Los Angeles has a bright, sustainable future on the horizon, and the city’s plans to get there can be a model for the rest of the world, Mayor Eric Garcetti told LMU students on Tuesday.
Garcetti’s appearance was the capstone event in this year’s Bellarmine Forum, which tackled the social, economic, political, and environmental factors impacting the region’s future, through a series of interconnected talks and events.
President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., invoked the 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner when introducing the mayor, noting that the film — set in the then-far off year of 2019 — depicted a dystopic Los Angeles that bears little resemblance to the inspiring city of today.
“We live in the best city in the world,” Snyder said. “Los Angeles is part of what makes LMU special; it’s why LMU’s creations have more impact; it’s one of the reasons U.S. News just ranked our institution No. 64 in the Nation. L.A. makes us intellectually powerful and magically imaginative.”
Garcetti looked to the future of Los Angeles and foresaw the results of plans made now and earlier, likening those events to a tree sown much earlier.
“We’ve all sat under beautiful trees that someone else planted,” Garcetti said, noting that many of his signature initiatives as mayor — such as securing funding for mass transit projects or spearheading the city’s successful bid for the 2028 Summer Olympic Games – won’t pay off until long after he’s out of office. “I would challenge you and say, what will you do for Los Angeles in the future?”
He sounded a warning note about climate change, but called out projects the city has embarked upon to reduce or even reverse its effects, such as stricter building codes requiring new construction to be carbon-neutral, and a move to an all-electric MTA bus fleet by 2030.
“L.A.’s emissions have peaked and are coming down,” he said. “For folks who think the battle can’t be won, look at L.A.”
Garcetti defended his decision to back out of running for president, which he considered, but noted that the success of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the primary season so far should not be viewed as surprising. “Mayors have a unique perspective,” he said, noting his own administration oversees a major port, airport, police department, and international trade delegation. “It really prepares you to be an executive.”
But who will Garcetti vote for in 2020? “I’m still shopping,” he said. “Like a lot of you.”