Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will deliver his first State of the City address late Thursday afternoon, plugging his “back to basics” agenda to a crowd of city officials, selected community members and the press.
The speech is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m at the Wallis Annenberg Building at the California Science Center on Exposition Park Drive. The event will not be open to the general public, but the address is expected to be viewable via live stream at lamayor.org and lacityview.org.
The annual mayoral speech, a chance for Garcetti to set forth his vision and foreshadow his budget plans, comes 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."
Garcetti faces a $242-million deficit that could undercut efforts to improve municipal services and fix broken streets. The deficit also could slow his push to improve L.A.’s business climate -- a major focus of his inaugural address last year. Last month, the city's top budget official said a tax hike would be "the only way" Los Angeles could repair its badly damaged streets and sidewalks.
Garcetti has not yet taken a stance on the street tax proposal. The Thursday speech is being closely watched as a bellwether of what is ahead for the mayor, who promised to “listen, then lead.”
So far, Garcetti has presided over “a quieter mayoral administration,” said Jaime Regalado, professor emeritus of political science at Cal State Los Angeles. By contrast, Regalado said, former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa “lived large … fought large and envisioned large, he was also criticized heavily for being unrealistic.”
Garcetti, however, has faced criticism for not making bold plans. “Some people are looking for something bigger” from Garcetti, said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles. But “from the standpoint of the voter, the real bottom line is, how does what the mayor does every day affect me and my neighborhood and my family?”
His words were echoed by a scattering of Los Angeles voters who welcomed Garcetti’s more subdued style. Isidora Felix, a caregiver who lives in Boyle Heights, praised the mayor's push to help teenagers get summer jobs and was happy to see sidewalks getting fixed in her neighborhood.
“He’s not just taking pictures like that other mayor,” Felix said, referring to Villaraigosa.
Times staff writer David Zahniser contributed to this report.