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Garcetti calls on residents to help build 'Los Angeles of tomorrow'

Eric GarcettiLos Angeles International AirportCalifornia Science Center

Striking a "back to basics" theme, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti concluded his first State of the City address by challenging residents to help build "the Los Angeles of tomorrow."

"I stand before you today to say that the state of our city is strong, but is in need of fundamental reform," he said. 

In a 45-minute appearance at the California Science Center, Garcetti said he would keep the Department of Water and Power from raising rates this year, foster jobs by starting to phase out the city's business tax, reform the Fire Department and make "great streets" out of 15 city byways from the San Fernando Valley to San Pedro.

He also vowed to bring a rail transit connection to Los Angeles International Airport. "Let me be clear: We are going to bring rail to LAX and we will settle for nothing less."

The annual address came one day after a prominent commission delivered its own batch of recommendations for fixing the city, warning that without action Los Angeles could become "a city left behind in the 21st century."

The speech is being closely watched as a bellwether of what is ahead for the mayor, a soapbox for a man who promised to “listen, then lead.”

Garcetti said his budget will eliminate a $242-million shortfall. That gap threatens to undercut efforts to improve municipal services, fix broken streets and possibly slow his push to improve L.A.’s business climate -- a major focus of his inaugural address last year.

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emily.alpert@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesemily

Times staff writer Soumya Karlamangla contributed to this report.

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