L.A. officials study Paris as they prep for the 2028 Olympics

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, left, speaks with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass in front of a banner with Olympic rings
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, left, speaks with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass during a meeting at the Paris City Hall on March 7, 2024. Bass led a trip to Paris to prepare for Los Angeles’ hosting the 2028 Olympic Games.
(Christophe Ena / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to L.A. on the Record — our newsletter on the comings and goings of city government. It’s David Wharton, with help from City Hall reporter David Zahniser, filling you in on the big-ticket items of the last week.

Looking ahead to the 2028 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles might learn a thing or two from Paris.

The French capital, which will stage the 2024 edition of the Games in July, has struggled with budget and security issues. Public workers are threatening to strike, and the organizing committee’s offices were raided as part of a corruption probe.

A recent poll showed that 44% of residents consider hosting the Olympics a “bad thing.”

Against this backdrop, Mayor Karen Bass and several City Council members visited Paris this week for a firsthand look at the hurdles L.A. might face.


“If somebody has done it before me, I want to know what they learned,” Bass said. “Pros and cons.”

Money is always crucial, given that previous host cities have amassed substantial debt. Inflation and other factors have pushed the price tag for Paris, including the cost of building and renovating venues, to a reported $10 billion.

L.A. will save on construction by using existing venues but has already seen its Olympics budget grow by $700 million to an estimated $6.9 billion. The private LA28 organizing committee has vowed to generate enough revenue to pay all expenses. If it can’t, city and state legislators will have to fill the gap with taxpayer dollars.

“Of course I’m concerned,” Bass said.

Accompanied by council members Paul Krekorian, Traci Park and Katy Yaroslavsky, Bass met with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to see how French officials have sought to keep the Games from becoming a financial burden.

LA28 insists it is maintaining a lean operation but, in terms of revenue, has achieved only about $1 billion of its stated $2.5-billion sponsorship goal. Several years have passed since the announcement of big deals with Nike, Deloitte and Delta Airlines.

Organizers remain confident, claiming that they have already secured 65% of the overall funding needed.


“We’re tracking better than any other organizing committee has 4½ years before the Games,” said Danny Koblin, LA28 chief operating officer, adding that a handful of major sponsorships will be signed in the next month or so.

Security costs, which can run as high as $2 billion, represent another budgetary challenge. Paris will get assistance from its federal government, a strategy that L.A. and local organizers plan to mimic.

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to take the lead in guarding against terrorist attacks by classifying the 2028 Games as a “national special security event.” This week, U.S. officials announced they also will help with transportation by providing $139 million in funds for improving mobility during the Olympics.

But maybe the most important portion of the L.A. contingent’s three-day stay in Paris focused on homelessness.

Activists in both cities have complained about failures to address the problem and have expressed fears that officials might simply herd unhoused residents to a distant location for the three weeks of the Games.

After visiting a Paris shelter for women, Bass acknowledged that she worries about television coverage in 2028 switching from a sports event to a shot of tents lining nearby streets. Echoing a sentiment that Olympic officials have voiced for years, she hopes the Games can serve as a catalyst.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass seated among women, wearing headphones
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass attends the International Women’s Day event at Paris City Hall on March 8, 2024.
(Lewis Joly / Associated Press)

“The world is going to be here,” Bass said. “You don’t want the world to see what we see now.”

Returning to Southern California, Park credited the trip for giving the council “a new sense of purpose — and direction.” In a few months, when Paris symbolically hands over the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony, the clock will start ticking toward 2028.

Hidalgo warned L.A. to use the time wisely.

“You need to act as though the Games will be held in 2027,” Bass recalled her counterpart saying. “That way, you will have a year to figure out what will fall through the cracks.”

State of play

— RAMAN RALLIES: Let’s start with the election results: Councilmember Nithya Raman narrowly avoided a Nov. 5 runoff this week, securing slightly more than 50% of the vote and outright winning her reelection bid. She did so even though deputy city attorney Ethan Weaver, one of her opponents, was backed by $1.35 million in outside spending from police and firefighter unions, landlords and others. Raman’s second term starts in December.

FIGHT FOR THE 14TH: Tenant rights attorney Ysabel Jurado emerged in first place in the race for the Eastside’s 14th Council District. She is now headed for a runoff against embattled Councilmember Kevin de León. Jurado received support from an array of leftist organizations, including Ground Game L.A. and Democratic Socialists of America-Los Angeles, as well as progressives like Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez.

