Re-Elected LA Mayor Focuses on Transit & Housing

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an executive directive Thursday to accelerate planning of ambitious infrastructure projects that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress could boost or derail.

Garcetti was elected to a second term in a landslide Tuesday with 81 percent of the vote. He promised to expand the city’s transit system and alleviate its chronic homeless problems.

Garcetti, like many on the City Council was vocal in condemning President Donald Trump’s comments about minorities and women during the presidential campaign. He has said Los Angeles will not cooperate with federal authorities’ efforts to deport undocumented immigrants.

That puts him at odds with the new administration, which says it will cut off federal funding for so-called sanctuary cities. But Trump could bump up against a Republican Party adverse to infrastructure spending. In his first address to Congress on Feb. 28, the president repeated a campaign promise to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure.

“To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States, financed through both public and private capital, creating millions of new jobs,” Trump said.

Garcetti signed an executive directive Thursday morning at City Hall, to kick start initiatives to provide affordable housing in a county with almost 44,000 homeless people, and a transit system that Angelenos hope will ease gridlock in the most congested city in the nation.

After he signed the order, Garcetti said the city could mount a strong legal defense if the Trump administration did withdraw federal funding.

“Things would slow down. More people would hit the streets. Traffic would get worse. We’d be less secure on our streets. We’d be more open to a terrorist attack. More veterans would be homeless,” Garcetti said, adding that if Trump cut funding, it would be “totally anti-American.”

Los Angeles voters in November approved Measure M, to fund the county’s expansion of its transit system. On Tuesday, voters rejected Measure S, to halt high-density construction in the city, and voted to increase the sales tax a quarter-cent to fund homeless services.

In light of those victories, Garcetti moved quickly to issue the Executive Directive 19 to improve the city’s planning process. He said the order would accelerate the construction or expansion of 15 rail lines and building of 10,000 housing units for the homeless.

The directive bans private communications between planning commissioners and the developers whose projects are approved or under consideration.

In an interview with Vice News Tonight, Garcetti said he told Trump that if he was serious about rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, he needs to partner with cities and states.

“The days of states coming with an empty hat in hand to Washington, saying, ‘Build my big projects and pay for 100 percent of it,’ those are gone. But if you come with a hat that’s half-filled, Washington can top that off and be a dollar-for-dollar partner,” Garcetti said.