Rebuilding the Los Angeles Economy in the Pandemic

GUEST WORDS-The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated much of the economy of Los Angeles, the state of California, and the nation.

And we have yet to see the total economic impact. But already tens of millions of people in the U.S. have lost their jobs and are struggling even more than they were before the pandemic. I want our nation and especially the City of Los Angeles to do what we have done in the face of other historic tragedies: innovate. 

For inspiration, we should look to the Work Projects Administration that employed millions of people during the Great Depression, resulting both in jobs for people who needed them and tremendous infrastructure improvements for the nation. Los Angeles most certainly needs jobs and major infrastructure improvements. 

We can put a significant number of people to work filling potholes, trimming trees, repairing sidewalks, fixing broken streetlights. Also, in my plans to incentivize the building of affordable housing of all types, including things like tiny homes, we could increase the number of available jobs and grow revenue in an expanding industry while producing decent housing for those who need it. 

In light of climate change, I’d also like to prioritize the creation of jobs in green industries and work to position LA as leader in green innovation and technology. Again, as it relates to our need for housing, I would seek out developers who are motivated to incorporate environmental efficiency in their projects. Utilizing green technology in real estate ultimately increases its value while also benefitting the environment. 

All jobs created will have to take into consideration the safety protocols we need to protect the health of workers and their families. And in fact, the need to ensure adherence to protocols gives us a whole other category of jobs—people who can be trained to work as inspectors and monitors to make sure existing businesses are following rules and guidelines. People could be trained to work as advisors to help existing and/or new businesses know what the current best practices are and how to follow them. 

It’s always challenging to find the money to increase the number of city employees. But these are unprecedented times that call for bold action. We can and should do better than short-term stop-gap measures. We need long-term solutions that have lasting impact. When we put people to work, they immediately start to bolster the economy. They pay income taxes and their bills. They buy food and clothes, and they get their car repaired. In short, they have money to spend and that helps rebuild the economy. Not all at once, but gradually. But it must start with government investment first. And the investment that I’m advocating for also results in better infrastructure for the city. It’s a true win-win scenario.


(Grace Yoo is an attorney and a candidate for Los Angeles City Council District 10.)Image: Anthony Russo / LA Times. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.