Lift the moratorium on eviction?
Bass and Caruso were asked if they should extend the city of Los Angeles’ eviction moratorium. The businessman says yes, but wants more verification that people who don’t pay rent need to better verify their inability to not pay rent.
Bass says she would extend the moratorium and says we should expand other programs — like Project Roomkey — that were created during Covid-19. She also said that landlords should also get help.
Abortion — an issue that usually gets little play in L.A. local elections — has cast a long shadow over the race since the Supreme Court’s planned decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked just before the election.
Bass invoked abortion rights and the specter of Caruso’s Republican past when she described herself as a “lifelong pro-choice Democrat” in her opening response.
Asked about the role reproductive rights would play for Los Angeles mayor, Bass described the issue as a “values issue,” whether or not the city is involved in health care administration.
Caruso — whose previous donations to anti-abortion politicians have been the subject of frequent attacks during the race — fired back.
He first clarified his position to voters, saying, “I’m pro-choice, always have been.”
He then said the “same standards” used against him should be applied to Bass. He said Bass donated to a member of Congress from Georgia who supported the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal Medicaid funding for abortions. (Times reporters are fact-checking this allegation.)
Caruso has been outspoken about his support for abortion rights during the campaign, but his past donations include more than $240,000 to super PAC supporting John Kasich‘s GOP presidential run in 2016; $100,000 in PAC support President George W. Bushre-election in 2004; $50,000 in PAC support Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) in 2017; and $4,300 to a committee supporting Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2007. Caruso also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican Party committees between 2003 and 2017.
About the homeless
Caruso mentioned his oft-repeated promise to build 30,000 units in his first year in office. To realize this expensive plan, he wants to build tiny houses for 15,000 people and temporarily house another 15,000 people in “sleeping huts” in existing structures, such as warehouses and empty buildings.
Building or acquiring housing and preparing it for occupancy would cost $843 million in the first year. He declined to estimate the operating costs of housing 30,000 people, but a Times analysis of city documents showed it would cost about $660 million a year, or about $22,000 per person.
Bass criticized Caruso’s plan, saying it was purely temporary accommodation and did not offer a balanced approach. She also outlined her plan to bring 15,000 people indoors by trying to squeeze as much as possible out of the current system to expand both temporary and permanent housing, albeit on a far smaller scale than Caruso envisions.
It would build new shelters to house about 1,000 people, expand the use of housing vouchers, lease and buy motels and hotels and try other approaches. The first-year cost would be $292 million, including construction costs and operating costs for shelter beds.
“Shelters have become so dangerous that people don’t even want to be in shelters and choose to be out on the streets, so we have temporary housing, but it has to be very time-limited and we have to put people in permanent supportive housing,” Bass said. .
Both candidates talked about how shelters can be problematic.
Caruso quotes recently research from the Rand Corp. suggesting that mass shelters are not the preferred destination of the homeless. Less than a third of those surveyed in Hollywood, Skid Row and Venice said “group shelter” was an acceptable housing option.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?
Bass mentions homelessness and makes it clear that she is a “lifelong pro-choice Democrat.” She adds that she thinks “we can have a city where people don’t pay to live, but where they come.”
In Caruso’s response to this question, he references his grandparents who are from Boyle Heights before mentioning homelessness and crime. “LA is always a place where big dreams come true.”
Karen Bass and Rick Caruso face off at Skirball
With less than seven weeks until the Nov. 8 election, Rep. Karen Bass and investor Rick Caruso face off in their first head-to-head debate tonight at the Skirball Cultural Center.
Both campaigns have gone into battle mode in recent weeks, with Caruso and Bass attacking each other’s character and ethics. This will be the first time they’ve gone toe-to-toe without a bunch of other contenders alongside them, and it’s unclear what their dynamic will look like — or how willing the contenders will be to go.
The debate — sponsored by The Times, Univision, KPCC, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Los Angeles Urban League and Loyola Marymount University — is moderated by Times columnist Erika D. Smith and Fox 11 News anchor Elex Michaelson.
The debate was preceded by one featuring two candidates in the Los Angeles County sheriff’s race, Sheriff Alex Villanueva and retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. Caruso greeted Villanueva as the sheriff left the stage. “Sounds like you did a good job,” Caruso told him. He also greeted Luna.
About 200 people are inside the place in Skirball. Among those in attendance are City Councilman and former mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino and students from Loyola Marymount University, visible in their red and white T-shirts.
Bass finished the June primary with a seven-point lead, and an August poll by the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by The Times, showed her leading Caruso by 12 percentage points.
But nearly a quarter of Los Angeles voters are still undecided, according to the poll, and Wednesday’s debate offers a potentially decisive opportunity for Caruso and Basso to reintroduce themselves to voters just three weeks before general election ballots go out.