2028 is around the corner: Let the Games complaining begin

In this Sept. 13, 2017, file photo, an LA 2028 sign is seen in front of a blazing Olympic cauldron.
In this Sept. 13, 2017, file photo, an LA 2028 sign is seen in front of a blazing Olympic cauldron. The Coliseum will play host to a record third Olympic Games in 2028.
(Richard Vogel / Associated Press)
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Good morning, and welcome to L.A. on the Record — our City Hall newsletter. It’s Dakota Smith and David Zahniser steering the ship, with help from David Wharton.

Los Angeles politicians almost never openly criticize the 2028 Olympics planned for Southern California.

But this week, the complaints started spilling out.

First, the private organizing committee overseeing the Games on Friday announced a proposal to put softball and canoe slalom in Oklahoma City and swimming and basketball in Inglewood, among other moves. Other Olympic events are expected to be held in L.A. and throughout Southern California, and this recent proposal will save more than $150 million, according to officials with LA 28, the organizing committee.

Under the Games agreement, Los Angeles must provide “written consent” for some venue changes, but that detail was largely lost in the torrent of news coverage and social media posts this week. (NBC4’s headline implied the move was a done deal: “Why two 2028 L.A. Olympic events are moving to Oklahoma City.”)


Councilmember Traci Park, who chairs the city’s committee on the L.A. Olympics, started off that committee meeting on Monday with some sharp-sounding remarks.

“I want to be very clear that any decision to move an Olympic sport outside the city of Los Angeles will be not be done via a press release, headline, or by any other city,” said Park, who represents neighborhoods on the city’s Westside. “That decision will be made by this committee and the full council as agreed to in the Games Agreement.”

Two days later, City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez complained about the venue changes during a hearing about expanding the Convention Center in time for the 2028 Olympics.

“I’m just going to say it because it’s true: we aren’t getting enough events,” said Rodriguez, whose district takes in the northeast San Fernando Valley. “As far as I’m concerned with the Olympics, they’ve got L.A.’s name all over it, but we’re actually not getting the real meat.”

A surefire way to anger the 15 members of the Los Angeles City Council is to suggest that their support is in the bag. So, that may have explained the new tone from the two council members.

But then, two other officials chimed in about the decision to put the bulk of the Games’ opening ceremony at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, rather than Los Angeles.


The torch will be carried down the Coliseum’s peristyle steps. But the parade of athletes, Olympic oath and torch lighting will all take place in Inglewood, a decision that was made years ago. The closing ceremony, meanwhile, will also take place at both venues.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn questioned why the Coliseum wasn’t hosting the Opening Ceremony. “It is an iconic venue known for its Olympic torch and it is appropriate that the 2028 Olympics follows in the tradition of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games,” Hahn told the Times.

George Pla, president of the Coliseum Commission, also weighed in: “This is the L.A. Olympics. The opening ceremony should be in L.A.”

Until now, criticism of the 2028 Games has largely been relegated to academics, Games’ experts and groups such as NOlympics L.A.

Perhaps the officials’ complaints were part of a negotiating tactic. Both Rodriguez and Park were not available for interviews.

“The committee looks forward to reviewing and vetting LA28’s proposed changes to its venue plan when we return from recess and only after our departments have provided an analysis,” Park said in statement to The Times.

LA28 spokesperson Kim Parker Gordon told the Times that the dual-venue plan for the opening and closing ceremonies will allow more people to attend the events. At the same time, there were “technical challenges” at the Coliseum because of plans to reconfigure the structure for track and field, Gordon said.


Parker Gordon said that LA28 officials began discussing potential changes to the venue plan with the council members in February.

“In the updated venue plan, the city of Los Angeles retains its position as the primary host of the Games in 2028,” Parker Gordon said, adding that more venues located within the city will be unveiled in the coming months.

The most popular sporting competitions of the Summer Games are swimming, gymnastics and track and field. Under the proposed venue changes announced by LA28, Los Angeles would lose swimming to Inglewood, but gain gymnastics, which was in that city.

Parker Gordon also weighed in on plans for the Convention Center. City leaders are expected to approve a plan to spend up to $54.4 million for initial design work to gauge whether the city can expand its aging Convention Center before the Olympics. A city report recommended going forward with the project and completing construction by March 2028. The report said the expanded Convention Center will cost the city $4.78 billion over a 30-year period, which includes debt on loans.

