A group of residents upset over the rise in homelessness in the city formally began a drive Wednesday to recall Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, an effort a mayoral spokesman called an unfortunate political stunt.

“The homeless situation is in a state of emergency, and everything that we’ve done has not worked,” Alexandra Datig, the leader of the recall effort, told City News Service. “At this point, I think we need an intervention, and we need to recall this mayor.”

Datig created the website www.recallthelamayor.com, which posts news articles and broadcast clips on homelessness in Los Angeles, and also outlines her reasons for why she believes Garcetti should be removed from office.

“The city of Los Angeles is failing to prevent homelessness,” Datig said while standing on the steps of City Hall with members of her group. “Because of Eric Garcetti’s failed leadership, becoming homeless in Los Angeles has become a death sentence, for some. We ask that you accept your failure and that you step down.”

Bill Carrick, a campaign consultant for Garcetti, said the recall effort is nothing more than a “political game,” and he insisted the mayor has done significant work to address the city’s homelessness crisis.

“The mayor has invested time, effort, energy and focus to try and deal with what is a city crisis,” Carrick said. “To play games with a stunt-driven recall is just unfortunate.”

The recall group includes David Hernandez, Benito Benny Bernal, Rick and Robin Marcelli. Datig said they have not yet started fundraising efforts to gather signatures, but various groups have been in contact with them, pledging support for the effort. She said she’s self-funded the effort with a few supporters thus far. The group served the mayor the notice Wednesday and it was acknowledged by the city clerk.

If the recall effort is eventually certified by the clerk’s office, Datig and her supporters would have to collect nearly 315,000 signatures of registered city voters.

Hernandez said it would be naive to think they could gather the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed by the August deadline to try to recall the mayor by the March 2020 primary, but they will try to meet the April 2020 deadline for the general election. He also said they would need to gather 500,000 signatures to reach the goal, as many signatures will likely not qualify once reviewed by election officials.

“I know full well what we are stepping into,” Hernandez said. “We’re not running to replace the mayor, but there are individuals out there, in their political future, who are looking to do that.”

There have been two recall efforts of Los Angeles City Council members in recent years, according to documents from the City Clerk’s Office, but neither effort was able to file a petition before their expiration dates.

Datig, who works as a consultant, said she was motivated to initiate the recall drive after the recent release of numbers showing that the city’s homeless population increased by 16 percent over the past year. The countywide homeless population rose by 12 percent.

“`I’ve seen the crisis (expand) because I work and live downtown,” she said. “… Everyone is overwhelmed.”

She started a petition on the Change.org website asking people to sign in favor of removing Garcetti from office, and more than 9,200 people had done so as of Wednesday morning. The online petition carries no official weight in a recall drive.

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