By Pratyush Shukla, Editorial Intern
On June 19, political consultant Alexandra Datig filed a notice of intent to recall Mayor Eric Garcetti — before a press conference outside of the Los Angeles City Hall. Datig started a petition on change.org on June 5, which has gained major online presence.
Along with Datig, more than 21,000 have signed to remove him from office.
Nevertheless, online signatures don’t count. The petition will need signatures in ink from 350,000 registered voters to kickstart a legal recall — a long and hard process that requires major campaigns and big money.
“Take the $1.2 billion dollars from Prop. HHH in 2017 that was approved for 10,000 housing units,” Datig said. “Guess how many units have been built — not one!”
“Ninety-five percent of homeless people in New York have a shelter; they have a bed. In LA, they’re living in filth, dumping sewage into the main city. That is illegal! You can’t do that! The mayor isn’t helping the situation; he’s making it worse.”
Bill Carrick — spokesperson for Garcetti — defended his efforts.
“Mayor Garcetti is intensely focused on the homelessness crisis,” said Carrick.
“The last thing Los Angeles needs right now are people playing political games with this critical issue.”
During a July 8 press conference, Garcetti praised that Gov. Newsom has made homelessness a priority in the state’s budget, giving Los Angeles $124 million — a 46% increase in budget from last year — which the city council will spend to better the crisis.
On the mayor’s website, under the section “Street Strategies”, some achievements of Los Angeles have been listed:
- In three weeks in June, our city’s outreach teams made over 1,200 contacts with individuals experiencing homelessness.
- Last month, our sanitation crews conducted 500 comprehensive cleanups near homeless encampments, removed more than 1,300 tons of solid waste, and cracked down on illegal dumping sites.
- We have saturated the zones around our A Bridge Home shelters with resources, services, and outreach.
- July 11, the City’s first-ever Public Health Task Force will convene its first meeting — bringing together, in one place, oversight on all of our public health initiatives, including illegal dumping and rodent abatement.
Garcetti’s A Bridge Home program set aside $20 million in April of 2018 to construct emergency housing for the unsheltered in each district. Fast forward to July 2019, the number of facilities built are far less than necessary. However, the mayor’s office has cited the high cost of land.
Most of Los Angeles County is privately-owned; city-owned land is where the housing is supposed to be constructed, but has been met with residential protest.
The people of Venice protested — even filed a lawsuit against — a 154-bed shelter that was approved in December 2018. It is to be constructed this month. However, 154 beds aren’t enough for the 800-plus unsheltered people who the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority counted in Venice last year.
District 15 Councilman Joe Buscaino plans to advocate for housing facilities in his district — San Pedro, Wilmington and Watts — while one is under construction.
La Puente, Hollywood, Westlake and other areas in Los Angeles County have constructed temporary facilities that help unsheltered people find permanent housing, provide mental health treatment, food and sanitation.
Nevertheless, the amount of space in these facilities isn’t enough. Thousands of people are still bed-less.
According to a count by the LAHSA, conducted on June 11, there are more than 44,000 people sleeping on the streets of Los Angeles County at night and skipping showers for weeks — sometimes months.
“People wake up,” Datig said. “They need to use the bathroom. Where are the bathrooms for the [almost] 50,000 people [who] are on the streets? Where are the showers? We all need to shower! Garcetti knows that, but he isn’t doing anything about it.”