Nearly 100 Days after Karen Bass Became Mayor, Where’s LA at?


Wally Skalij

On November 8th of 2022, Los Angeles County voters elected, among others, Karen Bass as the mayor of the second largest city in the United States. The first woman and second Black leader in Los Angeles’ 43-mayor history, Bass ran on a platform centered on housing and safety and narrowly won – the election determined by 89,914 votes. Reminiscent of the four-day delay as votes were counted and certified in the 2020 presidential election, the tight race between Bass and land developer Rick Caruso ended on November 16th, a week after voting centers and ballot dropboxes closed.

Nearly 100 days into her tenure as mayor, a recap is in store.

Bass’ first order as mayor was to declare homelessness in Los Angeles a state of emergency, invoking Los Angeles’ Emergency Operations Center. This move gave Bass executive control over rules, regulations, contracts, and permits regarding temporary and permanent housing for the city’s 69,144 unhoused people. Bass also secured $50 million for temporary shelters and outreach workers for the unhoused. The $50 million comes from widespread homelessness funding reserves and leftover COVID funds from earlier years.

Bass’ appointment of commissioners and other city officials is moving at a slower pace. Per tradition, Los Angeles mayors tend to replace their predecessors’ appointees nearly entirely, but almost 100 days later, staff appointed under former Mayor Eric Garcetti are still largely holding office. Spokesperson Zach Seidl told the Los Angeles Times that Bass is prioritizing filling empty commission seats, not replacing seats already held.

However, the seats that Bass did rush to fill have invited controversy. Safer and more effective policing was a sizeable part of Bass’ campaign, a promise she began making moves on in early February with the appointment of Brian Williams as Deputy Mayor of Public Safety – where he will oversee and regulate the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Port of Los Angeles Police, the Los Angeles World Airport Police, and the Emergency Management Department – as well as Karren Lane to the spot of Deputy Mayor of Community Safety. Bass additionally appointed two members to the Board of Police Commissioners and sent a message expressing support for police chief Michel Moore days before the Board of Police Commissioners voted on whether to renew Moore’s position to a second term – a contentious vote that ultimately passed despite pressure from local Black Lives Matter leaders to reconsider.

Policing and homelessness remain, just as they were throughout the primaries and midterm election, two of the biggest crises facing Los Angeles. As Bass continues to settle into her role as mayor during one of the most politically turbulent times in modern history, how her administration handles these two pressing issues will not only shape Bass’ political legacy, but that of Los Angeles and its most vulnerable constituents.