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State of the City 2023

Mayor Bass State of the City Remarks as Prepared: ‘A New L.A.’

LOS ANGELES – In her State of the City Address this evening, Mayor Karen Bass will share her vision for a New Los Angeles, and will outline how to make Los Angeles stronger, healthier, happier and safer. The following is the text of the address, titled “A New L.A.,” as prepared for delivery:

Thank you Chairwoman Hahn for those kind words. 

The closer you and I work together, the faster we can bring people inside. 

And I am so honored that we have locked arms together for the people we serve – no more finger pointing, between the city and the county. 

Council President Krekorian, thank you as well for your kind words, for your leadership, and for welcoming us into your chambers. 

And I’m pleased to recognize a special guest with us tonight:  Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, please stand. 

I also want to recognize Supervisors Hilda Solis and Lindsey Horvath who are here as well.

Members of the City Council,

City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto,

City Controller Kenneth Mejia, 

And, most importantly, to 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 can not 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 clearer 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 your state of 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 pay the rent?

When the answer is yes, then we can say the State of our City is strong. That’s the New L.A. 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 aides 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 help work with Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias to come to a historic agreement on behalf of our students and the workers in our schools. 

But to build a stronger, healthier, happier and safer New L.A., we must make life easier for every Angeleno – starting with our 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 an overdue State of Emergency.

I was joined by our City Attorney, City Controller, Council President, President Pro Tem, Councilmember Raman, the heads of LAHSA, 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 LAHSA, Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum – please stand. 

Dr. Adams Kellum created Inside Safe based on lessons learned housing people during the pandemic. 

And we have piloted our program in partnership with Council President Krekorian and Councilmembers Blumenfield, Raman, Yaroslavsky, Harris-Dawson, Park, Soto-Martinez and McOsker.

Inside Safe starts with outreach from trained workers, many of whom are formerly unhoused.

They offer motel rooms and other temporary housing and a path 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 – and as a result, we have finally dispelled the myth that people do not want to come inside.

And so today, more than one-thousand Angelenos 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’re charting for L.A., my budget includes an unprecedented $1.3 billion investment to accelerate our momentum on homelessness. 

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 money from the past couple of years is no longer available. 

As we scale our homelessness strategy, renting motel rooms is just not a sustainable model.

That 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 we own and control.

As a result of my Executive Directive Number 3, city staff is right now working through more than 3,000 city-owned properties to identify those we will use for housing.

And, 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.

So Madam City Attorney – thank you. 

With more than 4,000 unhoused people living in Skid Row, failure is just not an option.

But the solution to homelessness is about more than housing. 

We understand that there are many reasons people fall into homelessness – and we know the #1 reason is economic.  

But we also know that many unhoused people suffer from substance abuse and mental illness.

As a matter of fact, before the Skid Row properties were put in receivership, we saw three people die in the same building on the same day. 

The suspected cause was fentanyl overdose.

In the first quarter of this year alone, 22 people died on Metro. 

That’s how many people died on Metro in the entire year last year.

Of course there is a law enforcement component to the 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 – by using funds received from the opioid and tobacco settlements to pay for substance abuse treatment beds for the unhoused. 

We must also eliminate the bureaucratic obstacles that keep people unhoused.

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, passed reforms, and we are on the way towards fixing this system. 

It is also unacceptable that there are nearly two thousand housing vouchers that 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 City Council — and the support of the voters through Measures H and triple H.

And my Administration will build on this foundation by building more and building much faster.

My Executive Directive Number 1 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 and 8,000 units of desperately needed housing. 

Soon after taking office, we identified 1,000 units of housing with funding gaps that might not have been built!

Now, our Fast Track Solutions Program is filling those gaps – to make sure those units get built – and get built faster and cheaper.

Locking arms, we are breaking new 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.

The Biden Administration has so far sent the City and County more than 200 million dollars to house people.

And we have also been closely working with the Administration to make sure that L.A. 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. 

My number one Job as Mayor is to keep Angelenos safe…but the unfortunate reality is that LAPD is down hundreds of officers. 

This has been an ongoing trend here in L.A. and in cities across the country… and so I’m concerned that the department’s recent release of information will cause 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. 

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 we could see the number of LAPD officers drop below 9,000… and we have not seen numbers that low 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.

We will hire civilians at LAPD so that officers can move back onto the street.

And we will hire more 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 mental health crises lost their lives during encounters with law enforcement. 

In reappointing Chief Moore to a second term, 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/7 days a week.

By adding these resources and building more trust between communities and the department. 