For the record:

1:55 p.m. March 16, 2024A previous version of this newsletter said that Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez endorsed Jillian Burgos’ run for City Council. Hernandez did not endorse in that contest.

BURGOS BUOYED: In the east San Fernando Valley, business owner Jillian Burgos will be in a runoff against first-place candidate Adrin Nazarian, a former Assemblymember and onetime aide to Council President Paul Krekorian, who steps down this year. Like Jurado, Burgos was backed by figures on the left end of the political spectrum, including City Controller Kenneth Mejia and former mayoral candidate Gina Viola.

— HUTT VS. YOO: In the 10th Council District, which stretches from Koreatown to the Crenshaw Corridor, Councilmember Heather Hutt will compete in a runoff against attorney Grace Yoo.

— MONEY FOR METRO: Bass announced this week that two major Metro projects will receive a combined $709.9 million in funding. The money will go toward the agency’s extension of its subway to the Westside and a new light rail line in the San Fernando Valley.


— PUNISHING POLICE: L.A. officials are mulling an overhaul of the police department’s disciplinary process, saying the current system makes it difficult to get rid of bad police officers. Last year, in 27 cases where the police chief wanted to fire an officer, 11 received lighter discipline. In two other instances, officers were cleared of wrongdoing.

— SECOND TIME AROUND: Former deputy mayor Raymond Chan went on trial a second time this week, facing racketeering, bribery and other charges. The case is part of the larger investigation that resulted in the conviction of former Councilmember José Huizar last year. The first set of proceedings against Chan ended in a mistrial after his lawyer was hospitalized.

— TAKING OUT THE TRASH: The city is adding 90 trash cans to the Westlake and Pico-Union sections of Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez’s district, part of a larger effort to reduce the amount of garbage that litters those neighborhoods. Hernandez said the initiative also will work to raise awareness about the city’s 3-1-1 hotline, which can be used to call for a pickup of “bulky items” — furniture, mattress and other debris left on curbs and sidewalks.

— SEWILL SIGNING OFF: Ann Sewill, the general manager of L.A.’s Housing Department, said this week that she will step down at the end of July. In her departure letter, Sewill said she’d been “working through an intermittent leave” for six months while dealing with a “health challenge.” “Thankfully, my prognosis is very good,” she said in her letter, “but I have realized that I need to ease up and step back, making space for someone else to lead this effort.”

— FUNDING FRACAS: The state’s congressional representatives are demanding answers after learning that the Federal Emergency Management Agency may not reimburse cities and counties for an estimated $300 million to cover the cost of placing homeless residents in hotel rooms during COVID-19. L.A., which spent heavily on the Project Roomkey program to house homeless Angelenos, is in jeopardy of losing out on an estimated $60 million.

— READY FOR ROBOTAXIS? A fleet of Waymo robotaxis soon will begin doing business in L.A., creating a new and unpredictable element to the city’s streets. (For now, Waymo won’t be on freeways.) The L.A. Times’ Rachel Uranga and Allen J. Schaben took an occasionally unnerving ride in a Waymo taxi to see what the experience is like.


— COOL FOR KATZ: Mayor Bass has nominated Richard Katz, a veteran in L.A. politics, to serve on the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, which oversees the Department of Water and Power. Katz, a former state lawmaker, was on the city’s 2021 redistricting commission and served a lengthy stint on the board that oversees Metro.

— BYE-BYE, B’NAI B’RITH: The City Council voted to allow the demolition of a century-old building in L.A.’s Westlake neighborhood, known as a Jewish landmark and the heart of labor organizing in the city. The vote was a victory for Catholic Charities, which bought the structure — historically known as the B’nai B’rith Lodge — in 2018. The group said the building is “structurally unsound” and could threaten the safety of the neighborhood.

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  • Where is Inside Safe? The mayor’s program to combat homelessness went to a South L.A. neighborhood represented by Councilmember Curren Price — the fourth operation to occur in his district. At the corner of Avalon Boulevard and Vernon Avenue, about 10 people were moved indoors, according to Price’s office.
  • On the docket for next week: Bass is expected to appear Monday at the latest federal court hearing on the legal settlement between the city and the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights on homelessness services. The judge in that case said last week that he wants an audit of the city’s homelessness programs, including Inside Safe.

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