By Rick Orlov, October 28, 2013
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti poses with EPA Adminsitrator Gina McCarthy in Washington. He also met with President Barack Obama.
In his first official trip to Washington, D.C., Mayor Eric Garcetti
on Monday met with President Barack Obama as part of a lobbying trip for
federal assistance on transportation projects and improvements to the
Los Angeles River.
“He said he wanted to welcome me to Washington,” Garcetti said in a telephone interview.
He later sent out a tweet: “Great to visit with @BarackObama at the White House today.”
a day filled with meetings, Garcetti met with senior White House
adviser Valerie Jarrett to discuss the L.A. River restoration project.
He was joined on the trip by City Councilmen Bob Blumenfield, Gil
Cedillo, Mike Bonin and Mitch O’Farrell.
Garcetti also sat down with officials from the Office of
Management and Budget, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
“They were very familiar
with what we are doing, and we wanted to let them know how important
these projects are to us in Los Angeles,” he said.
One of the mayor’s main goals was to seek federal help at Los Angeles
International Airport. “We are very interested in the LAX-Connect
program, where passengers could come to an intermodal facility to check
in and then get on a people mover to take them to the different
terminals,” Garcetti said.
He noted the city was not asking the federal government to pick
up the entire tab, as Measure R — which allocates a projected $40
billion to traffic relief and transportation upgrades throughout L.A.
County over the next 30 years — would be paying at least half the cost
of the system.
The same is true for the L.A. River, on which more
than $200 million has been earmarked for improvements as Garcetti and
city officials seek to have a $1 billion program adopted by the Army
Corps of Engineers to make improvements along the entire 51-mile
With the EPA’s McCarthy, he discussed the need for the city to increase water storage, particularly in the San Fernando Valley.
“They are very impressed that we are using cutting-edge technology,” Garcetti said.
heading back to the Southland tonight, the mayor and his cadre will be
attending L.A. River Day, sponsored by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, which
examines the four Army Corps of Engineers revitalization options for
The council earlier this year officially backed Alternative 20, the most expensive and comprehensive of the plans.
O’Farrell, in a telephone interview, said the group also met with
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and members of the Council on Environmental
Quality. “It is important for them to understand that we as a city and a
region ... are asking the federal government to meet us halfway over a
20-year period,” he said.
“We have demonstrated we know how to make things happen at the local
level and now need federal support. This is a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to make an investment in a resource like the L.A. River.
This opportunity will not be here in five years.”
Garcetti had planned a significant Washington trip shortly after
he was sworn in as mayor but had to cut that trip short because of local
fallout from the Trayvon Martin case.
Also on the trip is City
Engineer Gary Moore, who is serving as interim port director, and Public
Works Commissioner Barbara Romero.
Bonin, whose council district
includes LAX, said the visit with the secretary of transportation was
particularly beneficial. Bonin and Garcetti want to fast-track the
ground transportation center, which they hope will allow Metro Green and
Crenshaw Line trains to connect directly with the airport. Any plan
will require support from the Federal Aviation Administration and
Federal Transit Administration, both of which are supervised by Foxx.
Considerable planning work remains, but Bonin said he is
optimistic LAX can begin building its ground transportation hub before
Obama leaves offices in January 2017.
The Green Line already stops near LAX, but Bonin said it’s vital for Metro trains to actually enter airport property.
don’t want to have a reputation as the city that almost does the right
thing in transportation,” Bonin said. “It’s not good enough to almost
get to the airport. We have to connect.”