The Garcetti Decade

In 2009, Los Angeles magazine put a picture of Antonio Villaraigosa, newly elected to a second term as mayor, on its cover beneath a blaring single-word headline: “Failure.”

His successor, Eric Garcetti, who has now earned his own second term, has never faced that kind of hostility from the media. Yet neither has he whipped up a great deal of excitement. Widely but not wildly popular, Garcetti, 46, has largely packaged himself as a back-to-basics mayor, a persona that tends (by design, presumably) to keep his political instincts and sizable ambition tucked away from public view.

That’s not to say that Garcetti doesn’t have an opportunity to put a major imprint on the city. This is especially true when it comes to the subjects central to this column, including civic architecture, urban planning and the design of public and green space across Los Angeles.

In fact, the confluence of two factors means that Garcetti has a chance to shape the public character of Los Angeles more profoundly than any mayor since Tom Bradley, who served five terms between 1973 and 1993.

The first is that because of L.A.’s decision to shift its elections from March of odd years to November of even ones, to sync with state and federal voting, Garcetti’s second term will stretch for five and a half years. If he serves the term in full — a fairly big if, and one we’ll come back to — he’ll occupy the mayor’s chair for essentially a full decade, nearly two years longer than anyone else in the term-limits era, which began after Bradley left office.

Chris Alexakis