Politics
Los Angeles mayoral candidate and City Councilman Eric Garcetti gives a thumbs up as he departs after a news conference with with three former mayoral candidates who have endorsed him in his race against City Controller Wendy Greuel, at Barnsdall Park on April 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) Los Angeles mayoral candidate and City Councilman Eric Garcetti gives a thumbs up as he departs after a news conference with with three former mayoral candidates who have endorsed him in his race against City Controller Wendy Greuel, at Barnsdall Park on April 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)  

Mayor candidate Garcetti: Los Angeles a ‘libertarian town’

One of the two candidates in the one-party race for Los Angeles mayor says the City of Angels is a “libertarian town” — a designation that might surprise observers familiar with either Los Angeles or libertarianism.

“We have a reputation for being a liberal town, but we’re a libertarian town,” city council member Eric Garcetti, who is facing fellow Democrat Wendy Greuel in a race for the city’s top political spot, told columnist Joel Stein in the current issue of Time magazine. “Now the freeways are too crowded, and 50% of the kids aren’t going to school in their own neighborhoods. We need to build schools and parks.”

Garcetti’s office did not respond to a request for further comment, but from the context it appears Garcetti was referring not to the city’s relaxed approach to social issues but to a broader sense of individualism.

The description came as a surprise to local libertarians.

“I don’t know how he could describe the government of the city of Los Angeles as libertarian,” Jay Jones, chair of South Bay Libertarians, told The Daily Caller. “Nor the city as a whole.”

Los Angeles is widely known for its large and intrusive, if not always very effective, government. The Department of City Planning contains hundreds of offices and positions, including several graphic designers and dozens of “info specialists.”

The City Council recently voted to ban plastic shopping bags, has raised parking ticket penalties six times in the last seven years, and places restrictions on everything from fast food restaurants in poor neighborhoods to the keeping of roosters on private property.

The L.A. County Planning and Zoning Code, meanwhile, runs more than 438,000 words long and prints out at 1,300 pages. And while Garcetti lamented traffic congestion, he neglected to mention that no major new road construction has taken place since the 1960s and that the area currently has only about 60 percent of the road network it was projected to need in a statewide study dating back to 1947.

“If he’s using libertarian as a pejorative term,” says Jones, “I think I see where he’s coming from. He’s saying we’re too individualistic to get out of our cars and take the train. Our response is that people like their cars, and libertarianism is about individual choice.”

Follow Tim on Twitter