The LA Olympics are planned behind closed doors

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The 2028 Los Angeles Olympics are still almost seven years away. But city council has set a self-imposed deadline of November 1 to strike a deal with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and LA 28, the private non-profit consortium responsible for hosting the games on how the city will host the event. . The city, whose outgoing mayor Eric Garcetti has been a strong supporter of the Olympic bid, has also determined that on that date it will make the decision to expand LAX airport to accommodate the expected Olympic crowds. The council is also expected to decide whether to widen a loophole in the city’s housing codes to allow up to 14,000 additional short-term rentals in a city that already has a large number of homeless residents. Why would the City do this? One answer is that AirBnb is one of the corporate sponsors of the 2028 Olympics.

So far, negotiations over what the deal will look like have all been behind closed doors. There was no real contribution from the public.

It is not a good thing. In fact, given the amount of financial, housing and security resources that host cities end up devoting to the Olympics, preventing the public from discussing such discussions is an act of extreme pride. The Tokyo Games Agreement ran to 185 pages; assuming the LA deal is so detailed, it suggests that a lot of the overarching decisions that will affect the city’s future are being made in secret.

Compounding a bad situation – and fueling the idea that LA power brokers hope to set the terms of the games out of sight and out of mind – the city has, according to Unite Here Local 11 co-chair Kurt Petersen, blocked several Public Records Act. union inquiries. In response, Unite Here recently launched a campaign urging the council to delay voting on the deal until the public has more say in what it looks like.

Unite HERE represents workers at hotels, airports and sports stadiums – all of whom will, of course, be directly affected by the games – and it also works closely with housing activists, who fear the Olympics could open. even more the city on short-term rentals, and will put even more pressure on the city’s dysfunctional housing market. The union fears that in the absence of a public campaign around the principles of fairness, Los Angeles will end up repeating some of the same mistakes made by other recent host cities, such as London. In these cases, residents of poor neighborhoods have been relocated to make way for new Olympic infrastructure and, despite large-scale injections of public funds, the games have failed to generate long-term job gains. A recent report found that the promised income and lifestyle benefits for residents of London’s East End simply did not materialize. In Rio de Janeiro, in 2016, around 22,000 residents were displaced to make way for the Games. Five years later, the 2021 Games in Tokyo were responsible for the forced relocation of hundreds of homes.

Hoping to convince the city to learn from the previous examples, Unite HERE local 11 is pushing for the Olympics deal to include a binding promise of longer-term and beneficial jobs in the hospitality industry; for a commitment to diversity in employment, in which the organizers of the Olympic Games promise to hire and retain more African-American workers; and for significant investments in housing as part of a larger effort to end the city’s massive homelessness crisis.

Petersen hopes that in the weeks and months to come, public pressure will be exerted on city councilors to put in place a number of guarantees regarding access to housing, especially in the period surrounding the Olympic Games. That, he says, would make him cautiously optimistic about long-term trends and the ability to change the Olympic Accord even after the November 1 deadline. But, in the short term, he fears that the 2028 Olympics will end up representing another missed opportunity for gradual change in the City of Angels.

“These Olympics should transform Los Angeles in a way that no other city has been able to do, if we focus on housing, on jobs, on inclusion,” said Petersen. But, he continues, “there is no evidence that they do. There is a complete lack of vision. He needs a lot more attention. It’s a shame what’s happening now.


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