Unemployment, housing inequality, and a dearth of economic opportunity have been some of the hallmarks of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s time in office, something we’ve all seen laid bare through the press coverage coming out of the city. Rather than fixing many of the biggest problems confronting the city when he was elected, Mayor Garcetti’s policies have exacerbated them, leaving Angelenos in a worse position than they were before. Of course, this level of mismanagement has also been reflected in his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the city has been left reeling.
That’s why many across the nation balked at Mayor Garcetti’s recent interview with NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. Asked what problems worry him the most about the crisis and what he wishes his administration had done better, Mayor Garcetti simply replied that “there’s not a lot of regrets” over the city’s management of one of the greatest public health crises in modern memory.
This is, of course, a laughable response and indicative of a total abdication of responsibility on Mayor Garcetti’s part. On his watch, Los Angeles experienced a sizable shortage of available COVID-19 testing over much of the summer, leaving many without the ability to get tested in the wake of the Memorial Day weekend and subsequent protests throughout the city. Mayor Garcetti boasted the city’s work on testing during his interview, but the truth is that, in practice, it left much to be desired.
The economic damage has also been devastating. Los Angeles workers are virtually unable to find meaningful work during this crisis, with more than one in five in Los Angeles County currently out of work. Surely Mayor Garcetti has some regrets over this? If he doesn’t, Los Angeles may be best served by other leaders more vested in truly helping this city through the pandemic.
Los Angeles has, of course, taken some measures to mitigate the economic damage ravaging the city. However, many have come up well short of their goals. Project Roomkey, which was part of a statewide effort to help high-risk homeless Californians to find housing and avoid contracting COVID-19, is just one example. It had the commendable goal of housing 15,000 people in the city, but had only housed a little more than 3,600 individuals after four months. Once again, Mayor Garcetti and his administration came up short in providing much-needed aid to the growing homeless population in Los Angeles.
Even worse, Mayor Garcetti has shown a resistance to changes that will ultimately help the housing market. California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Canti-Sakauye recently announced that the Council will soon consider rescinding an April rule that Garcetti has used to prop up housing policies that hurt renters and landlords alike. Naturally, he immediately voiced opposition to this decision, despite the aid it could provide to struggling companies and renters. He would rather leave the current rule in place to continue enforcing his own damaging policies.
How could Mayor Garcetti not have regrets about his housing policies? His actions have hurt both renters and landlords, and to act as if his approach to housing had been anything but a failure is completely disingenuous toward the people of Los Angeles. Rather than passing the blame for this issue on to actions by the Judicial Council of California, Mayor Garcetti should instead focus his attention inward and finally take action to address the homelessness crisis that persists in his city.
Few places have been harder hit by the COVID-19 pandemic than Los Angeles, which is why it is so troubling to hear Mayor Garcetti say he has few regrets about the way he’s handled the crisis. This is a time for leaders to take responsibility and live up to the expectations of their constituents. Mayor Garcetti has instead been a portrait of the exact opposite, showing precisely why a change in leadership is past due in the City of Angels.
Jesse Grady formerly served as a Regional Field Director for the Texas GOP and served as a staffer on the Donald Trump presidential campaign in 2016.