We will better meet our priorities of reducing property crime, maintaining the downward trend in violent crime, and increasing homicide clearance rates. 

However, safety is not just about policing--and it’s time we embrace that in 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 soon launch a citywide effort to engage with Angelenos – 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 Angelenos to both be safe and to feel safe as we build our New L.A.

I want to thank Councilmember Hernandez for her dialogue with me on community safety and unarmed alternative response.

I look forward to working with her as we develop the Office of Community Safety.  

But our efforts will only work if Angelenos participate – whether in person or online, I call on Angelenos to please make your voice heard when we call on you to participate. 

Now, we may have had a rainy year so far, but the last few years have seen record wildfires in L.A., 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 responses. 

My budget breaks new ground by allowing us to hire and immediately deploy qualified paramedics to answer medical calls. 

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 are already a qualified paramedic, we will immediately put you to work -– and then you can complete your firefighter 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, this winter’s 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 stormwater – and I’m committed to doing more, so that this precious rainwater doesn’t just wash 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 Angelenos.

And let me reiterate my administration’s firm commitment to our City’s zero emissions goals.

I am also committed to increasing ridership at Metro – to take cars and their emissions off the road.

In addition to addressing Metro’s safety, sanitation and social service needs, I am committed to building out our system. 

Working with my new partner on Metro, Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky – and with the Council’s Transportation Chair, Heather Hutt – we want Angelenos and the world to experience a New L.A. 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 65-hundred fallen trees and branches, almost 17-hundred flooded drains and more than 17-thousand potholes – and I want to thank Councilwoman Rodriguez who joined me in her district to highlight the condition of our streets and our commitment to improving them.

The City can act faster when Angelenos let us know where problems are in their neighborhoods or along 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’m asking Angelenos to put us to work! And I know the Council’s Public Works Chair, John Lee, is ready to respond as well.

I am serious about the physical condition of our city – because a city that is clean and in good repair is safer, prosperous, and provides Angelnos 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. 

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 I’m also asking Angelenos 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 it happen!

I want to thank our city workers – of all departments – for the work they do every day for the people of this city.

We have recently seen two DWP workers injured on the job and hospitalized…one, tragically, with life altering injuries. 

So many others have gone above and beyond, and I know everyone here recognizes your work and your sacrifice. 

Please join me in thanking our city workers!

Under my Administration, Los Angeles is open for business. 

To the business community – I want you to know we are committed to creating, recruiting, and growing L.A.’s businesses. 

A new, more affordable L.A. – 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. And that’s why I am steadfast in my support for Hollywood and for an expanded and improved tax credit.

I know the studios and the unions are actively negotiating – 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 L.A. 

I am 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.

And I know Councilmember McOsker is 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 1 in 15 jobs in Los Angeles, I am going to make sure 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 L.A. means building on what has always made L.A. great – like our weather, and our flavors from all around the world.

So, I directed City Departments 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. And I’m proud to partner with the City Council on this. 

It’s 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!

We know what’s not working well 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. 

The goal is to increase the spay, neuter and adoption rates. The goal is to save animals' lives.

And in my budget, we are adding staff to work with animals and to work with our invaluable volunteers, without whom our shelters simply could not function.

We all must lock arms – together, Los Angeles.

If we are going to bring people indoors from encampments, we need Angelenos to welcome new housing in their community.

I ask apartment owners to accept vouchers – consider taking one or two tenants — we will work with you, we will not abandon you or your tenant.

I ask Angelenos to participate with our 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 to be safe.

From putting together a welcome kit for a newly housed Angeleno, to helping us determine where new housing should be built – we can all pitch in to build the New L.A. that every Angeleno deserves. 

I said when I took office that being elected as your mayor was the honor of a lifetime. But serving as your mayor is the true honor.

I’ve been speaking with Angelenos in tents… and then speaking with them as they move indoors through Inside Safe. 

They haven’t given up. They show us that anything is still possible here in L.A.

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 Angelenos better.

I participated in Opening Day for LAFC 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 businesspeople, and the world’s best and brightest all want to come to L.A. 

People from all over the world seeking a better life come to L.A.

And make no mistake, people from all over the country come to L.A. in search of the American dream, too.

I want all of them to experience a New L.A.

But more importantly, I want Angelenos to experience a New L.A.

One that is stronger, healthier, happier and safer.

One that is affordable.

This is the New Los Angeles we will build together.

This is the New L.A.

Thank you, thank you so much…. Thank you to the people of Los Angeles.