Los Angeles Grapples With Budget Crisis, Public Safety Concerns As Residents Flee In Droves

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Jake Smith Contributor
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Los Angeles, California, is struggling with an ongoing budget crisis and public safety issues as the city’s population is fleeing for other destinations.

The blue-run city may need to put a suspension on hiring, cut public programs and services, halt infrastructure projects and hike fees, even as it considers increasing the salary of city employees and police officers, according to The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles had the most severe emigration rates in the nation in 2023 as the city also grapples with high rates of crime, homelessness and drug overdoses. (RELATED: ‘Urine Across Campus’: Blue City’s Homeless Crisis Forced Private School To Shut Down, Lawsuit Alleges)

Mayor Karen Bass‘ administration is looking at cutting 2,000 vacant city job positions — roughly 5% of the total — to balance the growing budget crisis, according to the Times. It is still to be decided as to which jobs will be cut but they could include vacant roles at the Transportation Department, Parks and Recreation Department, the Bureau of Sanitation, police departments and fire departments.

Cutting the budgets of these departments may also be needed to balance the budget, according to City Controller Kennet Mejia. Mejia also recommended that Bass and the city raise fees for basic services such as trash collection, sewage control and public infrastructure such as streetlights, according to the Times.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass speaks during a press conference to announce new efforts to curb recent retail thefts, at City Hall in Los Angeles, California, on August 17, 2023. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

“Even the elimination of up to 2,000 positions will not be enough to bring anticipated expenditures in 2024-25 aligned with projected revenues,” Mejia wrote in a letter to Bass on March 18. “Consequently, across the board reductions to department accounts are likely to be needed to balance the 2024-25 budget which on top of positions being eliminated will severely impact department operations.”

Meanwhile, Los Angeles continues to struggle with heightened public safety safety concerns. Violent crime and homicide rates fell in 2023, but the number of murders and gunshot victims that year was still higher than it was in 2019, according to the Times. The number of property and auto thefts rose in 2023; the number of robberies fell in 2023 but most of them involved firearms.

“The perception of safety remains a concern across this great city,” LAPD Chief Michael Moore said during a press conference in January. “Our commitment is to address that perception, as well as the increased gun violence that we see far too much of still on our streets.”

Los Angeles also has an abnormally high homeless population, ranking number five out of 48 major cities for most homeless people per capita, according to The Brookings Institute. Roughly 47,000 homeless people are living in Los Angeles, and the city spends over $1 billion per year to try to address the crisis. (RELATED: ‘Hollywood Is Not A Healthy Place’: Angelina Jolie Says She Plans On Leaving Los Angeles)

The drug and overdose issue also continues to plague Los Angeles. The number of overdose deaths resulting from fentanyl use in Los Angeles jumped from 109 in 2016 to more than 1,900 in 2022, representing a 1,652% increase, according to country data. A report released in 2023 found overdose deaths in the homeless population from use of all drug jumped 105% from 2019 to 2022.

The city has in some instances provided individuals suffering from addiction with drug paraphernalia so that they can consume substances safely, according to the Times.

People are leaving Los Angeles in droves amid the spate of problems facing the city. The population of Los Angeles decreased from 9,719,765 to 9,663,345 from July 2022 to 2023, a loss of 56,420, the largest decline of any city of any county in the U.S. by a roughly factor of two, according to Census Bureau data. That number does not account for the number of civilians who left who were offset by incoming foreign migrants, of which there were 40,388 during that period.

Approximately 40 of California’s 58 counties saw a population decline from July 2022 to 2023. Meanwhile, the majority of counties in Texas, Florida and Arizona all saw the biggest population increases during that same time period.

Bass’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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