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Los Angeles is in Decline, 2020 Commission Report Says

Strangled by traffic, poverty and a crisis in leadership, the Los Angeles 2020 Commission warned that the city is heading toward a future where government will not able to provide public services.

David McNew / Getty Images
David McNew / Getty Images

A 13-member citizen panel says in a report released Wednesday that Los Angeles is a city in decline, strangled by traffic, weighed down by poverty and suffering from "a crisis of leadership and direction."

The Los Angeles 2020 Commission, convened by City Council President Herb Wesson to examine the city's economic woes, offered a harsh assessment of civic decision-making, warning that Los Angeles is heading to a future where local government can no longer afford to provide public services.

An account of the report was carried in the Los Angeles Times ahead of its formal release this morning.

The panel, chaired by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor, said Los Angeles lacks a coherent approach to economic development and trails other major cities in job growth. City government spending is growing faster than revenue and the pension benefits of city employees are at risk, said the report, titled "A Time For Truth."

"The city where the future once came to happen has been living in the past and leaving tomorrow to sort itself out," the report said.

Wesson asked Kantor to convene the panel and choose its members nearly a year ago, The Times reported. "He and others felt there was value in having an independent look at the city's problems," Wesson spokesman Ed Johnson told the newspaper.

The report warns that the Los Angeles Unified School District is "failing our children and betraying the hopes of their hardworking parents," The Times reported.

It says Measure R, the 2008 tax hike designed to pay for new rail lines, would leave traffic essentially unchanged. And it concluded that the city's push to have 10,000 police officers -- a benchmark reached by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- is "not real" because of the way the officers have been deployed in recent years.

The report also warned that the city is "dramatically underinvesting" in the harbor, the airport and the Department of Water and Power.


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