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Garcetti’s New Green Deal: More “Leap of Faith” Financing

LA WATCHDOG--Last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti launched LA’s “Decade of Action” to fight the climate crisis by issuing a 2,600 word Executive Directive, “LA’s Green New Deal: Leading by Example,” where he “laid out his vision for a carbon neutral Los Angeles and a firm commitment for environmental justice and equity.” 

A major focus of the directive is the “Five Zeros:” a zero carbon grid, zero wasted water, zero carbon ground transportation, zero carbon buildings, and zero waste.  There is also an emphasis on being Resilient and Cool City (trees, cool roofs and surfaces, resilient streets) and a Clean and Healthy City where air quality will be monitored in real time.   

Garcetti is now directing the Department of Water and Power, Transportation, Sanitation, Street Services, General Services, Engineering, and numerous other departments to report back to the Mayor on their thoughts and plans on how to address the “climate crisis.”  Most of these reports are due on or before July 1.    

What is not mentioned is how to finance the Mayor’s ambitious Green New Deal other than a sentence directing DOT to coordinate with Metro on the Congestion Pricing Tax.  But this proposal for a tax increase, one that could range between $12 billion and $103 billion over the next ten years, is not due until January 1, 2021, two months after Californians vote on the controversial Split Roll that will indirectly increase our costs by an estimated $12 billion. 

[The Split Roll, if approved by a majority of the voters, would amend Proposition 13 by valuing commercial and manufacturing properties at their current market value, not based on the purchase price as is the current practice.] 

An integral part of each departmental or task force report should be information on the cost of their plans and recommendations and possible sources of financing.  Of course, the Mayor and his staff will tell us that it is too soon to make any cost estimates. 

Baloney.  We have been bagged too many times by the Mayor and the City Council when it comes to our wallets. 

When the Mayor unilaterally announced that DWP would transition to 100% Renewable Power and recycle 195,000 acre feet of wastewater by 2035, we were not given any cost estimates despite the fact that our water and power rates will double or triple. 

In June, we were deceived by the Mayor and City Council when we were told that the City had a balanced budget.  However, as a result of new labor contracts with the police and firefighters, the City’s balanced budget is now $200 million in the red despite record revenues.  The City is also anticipating deficits of $200 to $400 million in each of the next four years. Overall, this resulted in a negative swing of $1.6 billion.  

In January, Garcetti facilitated an agreement between LAUSD and UTLA, the teachers’ union, saying that the settlement was based on a Leap of Faith financing.  However, in June, 54% of voters rejected LAUSD’s Measure EE, a $500 million parcel tax. 

Now the Mayor, along with the environmental-industrial complex, is expecting us to go along with his very ambitious and costly plan Green New Deal without providing us with any financial information or telling us the impact it will have on our wallets.  And no doubt the Green New Deal will soon be accompanied by an urgent call to increase our taxes, already the highest in the nation.  

No way.  We have been bamboozled too many times over the years.  The Mayor and the City Council need to earn our trust.  And transparency is the first step on that very long road.   

 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  [email protected].)

-cw