Garcetti, Greuel Discuss Tunnel And Hollywood Jobs In Mayoral Forum
Garcetti and Greuel appeared separately on stage and were each given 30 minutes to answer questions raised by moderator Dave Bryan of CBS 2/KCAL 9 and a crowded room of about 200 spectators. The forum was hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles and Bend the Arc.
The first question of the forum dealt with the city's transportation issues. The two candidates re-stated their previous positions on tunneling under the Sepulveda Pass to ease traffic congestion between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. Both said Measure R and federal funding would support the bulk of the project. Garcetti called the Sepulveda Pass "the most choked artery in America" and said it would be best fixed through a heavy-rail system as opposed to light-rail.
"If you look at the number of passengers we have to alleviate, light-rail probably wouldn’t do enough," Garcetti said. [The rail would] go from the north San Fernando Valley basically to LAX, including a transit tunnel through the 405 pass that would allow you to be able to go essentially from Sherman Oaks to UCLA in five or 10 minutes.”
Greuel, a Valley resident, said L.A. is playing catchup with other cities and wants to "change people's behaviors" when it comes to the area's transportation culture.
“I want to have public transportation in Los Angeles in my lifetime and in my son’s lifetime,” Greuel said. "Right now, we are way behind other cities where you can take public transportation and get to the airport easily and get to where you go to work."
When the topic shifted to saving film industry jobs, Garcetti said he wanted to work with Sacramento to lift the $100 million per year cap on tax credits, while expanding the eligible categories to commercials, premium cable, large movies and video games.
"New York wouldn't let banks die out, Detroit wouldn't let the auto industry die out, but California as a state is letting our entertainment industry bleed away," Garcetti said. He also touted his push in City Council to eliminate fees on filming television pilots in L.A.
Greuel highlighted her time as an executive at Dreamworks as an experience that would make her better-suited to keep film production jobs in the city. She voiced her support for increasing the amount of tax credits for filming.
When asked what role he would play in helping improve the L.A. Unified School District, Garcetti pointed out California's position as 49th in the nation in per-student spending and vowed to get the state closer to the middle of the pack.
Greuel, stating that it is "criminal" that California is ahead of only Utah in per-student spending, emphasized accountability by allowing parents and teachers a bigger say in controlling local schools.
Bryan asked the city controller why her campaign has struggled to connect with voters, in light of a recent USC Price/L.A. Times poll showing that Garcetti has opened up a 10-point lead. Greuel cited voter fatigue coming off November's presidential campaign for the reason behind low interest in the city's race.
"I might not be the best campaigner, but I'm a strong leader," Greuel said.
The candidates have less than four weeks to make an impression on voters before the scheduled May 21 runoff.