Business, neighborhoods and the future of the city were all topics on the table Thursday at the first "Talking About Los Angeles" discussion, featuring former Los Angeles City Council president and mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti.
The first hour-long discussion in the series was moderated by Anthony Salcito of Microsoft's World Wide Public Sector organization and was held in an auditorium at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.
Business was truly a hot topic for Garcetti, who told the audience city officials are currently incentivized by "fees and fines." He said he would like to, instead, see them judged on growth "metrics," like the number of new businesses they helped facilitate.
"We have been one of the most unfriendly cities for business in the U.S.," Garcetti said.
Garcetti also said improved personal relationships, reduced red tape and taxes, as well as strengthened neighborhoods could help attract more businesses to Los Angeles.
Pointing to Downtown Los Angeles, Silver Lake, Hollywood and Venice as some examples, Garcetti said he would like to see more done to keep housing and jobs adjacent.
Garcetti also addressed education, not only with regard to the public school system, but college education as well. The mayoral hopeful stressed several times the role vocational education must play in restructuring the Los Angeles economy.
Garcetti was also tough on the Los Angeles Unified School District. He said city leaders must learn to think holistically about students in the system, and put city dollars to work where appropriate to improve the student experience.
Garcetti answered several questions posed by Patch readers and LATTC students during the conversation Thursday.
In response to a student question about transportation, Gracetti said he would use his seat on the Metro Board to faciliate the creation of a student Metro pass. He also pointed to his bike-friendly Council District 13 as a sign of how he would stand on the role of cycling in the city.
The next "Talking About Los Angeles" mayoral conversation will feature Jan Perry on May 15 at California State University Northridge.