President Donald Trump made a rare visit to the Los Angeles area Tuesday to raise money for his re-election bid, and he suggested again he may take a more active role in combating the homelessness problem in the Southland and around the state.
“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to the Bay Area, where he landed around 11 a.m.
“… We have people living in our … best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings … where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige. In many cases they (building tenants) came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents. Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.
“And the people of San Francisco are fed up, and the people of Los Angeles are fed up,” he said. “And we’re looking at it, and we’ll be doing something about it.”
Last week, Trump sent a delegation of administration officials to the Los Angeles area to examine the local response to the homelessness crisis, something Trump has criticized as being the result of liberal political policies, particularly in so-called sanctuary cities.
Trump told reporters on Tuesday he was looking “very seriously” at creating some type of “individual task force” to address the homelessness issue.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week he took the group on a tour of the city’s Unified Homelessness Response Center, a pair of homeless shelters and the Jordan Downs public housing complex.
Garcetti sent a letter to Trump following the delegation’s visit, saying he welcomes assistance from the federal government, but saying politics need to be set aside. He reiterated that sentiment Tuesday morning, issuing a video statement online.
“It’s no secret that I’ve disagreed with you on almost everything, Mr. President,” Garcetti said. “But if you are in your heart willing to save lives alongside us, we know what works here.”
Garcetti said billions of federal dollars that could have created 47,000 permanent supportive units in Los Angeles were cut in the last couple years. Speaking from a recently opened Bridge Housing facility in South Los Angeles, Garcetti said he wanted to talk to Trump and show him what is being done locally to combat the problem.
“… I wanted to talk to (Trump) a little bit as if he had come down here to South L.A. to understand and to hear the challenges we face and ways that Washington, D.C., instead of demonizing us, might be able to come and help us,” Garcetti said
Trump arrived in Los Angeles shortly after 4 p.m., and was greeted on the tarmac by Yorba Linda’s 26-year-old mayor Tara Campbell; state Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield; and Shawn Steele, a Republican National Committeeman. Trump also greeted a group of cheering supporters, shaking hands and posing for photos, before boarding a helicopter.
Trump is not expected to make any public appearances during his third visit to Los Angeles County as president. He was to participate in a roundtable discussion with supporters and speak at a dinner fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of real estate developer Geoffrey Palmer, a major Trump and Republican Party donor.
Like many fundraisers for presidents of both parties, the event was closed to the news media.
Tickets range in cost from $1,000 for individuals to $100,000 for couples who want to attend a VIP reception, roundtable discussion with the president and a photo opportunity, according to CNBC.
A Republican official told reporters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Trump began the day, that the event will raise $5 million. A Wednesday breakfast in Los Angeles will raise $3 million, the official said.
Trump was expected to raise $3 million at a private lunch in Portola Valley. He will travel to San Diego Wednesday, and he is expected to raise $4 million at a luncheon there, according to the Republican official.
Although specific details of presidential travels are never made public in advance, motorists in the downtown, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills areas were warned to anticipate rolling street and freeway closures as Trump is driven to and from the event.
Trump will spend the night in downtown Los Angeles, speak at a breakfast fundraiser Wednesday morning, then head to San Diego, according to the White House.
Refuse Fascism, which seeks to remove what it calls the “Trump/Pence regime” power, held a protest at the corner of Benedict Canyon Drive and Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Another protest was planned for Tuesday night at Pershing Square.
Supporters of the president moved in to stop a group of anti-Trump protesters who attempted to burn an American flag, near the Beverly Hills Hotel, sparking several fights, KCAL9 reported.
Police in riot gear were sent in to separate the groups. Some people were detained, but no arrests were reported, KCAL9 said.
With California considered a major Democrat stronghold, Trump visits to the state are rare. He attended a Beverly Hills fundraiser and had a private dinner at his Rancho Palos Verdes golf club on April 5 — a visit that lasted about six hours.
In November, Trump toured areas of Ventura and Los Angeles counties damaged by the Woolsey Fire. He attended another Beverly Hills fundraiser in March 2018.
At the same stage of his presidency, Barack Obama had made six visits to the Los Angeles area. Four were exclusively for political fundraising and a fifth was to campaign on behalf of Democratic candidates.
Democratic presidential hopeful and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke was also in the Los Angeles area Tuesday. He visited the Downtown Women’s Center on skid row, then took part in an “equity and justice roundtable with Equity First Alliance and Cage-Free Cannabis — organizations focused on repairing the harms of the War on Drugs,” according to his campaign. The roundtable discussion was held at the Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre.
As he arrived at the Downtown Women’s Center, O’Rourke told NBC4 he wanted to hear perspectives on homelessness from service providers and those living on skid row.
“I came to listen and to learn from those who are living on skid row, those who are serving the people who are living on skid row, and not just in terms of addressing challenges here but how that might apply to this country,” he said.
“You could argue that Los Angeles has the best perspective in the United States of America on this issue, so we’re going to see the challenges, but we’re also going to listen to the solutions that might apply to the rest of the country.”