- February 11, 2018
Eric Garcetti, a man with a pLAn
By Bradley Lincoln
Eric Garcetti is Los Angeles’s first Jewish mayor, and the second Mexican-American and youngest man to hold the office in more than 100 years. The toothsome public official has guest-starred on television series including The Closer and Angie Tribeca, and appeared in the indie film Who Killed the Electric Car? But his most memorable role might be that of an environmental and social champion.
After POTUS made the blustery, astonishing announcement that America would be pulling out of the Paris Agreement and climate change wasn’t something we should worry our pretty little heads about, the country had barely finished picking up its collectively dropped jaws and wiping spit-takes off screens when L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti sprang into action. He called on cities and states to fight against global warming, and rallied other mayors to commit to the cause, meet the goals of the 2015 pact, and urge Trump to join their efforts. The coalition, which Garcetti co-founded, has more than 70 members in both red and blue states, and represents more than 42 million citizens.
His efforts don’t stop at our borders. Garcetti serves on the C40 Network, a team of like-minded global cities committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and chilling the hell out, and that collective represents more than 600 million people and a quarter of the world’s economy. “Every city, every community, every individual has the power to fight climate change,” said the mayor. “We do not need to wait for any one person or government to show us the way.”
On the local front, Garcetti launched the ambitious three-pronged Sustainable City pLAn, a to-do list of measurable goals to be sussed out this year and in 2025 and 2035, intended to improve L.A.’s physical environment, boost its economy, and ensure an equitable future for the rapidly swelling metropolis. It isn’t easy being green in a historic drought, but the city managed to reduce its water use to make it the most efficient big city in the country. Under Garcetti’s watch L.A. put up solar roofs that power more than 12,000 houses, and he streamlined their installation by allowing online registration, slashing wait times from a year to under two weeks. He equipped the LAPD with 150+ electric-powered vehicles and made incentives to encourage citizens to get on the EV bandwagon as well, and now L.A. has the most pure-battery wheels in the nation. Our bike-sharing program has other cities green with envy, and our recycling rate is next to none. Paper or plastic? How about bring your own?
As for economy, those same eco-initiatives have created more than 20,000 green jobs. The minimum wage has been steadily nudged upward, with a goal of hitting $15 per hour by 2020. Being Los Angeles, even farmers markets are now required to accept EBT government assistance cards. Garcetti has always been a vocal advocate for urban farming, building parks in overpopulated neighborhoods, and reducing homelessness by ramping up low-income housing. His plan is delivering results—over 90% of the 2017 goals are on track to be completed this year, and many were ticked off ahead of schedule. “We are a healthier and more prosperous city today,” said the mayor with a confident smile, “because we set bold targets and held ourselves accountable for making progress that Angelenos can see and feel.” The fight’s not over yet, and there are a lot of bilious bullies putting up roadblocks, but it’s comforting to know that Garcetti’s got his eye on the prize of attainable sustainability.