Barr, Caruso debate homelessness, other issues being debated in Los Angeles mayor’s office – Press Telegram

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ERIC HE, City News Service

Both L.A. mayoral candidates used “crisis” when asked to describe the state of the city in one word, and Rep. Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso made their bid to be the person to fix it during the first televised debate ahead of the November election today at the Skirball Cultural Center. .

Homelessness was a major issue discussed, with both candidates acknowledging the severity of Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis but differing on how to approach it. The latest point-in-time homeless count, released this month, showed a 1.7% increase in Los Angeles’ homeless population since 2020, bringing the total to 41,980.

Caruso said the premise of his plan to fight homelessness will be getting people into shelters, noting that his goal is to build 30,000 new shelter beds in his first year in office.

“We have to meet people where they are,” Caruso said.

Bass said that while getting people off the streets is important, “shelters are not the answer.”

“What we’ve done for too long is we’ve put people in shelters,” Bass said. “Now shelters have become so dangerous that people don’t even want to be in shelters and choose to be on the streets.”

Bass called for a more comprehensive approach, prioritizing services, addressing the root cause of homelessness and creating permanent housing.

Caruso said he believes shelters are ultimately a better and more efficient way to serve people who are homeless. He said he supports clearing the camps “at a certain point and time” because of potential crime and the impact on surrounding neighborhoods. He said the camps were “unfair to society”.

Bass responded that “at the end of the day, you can’t criminalize poverty.”

“If they’re put in jail, they’ll be there for three days and then they’ll be out again,” Bass said.

Both candidates said they would support extending Los Angeles’ pandemic eviction moratorium, though the City Council signaled a potential adjustment to the moratorium after the housing department recommended ending it by Dec. 31.

Bass said she would extend it while offering support to mom-and-pop landlords, while Caruso would amend it to recognize that some people are using the moratorium to cheat out of paying rent.

Bass and Caruso also advocated loosening regulations to build more affordable housing.

In the latest poll conducted in August by the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies, Caruso, who entered Wednesday’s debate trailing Bass by double digits, cast himself as an outsider and tried to paint Bass, a member of the House since 2011 after being deputy since 2004. 2010 as part of the founding

Caruso was appointed in 1985 by then-Mayor Tom Bradley to the commission that oversees the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He also served on the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission.

Caruso, a billionaire, said he would not take money from interest groups or Super PACs, to which Bass responded that Caruso was simply spending his wealth on his campaign. Caruso spent more than $40 million of his own money on his campaign.

“I think this is a different path to democracy and an example of a structural problem in our democracy,” Bass said.

Bass criticized Caruso — who registered as a Democrat in January after previously being a Republican and having “no partisan preference” — for switching parties. Caruso said he has always been socially liberal and left the Republican Party in 2019 because it did not reflect his values, noting his support for Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Gov. Jerry Brown.

“I liked the Democratic Party 10 years ago, and I like the Democratic Party today,” Bass said. “Because today’s Democratic Party is more diverse — more diverse politically and in every way.”

Caruso responded, perhaps in recognition of the majority of major Democrats who support Bass, “I don’t seem to be getting it.”

The candidates also exchanged digs about the controversy surrounding USC and the recent burglary at Bass’s home in which two of her guns were stolen.

When asked to describe the biggest difference between them and their opponents, Bass pointed to her history as a “lifelong pro-choice Democrat,” blasting Caruso for his previous donations to anti-abortion politicians.

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