Rodriguez voted against the plan at a committee hearing on Wednesday. She expressed concern about the tight construction timeline, among other issues.

It’s expected that some Olympics events will take place at the convention center, but Parker Gordon told the Times that “LA28’s plans do not depend on an expanded convention center.”


State of play

— GLIMMERS OF HOPE: The number of homeless people living on the streets dropped 5.1% in Los Angeles County, and by 10.4% in the City of Los Angeles, according to a count conducted in January. Officials gave big credit to Mayor Karen Bass’ Inside Safe program, which has moved people into hotels, motels and other forms of interim housing over the past 18 months. Overall homelessness basically leveled off, with officials reporting a 2.2% decrease in the city and a .3% decline in the county.

— MOVE ALONG: In a blow to homeless advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cities can prohibit homeless encampments on sidewalks and other public areas. The decision doesn’t require cities to take action against homeless people, but gives them the ability to do so. Bass called the decision “disappointing,” saying she fears it will be used to put unhoused people in jail or push them from city to city. Gov. Gavin Newsom, on the other hand, said the ruling “removes the legal ambiguities that have tied the hands of local officials for years.”

— THE MASK DROPS: In the wake of violent altercations outside a Westside synagogue, Bass suggested the city would look at the issue of restrictions on the wearing of masks at public protests. Days later, she dismissed the idea of a mask crackdown, saying such a prohibition wouldn’t withstand judicial scrutiny.

— SHELTER SHAKEUP: The president of the commission that oversees the troubled Animal Services Department said he’s stepping down after more than 10 years on the panel. Larry Gross, who faced major criticism from shelter volunteers over the agency’s operations, told The Times he is resigning voluntarily. “I felt it was important I at least stayed on through the transition of both a new mayor, a new GM [general manager] and new appointed commissioners to ensure stability,” he said in a text.

— FIRING BAD COPS: The City Council put the finishing touches on the language of a Nov. 5 ballot measure that would give the police chief new power to fire officers who engage in serious misconduct. Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez opposed the measure, saying it did not go far enough. He and Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez voted no.

— HELP FOR HOCHMAN: Billionaire developer Rick Caruso announced his endorsement of Nathan Hochman for L.A. County district attorney. Hochman is seeking to unseat Dist. Atty. George Gascón, now running for a second four-year term. Caruso, a candidate for L.A. mayor in 2022, also paid for a poll on the D.A.’s race, which found that 53% disapprove of Gascón’s performance, 26% approve and 21% don’t know.

— A SECOND LOOK: Meanwhile, new questions are being raised about Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta’s case against a high-level Gascón deputy accused of accessing confidential police records.

— MARILYN MONUMENT: After a yearlong battle, the City Council declared a 1962 residence in Brentwood once owned by Marilyn Monroe as a cultural-historic monument. The vote is aimed at preventing the Spanish Colonial home from being demolished by its owners.

— REPLACING MEASURE H: County supervisors sent voters a Nov. 5 ballot measure that would double the county’s homelessness sales tax to a half-cent. That means consumers would pay a half-cent tax on every dollar, with the proceeds paying for homeless services and affordable housing. The ballot proposal, which qualified for the ballot after backers collected more than 390,000 signatures, would replace Measure H.


— SEVERE STAFF SHORTAGE: L.A. County juvenile halls are so violent that huge numbers of offers are skipping work.

— ENCAMPMENT EXPLOSION: An L.A. city firefighter was seriously injured in an explosion that occurred during a fire at a homeless encampment in the San Fernando Valley. The firefighter’s ear was “nearly completely severed,” but a doctor successfully reattached it, LAFD spokesperson Erik Scott said.

— WHAT ABOUT BOB? Council President Paul Krekorian nominated Bob Stern to serve on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. Stern, described by the Sacramento Bee as the “godfather of modern political reform in California,” according to Krekorian, helped write the state’s Political Reform Act, among other things.

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  • Where is Inside Safe? The mayor’s program to combat homelessness went to Hollywood, focusing on the area around Franklin and Argyle avenues, part of Soto-Martínez’ district. Inside Safe also went to 86th and Broadway in Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson’s South L.A. district.
  • On the docket for next week: The L.A. City Council holds its last meeting before its summer recess, taking up dozens of items, including a new ethics commissioner, a big batch of legal settlements and the proposed expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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