank you.

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