After visiting fire-damaged areas around the Getty Museum, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti visited LMU on Oct. 29 and told a packed audience that L.A. is a city well-positioned for the future. Garcetti’s appearance was the signature event associated with this year’s Bellarmine Forum, which tackled the social, economic, political, and environmental factors affecting the region’s future through a series of events and courses connected to the theme “Los Angeles: A Place for the Future.”
As a fourth-generation Angeleno and the 42nd Mayor of Los Angeles, Garcetti offered his unique perspective on the defining attributes of Los Angeles. He praised L.A. for being a place of freedom, of the future, and of belonging. In addition to highlighting the beauty and diversity of L.A., he also explored many complex issues our students stand to inherit. Fernando Guerra, founding director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles and professor of political science and Chicana/o and Latina/o studies at LMU, moderated a discussion with Garcetti that touched on traffic congestion, homelessness and lack of affordable housing, as well as wildfires and climate change.
Guerra asked the mayor, “What caused this fire? And, how do we plan for this new norm of fires?” Garcetti was quick to respond that California’s wildfires are actually one of the “new abnormal” effects of climate change. Garcetti emphasized that the 2020s must be devoted to getting serious about our climate crisis. He also mentioned how L.A.’s carbon footprint has peaked and the city is one of the few to have brought carbon emissions down by way of stricter building codes, and more electric MTA busses.
A majority of students in the audience have been exploring various aspects of L.A.’s past and future all semester through their respective Bellarmine Forum courses and common lectures, which have featured prominent guest speakers, such as Garcetti, as well as the research of BCLA’s own excellent faculty. Topics have included: the historical growth and transformation of urban communities; connecting indigenous and environmental histories with contemporary environmental issues; the new urbanism of Playa Vista and the economies of Silicon Beach; the urban and economic impact of professional sports and the 2028 Olympics; and the politics and demographics of L.A.
Students were engaged and prepared, and asked well-informed questions mainly about the 2028 Olympics. One student cited a Center for the Study of L.A. survey that found 83 percent approval by respondents in L.A. county for hosting the Olympic Games and asked how L.A. plans to make the Olympics profitable despite most cities taking massive losses from the event. Garcetti responded confidently that “L.A. already has the infrastructure in place to hold such an event without spending too much money,” but, most importantly, he made the point that “the Olympics are a space for everyone to come together despite world conflicts.”
This year’s Bellarmine Forum showcased Los Angeles as a dynamic city to live in and to study. And in considering the city’s future, Mayor Garcetti said, “Students must take a leadership role in the future we will write together.”
Reporter Kristian Holland is a sophomore English major.