LA voters are in a bad mood. Will the new mayor change anything?
Tent camps, though fewer than last year, continue to block sidewalks in neighborhoods from the beach to the La Brea tar pits. Armed guards patrol the Grove, an upscale shopping district developed by Mr. Caruso. Last month, there were three Latino city council members caught on tape making disparaging and racist remarks about other ethnic groups and colleagues, an attack on the city’s self-image as a role model for an increasingly diverse nation. Recently, a banner appeared across the 405 freeway that read “Kanye is right about the Jews” following anti-Semitic rants by the rapper now known as Ye.
While violent crime in the city is still far below what it was in the 1990s, it has risen more than 11 percent since the end of 2020, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Still, based on media coverage and public sentiment, “you’d think it had doubled,” said Eric Garcetti, the outgoing mayor.
Citywide survey A poll conducted earlier this year by the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University found that for the first time since 2012, a majority of Angelenos felt the city was headed in the wrong direction. In September, 82 percent of likely voters in Los Angeles County told the Public Policy Institute of California that homelessness not just a problem, but a big one.
“Even before three members of the City Council set themselves on fire, people in Los Angeles were legitimately unhappy,” said Darry A. Sragow, a Democratic political consultant, citing a series of focus groups he conducted late last year that found “almost clinical depression” among nearly all voter demographics.
Most, he said, have lost faith that government can solve the city’s problems, a red flag for elected officials hoping to forge consensus.
“The next mayor of Los Angeles is going to inherit an incredible mess,” he said.
Spread over more than 450 square miles, Los Angeles has a government structure designed to resist the concentration of power. Compared to other big city systemshis mayor’s office is relatively weak.
The mayor must share authority over budgeting and appointments with the City Council, and state and county governments control many of the resources needed to effectively deal with local problems — resources to deal with Covid-19, for example, or social services to mentally treat sick people in tent camps.
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