L.A., Long Beach given Bloomberg grants to build innovation teams

More than $2.5 million in grants from an organization founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will flow to the city of Los Angeles over three years to spur neighborhood revitalization, officials announced Monday.

Long Beach received up to $3 million to boost economic development.

They were among 12 U.S. cities awarded a share of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Team Grant, which “aims to improve the capacity of City Halls to effectively design and implement new approaches that improve citizens’ lives,” according to a statement from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

In each city, the money goes to create a team of in-house innovation consultants to help find and implement solutions to a city’s problems. L.A.'s team will initially focus on neighborhood revitalization.

Since taking office last year, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he wants City Hall to be more innovative and driven by results that can be measured.


He also wants to make neighborhoods more livable by adding bike racks, plazas and crosswalk upgrades, which he says is key to his “Back to Basics” agenda.

But Garcetti faces an uphill battle when it comes to innovating within City Hall as well as revitalizing L.A.'s streets. For example, there’s a deeply ingrained resistance to risk-taking at City Hall, and just this month, an internal City Hall report said the streets of L.A. are so dirty with trash that some areas appear “unsafe and ungoverned.”

Garcetti said Monday that the Bloomberg grant will be a boon to the city.

The data-driven initiative will “bolster my administration’s work to solve the most pressing problems facing our neighborhoods and will help communities across L.A. become more prosperous and better places to live,” Garcetti said in a statement.

The team, which will likely consist of five or six people, can move on to tackling another city issue after neighborhood revitalization.

The other 10 cities announced Monday as sharing in the $45 million that Bloomberg awarded were Albuquerque; Boston; Centennial, Colo.; Jersey City, N.J.; Mobile, Ala.; Minneapolis; Peoria, Ill.; Rochester and Syracuse in New York, and Seattle.

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