Panel: LA in danger of being 'city left behind in the 21st century'
LOS ANGELES (AP) More tourists. A unified port. A higher minimum wage.
The ideas were among more than a dozen proposed Wednesday by the Los Angeles 2020 Commission to encourage growth and lift the city from an uneven economic recovery.
The report followed its January study in which the panel concluded the nation's second most populous city was at risk of falling into decline as it struggles with poverty, low-achieving schools, traffic jams and a crisis of leadership.
"Unless Los Angeles embraces a different approach, it will become a city left behind in the 21st century," the new report concluded.
The report was released a day before Mayor Eric Garcetti is scheduled to deliver an annual address to the City Council to sketch his plans for the coming year.
The commission is comprised of business, labor, civic and government leaders, including former Gov. Gray Davis and former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor.
It called for combining the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to make the facilities more competitive in the global market.
It also suggested a regional tourism authority combining Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Long Beach and Santa Monica to lure more foreign visitors, and a minimum wage over $10 an hour to lift workers out of poverty and stimulate the economy.
"There are no silver bullets," Kantor said in a statement. "But our proposed measures, taken as a whole, are a solid step in the right direction and will provide a foundation for further change."
The report also featured proposals to make government more effective, from gaining control of runaway pension costs to creating an office to help taxpayers obtain clear-eyed information on the budget and other issues.
It noted that the portion of the city budget spent on retirement costs has exploded from 3 percent in 2003 to 18 percent. Those costs are expected to grow even further.
"A no-win proposition pits honoring the bargain to pay for retirement costs versus paying for current city services. This is not sustainable," the report said.