L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Defends Made In America Plans, Brags About Cutting Red Tape

Eric Garcetti Made in America Press Conference - P 2014
Shirley Halperin

Eric Garcetti Made in America Press Conference - P 2014

"What's important is that Los Angeles figure out a way to get to 'Yes'"

The Made in America festival is coming to downtown Los Angeles, not as an inconvenience, but as a way to boost the local economy and create jobs for crew specializing in construction, lighting and sound, among dozens of additional professional tasks. So boasted L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti in a press conference held on Thursday, after which he participated in a tour of the Grand Park grounds and its two stages, which will welcome such acts as Imagine Dragons, John Mayer, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar, Weezer, Kanye West and curator Jay Z on Aug. 30 and 31.

Indeed, it was Mayor Garcetti's chummy relationship with the superstar rapper that seemingly allowed for significant cutting of red tape, some, as The Hollywood Reporter reported early on Thursday, at the expense of local residents and businesses who will no doubt be impacted by street closures and a flood of concertgoers in the typically sleepy (on the weekend) downtown neighborhood.

According to THR's story, emails between Made in America lawyer Andrew Kupinse and Deputy City Attorney Daniel Kreinbring detailed a plan to circumvent the typical approval process, which dictates that when staging an event of such magnitude, a petition of approval "from 51% of the neighbors" is required. "It has us all confused," read the email. "We assume this is not needed since it is a city sponsored event?" Later in the day, Patricia Whelan, of the mayor's neighborhood services division, responded to Kupinse, assuring "we have this handled. The neighbors consist of five entities, most of which are government. No worries on your end — I'll let Street Services know."

Garcetti didn't directly address claims of impropriety, but he did admit to having "cut red tape" and explained to gathered journalists that even he was surprised by Jay Z's speed of action. The two first met at City Hall, he revealed, then reconvened at Staples Center on Dec. 9, when Garcetti said to the rapper, "If you're serious, L.A. wants to make this work. We've got a reputation of getting things done ... " He added, "I thought we might be talking about a year or two; we got this done in two months."

Key to the mayor's plan was having promoter Live Nation involved, not just because of the company's experience in producing large events, but also because it's based in L.A. The company plans to shell out $12 million to cover act fees and production, some $7 million of which "will be spent here on workers wages and construction companies, many who don't get this kind of work in the city."

Garcetti further explained that they looked closely at Made In America's three previous bows in Philadelphia: "We did our homework," he added. "I [talked] to the mayor of Philadelphia who said, 'This was a great thing for my city.'"

Further describing the plans for Saturday and Sunday, both local police and officers from the sheriff's office will be on hand to keep the peace, and any damage done to the just rehabbed Grand Park will be covered and fixed at the expense of Live Nation. As for his own participation, the Mayor said he plans to attend on Sunday and looks forward to seeing Steve Aoki, The National, Kanye West and Iggy Azalea.

"We're at the crossroads of the world here in L.A.," he boasted, adding that, "What's important is that Los Angeles figure out a way to get to 'Yes.' There's a million ways to say no, there will always be a million things to consider — that's not a reason to not celebrate."